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16 December 2005, 09:13 am
SPITHILL Moves 20 Points Clear
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Corum Melges 24 World Championship 2005
Key Largo, Florida, USA

The not-so-Italian Luna Rossa sailing team captained by Australia's James SPITHILL moved into a dominant position at the 2005 Corum Melges 24 World Championship at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, USA yesterday. After a disappointing day for nearest challengers Marrachech Express, SPITHILL and co. find themselves 20 points ahead with just two races remaining.
Two first-to-finish guns claimed by Pegasus 505 sailed by Newport Beach's David ULLMAN, leapfrog the American team to second place above Marrachech Express.

The two lead boats turned in blistering performances in the opening race today in a 16 to 18 knot southeasterly breeze that chopped up the shallow water north of John Pennekamp Reef into two to three foot waves.

ULLMAN, the engaging sailmaker whose list of championship victories fills pages, has never won a Melges 24 Championship. Now the third boat in the Pegasus Team of father-and-son Philippe KAHN and Shark KAHN from San Francisco, California, USA, the time ULLMAN has invested in sail development and tuning for the team was apparent in yesterday's racing.

Pegasus 505 broke clear of the 99 boat fleet on the first weather leg as several collisions and gear breakdowns took their toll. SPITHILL, the helmsman for Genoa's Luna Rossa America's Cup challengers was pushing hard behind ULLMAN but could never get within striking distance of the Californian boat.

ULLMAN finished the first race one and a half minutes ahead of SPITHILL and two and a half minutes ahead John BERTRAND, from Annapolis, USA, at the helm of Fusion M.

Conditions moderated in the second race to five to eight knots of breeze and small choppy waves. ULLMAN and SPITHILL were four or five places back at the first weather mark but the next time around were back in their now standard one-two position with ULLMAN 30 seconds in front.

Disaster struck for SPITHILL before the last downwind run as the top of his billowing white spinnaker exploded right after hoisting. The Luna Rossa crew struggled to retrieve the sail and hoist another, as boat after boat sped by. Quick crew work saw a new sail up and drawing to keep SPITHILL in the top group of seven boats.

ULLMAN won again, lifting him from Wednesday's third overall placing but still 20 points behind SPITHILL, who finished the last race in sixth place. BERTRAND had another good race to add a second place to his record for the week.

Top Ten Results After Ten Races

Pos Nation Boat Owner Helm R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 R10 Pts
1 USA Luna Rossa James SPITHILL James SPITHILL 5 12 (25) 7 1 1 8 1 2 6 43
2 USA Pegasus 505 David ULLMAN David ULLMAN 6 (41) 7 1 5 3 28 11 1 1 63
3 ITA Marrachech Express Vladimiro MRVCIC Gabriele BENUSSI (35) 1 3 2 4 9 7 10 15 24 75
4 USA Mfatic Neil SULLIVAN Morgan REESER 2 8 1 17 (20) 8 11 16 12 7 82
5 USA Full Throttle Brian PORTER Brian PORTER 26 2 11 4 7 18 (47) ZFP 3 8 12 91
6 ITA Joe Fly Giovanni MASPERO Gabrio ZANDONA 11 35) 22 5 3 5 (32) ZFP 2 13 4 97
7 FRA Partner & Partners Philippe LIGOT Francois BRENAC 22 14 18 3 11 11 (39) 19 4 5 107
8 USA Pegasus 492 Samuel KAHN Samuel KAHN 19 3 4 (48) 30 6 5 9 26 11 113
9 USA Fusion M Doug DEVOS John BERTRAND 9 15 (46) 22 22 4 36 ZFP 5 3 2 118
10 SUI Blu Moon Franco ROSSINI Flavio FAVINI 24 37 2 21 10 28 (82) ZFP 8 5 3 138
Keith Taylor (As Amended By ISAF). Image, James SPITHILL and his team are looking good at the top:© Tim Wilkes - www.timwilkes.com
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