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16 January 2006, 11:43 am
Strike One To Italy
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J/24 World Championship 2006
Melbourne, Australia

"Shifty, light and choppy," was how Luigi RAVIOLI (ITA), skipper of the leading entry Black Jack, described racing on a long first day of the J/24 World Championship sailed off Sandringham Yacht Club in Melbourne, Australia today.
No ALT tag specified'It was too choppy for upwind racing in the second race, but we are happy to lead,' said RAVIOLI, who finished the 2005 Worlds in third place. Three second places are what it took RAVIOLI and his Italian crew to streak to a seven point lead. Consistent sailing will win this Sail Melbourne Championship and the Italians know it.

'I think the Brazilians and the British [Ian SOUTHWORTH and crew] are the ones we have to watch - but if the winds get stronger, then there are many Australians….'

RAVIOLI's sentiments were validated by others. 'Very fickle - it was strange,' said twelfth placed Sandringham Commodore Phil COOMBS, 'Choppy for the light wind strength (around 5 knots) - it didn't add up. The breeze shifted, if was frustrating.' COOMBS was the leading Aussie until race three.

International entries had a field day on Port Phillip, with the much fancied Bruschetta crew, helmed by Mauricio SANTACRUZ (BRA), in second place and he only one of the three top boats to score a win, and Ian SOUTHWORTH's Inmarsat third.

Other wins went to the lone female skipper in the fleet, American Suzie TAYLOR on Five to Six, and The Pie, skippered by David KLATT of the USA.

The Australians languished today, the best placed being Sean Wallis' Fly Emirates crew from Western Australia, fresh from their National title win last week. Placed seventh overall following mixed results, their best was a sixth in race two.

For NSW champion and former National title holder Sean Kirkjian and Death Star it was a dreadful start to the regatta. The Sydneysider finished fourth at the 2005 Worlds, the best of the Aussies. Today was not his day; 17th overall following three races.

'We looked good in the first race up the first beat, but from there we went backwards. We'll have to work on our settings for the slop here.

'In the second race, we started at the pin, but got squeezed out by the lady who won the race. By the time we took all the sterns, we were out to the right and the wind went left - which is where I had planned to be; from there it was out the back end,' KIRKJIAN said.

Race three brought more disaster. 'We started at the pin and Nev WITTEY called us up. He went up, I put my Helm hard down to oblige and crash - stern and bow collided. That incident caused us to be over the start early and he hit the mark - nobody won that one - we were 15th and he finished 31st. Not one of my better days,' he said.

Three races were sailed today and race officials shortened race two, finishing the boats on the second downwind leg of the windward leeward course.

40 boats are taking part in the twelve race series which continues from 1200 hours local time tomorrow on Port Phillip.

Sail Melbourne is made possible by the support of event sponsors: Sport & Recreation Victoria, Collex, Parks Victoria; associate sponsors Bayside City Council and Menere's BMW Brighton and support sponsors Ronstan International, Schenker Australia, City of Kingston and the City of Port Philip.

Top Ten

Pos Nation Boat Skipper R1 R2 R3 Pts
1 ITA Black Jack Luigi RAVIOLI 2 2 2 6
2 BRA Bruschetta Mauricio SANTACRUZ 1 7 5 13
3 GBR Inmarsat Ian SOUTHWORTH 4 5 4 13
4 USA The Pie David KLATT 9 4 1 14
5 JPN Siesta Wataru SAKAMOTO 10 8 3 21
6 USA Brain Cramp Mike INGHAM 11 3 12 26
7 AUS Fly Emirates Sean WALLIS 15 6 9 30
8 AUS Innamincka John CRAWFORD 17 14 6 37
9 JPN Sled Kazuyuki HYODO 3 9 28 40
10 GBR Jon POWELL 23 11 7 41

For all the news on Sail Melbourne CLICK HERE.

Di PEARSON (As Amended by ISAF). Image, Ian SOUTHWORTH's Inmarsat:© Jeff CROW, Sport the Library at Sail Melbourne
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