The penultimate day of the 2001 Melges 24 World Championship brought an interesting mix of weather and sea conditions and some very exciting racing.
Although the race committee had hope to complete 3 more races the dying, shifting breeze resulted in a wise decision to stop at two. Overnight leader Flavio Favini (helming for Franco Rossini) consolidated his lead in race 7 with another impressive win but race 8 saw him cross the line 7th with a protest hanging over him following an incident with Brian Porter on the final run. Harry Melges meanwhile put in another solid day to take a 2nd and 4th keeping him safely in second place overall.
"We were happy with this morning and then we came out OK in the second one. There are still two races to go so the situation is definitely still open. Full Throttle is protesting us for an incident in race eight so we'll have to see what the jury has to say." said Favini immediately he arrived ashore.
Race 7 started in 15 knots with a nasty chop on top of the long swell and for the first time all week the fleet seemed to favour the left hand end of the line. Unfortunately a number of teams were a little too eager and amongst those caught over the start line were Brian Porter, Laurent Pages and Morgan Reeser. Favini did not make the same mistake and yet again he led the race from start to finish. Melges had a moderate first beat to round 9th but an impressive first run took him through to 2nd and although he was never quite able to best Flavini, he comfortably hung on to 2nd for the rest of the race. Behind him places changed constantly at the front of the pack with Jamie Lea (helming for Richard Thompson) eventually taking 3rd from Robert Tennant 4th and Vince Brun 5th.
At the start of race 8 the wind was down to around 12 knots and it continued to drop off throughout the race. Although the worst of the chop had flattened off there was still a noticeable swell running and it was the crews who were on the pace with their gear changes and shift spotting that made it into the chocolates. George Szabo (helming for Jeff Jones) and Kent Haeger both put together excellent first beats to head the fleet round the weather mark just ahead of Vince Brun and Doug Clarke (helming for Paula Zubrzycki). Down the first run Brun managed to pull up to second but was unable to get past Jones who held him off all the way to the finish. Behind them the battle for places was fierce and positions changed with every mark rounding. Pages eventually took third with Melges 4th ahead of Clark and Brit Tony Weatherall (helming for Dave Clark). The battle for 7th and 8th between Porter and Favini was a humdinger and as a result of the incident in which Porter felt Favini infringed him it was also very vocal. Favini crossed the line just seconds ahead of Porter.
Melges was delighted with his 2nd and 4th and with the promise of his preferred light airs for the final two races tomorrow is looking forward to the last day. "We had a good day today. The wind was fading all day which was to our favour because Flavio and his team have been going so fast when the breeze is up. We finally got ahead of him in the last race so we've gained a couple of points back. We've got a couple of races tomorrow with some lighter air so we'll see what happens." commented Melges.
As we go to press the result of the protest between Porter and Favini, which will have a significant effect on the standings is still awaited. What is clear is that regardless of the result of that protest the championship is still very much open and we can expect some great sailing again tomorrow and Favini and Melges fight it out for the Melges 24 World Title.
Full results from the event website.