With a score line that included five bullets Italian Flavio Favini won the 2001 Melges 24 World Championship in true style after the final day of racing eventually had to be cancelled due to lack of wind.
Favini (helming for Switzerland's Franco Rossini) was delighted to have taken the title and is looking forward to being back in Key West next year. "Our team is thrilled to win this championship. I'm involved with an America's Cup campaign so unfortunately I'm not going to be in a Melges until the end of the year but after that the plan is to be back in the boat at Key West again for 2003. I like the small boat racing much better than the big boats. The fun of sailing for me is related to the length of the boat, the smaller the boat the more fun!"
Runner up Harry Melges (helming for Jeff Ecklund) was disappointed not to get a final chance to go up against Favini for the title but was philosophical about the situation. "Unfortunately the wind was too light to get any racing in today. We were hoping for some light to moderate winds so we could maybe mix things up a little bit with Flavio and Franco and their team, but it didn't happen for us. Flavio, Franco and their guys sailed a great event so we're happy for them that they won a championship with five firsts in a row, which is pretty hard to beat, but we'll be back sailing in the 2002 Worlds in Travemuende and see what we can do there."
Overnight the protest between Brian Porter and Favini, following an incident in race 8, was dismissed by the jury as it was lodged out of time so the final results after 8 races stand for the overall rankings. Vince Brun, who had been hoping to take a record third Melges 24 World title, had to content himself with 3rd overall while Britain's Jamie Lea (helming for Richard Thompson) took 4th. Thompson and Lea had the consolation of knowing that their result here was just enough to win them the Melges 24 World Ranking Series for 2001. "We've had a fantastic time and really enjoyed the racing here in Key West. We've got a full European season planned in the Melges 24 for 2002 including the Travemuende Worlds and hope to back in Key West again next year." commented a very happy Thompson on the dockside.
Alongside it's main competition the Melges 24 Class also runs a "Corinthian" competition for the non-professional helms and crews. Argyle Campbell, Doug Clark (helming for Paula Zubrzycki), Bruce Ayres, Tony Wattson, Don Jesberg, Suzuki and Keith Musto (helming for David Happ) spent the week battling this one out with Campbell eventually getting the upper hand by just three points from Clark. Ayres took 3rd and Wattson was 4th just head of Jesberg.
"I think it's been a fantastic event. Premier Racing has worked incredibly hard with the IMCA team to get the event organised at such short notice after the Ft Lauderdale Yacht Club pulled out. It's been a great event, the organisation both ashore and afloat have been excellent. We can't praise the Race Officer and his team enough for the exemplary way in which they've managed the racing. They've done a tremendous job and we're grateful to them." said Olympic Silver Medallist Keith Musto, a regular at Key West over many years.
Key West always attracts a good Melges 24 turnout but the additional lure of a World Championship helped to bring a record of 25 overseas teams from three continents to join the almost 80 strong fleet. The furthest travelled team was lead by Kunio Suzuki from Japan. He and his team won the 2001 Japanese Nationals and were making their first foray into international Melges 24 sailing so were very happy with their 20th overall.
International Melges 24 Class Chairman Tom Freytag was delighted with how the event has gone. "It was a lovely regatta, plenty of sunshine, some good breeze on the days we had wind and we had a great time. Key West is always a great place to be and the Melges 24 fleet enjoyed being here. It was the biggest fleet we've ever had at the regatta and they gave us terrific racing and a quality championship and we're really looking forward to coming back"
Full results and further information can be found at www.melges24.com and www.premiere-racing.com and via IMCA Press Officer Fiona Brown on e-mail FionaBrown@compuserve.com and Terra Nova Trading/Yachting Key West Race Week Press Officer Rich Roberts on e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2001 Melges 24 World Championship is being run in association with Terra Nova Trading/Yachting Key West Race Week 2002. Our thanks to Melges 24 World Championship sponsors Woody's Ice, Geneva Trading, LightSurf Technologies, North Sails, Melges Performance Sailboats, the USMCA and all Terra Nova Trading/Yachting Key West Race Week sponsors.