At the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Porto Cervo, Sardinia the teams competing for the Volvo Melges 24 World Championship 2008 experienced atypical Sardinian weather conditions as rain lashed the area on day one of the two-day Pre-World Championship Regatta.
Despite the unpleasant weather 37 teams elected to take part in this first day of Pre-World competition and enjoyed one excellent and closely fought race. Racing was scheduled to start at 11:30 but the wind was light and shifting and it wasn't until 13:05 that racing eventually got underway following one postponed start attempt and two general recalls.
Justin CHISOLM, crew aboard GBR691 Team Barbarians, who will be providing regular From The Fleet reports at his web site www.offshorerules.com
commented, "At the start the bulk of the fleet opted for the left hand end. A few boats started on the right by the committee boat, including ourselves on port, and headed out to the right hand side of the course where there was distinctly more pressure for the first three quarters of the beat. There were big waves, which combined with the lights airs resulted in large tacking angles making tacking very expensive. Three quarters of the way up the beat the boats on the right started to look a little less favoured and by the approach to the weather mark the boats from the left were right back in to it.
"Down the first run the early gybe was the smart move with those working the left hand side making huge gains. With the weather clearly deteriorating the committee dramatically shortened the second beat. As we went up the beat the wind increased enabling crews to hike fully for the first time. The final run was somewhat processional with few place changes. Shortly after the finish large flashes of lightening and loud claps of thunder were evident and the fleet were relieved to see flags AP over A flying sending the fleet home for the day. Soon after conditions deteriorated significantly confirming this decision as fully justified."
Italy's Alberto BOLZAN
, helming Gianni CATALOGNA
's ITA727 Pilot Italia was the victor in today's tough race with Matthias KELLER
, helming SUI530 Acqua for Gianluca TRIBO
, second overall and winning the Corinthian Division for the all amateur crews. Corinthian teams also took the next three places with Ronan DREANO
and the team of Troel SIMON aboard FRA470 Cotes D'Armor third, Michael GOOD sailing SUI382 ZeroTwo fourth and Edoardo LUpi in ITA681 Torypyone fifth. F
Back ashore Principle Race Officer Hank STUART noted that although a challenging day for all involved it had provided excellent practise for the Race Committee. "We worked very well together on this first day. We have an outstanding international team which will be getting even stronger with the arrival shortly of my fellow Principle Race Officer Peter REGGIO, who will be running the second race course for the main championship series beginning on Sunday."
For the rest of the 117 crews entered to compete in the Volvo Melges 24 World Championship today was a day of measurement and preparation. Chief Event Equipment Inspector Eros AGNELI heads a large measurement team responsible for inspecting each of the boats competing in the regatta. The bad weather meant that some outside operations, in particular boat weighing and measurement, had to be suspended for part of the day, but weighing will commence again first thing tomorrow and the team anticipate rapidly catching up with the backlog. Despite the rain sail measurement, crew weighing and safety checks were all able to continue and are on schedule.
To help the teams get around while they are in Porto Cervo event sponsor Volvo Cars Italy has also provided a fleet of some 20 chauffeured Volvo courtesy cars which are available to transport competitors daily until 19:00. The fleet includes cars from across the Volvo range and in addition the brand new Volvo XC60 will be on special preview display for competitors to inspect at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda on Friday 6 June.
Friday will see the conclusion of the Pre-World regatta and on Saturday 31 May there will be informal practise racing giving both the competitors and the Race Committee a final chance to tune up. The Volvo Melges 24 World Championship 2008 commences on Sunday 1 June and runs through until Friday 6 June with 12 championship races scheduled. The 117-boat fleet will be split into four groups for an initial six race "round robin" series before dividing into gold and silver fleets for the final six races.
Volvo Melges 24 World Championship - www.melges24worlds2008.com