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21 September 2005, 01:32 pm
RIX And Team Gill Take Narrow Lead
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Ocean BMW Melges 24 European Championship 2005
Torquay, Great Britain

The second day of the Ocean BMW Melges 24 European Championship in Torquay, Great Britain brought three more great races and some interesting changes on the scoreboard. Racing for the 50 competitors got underway on time in seven knots from the southwest and under cloudy skies, however, as the day wore on the sun broke through and the wind gradually picked up to twelve knots.
The shifting wind combined with a strong and turning tide were merciless and demanded 100% concentration. The fleet was constantly over eager and PRO Peter RUMBELOW resorted to the black flag on two occasions. The mark roundings were equally hectic with several contact incidents for the judges to rule on afloat and plenty of protests back ashore.

Overnight leader Jamie LEA (GBR), sailing Stuart SIMPSON's Team Barbarians, had a mediocre day scoring 31,29,4 pushing him down to ninth overall. On the other hand fellow Brit Stuart RIX, helming Team Gill for Quentin STRAUSS, had an excellent day and their 7,3,1 gives them a three point lead from Italy's Andrea RACCHELLI who sailed consistently for an 11,8,3 score line to hold second overall.

The French teams put up a good showing led by Philip LIGOT's Partner & Partners, helmed by Francoise BRENAC, who moved up in to third place. This hugely successful team has not set foot in a Melges 24 since they won the 2004 Worlds over a year ago and they are also sailing for the first time with their new helmsman. However, LIGOT explained 'The Melges 24 is all about team work. We have had the same core crew for many years and everyone plays a role in preparing and sailing the boat. Even though we haven't sailed for a year and have a new driver we immediately know our routines. This is the start of a year long campaign for us culminating in the 2006 Worlds in Hyeres and our aim in Torquay is to be in the top ten so we are very happy right now.'

There are four other French teams in the top ten, three of them sponsored by the Cotes d'Armor region of France. Vincent BIARNES, helming Cotes d'Armor, was the most consistent today with 6,2,9 and moves up from tenth to fourth just ahead of Italy's Gabrio ZANDONA, helming Joe Fly for Giovanni MASPERO. Thomas ROUXEL, aboard Cotes d'Armor Sail de Mer, was less consistent and dropped from third to sixth. Alba BATZILL, sailing No Woman No Cry for Eddy EICH, won the fourth race comfortably and with a ninth and 17th in the other two moved up from twelfth to seventh just ahead of Antoine ALBARTE sailing Cotes d'Armour Perros Guirec.

Today the discard comes into play and with more moderate winds forecast it will be an interesting day. The Championship is wide open with seven more races scheduled between now and the close on Friday.

Fiona Brown (As Amended By ISAF). Image:© Richard Langdon/Ocean Images
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