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14 September 2005, 11:41 am
Competitors Gear Up For Europeans In Torquay
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Ocean BMW Melges 24 European Championship 2005
Tolrquay, Great Britain

The Ocean BMW Melges 24 European Championship gets underway in Torquay, Great Britain this weekend with 52 teams from eleven nations competing. Heading up the list of favourites are Giovanni MASPERO's (ITA) reigning European Championship crew aboard Joe Fly, helmed for this event by Gabrio ZANDONA (ITA).
Even before the regatta begins the Italian Joe Fly team brought drama to the event when their boat and its tow vehicle were run over and written off on the way to Torquay by a sleeping truck driver. Fortunately boat captain Federico MICHETTI, who was changing a flat tyre on the hard shoulder at the time, escaped without injury and the team has subsequent been able to secure use of another boat with which to defend their title.

Among those determined to unseat Joe Fly from the top step of the podium is reigning World Champion Sébastian COL (FRA) and the Partner & Partners team. COL, who is taking time out from his America's Cup commitments with K-Challenge (FRA) to compete, will fly into Torquay direct from the ISAF Match Racing World Championship in Calpe, Spain. Others equally keen to get their hands on the European trophy include Britain's Stuart RIX, helming for Quentin STRAUSS's Team Gill (reigning British National Champion), Remy ARNAUD of France aboard Dyneema/Liros (reigning French National Champion), Germany's legendary Alba BATZILL (fresh from his recent victory at the 6 Metre Worlds) and local Torquay star John POLLARD aboard Xcellent.

In the Corinthian Division, open to fully amateur crews, Kenneth THELEN of Finland and his crew aboard Suunto will be hoping to add a second Corinthian European title to their trophy cabinet which also includes three Corinthian World titles and an amazing ten overall National Championship titles.

The Royal Torbay Yacht Club is the home of the British Melges 24 fleet and also hosted the first ever Melges 24 World Championship back in 1998. Racing for the Ocean BMW Melges 24 European Championship 2005 gets underway on Monday 19 September and concludes on Friday 23 September with twelve races scheduled. The event is sponsored by Title Sponsor Ocean BMW, Gold Sponsor WKD Original Vodka Blue, and Silver Sponsors Devoti Sailing, North Sails UK Ltd, Westaway Sails and Musto Ltd.

Fiona Brown (As Amended By ISAF). Image:© Pierrick Cortin
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