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6 August 2003, 10:57 am
Team Joe Fly Take Two Bullets
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Devotissimo© Pierrick Contin

Melges 24 European Championship
Helsinki

Races four and five were completed yesterday at the Jacob's Creek Melges 24 European Championship in Helsinki with Italy's Luca SANTELLA, helming "Joe Fly" for Giovanni MASPERO, taking the honours in both races.
With thunder storms rumbling around the course the crews had to contend with constant changes in both wind direction and velocity plus a very difficult chop. The day opened with the wind in the NW clocking round to NNW by the second race and varying in strength from over 20 knots in the squalls to around 10 knots in the lulls. Although only running two races today the Race Committee elected to set up long legs and to give the competitors three laps so we have a lot of very tired Melges 24 sailors tonight.

Jamie LEA (GBR), helming "Black Seal" for Richard THOMSPON, came out of the first beat of race four best rounding the windward mark just ahead of Santella with Christophe BARRUE (FRA), helming Denis INFANTE's "Eurovoiles", third. Jean Francois CRUETTE (FRA), helming "Scutum" for Cedric de KERVENOAEL was fourth ahead of Nigel GROGAN (GBR), Luca VALERIO (ITA), helming "Alina" for Maurizio ABBA, Keith MUSTO (GBR), Simon HUGHES and Tomi HAKOLA. Down the first run Santella managed to slip past Lea with Barreu keeping third and Grogan pulling up to fourth from Cruette, Valerio, Musto and Hughes. On the second beat there was no change in the top seven but the distances between the boats opened up considerably.

The boats then continued to hold their positions on the second run. On the final lap Santella and Barreu sailed conservatively to hold first and second whilst Lea overtook Grogan. Cruette held fifth and Reeser managed to slip past Valerio for sixth. Andrea Rachelli had a good final leg pulling up from eleventh to eighth with Antti NIINIRANTA (FIN) ninth and Egidio BABBI (ITA) tenth.

In the fifth race it was Santoni who took the initial lead rounding ahead at the first two marks with Kristophe SPONE , helming "Fruen Maren" for Nils HAUFF (NOR), and Santella hot on his heels, followed by Giovanni GIORDO (ITA), Cruette, Grogan, Flavio Favini (SUI), helming "Blu Moon" for Franco ROSSINI, Lea and Kari HEIKKILA (FIN) driving Ari BLOM's "Marinel Mastervolt". Up the second beat Santoni took off left whilst Spone and Santella went right. By the second weather mark Santella had the lead from Spone followed by Santoni, Grogan, Rachelli and Cruette while Micke LINDQVIST (NOR), helming "Lek" for Trond SOLLI-SAETHER, pulled up into eigth ahead of Giordo. From here on in Santella just stretched out his lead sailing conservatively to cover the fleet and taking advantage of the clear air.

Behind him the rest of the teams provided some outstanding spectator sport with places changing constantly on the final lap. Eventually Santoni took second whilst Lindqvist sailed a humdinger to take third from Lea with Kenneth THELEN (FIN) in "Suunto" fifth, Reeser sixth and Spone seventh. Having sailed so well for the first half of the race Grogan had a shocker of a final lap ending up thirteenth.

In the overall standings the "Joe Fly" team, led by former Mumm 36 World Champion Luca SANTELLA (ITA) and including tactician Morgan LARSON who sailed in the afterguard of the OneWorld America's Cup Team, now have a 13 point lead from Santella with Valerio third, Reeser fourth and Lea fifth.

The forecast is for strong offshore winds so after a hard day's sailing yesterday and with another in prospect for today it looks like the crews are going to need plenty of stamina to make it through the week. To add to their problems tonight is the regatta gala dinner so there's not much hope of an early night tonight!

Top Ten After 5 Races

Pos Nation Boat Name R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 Pts
1 ITA Joe Fly 10 4 2 1 1 18
2 ITA Devotissimo 1 9 5 14 2 31
3 ITA Alina 2 12 3 7 12 36
4 FRA P&P Sailing Team 5 8 12 6 6 37
5 GBR Black Seal 8 17 8 3 4 40
6 NOR Fruen Maren 13 2 9 11 7 42
7 ITA Citta' Di Cesena 9 3 RDG(6) 10 16 44
8 ITA Altea 12 1 18 8 9 48
9 FIN Suunto 11 6 17 12 5 51
10 FRA Eurovoiles 3 11 1 2 OCS 69
Fiona Brown (As Amended by ISAF Secretariat)
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