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5 August 2003, 10:36 am
Day One is a Corker!
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Day One Action© Pierrick Contin

Melges 24 European Championship

The opening day of the Jacob's Creek Melges 24 European Championship in Helsinki was an absolute corker! The wind varied from 15 to 20 knots, swinging from SE to SW as the day wore on with a moderate chop and partially sunny conditions.
After three races three boats are tied on 16 points for the overall lead, Christophe BARRUE, Silvio SANTONI and Luca SANTELLA.

The fleet was a little over eager on the first start resulting in an individual recall. Although a number of boats went back Dietrich SCHEDER-BIESCHIN, Keith MUSTO, Gustaf OHRN and Claes ROJNING failed to return and were scored OCS. At the first mark it was Finland's Antti NIINIRANTA who lead the fleet ahead of Santoni, Flavio FAVINI, Barrue, Luca VALERIO and Rob SMITH. An error down the first run saw Niiniranta drop back to fourth whilst Santoni took the lead from Valerio with Barrue in third, Kenneth THELEN fifth, Favini sixth and Smith seventh. Up the second beat Santoni, Valerio and Barrue held the top slots whilst Favini pulled up to fourth. Having rounded the first mark in 14 Morgan REESER was delighted to have pulled up to fifth place by the final weather mark just in front of Smith and Niiniranta. On the last leg the top five held their slots whilst Ninniranta and Smith slogged it out for sixth with Ninniranta coming out on top.

In the second race it was Andrea RACCHELLI who showed a clean pair of heels leading by several boat lengths at the windward mark. Behind him Kristoffer SPONE led Jean-Francoise CRUETTE, Peter Von KOSKELL, Santella, Ninniranta and Thelen. Down the first run Racchelli opened up his lead with Spone remaining in second. Behind him Babbi pulled up to third in front of Santella, Ninniranta, Cruetta and Von Koskull. Racchelli executed a text book cover on the final lap to take race two comfortably from Spone, Babbi, Santella, Ninniranta and Thelen.

In race three it was Barrue who got the bit between his teeth leading from start to finish. Behind him Kari HEIKKILA held second for the first lap, but dropped back to forth by the finish having been passed by both Santella and Valerio. Santoni took fifth from Favini with Nigel GROGAN in seventh. Behind the leaders race three saw some nasty incidents at the first mark with a number of quite serious collisions, several of which resulted in major damage. Amongst those involved was Cruette who was attempting to complete a 360 turn on the spreader leg when he had a second collision with Babbi causing very serious damage to both boats. Cruette retired from the race whilst Babbi and his crew limped home and as we go to press both crews are hard at work hoping to repair the boats in time for tomorrows race.

Overall Favini trails the joint leaders, Barrue, Santoni and Santella, by just one point with Valerio one point behind him and Spone sixth. After his fifth in the first race Reeser went on to score 8 and 12 leaving him in seventh overall ahead of Racchelli, whilst Jamie LEA scored 8, 18, 8 to finish up ninth ahead of Thelen.

Special thanks to regatta sponsors Jacob's Creek, 3M and Scandic Hotels for their support.

Top Ten After Three Races

Pos Nation Boat Name R1 R2 R3 Pts
1 FRA Eurovoiles 3 11 1 15
2 ITA Devotissimo 1 9 5 15
3 ITA Joe Fly 10 4 2 16
4 ITA Alina 2 12 3 17
5 ITA Blu Moon 4 7 6 17
6 ITA Citta' Di Cesena 9 3 6 18
7 NOR Fruen Maren 13 2 10 25
8 FRA P&P Sailing Team 5 8 13 26
9 ITA Altea 12 1 20 33
10 GBR Black Seal 8 17 9 34
Fiona Brown (As Amended by ISAF Secretariat)
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