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7 August 2003, 12:51 pm
Luca SANTELLA Hangs Onto Lead On Day Three
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Day Three Action© Pierrick Contin

Melges 24 European Championship
Helsinki

The forecast gale never materialised yesterday and instead the crews completed two further races in near perfect conditions of glorious sunshine with an offshore NW to N breeze, which varied from 14 to 20 knots, over a moderate chop.
Overnight leader Luca SANTELLA, helming "Joe Fly" for Giovanni MASPERO, put in a consistent performance to hold his lead while Jean Francoise CRUETTE pulled up to second with Luca VALERIO third.

The fleet's biggest problem yesterday was getting off the starting line with a total of four general recalls (two in each race). Race six eventually got underway with individual recalls, seven of which failed to return. The fleet was very close up the first beat with Valerio, helming Maurizio ABBA's "Alina" just popping out ahead at the windward mark closely followed by Antti NIINIRANTA in "Marinel Patu", Kenneth THELEN in "Suunto" and Lars Horn JOHANNESSEN helming "Siste Stein" for Anders STENHAGEN.

Behind them was a nightmare of boats approaching simultaneously from both lay lines, Giovanni GIORDO in "Sail is Fun" slipped into fifth just in front of Kari HEIKKILA in Ari BLOM's "Marinel Mastervolt" but behind them the pack ended up in a total log jam with virtually everyone managing to make contact with at least one other boat. Somewhere in the middle of it all first Silvio SANTONI, helming "Devotissimo" for Franco Maria RAO and then Flavio FAVINI, helming Franco ROSSINI's "Blu Moon" both managed to get hooked up on the windward mark. "First Silvio was caught and then as soon as he freed himself the mark came up under our bow and we were caught too!" said Favini after racing. Despite eventually rounding well down in the thirties Favini sailed a most impressive race to pull back up to 14, Santoni was less fortunate and ended up pulling out of the race.

Another looser up the first beat was Jamie LEA, helming Richard THOMPSON's Black Seal, "We were approaching on port looking fine when we were forced back out to the left by "Chiquita". The boats we were with before that all rounded top ten but we ended up down in the 40s and struggled to get back to 28." By the first leeward mark Valerio had held his lead from Niiniranta and Thelen, the boats split with Valerio and Thelen taking the right gate and Niiniranta the left. At the second weather mark Valerio was hanging onto first whilst Thelen had taken second from Niiniranta. Christophe BARREU, helming Denis INFANTE's "Eurovoiles", had sailed two very smart legs to round fourth ahead of Heikkila, Francesco BRUNI, helming "Ale Ali 3" for Preti Adriano, Morgan REESER, helming "Partner & Partners" for Philippe LIGOT, and SANTELLA. On the next lap Valerio stretched out an impressive lead whilst Thelen and Niiniranta continued to battle it out for second ahead of the pack. At the final weather mark it was Barrue in forth from Santella, Bruni, Heikkila, Reeser and Grogan. On the final lap Valerio just kept adding distance on the fleet whilst Thelen eventually got the better of Niiniranta. Grogan made some very smart moves in the closing stages to pull up to forth from Barrue with Andrea Racchelli in "Altea" coming from tenth to sixth.

Race seven saw more fun and games on the start line with the Race Committee eventually bringing in the black flag as a result of which five boats headed for an early bath including Grogan and Santella. Lea was particularly delighted with one of the general recall decisions as he found himself hooked by the bowsprit on the pin end boy after being shut out by Favini. Once underway it was Santella who got the best of the first beat from Favini, Jean Francois CRUETTE, helming "Scutum" for Cedric de KERVENOAEL, Egidio BABBI in "Citta' Di Cesena" and Lea. A couple of smart gybes on the first run took Cruette into the lead from Santella and Favini whilst Lea pulled up for fourth in front of Racchelli. Up the second beat Cruette began to open up whilst Lea, Favini and Santella fought for second rounding in that order with Barrue fifth and Racchelli sixth. From here on in there was no stopping Cruette who took the race by over 30 seconds. Santella, Favini and Lea continued their fight for the second slot with Santella eventually leading Lea and Favini over the line. Barrue took fifth, Racchelli sixth and Thelen seventh.

The discard has now come into play leaving Santella with a seven-point lead from Barrue who moved up from tenth having dropped an OCS. Racchelli lies in third with Thelen fourth, Lea fifth and Reeser sixth. With three more races over two days ahead the regatta is still wide open so we're looking forward to an exciting finish to the Jacob's Creek Melges 24 European Championship.

Top Ten Results After 6 Races

Pos Boat Name Nation R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Pts
1 Joe Fly ITA 10 4 2 1 1 9 2 19
2 Eurovoiles FRA 3 11 1 2 OCS 5 5 27
3 Alina ITA 2 12 3 7 12 1 6 31
4 P&P Sailing Team FRA 5 8 12 6 6 7 10 42
5 Suunto FIN 11 6 17 12 5 2 7 43
6 Black Seal GBR 8 17 8 3 4 27 3 43
7 Blu Moon ITA 4 7 6 38 15 13 4 49
8 Citta' Di Cesena ITA 9 3 RDG(6) 10 16 26 8 52
9 Fruen Maren NOR 13 2 9 11 7 17 11 53
10 Altea ITA 12 1 18 8 9 DSQ 9 57
Fiona Brown (As Amended by ISAF Secretariat)
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