Britain's Jamie Lea, helming Black Seal for Richard Thompson, won a record third consecutive Melges 24 title yesterday at the 2003 SNIM Regatta in Marseille.
The Melges fleet has become a major feature of this annual Easter event attracting 76 boats from 10 nations for some early season fun in the sun.
Yesterday's final race brought much lighter conditions and the start of racing was delayed for three hours whilst everyone waited for the sea breeze to kick in. It took three attempts to get the fleet away with a number of the leading teams being black flagged including Flavio Favini and Luca Santella.
With a comfortable 20 point lead Lea was determined to sail conservatively and was perfectly happy to round the first weather mark in eleventh place. Ahead of him Jacques di Russo led the fleet at the mark followed by Jean Francoise Cruette, Egidio Babbi, Kenneth Thelen, Bruno Jourdren and Sebastien Col. Down the run di Russo dropped back to fifth leaving Cruette in the lead closely pursued by Thelen, Babbi and Jourdren with Lea pulling up to tenth. The second lap saw a great battle at the front of the fleet between Thelen and Cruette with Thelen just stealing home ahead with di Russo third, Jourdren fourth, Babbi fifth, Col sixth, Olivier Ponthieu seventh and Lea pulling up to eighth.
Overall Jamie Lea ( GBR) took the regatta by an impressive 31 points from Francoise Labourdais (FRA ) who held second despite his worst result of the week with a 30th. Third was Luca Valerio (ITA) with Sebastien Col (FRA) fourth, Kenneth Thelen (FIN) fifth and Flavio Favini (SUI) sixth. Full results are available from the website at the address below.
The next event on the European Melges 24 Ranking Circuit will be the Torbole Melges Week on Lake Guarda from 1-4 May with the highlights of the year being the European Championship in Helsinki from 2-8 August and the World Championship in San Francisco from 11-17 October.