Ian Ainslie Reports From The Hungarian Nationals
In autumn, Lake Balaton can throw anything at you. For the first Hungarian Open Melges 24 Championship, the fleet was gently eased into the regatta with a 6-7 knot breeze. The next 2 days around 8 to 10 knots were provided to test the crew’s commitment to hiking. On the last day, as if Balaton wanted to see the melges 24’s “A” game, we were hit with 25+ knots and the typical short choppy waves of the lake.
Since the class’s inception in Hungary 4 years ago, the local fleet has steadily grown and the talk after the event was of even more teams forming for next year.
Travelling from Slovenia, Team Paikea, helmed by Peter Podunavac, were one of the favourites after their impressive podium finish in the Italian Nationals a few months ago. On the first day a combination of rustiness from lack or recent sailing (their explanation) or a dustiness from over-enthusiastic appreciation of the local wines and palinka (our explanation) kept them from the front. Once they had shaken the cobwebs out, they put in a strong challenge to finish 2nd overall.
In third overall, and the first Hungarian melges national champion were a team of the top Hungarian 470 sailors, with their coach, Tamas Kelemen, steering.
We, on Team Proximo, (with our south African, Australian and Hungarians combination) had a small speed advantage and so the score line looked flattering, In reality the fleet was closer by the end of the regatta and we had good racing. Our team owner, “Big” Pete Kocsis couldn’t make it so he was substituted by Zsombor Berecz. Despite the affliction of skinniness that goes with being a top laser sailor, he more than made up for it by hiking really hard and calling good tactics.
A team that showed potential was team Virus. Owner Gyula Gemesi moved onto the helm and Arpad Litkey onto tactics. Their distinctive cartoon on the spinnaker could be seen at the front of the fleet and they finished strongly in 4th overall.
Other teams to watch in the future are those of Attila Bujaky , who was fast in the light airs, Istvan Vekony and the MVM team of csaba nagy. The all-woman team lead by 470 sailor, Reka Karacsony sailed well until the big breeze on the last day challenged their light weight but they still came 8th overall. They’ll have to eat more or be allowed to sail 6-up.
With the wife being part of the organising team, i could see first how much effort goes into an event like this so that we can have our fun on the water. A big thank you to the organising team, race officials, hosts Koloska marina and sponsors MVM.