Sheehy Lexus Of Annapolis 2009 Melges 24 World Championship - Final Roundup Report
The Sheehy Lexus 2009 Melges 24 World Championship, hosted by the Eastport Yacht Club, attracted fifty-one entries from across Europe and the US, with teams from the USA, Canada, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Ukraine congregating in Annapolis to challenge for one of yacht racing's most sought after world titles.
The two-day Pre-Worlds Regatta served to confirm the potency of the visiting contingent, with all three podium places occupied by visiting teams. The reigning World and European Champions from Italy, 'UKA UKA Racing' steered by Lorenzo Bressani, cemented their position as the pundits' favourite, with victory ahead of Italian America's Cup helmsman and 2001 Melges 24 World Champion, Flavio Favini on the Swiss registered 'Blu Moon' in second and 2006 World Champion Nico Celon from Italy on 'Fantastica' in third. The potential of the visiting teams at this regatta was equally matched by a raft of high profile US helms, each capable of producing a winning performance: US sailing legend Terry Hutchinson on 'Quantum Racing' came into this event as the current Melges 24 North American Champion, a title he won last year in Annapolis; Brian Porter on 'Full Throttle', the 2009 US National Champion had 2002 World Champion Harry Melges calling the shots; Bill Hardesty sailing with tactician Vince Brun aboard 'Event's Clothing/Atlantis', had a remarkable four Melges 24 World Title victories between them and serial one-design Champion Chris Larson sailing 'West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes' would bring an invaluable wealth of local knowledge to this event.
The fourteen-boat entry in Corinthian Division (no professionals allowed) at this year's Melges 24 World Championship always looked likely to produce a fierce battle for the top spot and when racing commenced the Corinthian competition more than lived up to expectations, with the overall lead closely fought and changing on a daily basis. The top Corinthian helms in Annapolis also made regular appearances at the front of the main fleet, with front runners Bruce Ayres aboard 'Monsoon' finishing fourth in the Pre-Worlds, reigning North American Corinthian Champion Othmar Mueller von Blumencron on 'Gannet', Henry Filter aboard 'Wild Child' from the host Eastport Yacht Club, David Dabney on Conejo Racing - Ocean Sailing Academy' and Germany's Christof Wieland on 'Unsponsored', all securing top ten race positions during the week. In fact it was the Corinthian Division that produced the more nail biting series climax, with Ayres and von Blumencron going into the final race tied on equal points. With these two unsurprisingly locked together in mortal combat for the whole of the race eleven decider, the final Corinthian result was only actually confirmed when a delighted Ayres surfed across the line, just a few boat lengths ahead of von Blumencron.
In the main eleven-race Championship series, it was Annapolis resident Chris Larson who eventually overcame the strength of the European squad, to claim the 2009 Melges 24 World Title with a race to spare. Whilst Larson sailed a consummately confident and ruthlessly consistent series, he was pushed almost all the way throughout the week by both the double European Championship winning 'Joe Fly' steered by Italian 470 Olympian Gabrio Zandona as well as Norway's Eivind Melleby at the helm of 'Full Medal Jacket'. Whilst not including a race win, Larson's impressive series scoreline meant that he took a seventeen-point lead into the final day. Despite appearing to already have at least one hand on the trophy, with the potential for three races to be sailed, he was still very much vulnerable to attack and would need to call on all his professional sailing experience to avoid a spectacular tumble from grace. In the end it was really all over before it began. Showing no outward signs of nervousness, in the first race of the day Larson calmly picked his way out of the mêlée at the heavily favoured pin end, before going on to record his fourth second place of the we ek. Meanwhile, Zandona, Bressani and Hutchinson all put themselves effectively out of contention by each attracting twenty percent Z-flag penalties and when the Race Officer announced that there would be no third race, a delighted Larson found himself in an unassailable position. With no reason to compete in the second and final race of the day, he and his delighted crew: Mike Wolfs, Curtis Florence and tactician Richard Clarke, could head ashore to begin to celebrate their 2009 Melges 24 World Championship victory.
Larson's departure left Zandona and Melleby to battle it out for second place and in 12-14 knots, just about the windiest conditions of the entire series, Melleby put his rival under real pressure with a confident second place performance in the last race. In contrast, Zandona had left himself a lot to do to hang on to his second overall with a first windward mark rounding in the low teens and had to use all of his legendary Italian guile to eventually pull back to sixth on the final run. Now tied on points with the Norwegian, Zandona was relieved to receive confirmation that the count back mathematics had worked in his favour and edged him into second overall. Meanwhile, an ecstatic Melleby was content to celebrate becoming the first ever Norwegian to claim a Melges 24 World Championship podium position. Two race wins apiece during this Championship for each Nico Celon and Flavio Favini, secured them fourth and fifth overall respectively, but must have surely left both helms ruing their damaging double-digit scores earlier in the week, which had ruled them out of a challenge for the overall victory.
|Full results are available from the Event Website. A selection of high resolution images is available to official media outlets, please E-mail Fiona Brown for access details.|
|Provisional Overall Top Ten Overall
1. Chris Larson - West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes - 46 points
Provisional Corinthian Top Five Overall
1. Bruce Ayres - Monsoon - 28 points
|THE SHEEHY LEXUS OF ANNAPOLIS 2009 MELGES 24 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IS SPONSORED BY:
Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis - Title Sponsor
Pusser's Rum - Official Rum
Coral Reef Sailing Apparel & Gill - Official Apparel Sponsor
Atlantic Yacht Rigging - Official Rigging Partner
T2P.TV - Official Video Partner
Tacktick - Official IMCA Media Output Sponsor
Other supporting sponsors include the City of Annapolis, National Sailing Hall of Fame, .BoatingLaw.com, .Go!The Airport Shuttle, Boatyard Bar and Grill, Sam's Waterfront Cafe, APS Ltd, Pusser's Caribean Grille at the Annapolis Marriott Waterfront, Team Barbarians, RACEBOOK-US, North Sails One Design, SailFastPhoto, PantherVision, Chesapeake Bay Roasting Co, Bert Jabin's Yacht Yard, Sail 22, .Latis Yachting Solutions, Kathryn M Weber, CPA, MarinaCastTV, Fawcett Boat Supplies and .LaCroix Waters. This event is also supported by the International Melges 24 Class Association (IMCA), the US Melges 24 Class Association (USMCA) and the Annapolis Melges 24 Fleet #22.
The Melges 24 Class and Eastport Yacht Club are extremely proud to be partnered with these outstanding companies and sincerely thank them for their generous support of the 2009 Worlds.
Visit the official event website at www.melges24worlds2009.com for more information on the Sheehy Lexus of Annapolis 2009 Melges 24 World Championship. Also, visit the Eastport Yacht Club online.
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