by Joy Dunigan
More than 40 Audi Melges 20 teams will compete this weekend at the Riva Del Garda edition of the 2014 Audi-Tron Sailing Series, the fourth act of the five-part European program that also serves as a prelude to the World Championship. The Worlds is scheduled to take place in late August (25-30) in the same location, hosted by Fraglia Vela Riva, organized by B.Plan Sports & Events and Melges Europe.
Audi Tron Sailing Series Talamone - Melges 20 fleet
In Riva, the International Class is proud to present representation from nine countries including Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Monaco, Russia and the United States. Italy is best represented with 23 entries, followed by Russia with seven, Monaco and the U.S.A. share four each.
Much is at stake in Riva Del Garda. For 2014 Melges 20 Audi-Tron Sailing Series leader (after three events) Dario Levi aboard Fremito D'Arja with crew members Nicolo Bianchi and Stefano Lagi, will attempt to sustain their lead. On the newly presented World Ranking stage, Richard Davies and his Section 16 team comprised of two-time Olympic Bronze Medallist and U.S. Sailing High Performance Director Charlie McKee as tactician along with the young and highly skilled Matt Pistay, will work exceptionally hard to push past Wes Whimyer's Slingshot (not present in Riva) and place some space between themselves and the rest of the fleet on the scoreboard.
The general Entry List is long and well-endowed. Reigning Melges 24 World and European Champion tactician Gabriele Benussi will call the shots on Guido Miani's Out of Reach, while fleet newcomer Corrado Augusta's Customly will employ America's Cup Luna Rossa team member Pietro D'Ali. Alessandro Rombelli's Stig will feature Danielle Cassinari, and sailing with Roberto Martinez on Audi g-Tron Fratelli Giacomel is none other than Enrico Fonda.
On the family side of the fleet, Russ Lucas will sail his very famous Shimmer Audi Melges 20 with the help of multi-world and national champions Harry Melges and Federico Michetti. Russ' daughter Grace Lucas, a recent graduate of the College of Charleston and an extremely accomplished young sailor will sail on Shimmer 2 with the talented husband and wife team of Chris and Dani Rast.
Racing officially commences on Saturday and concludes on Sunday. Six races are scheduled.
Audi Melges 20 owners and teams enjoy only the very best in the world, special thanks to Torqueedo electric outboard motors. Every competing boat will enjoy the 100% environmentally friendly units for the duration of the 2014 Audi-Tron Sailing Series.
Melges 20 website