by Joy Dunigan
The Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Championship competitors enjoyed yet another exciting day of racing in Miami at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club. Amid predominately cloudy skies, two more races were completed with still shifty but, slightly breezier conditions.
Fleet - Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Championship 2011
With eight races in the bag and two more to go, Italy's Luca Lalli and tactician Lorenzo Bressani on B-LinSailing.com leads the fleet of forty teams by an eight point margin. A former Melges 32 World and Audi Sailing Series Champion, Lalli is only 27-years old, and just started sailing Melges boats a couple of years ago. This championship marks his second time ever sailing in the U.S.A.
Russell Lucas, Shimmer - Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup 2011
After a very successful day on the water, Alessandro Rombelli's Stig with Jonathan McKee as tactician is seated in second overall. Russell Lucas on Shimmer and tactician Harry Melges slipped a position to head into Sunday's final showdown in third.
With 12-14 knots of breeze and a flat sea state, Race One of the day (Race Seven in a 10-part series) commenced on time. A Course 4 was prescribed at 085 with a distance of 1.3nm. The first start resulted in a general recall. Golison was quick to turn around and put the fleet back into sequence with an I-Flag in effect. Rombelli's Stig and Francesco Farnetti's Reggini Sailing Team battled for the top spot from start to finish. Farnetti raced up the left side to take the initial lead, followed closely by Rombelli, Lalli and Renato Vallivero's Turnover and Mark Plaxton's Intac.
Intac - Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Championship 2011
Downwind, Rombelli turned up the speed a notch with some right side pressure putting him well ahead of Farnetti at the gate.
Several of the top teams picked up the pace and gained a few positions such as Lucas and Mary Anne Ward's M&M Racing. At the last mark of the race, Rombelli continued onward for the win, while Farnetti struggled to catch up. Lalli made his move to race in from the right side to finish in second.
It was a photo finish with Rob Wilber's Cinghaile, Renato Vallivero's Turnover and Lucas three wide into the line, fighting for third. Like Lalli, nice pressure on the right side carried Wilber across the line to take third. Vallivero placed fourth and Lucas was fifth.
Race 2 provided more Italian fanfare with Farnetti finally getting a race win. By selecting the pin end for a quick launch off the starting line, Farnetti rounded the windward mark in first, Paul Reilly's Red Sky Sailing Team came second and in third, Bruce Broussard's Velocity. Farnetti held steadfast in first, Reilly and Broussard traded places at the gate, with Rombelli and Lalli gaining fast.
Luca Lalli, B-Lin Sailing.com - Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup 2011
Farnetti put some distance between himself and the fleet, extending and securing the lead, leaving Rombelli, Reilly, Broussard and Lalli to fight for the remaining top five positions. With the breeze diminishing, Rombelli and Lalli rounded second and third respectively at the final mark of the race. Farnetti, with a massive lead grabbed the win, Rombelli took second and Lalli was third.
Red Sky - Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Championship 2011
On Friday night, teams gathered for an elegant cocktail reception and dinner at the Sonesta hotel. Teams were greeted by Regatta Chair Ron Rostorfer and Melges Performance Sailboats' Andy Burdick. Melges raffled off a very cool set of premium Audi Melges 20 gear. Tom Ritter on Tramp was the lucky winner.
International Chairman Manfredi Vianini Tolemei was formally introduced to the fleet where he specifically recognized past Class Chairmen Marc Hollerbach and Alessandro Rombelli for their tremendous efforts in helping positively build the Audi Melges 20 at the International level. He also formally announced the 2012 Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup to be held on the last weekend of October, in Italy.
The last two races of the Gold Cup Championship take place on Sunday, December 11. Racing will commence one hour early.
Alessandro Rombelli, STIG - Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup 2011
The Gold Cup Championship is far from over. Although Lalli leads by a comfortable eight points, Rombelli remains a threat as does Lucas. In the Audi Melges 20 class, the racing is super tight, fun and very intense. The key to winning this championship will be a combination of tactician's calling the shifts just right and boat speed. The top ten boats are fast and certainly have what it takes to challenge Lalli for the title.
Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Championship 2011
Please be sure to join the fleet online as the latest news from the course will be posted at the Official Audi Melges 20 Class Blog.
Top ten results: (Preliminary - After eight races, one discard)
1.) Luca Lalli, B-Lin Sailing.com; 2-1-[41/DSQ]-2-4-6-2-3 = 20
2.) Alessandro Rombelli, STIG; 4--6-1-7-7-1-2 = 28
3.) Russell Lucas, Shimmer; -2-5-5-3-1-5-11 = 32
4.) Travis Weisleder, Layline|Gill Race Team; 3-5-1-3--4-20-6 = 42
5.) Paul Reilly, Red Sky; -7-4-7-9-3-13-4= 47
6.) Francesco Farnetti, Reggini Sailing Team; 1-23-17-6-1--6-1 = 55
7.) Michael Kiss, Bacio; 17--3-4-13-2-14-9 = 62
8.) Mark Plaxton, INTAC; -3-8-11-12-13-7-13 = 21
9.) Renato Vallivero, Turnover; -11-16-16-5-8-4-10 = 70
10.) Marcus Eagan, Cajun Underwriting; 15-6-14-9--5-10-12 = 71
M&M - Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Championship 2011
Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Championship website