by Joy Dunigan
It was a dramatic final day for the 2011 Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Championship, hosted by the Coconut Grove Sailing Club in Miami, Florida. Alessandro Rombelli’s Stig, tactician Jonathan McKee and crew member Giorgio Tortarolo came from behind to take victory in the event. It came down to the last leg, of the last race when Rombelli raced across the finish line two positions ahead of Luca Lalli on B-Linsailing.com.
Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Championship 2011
'We never imagined on the way out to the race course today that we would win. With Lorenzo Bressani and Federico Michetti onboard with Luca, we knew that would be a very tough combination to beat.' said Rombelli. 'I think consistency was very important for us and we were very fast downwind. There was some great match racing between us on that last run.'
'It was a classic last race,' said McKee. 'The deciding point was at that last top mark. When we rounded, literally, we were right on their stern. We knew that was the whole regatta. It was all about who was going to beat who. And, with the conditions like they were, it was all about how you approached the finish line. At this event, that counted for a lot of points and position.'
Luca Lalli, B-Linsailing.com - Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Championship 2011
'There are a couple of great stories here at this event.' continued McKee. 'Alessandro had never sailed until only four years ago. His success today is a direct reflection on how far he as come as a sailor. The other story can be told just by looking at this fleet of 40 boats. This is amazing and certainly a tell-tale sign that this class is really a terrific fleet to be a part of and obviously, it's a great boat. Very competitive.'
Russell Lucas' Shimmer claimed a well-deserved third overall, while Paul Reilly's Red Sky had another successful day to finish fourth. Michael Kiss on Bacio and his double-bullet performance enabled him to move from seventh overnight to finish fifth overall.
Russell Lucas, Shimmer - Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Championship 2011
Teams and spectators alike where on the edge of their seats all day long. Racing got underway on time under patchy rain showers, clouds and bursts of sunshine that eventually ushered in some nice puffs and great breeze for the first start. Under I-Flag conditions and 13-18 knots of breeze, race one of the day (number nine in the series) delivered just the right amount of pressure for a fun competitive race.
Tony Tabb's Elevation Racing came on strong to round the top mark in first, with Kiss right on his transom, Pat Eudy's Big Booty was third. Downwind, the two raced it hard to the gate with Tabb holding his own. Back upwind Kiss overtook for the lead. Tabb remained in second as he chased Kiss to the finish. Kiss took the win zooming across the line. Tabb was second, with Eudy putting forth the effort to move up, charging in from the right. Despite the effort, it wasn't enough so he settled for third.
Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Championship 2011
So much was riding on the last race of the day, as it provided teams the opportunity to really put down some speed and power, and have a final go at top positions. Kiss launched it on the first beat, with Bruce Broussard's Velocity keeping up for second and Tabb, having another great race rounded third. Off in the near distance, Lalli and Rombelli fought for position as with the close of the first race, only one point separated them, in Lalli's favor. The top three remained intact with the final run being the most exciting of all.
Just like the last five minutes of the super bowl, final finishes changed everything in the last seconds of the game. Kiss ran away with the win, Tabb pulled off second place right at the line ahead of Broussard in third. Reilly's came fourth, followed by Lucas. Rombelli flew downwind gaining ground making up two spots to snatch the trophy from Lalli in stride.
Again, Coconut Grove Sailing Club's organization and event management was first class. PRO Bruce Golison and team delivered, by far the most amazing event where race committee work is concerned, nothing short of perfect! 'This is a team thing. Myself, along with Taran Teague, Bruce Bingham and Steve Washburn, we all know what each other is thinking,' said Golison. 'We run races as if we were the competitors. It's important to be organized. This was such a great regatta.'
Without the competitors, this championship simply would not have been possible. A very special thanks to all the teams who traveled the distance to race, especially all of our Italian and Canadian friends!
But most of all, there is one team the beats them all. The Melges Team comprised of Harry Melges, Andy Burdick, Federico Michetti, Jim Gluek, Matt Pistay, Antony Kotoun, Seadon Wijsen, Luisa Bambozzi and Giorgio Tortarolo, they are the ones that have brought this fleet together through the tireless efforts of customer service and support, an intense passion for the sport of sailing, and most of all, they have given the world an impeccable product. A game changer — the Audi Melges 20.
Top ten results: (Final - After 10 races, one discard - pending protests)
1.) Alessandro Rombelli, STIG; 4--6-1-7-7-1-2-4-8 = 40
2.) Luca Lalli, B-Lin Sailing.com; 2-1-[41/DSQ]-2-4-6-2-3-11-10 = 41
3.) Russell Lucas, Shimmer; -2-5-5-3-1-5-11-18-5 = 45
4.) Paul Reilly, Red Sky; -7-4-7-9-3-13-4-6-4 = 57
5.) Michael Kiss, Bacio; 17--3-4-13-2-14-9-1-1 = 64
6.) Travis Weisleder, Layline|Gill Race Team; 3-5-1-3--4-20-6-16-7 = 64
7.) Rob Wilber, Cinghaile; 9-10-19-8-8-22-3--7-6 = 92
8.) Mark Plaxton, INTAC; -3-8-11-12-13-7-13-9-17 = 93
9.) Francesco Farnetti, Reggini Sailing Team; 1-23-17-6-1-25-6-1-18-[41/DNF] = 98
10.) Renato Vallivero, Turnover; -11-16-16-5-8-4-10-12-16 = 98
Paul Reilly, Red Sky - Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Championship 2011
Audi Melges 20 Gold Cup Championship website