by Fiona Brown
MVM Balaton Melges 24 Regatta, sponsored by the MVM Hungarian Power Company, the inaugural event of the new Melges 24 European Sailing Series, got underway on Lake Balaton in Hungary on Friday 26th April. With 23 teams from nine nations and with four continents represented among the crews this truly is an International gathering. The day started with an initial postponement ashore allowing time for coffee, delicious Hungarian pastries and a few informal games of chess and football in the hot sunshine. By early afternoon a beautiful 10-13 knots from the south-west was blowing and the fleet started the first of three excellent races under the watchful eye of PRO Gert Schmidtleitner and RO Bence Fluck.
MVM Balaton Melges 24 Regatta 2013
Current Melges 24 World and European Ranking Champion Riccardo Simoneschi, sailing Audi with crew Lucy Giorgetti, Enrico Fonda, Vittorio Rosso and Federico Buscagua, won all three races in style giving the other teams little or no chance to catch them. Behind Audi the battle for places was extremely open and tonight two teams are tied for second place and two for fourth.
Jorg Hotz of Switzerland sailing Andele and Italy's Pablo Soldano, sailing for the Swedish team of Fredrick Wenehult aboard Floda Systemsky It, are both on 15 points with Holz taking second place on count-back.
Lying in fourth on count-back is the multi-continental team of triple South Africa Olympic Finn representative Ian Ainslie, who is crewed aboard Strange Brew by top Australian match racer Adam Martin, former Hungarian Optimist Champion Botond Weores and US Melgs 24 Class President Chris Farkas of San Francisco. Tied with Ainslie on 18 points is Denmark's Rene Bruun who also leads the Corinthian, all amateur, division in the regatta.
Bruun's fellow Dane Bo Boje Pedersen takes second position in the Corinthian division by just a single point, and two further points behind him is Austria's Franz Urlesberger sailing Die Wiesse who started is day with an eighth place but went on to win the Corinthian Division in races two and three. Fifteen of the 23 competitors in the regatta qualify for the Corinthian division making them a very strong fleet within a fleet.
With the Melges 24 European Championship 2014 also being held on Lake Balaton this event offers the perfect warm up opportunity for both competitors and race managers alike. As well as excellent racing, the organising Hungarian Melges 24 Class and the MVM Sailing Association Koloska Marina Balatonfured are providing a fun informal social programme for the teams. This evening's offering was classic Hungarian Goulash supper and a demonstration of and lessons in Hungarian Folk Dancing from the Csopak Folklore Dance Group which were enjoyed by all.
Two more days of racing and up to eight races in total are scheduled so there are plenty of chances for change on the leader board. Tomorrow's forecast is for 15-20 knots from the south-south-west and further good winds and more sunshine are expected for Sunday's final day.
Provisional overall top five after three races
1 Audi - ITA819 - Riccardo Simoneschi - 1,1,1 = 3
2 Andele - SUI821 - Jorg Hotz - 2,7,6 = 15
3 Floda Systemsky It - SWE666 - Pablo Soldano - 4,8,3 = 15
4 Strange Brew - HUN392 - Ian Ainslie - 3,3,12 = 18
5 BNI - DEN664 - Rene Bruun - 7,6,5 = 18
Provisional Corinthian top three after three races
1 BNI - DEN664 - Rene Bruun - 1,3,3 = 7
2 DEN823 - Bo Beje Pedersen - 2,2,4 = 8
3 Die Wiesse - AUT681 - Franz Urlesberger - 8,1,1 = 10