MVM Balaton Melges 24 Regatta - Great racing, near perfect conditions
by István Ruják on 29 Apr 2013
The opening event of the inaugural European Sailing Series, the MVM Balaton Melges 24 Regatta sponsored by the MVM Hungarian Power Company, took place from 26th to 28th of April on Balaton the largest lake of Middle Europe. With the Melges 24 European Championship 2014 also being held the same lake in Hungary, this event offered the perfect warm up opportunity for both competitors and race managers alike.
Balaton Melges 24 Regatta 2013 - Winner, Simoneschi Team Gabor Cserta
The aim of the new Melges 24 European Sailing Series is encouraging sailors to join the Melges 24 class. It consist of five events held in five important sailing districts of Europe: Lake Balaton, Kiel, Lake Garda, Medemblik and Hanko.
23 teams from nine nations took part in the races of this first event, but even more nations, four continents - were represented amongst the crews.
A day before the start of the first race, to help get everyone fully up to speed for the start of this first event in the 2013 Melges 24 European Sailing Series, IMCA Chairman Riccardo Simoneschi and his Audi team have generously hosted a free tuning clinic to all Melges 24 competitors.
The first 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 Schmidleitner and RO Bence Fluck.
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 after the first day, two teams were tied for second place and two for fourth.
On the second day, the race committee made the best of the nearly perfect weather conditions so the fleet could sail four nice races. 15 to 20 knots of southwest wind was blowing all day in a slightly tricky manner as is usual on lakes.
The clear dominance of the Italian Audi Team has continued. They have an upper edge on boat handling, speed and tactics as well. Throughout the entire day there were just two occasions when any opponent could reach a mark in front of Riccardo Simoneschi’s team. As a result, the fight was on for the remaining places. Five teams have shown quite similar quality performances on the race course.
After two days and seven races all has changed in the overall standings and a Corinthian climbed up to second place on the overall leader-board. The Austrian team 'Die Weisse', helmed by Franz Urlesberger, has already finished three times in second place and counting one less discard, they were clearly ahead of professionals.
Ian Ainslie and his eclectic intercontinental team including a South African, an Australian, an American and a Hungarian sailor racing under the Hungarian flag - plus the Swiss team led by Jörg Hotz, have sailed steadily and mostly near the top of the fleet. As a result, they were sharing the third and fourth places with minor points differences.
The German Peter Glöckel’s team helped by the young Hungarian tactician Robert Bakóczy and the Danish Corinthian boat of Bo Boje Pedersen, have sailed nearly as consistent on the second day’s races just missing the beat on the second race. So they were a step behind in fifth and sixth place overall, but still in contention for third place.
After two beautiful sailing days, the wind and the weather became even better on Sunday on the Lake Balaton for the remaining last race of the MVM Balaton Melges 24 Regatta. 20-25 knots of southwest wind with bright sunshine made it possible to finish the first event of the European Sailing Series perfectly.
Riccardo Simoneschi’s Audi Team, the winner of the first seven races, this case finished just second so the last race was won by Ian Ainslie’s team Strange Brew. Even this win was not enough for them to overhaul in the overall standings the Austrian Corinthian team Die Weisse helmed by Franz Urlesberger. It’s a great success to them as they finished in front of the majority of the professional teams.
The competition of the Corinthian teams were won by the Austrians in front of the Danish team helmed by Bo Boje Pedersen and the boat of Christoph Skolaut from Austria. The best Hungarian Corinthian team finished fourth with helmsman Attila Bujáky.
As well as excellent racing, the organising Hungarian Melges 24 Class and the MVM Club based in Koloska Marina Balatonfured were working with local suppliers and entertainers to create a relaxed and informal social programme with a truly Hungarian feel. On Friday evening the sailors and their guests enjoyed a Goulash and Hungarian Folk Dancing evening, where the Csopak Folklore Dance Group was not only entertain the sailors but taught them a few dance moves too! On Saturday night there was a regatta dinner with entertainment provided by the world renowned and award winning Roma Talent Group, featuring young, disadvantaged, stunningly gifted Roma music talents who receive world-class training and mentoring by the Snétberger Music Talent Center to help them progress a career in music.
Riccardo Simoneschi the President of the International Melges 24 Class Association said after the prizegiving ceremony: „The MVM Balaton Melges 24 Regatta was a perfectly organized competition on the water and in the shore equally. I was told the wind is often light on the Lake Balaton. Honestly I remember almost the same beautiful conditions when I was here years ago in a Star Europeans. Same wind direction and nice breeze even stronger then this weekend. Plus the place on shore is really wonderful, the people are friendly and the marina is perfect. I may say it was great sailing event. A perfect introduction of the inaugural European Sailing Series of the Melges 24 Class.'
Hopefully next year on the Melges 24 European Championship on the Lake Balaton everything will go as well as in this successful first event of the European Sailing Event website