At the Festival of Sails 2014, for the third consecutive day, Harry Melges and his crew of Star (USA) held off the rest of the one-design fleet and have inched closer to victory at the Gill Melges 24 Australian Open Nationals.
In gusty 15-20 knot south to sou’east winds in Stingray Bay on the eastern shore of Geelong’s Corio Bay, Melges consolidated, picking up a fourth win from eight races plus a third and seventh.
With one drop coming into play and today’s first, second and fourth results, Flavio Favini, the class’ 2013 European champion and 2001 world champion, and his Melges Blu Moon (SUI) move into second overall. Favini is eight points from Melges and 12 points clear of Australia’s Nathan Wilmot on Melges – Asia Kaito.
The 2014 Australian Open Nationals Melges 24 champion will fittingly be decided tomorrow, Australia Day, when the 23-boat fleet contest their final two races.
From the large contingent of South Australian Melges 24s contesting the nationals, Rob Duessen’s Red Mist is the highest on the ladder, thanks to a second in race eight.
Sailing 505s, Sharpies and FBs makes Duessen more of a dinghy sailor than a sports boat aficionado but Duessen is enjoying the steep learning curve.
'I have a good crew with me and we are learning a lot about Melges racing,' said Duessen tonight. He also credited the Australian Melges 24 sales and distribution centre, Melges Asia – Pacific.
The South Australian team comprise seven Melges 24s from the Adelaide Sailing Club at Glenelg. Hamish Nicol from one of the SA boats Adrenaline says the Melges fleet has grown rapidly over the past two to three years.
'The Melges 24 is particularly suited for the exciting sea breeze conditions off Adelaide where the regular 18 to 22 knot winds gives excellent downwind runs, and waves are particularly suited to getting the Melges surfing.'
In the build up to the Australian Open Nationals and next week’s Gill Melges 24 World Championship the Adelaide fleet got themselves organised and held three three-day regattas over a five week period, plus a number of training clinics.
'The outcome was the fleet became increasingly competitive with all boats enjoying moments and all regattas being closely contested,' said Nicol.
'We are excited to be rubbing shoulders with people competing on the world stage, it makes us really feel part of an international fleet and we are delighted those folks have made the trip.'
by Lisa Ratcliff
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11:50 AM Sat 25 Jan 2014GMT
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