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Melges 24 World Championship - Battle for podium placings underway

by Lisa Ratcliff/Gill Melges 24 World Championship on 2 Feb 2014
BLU MOON Flavio Favini (SUI825) - Gill Melges 24 World Championship 2014 Teri Dodds
Gill Melges 24 World Championship 2014 - It’s been 13 years since the Italian sailing maestro Flavio Favini won a Melges 24 world championship.

Last year in San Francisco he finished runner-up to Brian Porter’s Full Throttle by two points and on many more occasions since his win in 2001, Favini has finished tantalisingly close to the top spot.

Tonight the triumphant helmsman has a second title in the bag and so comfortable is Blu Moon’s winning margin they will pack up the boat tomorrow ready for shipping while a ding-dong battle for the remaining podium placings is underway in the final race of the series.

The two American teams, Harry Melges’ STAR and Bora Gulari’s West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes are a point apart, 36 and 37, in second and third overall. 'It’s on,' said a grinning Gulari after reading the scores.

Favini paid tribute to his team of Gabriele Benussi (tactician), Stefano Rizzi, Giovanni Ferrari and Nicholas Dal Ferro, 'We have a very good crew, so many good sailors that make my job so much easier.'

The last Melges 24 world championship was held in October, a short reign for Porter. The tight timeframe also meant the internationals’ boats had to be shipped straight to Australia, cutting into Blu Moon’s preparation time.

'It was great to do the Australian Open Nationals last week, a beautiful regatta won by STAR. We took the chance to sail to prepare for the worlds,' said Favini.

On today’s belated start of racing Favini said, 'We knew the breeze would fill in late so we were prepared to wait. It’s a part of the sport.'

Race 10 began almost two hours after the scheduled warning signal due to a glass-out on the bay, which meant a long delay for crews, officials and spectators in the hot sun.

The sou’easter filled in just after 1500hrs, 7-10 knots for race 10 and up to 12-15 for race 11.

Swiss Franco Rossini’s Blu Moon duelled with Harry Melges’ STAR for four days on Geelong’s Corio Bay to finish their regatta with 28 points and no need to race tomorrow.

Rossini was on board for the win in 2001 and today he and Flavio’s former tactician Tiziano Nava followed the fleet around the course on a RIB and met them on the dock afterwards to celebrate.

'We have a very good week, especially with such tough competitor as STAR. Harry is such a good sailor. We have a very good relationship and I’m proud to sail against him,' added Favini.

Travelling to the other side of the world with a boat, crew and gear is a major exercise and one Favini has enjoyed.

'I like Australia; it’s so nice to come down here. In Italy we have such bad weather, storms, raining and snow. We are having a real winter so the main difference is we are in shorts and T-shirts here.'

Current Moth world champion Bora Gulari really found his grove at these worlds in today’s light airs.

'I think we have finally come to grips with the whole place, we have boat speed again and good tactics, everything is clicking,' Gulari said this afternoon dockside at the host Royal Geelong Yacht Club.

Gulari’s West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes is now third overall and they and STAR have a fight on their hands for second.

Gulari is also a Downunder fan. 'It’s awesome; an incredible place to sail. When I’m not at home in the USA I’d rather be sailing in Australia.'

Home in Detroit sounds good, but the reality is that at the professional level Gulari sails, he’s rarely there.

'I’ve spent two weeks at my house since July last year. I don’t get to go home a whole lot, when I do the standard deal is home for 24 hours, do some laundry and I’m out. It’s tough on relationships and guys with families,' he admitted.

Growing up Gulari wanted to be a rocket scientist or a pilot. He has an aerospace engineering degree and says if he had a ‘normal’ job he’d be an engineer of some sorts.

He’s looking forward to tomorrow’s match up. 'It will be exciting, I like racing against Harry and the boys on Star'.

For fun Gulari took the chance to go back out on Corio Bay this afternoon for a twilight sail on a Mach 2 Moth borrowed from designer Andrew MacDougall.

Warwick Rooklyn (Bandit) went to the protest room with Dave Alexander (Kowabunga) for a port/starboard, and lost. Their disqualification from race 11 has shuffled the Australians out of the top 10, leaving Nathan Wilmot’s Melges Asia Pacific Kaito in sixth and Cameron Miles’ Roger That in ninth.

Roger That has locked up the Corinthian world champion title with one race remaining.

Another warm day and late arriving sea breeze is forecast for tomorrow and the race committee has moved the first warning signal for race 12 back to 1400hrs.

Series Results [Open] up to Race 11 (Drops = 1)

1 - BLU MOON Flavio Favini (SUI825)
2 - STAR Harry Melges (USA841)
3 - WEST MARINE RIGGING/NEW ENGLAND ROPES Bora Gulari (USA820)
4 - CAVILLINO / MCLUBE Chris Larson (CAN795)
5 - AUDI Riccardo Simoneschi (ITA840)

Series Results [Corinthian] up to Race 11 (Drops = 1)

1 - ROGER THAT Cameron Miles (AUS750)
2 - REDMIST Robin Deussen (AUS607)
3 - AMIGOS Geoff Fogarty (AUS816)
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