Four British teams made the journey to the island of Sardinia for the Italian Nationals at Cagliari - the final warm up before the 2008 World Championship in Porto Cervo. They joined fifty eight other boats from Italy and across Europe in what turned out to be one of the best Melges 24 regattas of the season so far.
Eleven of a possible twelve races were sailed in bright sunshine and a variety of breezes from eight up to twenty knots. Italy's Joe Fly helmed by 470 Olympic representative Gabrio Zandona took the title ahead of Lorenzo Bressani on Uka Uka and Matteo Ivaldi on Brontolo AB Medica.
After a brief sojourn in the Melges 32 fleet for Key West race Week in January Stuart Simpsons UK entry Team Barbarians, with Jamie Lee helming, were back in their Melges 24 and keen to get up to speed as quickly as possible before the Worlds. At the end of the eleven race series in Cagliari they managed to squeak into the top ten with some good results (a second and two thirds) marred only by a black flag in race four and a twenty second in race three. Simpsons team finished 6th in last year’s Worlds out in Santa Cruz and are tilting at a top ten result in Port Cervo where there are already over one hundred entries.
Torquay sailmaker John Pollard, sailing with the newly married Rob Smith as tactician aboard A-Team Westaway, failed to find the form they managed in Marseilles earlier in the year where they finished third overall.
In Cagliari their best result was a tenth and they uncharacteristically twice suffered from gear failure including depositing three of their crew into the water in race eight when their lifeline snapped. Impressively however they managed to finish that race in 49th place and rig up a jury lifeline from their jib halliard tail which enabled them to stay out for the chilly third race of the day.
Overall A-Team Westaway came in 19th - a result they will be looking to improve on at the Worlds in a few weeks. Given that they are planning to sail five up instead of four they will be having a low calorie experience between now and the Worlds. Miles Quentin picked up a new sponsor for his Mojo team in the form of Guls Code Zero waterproofs. Mojo Code Zero was helmed for the first time by last years British SB3 National and European champion Geoff Carveth.
After a series of up and down results during the Cagliari series Miles and his team finished the regatta strongly with an 11th and a 9th in the final two races. Carveth told us that he had enjoyed his first experience of helming the Melges 24. ‘It takes some getting used to but by the end of the series I was starting to feel more comfortable with things. I am looking forward to doing some more in Porto Cervo. it is a legendary venue and should be a fantastic championships.’
Simon Dobson made a welcome return to the helm of Comfortably Numb - a boat he co-owns with trimmer Andrew Dellow. Sailing with M24 veterans Adrian Peach and Sam North they finished 15th in the Corinthian (no pro sailors) competition and fortieth overall. Dobson and Dellow are looking forward to competing in the expected strong breezes of Porto Cervo.
All eyes now turn to the World Championships which will be taking place on the north of Sardinia at Porto Cervo in a few weeks time. The already white hot competition in the fleet will be boosted by US entries amongst which will be last year’s runner up Brian Porter and his Full Throttle team which includes Harry Melges calling tactics.
The hundred boat plus entry means that the fleet will be split for two days of qualification heats to produce Gold and Silver fleet for the championships. Prior to that teams will be able to get acclimatised to the Porto Cervo conditions in a two day pre-worlds regatta.