Claudio Recchi aboard Lorenzo Santini's Uka Uka wins the Santa Margherita Ligure edition of the Melges 32 2008 Audi Sailing Series after a thrilling final day.
The race committee's decision to start racing at 09.30 on the final day of the Santa Margherita Ligure edition of the Melges 32 2008 Audi Sailing Series paid off and the twelve teams were able to complete three exciting races in breezes from eight to twelve knots. The tense battle for overall supremacy, between Fausto Rubbini on Thule and Claudio Recchi on Uka Uka, was waged across all three races with the outcome only decided on the final leg of the last race.
Race one started in twelve knots of wind with a disproportionately large swell. For the whole of the race Uka Uka, Thule as well as Stefano and Massimo Leporati's Kismet and Luigi Melegari's Matrix, were locked in a fierce four way fight for the lead. Places changed in this group on every leg and it was impossible to predict the winner until near the finish line. In the end it was Kismet who did enough to take the win from Matrix in second. Behind them Uka Uka beat Thule into fourth place to tie the regatta on points at this stage.
The action in race two was no less compelling. With the breeze at around ten knots and the swell still in evidence crews had to work the boats hard upwind but on the downwind legs there were plenty of opportunities for surfing on the large waves.. Carlo Alberini aboard Calvi Network led at the first windward mark from Kismet and Uka Uka. Uka Uka hit the right hand side of the run hard and jumped from third to first at the leeward gate.
Calvi Network dropped back to third behind Kismet on the next beat but the experienced Farr 40 crew, competing at their first Melges 32 regatta, were not beaten yet. On the final leg, as Uka Uka and Kismet worked the left of the run, Calvi Network rocketed down the other side in clear air to take the race win ahead of Uka Uka and Kismet. Further down the fleet, joint regatta leader Thule recorded a disappointing ninth place.
In the final race of the regatta Thule kept their chance of an overall win alive with a comprehensive race win. Having been able to take full advantage of a left shift soon after the start, they led around every mark and by the finish had extended their winning margin to over one minute. Meanwhile Uka Uka had to stage an amazing race comeback having rounded the first windward mark in fifth. By the end of the first downwind leg they had moved up to third behind Stefano Di Properzio at the helm of Mataran.
However it was not until the final leg that they managed to overhaul Mataran and secure the vital second place which would guarantee them the regatta win. Uka Uka tactician Gabriele Benussi commented afterwards 'In the final race it was difficult because there were many shifts and gusts on the race course. Fortunately on the final leg we got wave and a gust together that took us past Stefano'.
Uka Uka's win in Santa Margherita Ligure also gives them into a six point lead in the overall 2008 Audi Sailing Series ahead of Kismet and Matrix. The series concludes with the final event in Lerici on the 3rd - 5th of October. This regatta promises to attract the largest entry of the series so far with entries from the UK and Germany potentially boosting the fleet to fifteen boats.
International Melges 32 Class Association www.melges32.com