Melges 24 World Championship - The international fleet was given a gentle introduction to the Melges 24 World Championship with just a single medium airs race made possible on day one of the Pre-Worlds Regatta.
With the after effects of the spectacular electrical storms which have been rumbling through Texas over the past few days preventing the customary 15+ knot thermal winds from developing, the first scheduled race of the day got underway bang on time in a somewhat recalcitrant 10 knots of breeze.
After an initial General Recall, the fleet got off at the second time of asking, with the bulk of the boats initially working the middle left of the beat. At the top mark it was Brian Porter at the helm of USA 749 Full Throttle who led by a couple of lengths from Ricardo Simoneschi on ITA 819 AUDI, with Eivind Melleby on NOR 804 Full Medal Jacket, in third.
Melleby was the first of the leading group to gybe at the top of the run and this move gave him a narrow lead over Porter by the mid-point of the leg. The two leading boats split at the leeward gate, with Melleby rounding the right hand buoy just seconds before Porter got to the right hand gate mark.
The next beat saw Melleby pick his way expertly through the shifts and weakening pressure to pull out a huge lead by the second windward mark. Alan Field on USA 811 WTF and Kristen Lane on USA 812 Brick House 812, also made significant gains on this leg to round close together in second and third places. The final run was sailed in a rapidly fading breeze, which enabled Melleby to extend his lead even further by the finish, with Lane taking second and Simoneschi closing out third.
Despite the best efforts of the Race Committee, soon after the last boat had ghosted home the breeze evaporated almost completely, leaving them no alternative but to send the fleet ashore to relax, tinker with their boats, and enjoy the glorious Texas sunshine. Later in the afternoon competitors took part in an informative post-racing debrief clinic, fronted by a panel of experts including Principal Race Officer Mark Foster, triple Melges 24 World Champion Federico Michetti, and double Melges 24 World Champion Vince Brun.
More light to medium conditions are expected for the final day of the Pre-Worlds Regatta tomorrow, with the beginnings of a return to the more characteristic bigger breezes anticipated for the start of the main Championship Series on Monday.
Racing at the 2011 Melges 24 World Championship runs through until Saturday 21 May with two scheduled races per day.