Melges 32 Audi Sailing Series - The final day of the 2011 Melges 32 Audi Sailing Series regatta at Marina di Scarlino, Maremma Tuscany, Italy saw the competition come to a thrilling conclusion over two intense and tightly fought races.
Turning in a boat of the day performance which saw them win the first race and place fourth in the final heat, Italy’s Alessio Marinelli along with tactician Ricardo Simoneschi aboard Audi Fratelli Giacomel, leapfrogged themselves from sixth overall at the start of the day to take the overall regatta win.
An eighth and a third on the final day was enough for fellow Italian Filippo Pacinotti and tactician Daniele Cassinari aboard Brontolo HH to maintain their second place overall, just one point behind the winners. Having led the regatta since the first day, Jason Carroll and his tactician Cameron Appleton on the US boat Argo initially looked good to maintain their place at the top of the leader board when they placed third in the first race of the day, but a twelfth in the final race ultimately dropped them down to third overall, a margin of three points behind the winners.
With just five points separating the top six teams, there was an underlying mood of tension and anticipation as the fleet left the dock for the final day of racing. The first race of the day was sailed in a patchy six to eight knot land breeze, which presented the tacticians with some head scratching moments throughout. Soon after the start, the fleet spilt left and right into two almost equal packs and with big wind variations in both pressure and wind direction it was impossible until the final stages of the leg to determine which side would come out on top.
In the end it was regatta leader Jason Carroll on Argo who had made most sense of the tricky conditions, and came in from the right to lead the fleet around the first mark and along the spreader leg, closely followed by a tight group of about six boats. At the spreader mark Carroll initially chose to hoist his gennaker and stay on starboard gybe, allowing second placed Stuart Robinson (GBR) on Highlife to gain the advantage by rolling into a neatly executed gybe set. When the rest of the pack began to follow suit, Carroll quickly realised his mistake and gybed himself, but the damage was already done and by the midpoint of the leg Argo was down to sixth or seventh place.
Highlife led the race at the bottom gate and rounded the left hand mark. As the land breeze began to soften, the second beat was even more tricky than the first, with the fleet again breaking left and right. Alessio Marinelli's Audi Fratelli Giacomel hit the left hand side the hardest and was rewarded with some seemingly exclusive extra breeze which took them past Highlife and into the lead at the second windward mark. Refusing to see the overall regatta lead slip away at this point, the Argo crew sailed a stellar leg which saw them move back up to third place at the windward mark. Despite the now rapidly failing breeze, the final downwind leg saw no place changes amongst the leaders, with Audi Fratelli Giacomel comfortably taking the gun, ahead of Highlife in second and Argo in third.
Just one more race now feasible inside the final day time limit, and at this point Jason Carroll (USA) on Argo held a six point lead over Marinelli in second with Filippo Pacinotti (ITA) on Brontolo HH a further two points behind in third.
After waiting patiently for a ten to twelve knot thermal sea breeze to establish itself, the race committee swapped the course through almost 180 degrees and set up for the sixth and deciding race of the series. Following an initial General Recall, the fleet got away cleanly second time, with some significant bias in the line bunching the boats at the committee boat end of the line.
This congestion allowed reigning Melges 32 World Champion Luca Lalli (ITA) on B-Lin Sailing to get away cleanly nearer to the pin end and he ultimately led the fleet around the first windward mark. Close behind was John Kilroy (USA) on Samba Pa Ti in second, Antonello Morina (ITA) on Sei Tu 32 in third and Filippo Pacinotti (ITA) on Brontolo HH in fourth. Most significantly, in the battle for the overall title, second placed Alessio Marinelli had squeezed in at the top mark in twelfth, with regatta leader Carroll five places back in seventeenth.
The downwind leg served only to compress the leading pack, with B-Lin Sailing narrowly leading Samba Pa Ti and a large gaggle of boats around the leeward gate. On the second beat the boats who had got themselves out to the right of the course came out on top. New race leader Brontolo HH was virtually locked together with Sei tu 32 as they simultaneously gybe set and headed off down the final run. With Carroll back in eleventh, Marinelli was now on a charge for the regatta win and had moved up into fourth place, close behind Edoardo Lupi (ITA) on Torpyone in third.
At the end of an fierce battle amongst the race leaders on the final leg, Morina took the win followed by Lupi in second and Pacinotti in third. Marinelli came home in fourth and with Carroll finishing back in eleventh. This meant that a clearly delighted Marinelli had stolen the regatta win on the final race and by a margin of just one point. The ever consistent Pacinotti took second place, just one point away from taking victory himself, and after leading the regatta for so long, a rueful Carroll had in the end to settle for third overall.
Top Ten Results (Final, After Six Races)
1.) Alessio Marinelli/Riccardo Simoneschi, Audi Fratelli Giacomel; 5--3-8-1-4 = 21
2.) Filippo Pacinotti/Daniele Cassinari, Brontolo HH; 4--4-3-8-3 = 22
3.) Jason Carroll/Cameron Appleton, Argo; 6-1-2--3-12 = 24
4.) Edoardo Lupi/Branko Brcin, Torpyone; -5-6-6-7-2 = 26
5.) Stuart Robinson/Ruairidh Scott, Highlife; 10-7-1-10-2- = 30
6.) Lanfranco Cirillo/Vasco Vascotto, Fantastica; 1--12-7-5-9 = 34
7.) Antonello Morina/Paolo Cian, Sei Tu 32; -11-5-9-11-1 = 37
8.) Vincenzo Onorato/Francesco Bruni, Mascalzone Latino; 8-14-11-1-6- = 40
9.) Mauro Mocchegiani/Matteo Ivaldi, Rush Diletta; 14-4-8-2-12- = 40
10.) John Kilroy/Nathan Wilmot, Samba Pa Ti; 2-2-10--21-6 = 41
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