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Royal Irish Yacht Club Embarr Leads Melges 24 World Championships

30th November 2016
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Sailing with Royal Irish based Clarke is Aoife English, Maurice O'Connell and American Olympic 470 duo David Hughes and Stuart McNay Sailing with Royal Irish based Clarke is Aoife English, Maurice O'Connell and American Olympic 470 duo David Hughes and Stuart McNay Photo: Pierrick Contin/Facebook

A series long lead held this week by Irish Melges 24 Embarr continues in Miami, Florida today at the 74–boat World Championships. Skipper Conor Clarke has an eight–point lead over Italy's Gian Luca Perego. Third after six races is New England Ropes skippered by Tim Healy.

Sailing with Royal Irish based Clarke is Aoife English, Maurice O'Connell and American Olympic 470 duo David Hughes and Stuart McNay, who finished fourth at the Rio Olympics. Results are here. Racing continues today.

It was clear since the beginning that the 2016 Melges 24 World Championship would have been a tough challenge for the crews, both because of the demanding weather conditions and because of the extremely high level of the sailors and their coaches, among the lasts a couple of Olympic medallists (Morgan Reeser and Kevin Burnham), too - that would have been out on the water. The first two days of racing didn't in any way mismatch the expectations.

The oceanic waves that, differently than expected, didn't decrease during the races of today, put under high pressure the crews that were in the water for the second day of racing of the 2016 Melges 24 World Championship. A breeze blowing from 150°-160°, with intermittent gusts up to 20 knots and well-formed wave, in some moments put in difficulty the crews, causing also a few damages to some boats that were forced to withdraw from today's races.

The day when the discard has come into play, daily best has been Brian Porter's Full Throttle USA849 (6-1-1), former Melges 24 World Champion that scored two bullets in races number 5 and 6 of the series and is currently occupying the fifth place of the overall ranking. The leadership, though, still belongs to Embarr IRL829 ([15]-4-5), that had an amazing performance in the first race of the day: despite being called OCS at the start and being subsequent penalized, the boat of Conor Clarke managed to bring on a stunning recovery over the fleet, closing a race that would have been considered lost by most in a very good position. In a second moment, moreover, the Irish entry had a redress for the OCS that was declared wrongly called, hence scoring three points in the first race of today instead of fifteen (3-4-[5]), bringing up to 8 points the gap of advantage over the first follower, Maidollis 3 ITA822.

It was another good day for Gian Luca Perego's Maidollis 3 ITA822 ([9]-6-2): the couple helmsman-tactician Fracassoli-Fonda, consolidated and successful in the Melges 24 Class, was consistent in today's races, scoring a ninth - eventually discarded - a sixth and a second with the brand new boat that, as it seems, is reacting well also to the most demanding conditions. The Maidollis 3 team is now occupying the second place of the overall ranking: "It was a tough day for most of the teams, starts have all been difficult also due to the big waves, but in the end we somehow managed to recover well. We are halfway now, it is necessary to keep being consistent and concentrated all through the remaining races" declared Perego, once back to the dock.

Third place in the overall ranking now belongs to New England Ropes USA658 (4-2-4) by Tim Healy, while Bora Gulari's West Marine Rigging USA820 (16-5-[25]) slipped in to the fourth position.

The fight was hard also in the Corinthian division, where the best of the day was Marco Zammarchi's Taki 4 ITA778 (18-16-6/2-2-1) with Niccolo Bertola in helm, that found in today's big waves and breeze its favourite conditions for sailing: once back on the dock, the crew expressed all its satisfaction for the good result of the day, but said that half of the Championship still has to come, so they cannot lose concentration, in particular in the next days when the lighter weather conditions will be a great challenge for them.

One of the favourites of the Corinthian group, the Estonian Tõnu Tõniste's Lenny EST790 (26-15-[OCS]/6-1-[OCS]), current Melges 24 Corinthian World Championship, had to leave the top of the Corinthian ranking to Megan Ratliff's Decorum USA805, due to the OCS they did clear themselves in the sixth race of the series, slipping down to the twentieth place in the overall ranking. "It was for sure a good day for us in the water" declared Megan Ratliff from Decorum "We've been able to find good speed, especially downwind with our pink kite! The fact that we've been in Miami for a while, trying to get to know the weather and the environment, probably is helping us to sail well".

Starting from tomorrow, the Race Committee intends to run two races per day, completing in this way a series of twelve regattas. Weather conditions, though, will have to be favourable enough to allow so: in fact, wind is forecasted to decrease sensibly, making the crews race in conditions that may be drastically opposed to those that they have been used to seeing in these days.

Overall ranking - Top 5 (74 Boats)
1. Embarr, Melges 24, Conor Clarke , Dublin, IRL, 2 -1 -1 -3 -4 -[5] ; 11
2. Maidollis 3, Melges 24, Gian Luca Perego , ARcore, ITA, 3 -5 -3 -[9] -6 -2 ; 19
3. New England Ropes, Melges 24, Tim Healy , Jamestown, RI, USA, 7 -6 -[14] -4 -2 -4 ; 23
4. West Marine Rigging, Melges 24, Bora Gulari , Detroit, MI, USA, 1 -2 -2 -16 -5 -[26] ; 26
5. Full Throttle, Melges 24, Brian Porter , Fontana, Wi, USA, 9 -15 -[18] -6 -1 -1 ; 32

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