The final day of the 2011 Melges 24 World Championship in Corpus Christi, Texas saw the regatta come to a close with some thrilling racing action out on the water. A third place in the first race of the day for reigning world champion Lorenzo Bressani on ITA 817 Uka Uka Racing, was enough to see him retain the title he won in Tallinn, Estonia last year, with a race to spare. Despite not sailing the final race, Bressani's overall winning margin was still a massive 23 points - a real indication of just how comprehensively the Italian has dominated this regatta.
A solid second and a fourth today for Brian Porter on USA 749 Full Throttle was good enough for him to secure second overall. Porter, who started the series with an uncharacteristically poor first day, fought his way up to second during the week with a determined and consistent performance.
The battle between Alec Cutler on BER 655 hedgehog and Nathan Wilmot on IRL 607 Embarr, for the final podium place really went down to the wire. Lying in fourth place, 7 points behind Cutler going into the final day, Wilmot gave himself the best possible chance of a place on the podium by winning the penultimate race of the championship. Cutler finished that race back in seventh, meaning that he held a tenuous single point lead over Wilmot going into the final race. The final race scrap between these two was a real classic, with Cutler leading the fleet for most of the race and Wilmot having to fight his way back from eighth place at the first windward mark. On the final run Cutler initially looked to have done enough to win the race and claim third overall, however in the last third of the leg everything changed at the front, with Cutler appearing to fall out of the best pressure and allowing a pack of four boats to overtake. Kristen Lane on USA 812 Brick House 812 was furthest right boat and perfectly positioned to capitalise on the new breeze. She came through to take her second race win of the week, ahead of Eivind Melleby on NOR 804 in second. Behind them Wilmot, Porter and Cutler all approached the finish line abreast, with Wilmot diving down at the last second to take third by what looked like just the width of his bowsprit block, from Porter in fourth and Cutler in fifth. Wilmot's last-ditch efforts elevated him to third overall in the regatta, with a disappointed Cutler having to settle for fourth, just 1 point behind. Kristen Lane's final race win, earned her fifth overall, 3 points adrift of Cutler.
As reigning World Champions, Bressani and the Uka Uka Racing crew went into this regatta as the firm favourites, a mantle they more than lived up to during the championship. Their performance this week has been nothing short of remarkable, winning six out of the twelve races and never finishing below sixth in any of the races they sailed. Tactically astute throughout the series, they started well in virtually every race and both upwind and downwind they always appeared to hold a speed advantage over their competitors. Bressani's victory this week is his third in the Melges 24 Class, an achievement also matched by both team owner Lorenzo Santini and tactician Jonathan McKee. Trimmer Federico Michetti goes one better, now with a record breaking four Melges 24 World Championship wins to his name. Not to be outdone by his crewmates bowman Fabio Gridellie is now a double Melges 24 World Champion.
In the all amateur Corinthian Division, Eiichiro Hamazaki on JPN 783 closed out an comprehensive victory with two more race wins to secure the 2011 Corinthian Melges 24 World Championship title by a margin of 17 points over second placed Christof Wieland on GER 635 Unsponsored. Scot Holmgren on USA 674 Rosebud took third place on count back, having tied on points with fourth placed August Hernandez on USA 533 High Voltage.
Our final Pusser's Painkiller Wipeout Of The Day Award, sponsored by our wonderful long standing sponsor Pusser's Rum, goes to Warkwick Rookly and the Australian crew of Bandit for their hooking of the weather mark in the final race of the series. Happy fishing boys! Huge thanks to Pusser's Rum, represented here this week by the fabulous Jamie Jackson, for all the great Pusser's Painkillers and for making this very entertaining award possible. All our winners have greatly appreciated their Pusser's prizes and the press team have had huge fun selecting the winners!
The final day of the championship also saw the announcement of the winners of the cash prize in the Velocitek $1000 Speed Challenge for the fastest speed achieved by a boat using a Velocitek device on Friday. With both David O'Reilly on USA 700 ARDOR/C.R.E.A.M. and Bora Gulari on USA 820 New England Ropes/West Marine recording maximum 10 second average speeds of 16.9 knots, the competition went to tie break, with O'Reilly winning out by virtue of a maximum recorded top speed of 17.6 knots, compared to Gulari's 17.5 knots.
On behalf of all the competitors at the 2011 Melges 24 World Championships in Corpus Christi, Texas, the International Melges 24 Class Association would like to thank the Corpus Christi Yacht Club, Corpus Christi Marina, City of Corpus Christi, and the State of Texas, for their most generous Texan hospitality and all of their hard work in making this year's World Championship such a success. We would also like to recognise the contribution of the many individual sponsors of the championship whose support has been invaluable.
Reprinted from melges.com, May 24, 2011.