The third Melges 24 world championship got underway on August 29 in very light airs off La Rochelle.

The third Melges 24 world championship got underway on August 29 in very light airs off La Rochelle. The fleet was split into four groups and sailed on two separate courses to begin the process of qualifying for the Gold and Silver fleets.

The forecast was north-easterly Force 3-4, however the breeze failed to get above 10 knots all day and was generally around 6 knots or less and shifty. With the tide pushing the boats over the line both fleets were extremely cautious ensuring they got away first time. Two races were planned with a first start at 1430.

Best start of the day went to Richard Thompson (GBR437 ‘Black Seal’) on course alpha whose port tack start gave him a significant lead which he successfully defended throughout the race. Chasing him hard was Christian Roman (FRA382 Eurosail) who recovered from a lacklustre start admirably finishing right on Thompson’s transom. Roman’s downwind speed was impressive and just a few more meters would have seen him take first place. The French crews dominated the race with Benoit Charon (FRA369 ‘Imadies”) taking third and Thierry Berger (FRA475 ‘Ogygie’) fourth.

Over on course bravo Kenneth Thelen’s (FIN236 ‘Suunto’) comfortable lead disappeared after a major wind shift at the bottom of the last run. Having already committed to his leward mark rounding the windward mark was moved left and the leg shortened to compensate for a late 40 degree shift and drop in breeze. Thelen rounded to discover himself on the wrong side of the final beat. Local boy Marc Thiercelin (FRA384 ‘Active Wear’), Guilhem Boyer (FRA413 ‘Melg’hic Taz’) and Nicholas Charbonnier FRA428 ‘Human Canon Ball’) chose left and it paid of handsomely giving them 1, 2, 3 respectively.

Unfortunately the failing breeze meant that course alpha was unable to start the second race and after a considerable postponement the crews were sent home. Over on bravo the race committee managed to get a second start in but the fleet were significantly less cautious than in race one and the result was a general recall. With the black flag flying a number of boats were in for the early bath and the delay meant that the breeze had dropped too far to allow another attempt to get them away.

The race committee plan to run the final three on August 30, but with more light airs forecast they will have their work cut out to complete the fleet qualification on time.

Results Race 1

Course Alpha

1 GBR437, Black Seal, Richard Thompson,

2 FRA382, Eurosail, Christian Roman/Sebastien Col

3 FRA396, Imadies, Benoit Charon

4 FRA475, Ogygie, Thierry Berger

5 USA450, White Loaf, Scott Elliot/Reeser Morgan

6 FRA470, Ofup, Jean Yves Jffrezic/Laurent Sambron

7 FRA329, Anthenor-Blue Peter, Nicolas Pietra/Alain Roig

8 FRA173, VPM, Olivier Ponthieu

9 NOR376, Ernst & Young, Bror Berge

10 FRA426, Enzo, Bertrand Semaille

Course Bravo

1 FRA384, Active Wear, Marc Thiercelin

2 FRA413, Melg’hic Taz, Guilhem Boyer/Richard Bergero

3 FRA428, Human Cannon Ball, Nicholas Charbonnier/Pierre Jean Dick

4 NOR249, Fruen Maren, Nils Hauff/Kristoffer Spone

5 FIN236, Sunnto, Kenneth Thelen

6 USA418, Rock N’Roll, Argyle Campbell

7 USA409, Full Throttle, Brian Porter

8 GER263, No Limits, Wolfgang Welz

9 GBR394, The Black Pig, Frank Haines/Mike Bilbo/Cameron Davis

10 FRA438, Voile Grande Motte, Jean Marc Goldstein