Melges 24 Worlds – The waters of Miami – A Challenging race course
The 2016 Melges 24 World Championship, starting in Miami next Saturday November 26th, is forecasted to be the biggest one with the highest number of participants ever hosted in North America and also one of the biggest in Melges 24 class history.
Crossing in Biscayne Bay and in the Atlantic waters in front of Miami there will be both newcomers and crews that already have a success story at their back in the Melges 24 fleet. Amongst these last, Carlo Fracassoli, winner of the 2012 Melges 24 Worlds as a helmsman of Italian team Gullisara, will be in Miami trying to replicate the result achieved on Lake Garda in Torbole, Italy – the event with the largest entry number (124) in the class’ history.
During a pleasant chat in Quantum Sails Loft, Carlo Fracassoli remembered with us the steps that preceded the victory at the Worlds of Torbole, with a crew that was composed by Enrico ‘Chicco’ Fonda (tactician), Andrea ‘Tano’ Felci (sheets), Giovanni ‘Shampoo’ Ferrari (halyards) and Carlo Zermini (bowman). After having won the Europeans in 2011, the crew of Gullisara went on with a continuous study on how to further improve the conditions of the sails, study that led to an amazing 2012 season, where the team managed to get on top of the podium in the Melges 24 events of Riva del Garda, Torbole and Luino. Four years after that success, Fracassoli will be back in the water with team Maidollis once again with Chicco Fonda, Giovanni Ferrari, owner Gian Luca Perego and Stefano Lagi.
Carlo Fracassoli has been present in the Melges 24 class for about eight years now having started sailing in Melges 24 with a crew made up of young guys all coming from the surroundings of Garda Lake, when he wasn’t even a professional sailor yet. Even if, since then, time has passed, Fracassoli doesn’t intend to leave Melges 24 that he defines ‘one of the funniest and most competitive one design boat ever’ and ‘the best compromise between a dinghy and a keel boat.
Despite being now almost 23 years old, Melges 24 is a boat that keeps having success among the crews and Fracassoli expressed all his support to the technical features of the boat, that still is so contemporary: ‘It was so revolutionary when first introduced, with the shift from the spinnaker to the gennaker, that, I think, at first it wasn’t perceived well in all its potentialities. Melges 24 is still, as far as today, a perfect mixture between a dinghy and a keel boat, with the crew being made by five people, with technical features that lack to other boats of similar dimension and an ease in being fitted out and moved that is not proper to many boats.
In Miami the crew of Fracassoli that used to sail in the past with a boat that was not perfect at all times, and often needed works of improvement, will get in to the water with a brand new boat – the latest one that has been built in Zenda’s Melges 24 boatyard, and the expectations towards both the crew and the boat are high. ‘For sure the new boat can’t be else but better than the previous boat used to be. American Melges boats are a warranty by themselves: they come in perfect shape, you fit them out and they’re already ready to sail fast’.
Moreover, the crew will race with brand new sails, designed specifically for the new boat and that in some way have already been tested by the European Champion EFG by Chris Rast during the 2016 Europeans in Hyeres themselves.
After a whole year of hard work and study over the structure of the boat, the sails and the crew, Fracassoli hopes to achieve great result in the Miami Worlds: ‘I have not given a look to the list of the competitors yet, but I’m sure that exactly like all other Melges 24 events, there will be at least a dozen of crews that are worth the victory’.
The waters of Miami will represent a challenging race course for Fracassoli’s crew, composed by Italians that mostly grew up in lake waters: sailing on the ocean means swelling wave, strong wind and stream, conditions that will put all crews under high pressure all through the races of the World Championship.
Even if the competition on the water will be tight, once back to the shore the fleet will for sure share the social moments with the bright and friendly mood that has always characterized Melges 24 class: ‘Not often in my career it has happened to me to find a One Design Class where once back to the moorings, all crews are no more rivals but real friends’, Fracassoli concluded.
We now just have a few more days to wait and see if this former World Champions crew, with a brand new boat, will manage to replicate the amazing result obtained in 2012 in Torbole.
Born and raised on Garda Lake, sailing has been Carlo Fracassoli’s favorite sport since childhood. It’s no surprise that he become a professional sailor in 2001. In 2003, he began collaborating in the development of racing and cruising sails for some of the industry’s best known sails brands. He designed sails for monotypes and had great results on the water. In 2012, Carlo and Manlio Pozzoli opened their own sailmaking loft and affiliated with Quantum Sails as the Quantum Pro-Laghi S.N.C. loft. Since then, he has designed most of the sails sold by the Italian sales team. A One-Design specialist, Carlo designs many sails for Melges 20, 24, and 32 classes, Garda and European lakes monotypes, and ORC and IRC offshore boats.
by Silvia Gallegati and Mauro Melandri