Time is running fast as the Melges 24 fleet approaches the most awaited event of the season, the Melges 24 World Championship 2017 that, after having been hosted in the warm Miami past December, moves back to cooler Northern European climates: from July 28th to August 4th one of the most active fleets in the one-design scenario will be fighting once again to get on top of the World.
Already for the 20th time as the first-ever Melges 24 World Championships were held in Torquay, England in 1998, where Vince Brun of San Diego, U.S., won the title among ninety-three teams. During these twenty remarkable years fifteen Melges 24 skippers in open and fifteen in Corinthian division have been crowned as World Champions. Excitement grows to see who are going to be the next ones!
Jens Wathne, the Chairman of the International Melges 24 Class Association is excited about the upcoming World Championship: ‘In one week’s time all our attention will turn to the 2017 Worlds in Helsinki, Finland. Almost fourteen years ago the Melges 24 Europeans were held in the same place and it was a fabulous championship. Sailors from this region have been active in the class during most of the boat’s life. This is the 20th World Championship in the class with fifteen nations on the line; it will be special as it’s the first one in Finland. Boats are travelling large distances to fight for the trophies in pro and Corinthian divisions. Especially I would like to welcome the six boats from the US making the effort in joining the fleet in the waters of the Finnish capital of Helsinki. See you there – safe travels to the championship!’
Fifty-nine boats from fifteen nations have registered to the copious fleet. Countries from Northern Europe have the largest representation with a total of twenty-eight boats coming from the Scandinavian area, but also Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine, the Netherlands, and Great Britain will be racing. From overseas the American fleet will be represented by six boats: among them there are some crews that already marked the history of the Melges 24 Class and that rarely miss the most relevant appointments of the fleet: 2009 Corinthian World Champion and 2016 Worlds’ overall fourth – Monsoon by Bruce Ayres; 2016 Worlds’ seventh – John Brown’s Blind Squirrel and Lucky Dog/Gill Race Team by Travis Weisleder being ninth at the latest Worlds, are just few of the well-known boats that will race in Helsinki.
In the best traditions of Melges 24 Class, the Corinthian division will represent more than a half of the fleet – thirty three teams. There will be the 2016 World Champions and current leaders of the European Sailing Series aboard the Italian entry, Marco Zammarchi’s Taki 4; also current leaders of the European Sailing Series Corinthian ranking and 2016 European Champions Gill Race Team by Miles Quinton with Geoff Carveth in helm, as for today the main competitor for Taki 4 in the European events during the spring.
The Estonian entry Lenny by Tõniste twins will try to replicate the success obtained in the World Championship held in Hyeres, France in 2006 and in Middelfart, Denmark in 2015. It seems that there will be a lot of challenge and exciting sailing to shape the podium of the Corinthian division as also the Norwegian entry, three-times World Champion (2008, 2010, 2012) Storm Capital Sail Racing of Oyvind Peder Jahre will be competing with Giulio Desiderato, tactician for the 2016 Melges 24 World Ranking winner Bombarda of Andrea Pozzi, onboard.
Also in the overall division there will be many teams to keep in the spotlight: among them Italian Altea, helmed by Andrea Racchelli, second in the Worlds of Middlefart and winner of the 2016 Melges 24 European Sailing Series; and Italian Maidollis by Gianluca Perego, with the Fracassoli-Fonda tandem on board, that already won Melges 24 World Championships on Garda Lake in 2012 and was second at the Miami Worlds in 2016, will be two of the most credited aspirants for the top of the podium.
A Pre-Worlds regatta will be held on July 22-23, allowing the visiting sailors a chance to test themselves against the Helsinki conditions and each other. The first start for the 2017 Melges 24 World Championship, hosted by the Helsingfors Segelklubb (HSK) and organized by the International Melges 24 Class Association in cooperation with Finnish Melges 24 Class Association, is scheduled for July 31st at 11.00 am (Finnish time), while practice race will be held on July 30th. Twelve races are scheduled for the regatta.