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Melges 24 World Championship - Preview
HYERES, FRANCE-(26-8-2006) Sadly only one of the two scheduled days of racing at the Hyeres Cup, the Melges 24 Pre-Worlds Regatta in Hyeres, France, could be completed due to strong Mistral winds, leaving the fleet with just two races to count. Fortunately Friday's racing conditions were almost perfect at a steady 22-25 knots giving the boats plenty of high speed planing opportunities as well as some entertaining broaches for the spectators to enjoy.† This fleet is full of Olympians, World Champions and America's Cup sailors and despite the fact that not all of the crews were ready to compete in this Pre-Worlds event the teams gave notice that competition will be incredibly close.

Franco Rossini's Blu Moon of Switzerland, helmed by Olympic 470 and 49er sailor Chris Rast, posted two impressive first placed to take the overall title comfortably. The Blu Moon team, with previous helm Flavio Favini, won the Melges 24 Worlds in 2001 and clearly have their sights set on a second victory. Second place went to Britain's John Pollard aboard Excellent with four time British National Melges 24 Champion Rob Smith calling tactics. Pollard has been an consistent performer in the class on both sides of the Atlantic for several years but has yet to get his name on a major trophy and is clearly hoping that this year will bring a change in fortunes.† First French boat and third place overall was claimed by Benoit Charon aboard Galinette. Charon hails from Granville and his best result in an international Melges 24 regatta to date has been third place in the Corinthian (all amateur crew) division at the 2005 European Championship.

The crews have a final registration and measurement opportunity tomorrow morning and, provided the Mistral abates, championship racing will commence at noon tomorrow, Sunday 27 August. The fleet will initially be split into four groups to sail 6 round robin races to decide the Gold and Silver fleets. Once the fleets are split a further six races will be sailed to complete the championship.

Source: Fiona Brown

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