Strong winds keep Melges 24 crews ashore
A honking northerly breeze and an outdoor temperature of 40 degrees have meant a subdued start to the Gill Melges 24 World Championship 2014 at Geelong in Victoria, Australia.
A practice race was scheduled for this afternoon, but winds of 28 knots gusting to 35 are well above the class’ upper limit. At the skipper’s briefing this morning at the host club, the Royal Geelong Yacht Club, all of the 26 teams opted to remain ashore.
An AP/A flag signalling no more racing today is flying at the club.
Morning activities included registration and crew weigh-ins then a welcome by the class championship coordinator and PRO Hank Stuart and the chance to hear from the international jury chair and the measurer who spot checks sails, keels, masts and crew weight.
These one-design sports boats come from the same mould build and they are bound by strict rules so they are deemed equal. Then it comes down to the crew racing them.
Fifteen of the Melges teams considered the best in the world are at Geelong vying for the prestigious crown.
Close to half of the starting list of 26 has travelled from far afield - Germany, Italy, Japan, USA, Canada and Switzerland – to join 16 national teams.
International Melges 24 Class Association president Riccardo Simoneschi, skipper of the Melges 24 Audi, says Geelong is in for a great show in the coming five days.
“The fleet is a good size for this challenge, the top 15 boats in the world are here and the competition will be very high level,” said Simoneschi this morning.
“It will be exciting and a great show. I’m very much looking forward to tomorrow; it will be a big battle from beginning to end.”
Racing is scheduled to start tomorrow, Wednesday 29th January 2014, with a 1330hrs warning signal.
Up to 12 races will be conducted over five days and there will be two sets of results published each afternoon, overall results and separate results for the Corinthian Melges 24s who are racing with a full amateur crew.
Harry Melges and his Star crew executed the perfect tune-up to the world title, winning the Gill Melges 24 Australian Open Nationals that wrapped up on Sunday as part of the Festival of Sails’ penultimate day.
Some teams are braving the extreme heat and wind and launching at the club this afternoon, others are still on the hardstand rubbing any remaining residue off these one-design sports boats to make them as slippery as possible.
Class founders and world championship candidates Harry Melges and Andy Burdick will share their wisdom at a 1700hrs technical clinic at the RGYC prior to the official world championship welcome function that will be attended by competitors and special guests including the Hon. Hugh Delahunty Minister Sport and Recreation Victoria.
A southerly change is due this afternoon and tomorrow’s temperature is likely to be a more comfortable 23 degrees, along with an untroublesome 12 knot southerly breeze.
Geelong last hosted a sailing world championship at least 20 years ago. The Victorian government and City of Greater Geelong have partnered with the RGYC and event sponsor Gill to deliver the second major event for Geelong in as many weeks with the Festival of Sails finishing yesterday.
“We are honoured to be the first city outside the northern hemisphere to host the Melges 24 World Championship,” City of Greater Geelong Mayor Darryn Lyons said.
Photo : Teri Dodds