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Loud and lively pioneer fleet for Gill 2014 Melges 24 World Championship - Bandit
Australian Melges 24 class president, Warwick Rooklyn says organisers have already pioneered new ground, with the growing entry list for the class’ world championship next January – February already representing nine nations.

An impressive fleet of 31 Melges 24s has so far registered for the Gill Melges 24 World Championship 2014, to be in Geelong, Australia, from the 27th January to 2nd February 2014. Many of these same teams will test the waters and their stamina for back-to-back events when they contest the Australian Open Nationals that will be held as part of the Festival of Sails immediately prior, 23rd – 27th January.

“When we started work on the 2014 world’s project two and a half years ago, given the distance the overseas teams would have to travel the big question was ‘who would come?,” said Rooklyn.

“Our ambition was to achieve 10 entries from overseas and 30 all up, and we’ve exceeded the bar we set already. To pass 30 and have 12 international teams is awesome; we are hitting our marks and all the work that has gone in has been worthwhile.

“To have six nations at the national championship as part of the Festival of Sails prior to the main event is also very satisfying, Outside of Europe I don’t think many classes can say they’ve achieved such a result.”

David Farrimond and his four adult sons are Victoria’s sole entry so far for the Melges 24 World Championships, racing their family boat called Vitesse.

David and his two younger sons hadn’t sailed until six years ago when the family decided to invest in an interest they could all share. Older sons Adam and Scott paved the way, crewing on yachts as teenagers.

“Having brothers on board means at times it can get loud and lively,” admits David. “They are always best of friends at the end of the race.”

Due to the class weight limit, four Farrimonds will sail at any one time and given the physicality of these 24-foot high performance sports boats, David is happy to leave the hard yards to his boys.
“I’ll be trimming, which his fairly active and hiking is something I can do without. Ultimately the boys will be sailing and I’ll go fishing as physically I can’t manage the entire regatta.”

David and his eldest son Adam will be rotated as sail trimmers. Scott will skipper, Michael is bowman and Dale, the youngest, is the tactician.

With a merchant seaman father there is a family history of ocean adventures, but not sailing footsteps to follow.

“I’d never really been on the water until six years ago, though my father was a merchant seaman,” said David. “It was an interest of my eldest sons who started crewing in their mid-teens. We were looking for something to learn on that was fast and created some excitement; the Melges 24 seemed ideal.”

Expectations of their world’s result are realistic given the Farrimonds endured a forced break of seven months when their mast broke in the final race of last season. It took longer than expected to source a replacement rig and return to club racing at Royal Geelong Yacht Club, host of the Festival of Sails, incorporating the Melges 24 nationals, and the world championship immediately following.

“We’ll be in the back third of the fleet but aiming for consistency across our results. For us it’s about enjoying the experience of being at a world championship. It’s something we talked about six years ago not thinking we’d actually get there,” admitted David.

“I think it’s fantastic Geelong is hosting these worlds,” he added.
As the local boat David doubts there will be any local knowledge advantage, given most of the Australian fleet knows Corio Bay intimately from previous Festival of Sails, which has regularly hosted the Melges 24 Australian titles.

Countries represented on the world championship starter’s list include; Germany, USA, America, Finland, Hungry, Japan, Italy, Canada and of course Australia.

Melges 24 class officials don’t just officiate. Once the organising is put to bed, Riccardo Simoneschi, Chairman of the International Melges 24 Class Association (IMCA) will be racing Audi (ITA-840), and defending Melges 24 North American Champion and Australian class president, Warwick Rooklyn racing Bandit (AUS-814), will join their classmates on the track.

Reigning Melges 24 world champion, Brian Porter and his Full Throttle racing team are absent from the line-up.

Runner-up at San Francisco last October, Flavio Favini, the Italian skipper of Swiss entry Blu Moon (SUI-825), is heading to the Southern Hemisphere to fulfill his ambition to be world number one. First he has to face both local and international road blocks to his ultimate quest

Photo : Andrea Francolini
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