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The Final Countdown to 2018 Melges 24

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The Final Countdown to 2018 Melges 24
The Final Countdown to 2018 Melges 24

July 28, 2018 - Riva del Garda, Italy - Melges 24 International Class most prestigious 2018 event in Europe - Melges 24 European Championship - begins in exactly one week. The event will be hosted by the Event Factory - Fraglia Vela Riva in cooperation with the International Melges 24 Class Association (IM24CA) and the Italian Melges 24 Class Association from August 3rd to 10th. We have 73 entries hailing from 18 countries and we can't help but say it is shaping up to be a fantastic regatta!

The organizing machine is working in full swing to deliver the best for the sailors: for an event of such importance, everything from race management to the on-shore activities must be organized down to the smallest detail.

"The European Championship on Lake Garda will be a fantastic event at the location loved by many sailors around the globe," said IM24CA Chairman Jens Altern Wathne. "With several well attended and well-organized championships here, it was natural to come back for the Melges 24s. The lake provides fantastic scenery and conditions for the international one design sailing at its best.

In 2012 there were 127 teams competing for the Worlds' title on the lake and now we see 73 teams from 18 nations participating at the 2018 Europeans - true international class! Personally, Lake Garda is a favourite place of mine and I am very much looking forward to fantastic racing, on-shore social events and enjoyable Italian cuisine. Sitting by the lake enjoying a cappuccino in the morning and racing in the afternoon is wonderful. Fraglia Vela Riva together with the Italian Melges 24 Class have made great efforts to host the event that welcomes Hank Stuart from US as the Principal Race Officer of the event. See you at the lake in a one-week time!" 

Hank Stuart is delighted to come back to be with Melges 24 fleet on Lake Garda again, having been there PRO for the 2012 Worlds in Torbole. "As a flied-in PRO I'm relying heavily on the local people's help and knowledge about the Garda Lake because they know how to build the course, set the marks and buoys and my role is to help with organizing the regatta like the Organizing Authority wants and to make sure it's a safe, fair and fun event for all the sailors!"

The racing in Riva will be held for the Giorgio Zuccoli Trophy. This trophy is awarded to the overall Melges 24 European Champion and is named after the Italian sailmaker who became the first Melges 24 European Champion in 1996. When Giorgio Zuccoli gained his first Melges 24 World Champion title in 2000, he was severely ill with bone cancer. Sadly, the very popular athlete lost his hardest battle on 27 March 2001. In 2016 this trophy was won by Christopher Rast's team on EFG SUI684 with his crew including Pade Zaugg, Nikolay Kornev, Matteo Ferraglia and Danielle G. Rast with a day to spare in Hyeres France. Who will win this trophy in 2018 at the 2018 Melges 24 European Championship in Fraglia Vela Riva?

The current entry list promises a very challenging championship and it will be very difficult to predict the composition of the podium until the very last races. All crews will be chasing after Carlo Fracassoli helming Gian Luca Perego's Maidollis (ITA). After having won the 2017 Worlds in Helsinki Finland, the 2012 Worlds in Torbole Italy and the 2011 Europeans in Aarhus Denmark, they are currently considered the favourites to get on top of the podium of this 2018 Melges 24 European Championship. Maidollis won the pre-Europeans in Torbole with 30 points margin and a race to spare a month ago.

But winning the title will be hard as many other crews already well known in Melges 24 Class have the potential to score top results. Among these, if to name only few, we have to pay attention to Andrea Racchelli's Altea (ITA), reigning World Champion from Victoria Canada and the runner-up at the 2015 Worlds in Middelfart Denmark; Mike Goldfarb's War Canoe (USA), sixth at the 2018 Worlds in Victoria and third of the pre-Europeans in Torbole. An exciting crew has been put together from Melges 24 big names to create team Caipirinha JR (ITA) with Matteo Ivaldi helming, 2014 European Champion and 4th in 2012 Worlds, and Gabriele Benussi calling the tactics, 2014 World Champion from Geelong Australia, 2013 Worlds' runner-up in San Francisco and third at the 2012 Worlds in Torbole. Also, an American entry of Travis Weisleder on Lucky Dog / Gill Race Team (USA) with Mike Buckley calling the tactics, who is 2017 runner-up from Helsinki and 3rd at the 2018 Worlds in Monsoon' team will be chasing the podium.

Racing for the Menno Meyer European Corinthian Trophy will be also very interesting, because in the Corinthian fleet of 52 teams three main favourites for the podium haven't missed almost any of the recent years' Corinthian division podiums. We are talking about Marco Zammarchi's Taki 4 (ITA) with Niccolo Bertola in helm, two-time Corinthian World Champion from 2016 and 2017; Miles Quinton's Gill Race Team (GBR) with Geoff Carveth helming, reigning Corinthian European Champion from 2016 in Hyeres France and runner-up of the 2017 Worlds in Helsinki; and Tõnu Tõniste's team on Lenny (EST), 2015 Melges 24 Corinthian World Champion, 3rd of the Worlds in 2017, runner-up of the Europeans in 2016 and 2014 Corinthian European Champion.