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Sailing championships come to town

  • 2010-07-28
  • By Ella Karapetyan

TALLINN - Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is considered to be a major harbor city on the Baltic seaside. The historical seaside city with its rich and long history is one of the rising tourism destinations in Northern Europe. Tallinn is well known for its excellent sailing waters, just minutes away from the downtown area. The sea has opened Tallinn to international ideas and influences and brought colorful cultures throughout the centuries. Therefore it is totally understandable that the sea has such an important role in the development of the city.

Marinepool Melges 24 World Championships is another unique opportunity to open the city up to the sea. The Championships in Tallinn Bay are a great spectacle for sailing fans and passers-by. Kalev Yacht Club (KJK) and Finnish Estonian Melges 24 Association are delighted and privileged to host the Melges 24 World Championship in Tallinn this year and are pleased to invite all fellow Melges 24 sailors to Tallinn for the Estonian/Finnish Open Championship 2010.

The Melges 24 yacht is one of the most modern and energetic yachts in the world. Kalev Yacht Club, in cooperation with the Finnish Melges 24 Fleet, has been organizing high standard Melges 24 events since autumn 2006.
More than 80 teams from at least 15 nations are expected to compete in the 2010 Marinepool Melges 24 World Championship, to be hosted by the Kalev Yacht Club from August 4-12 at its base in the Pirita Olympic Harbor, which is located 5 km from the city center, on a beautiful seashore in the mouth of the Pirita river. The site was built for the 1980 Olympics and offers outstanding facilities. Sailing will take place on the Bay of Tallinn where the varied conditions are likely to make this one of the most challenging Melges 24 World Championships to date. This event is one of the major events in the Scandinavian as well as the Baltic countries.

 The Kalev Yacht Club is one of the oldest and most respectable clubs of its kind in Estonia, and was founded in 1947. These championships always attract a heady mix of the best amateur sailors competing alongside some of the word’s most accomplished sailing superstars, and this year’s event is not an exception.
The list of professionals who will be racing in Tallinn in August includes past Melges 24 World and European champions as well as Olympic and America’s Cup sailors. Participating teams consist of 4 -5 members.

In turn, the Corinthian Division, which will make up around 40 percent of the overall entry, includes some the most talented amateur sailors in the world. The amateur and professional crews will race together as one fleet for the overall championship, with the points for the Corinthian division also being scored separately towards the 2010 Melges 24 Corinthian World Championship title.

Alongside the outstanding racing program, the organizers are also planning a fantastic apres sailing schedule featuring some of Estonia’s best known musicians and performers including Dave Benton, the 2001 winner of the Eurovision Song Contest; DJ Hannes Kalamae; multi-award winning singer Sofia Rubina; the amazing Anneliis Kits, who will perform with Soulful Connections; Violina, the beautiful and incredibly talented pop/rock fusion violin trio, and vocalist James Werts from the U.S. who will join saxophonist Danel Aljo and DJ Hannes Kalamae for an evening of classic disco.
“The Melges 24 Class is an ideal partner for Marinepool. It is one of the most competitive classes in the world, great fun to watch and sail, tough on the athletes and the equipment and a class where the level of competition is so high that meticulous preparation and top gear can make all the difference,” says Christoph Stadler, communication manager at Marinepool.

Teams keen to train for the World Championship race area are invited to take part in the Estonian Open Melges 24 Championship, which will also be hosted by the Kalev Yacht Club from July 30 to August 1. Racing will be run by Worlds PRO Lars Nyqvist, on the championship race area in the Bay of Tallinn making it the perfect warm up opportunity.
Among those expected to compete in the 2010 Marinepool Melges 24 World Championship are reigning Melges 24 European and 2008 World Champion “UKA Racing Team,” owned by Lorenzo Santini with Lorenzo Bressani at the helm.

For some years the Italian teams have been dominating the Melges 24 scene, but the early season Melges 24 Volvo Cup events have produced interesting results indicating that the Italians are less likely to have it all their own way this year. One of those threatening to break the Italian domination is local hero and Estonian Olympic Silver Medalist Tonu Toniste. A regular face in the class for some years, Toniste has been showing excellent form this season finishing fourth at the most recent Melges 24 Volvo Cup event in Scarlino. With a home water advantage and huge local support he will be hoping to become the first Estonian to win the Melges 24 Worlds.

Another Baltic region competitor to look out for will be Norway’s Eivind Mellaby, whose Full Metal Jacket crew finished third at the 2010 Melges 24 Worlds in Annapolis.  Having recently placed eighth at the Star Worlds in Rio de Janeiro, and with many years of experience in the Melges 24 as well as a fondness for light air, he will definitely be one to watch.
Alongside the top European teams, entries are also expected from Japan, Australia, the Republic of South Africa and the U.S. Although brand new to the class, three time South African Olympic Finn Class representative Ian Ainslie has shown some impressive speed on his first few outings this season and will have high hopes of a podium finish. 
Japan’s Tetsuy Matsunaga, who represented his country in the 470 Class at the Beijing Olympics, made his first appearance on the International Melges 24 scene at the 2009 Europeans where he showed formidable potential. Having now spent a year honing his skills in the boat Matsunaga, he has his eye on becoming the first Asian winner of the Melges 24 Worlds. 

Close competition is also expected in the Corinthian (all amateur) division.  In Porto Cervo in 2008 Norway’s Sivert Denneche was tactician aboard the Corinthian World Championship winning Melges 24 Terra Eindomsmeging. In Hyeres in 2009 he helmed Storm Capital Racing to victory in the Corinthian Melges 24 European Championship.
In 2010, Denneche and his Storm Capital Racing team will be in Tallinn, and he has his sights clearly set on taking that Corinthian Melges 24 Worlds Trophy. Toniste may have other ideas however, as he too will be racing in the Corinthian Division and must long to be the first person ever to take both the Overall and Corinthian titles in the same year.