Šime Fantela & Tutta Forza claim inaugural Melges 24 Croatian national Championship
On November 19-21 the inaugural Melges 24 Croatian national Championship was held in Split, organized by the JK Mornar. Training day on Thursday and three racing days with seven races held from Friday through Sunday completed the high-level event. The only foreign team among 15 entries, Michele Paoletti’s Strambapapa from Italy wins the regatta, but Šime Fantela’s team Tutta Forza claims Inaugural Melges 24 Croatian National Championship.
After having been represented for a few years by only one team, Blue Label CRO 006 of Davor Jelaca within the Slovenian Melges 24 class, the Croatian Melges 24 Class Association was established in 2021 spring. It’s been a quick start and a rapid growth since fourteen Croatian boats were competing for the Melges 24 Croatian title over the past weekend in Split. It is especially interesting that the best Croatian sailors of all generations were competing in front of Split, so on the race course for the first time ever we had an opportunity to see the confrontation of Croatian Olympic sailors and medalists of different classes - Tončij Stipanovic, Šime Fantela, Tomislav Bašić, Karlo Kuret, Ivan Kljaković Gašpić, Luka Radelić and Toni Bulaja.
The bloom of the Melges 24 class in Croatia is one of the most beautiful stories in Croatian sailing. Namely, our best sailors have always sought a way to compete equally with each other, but in the past 30 years in Croatia, a one design class has never been successfully formed that would make it possible. Things started to change one year ago, when with the initiative of Filip Jurišić from JK Mornar, several Croatian top sailors decided to buy the worldwide very popular one design Melges 24 sailboats. At the end of 2020, the Croatian Melges 24 fleet counted seven boats, but things started to happen very quickly and many of the prominent sailors, from Dubrovnik to Istria, decided to get these fast performance boats, so the Croatian fleet is counting 15 boats today, with a tendency of further growth. One of the features of the Melges 24 class is the fact that it gathers top sailors, but also successful business people who have a passion for sailing. Among others Luka Šangulin, Miroslav Reljanović and Matija Longin perform regularly at Croatian Melges 24 regattas.
On the starting list there were 15 crews, 14 of which under the Croatian flag, and the international touch to the regatta was given by an Italian Strambapapa crew led by Michele Paoletti, a sailor from Trieste, who performed at the 2000 Olympic Games in the Soling class. In the crew of Miroslav Reljanovic there was another international star - Norwegian Peer Moberg, who also sailed at the Sydney Olympics in the Laser class. The regatta was led by Marko Mišura, another participant of the Olympic Games; the Jury Chairman was very experienced Alen Kustić and the Technical Committee was led by IM24CA Chief Measurer Branko Parunov.
After three very exciting days in which seven races took place, the Croatian title went to the crew of Tutta Forza from JK Uskok consisting of Šime Fantela, Jakov Šokota, Mihovil Fantela and Antonio Arapović. In the end, they were tied on points with team of Luka Šangulin on Panjić with Noa Šangulin, Tonko Rameša, Tomislav Bašić and Duje Fržop in crew, but Tutta Forza won the title thanks to scoring one more bullet than the team from the JK Briva. The Bronze of the Melges 24 Croatian National Championship was achieved by team Iggy of Karlo Kuret with Zlatko Vodanović, Denis Stanojević and Bruno Gašpić.
The first ever Melges 24 Croatian Champion Šime Fantela said: “The regatta was fantastic and this was a unique opportunity for me to sail against numerous Croatian Olympians, with which I otherwise have no chance to compare my strength. We did seven races and a great weekend is behind us. I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming challenges in Melges 24 class!”
Overall victory of the regatta was claimed by the experienced Italian sailor from Trieste, Michele Paoletti and his team on Strambapapa with Giovanna Micol, Giulia Pignolo, Giacomo Degvardo and Stefano Ciampalini.