Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lead Changes and Challenges on Day Two at Key West

Lead Changes and Challenges on Day Two at Key West: Good Tactics and Boat Speed Rule the Day

Key West, Fla - Another day of good wind brought two more races and a shakeup in some of the standings in many of the 11 classes at Key West 2010, presented by Nautica.

A northeast wind that started off at seven knots and built to 13 allowed organizers with Premiere Racing to remain on schedule for a 10-race regatta. Some of the professionally-crewed grand prix classes saw the overall lead change hands while other classes saw the opening day pace-setters strengthen their grip on first place.

Joe Fly, an Italian entry skippered by Giovanni Maspero posted a pair of fourths on Tuesday to take over the lead in Farr 40 class. Francesco Bruni is calling tactics on Joe Fly, which began the day in third and now leads fellow Italian boat Nerone by one point.

Nerone, skippered by Massimo Mezzaroma of Punta Ala, had a terrific Tuesday with a first and a third to jump from sixth to second in the overall standings. Vasco Vascotto is tactician on Nerone, which was named Sperry Top-Sider Boat of the Day.

Struntje Light, skippered by Wolfgang Schaefer of Germany, fell out of first place despite winning Race 3. Schaefer was remained optimistic despite falling to third overall due to an 11th in Race 4.

“Of course, we are very happy to be in the game. We came here to get some experience in the new boat and so far our boat speed has been very good,” said Schaefer, who took delivery of a Farr 40 formerly owned by Peter de Ridder a few days before the regatta.

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark had planned to compete in Farr 40 class at Key West 2010, but wound up having to attend the World Future Energy Summit in the United Arab Emirates. However, the prince still entered his boat and has been following the results very closely each day. He was no doubt thrilled to see that Nanoq won Race 3 on Tuesday with Anders Myralf on the helm and Volvo Ocean Race veteran Bouwe Bekking calling tactics.

“We wish Frederik was here to enjoy this win with us, but we understand that he has to take care of his official work as prince,” Myralf said.

Nanoq’s crew has not sailed together since the Farr 40 European Championship in Sardinia so that is why Prince Frederik felt it was important for the boat to race at Key West. Tuesday’s victory brought some positive reinforcement about Nanoq’s new rig setup.

“We had a very good start, hit the first couple shifts and rounded the first mark just ahead of Joe Fly. We then had a very good downwind leg and were able to extend the lead to five boat lengths at the bottom mark. We just covered the fleet from there,” Myralf said.

Barking Mad, skippered by Jim Richardson of Newport, R.I., rallied from last in the 12-boat fleet to fifth in a race for the second straight day and is fourth overall.

In the Melges 32 class, John Kilroy and his team aboard Samba Pa Ti had a superb day on the water and vaulted from third to first in the 22 boat class. Stu Bannatyne is calling tactics while fellow pro Morgan Reeser is trimming the main for Kilroy, who won Race 4 and placed fourth in Race 3 to move ahead of Monday leader Ramrod (Rod Jabin, Annapolis, Md.) by a point.

“We had confidence in our boat speed based off of yesterday so today wanted to have good clean starts so we could get clear lanes,” Kilroy said. “We were seventh at the last mark in the first race and rallied to get a fourth. We got a great start in the second race and were able to just extend and extend. Stu did a great job on tactics today while Morgan and Sam Rogers did a great job of trimming.”

This is only the fifth Melges 32 event for Kilroy, who has competed in Key West with a Farr 40 and a TP52 among other designs. The Malibu, California resident loves the exciting sport-boat and said the competition in the class is intense.

“This fleet is so close that one small mistake can cost you 10 or 15 boats. It’s the outhouse or the penthouse and you just have to try to stay in between and hope to be there at the end,” he said.

There is a new leader in the 21-boat Melges 24 class as well with Alan Field and his USA 587 team moving into a tie with UKA UKA Racing. Former College of Charleston All-American Steve Hunt is calling tactics for Field, a California resident who won Race 3 on Tuesday then tacked on a fourth in Race 4.

“It’s pretty shifty out there so it’s important to be in the front row and able to control your own destiny. Alan won the start (in Race 3) and that allowed me to play the shifts better,” said Hunt, who spent seven years mounting an Olympic campaign in 470 class. “Our boat speed is pretty decent and we really improved our tacking today.”

Field finished a somewhat disappointing 11th at the Melges 24 Worlds in October and Hunt admitted a win in Key West would help ease the sting of that result. “At the worlds Alan had a little trouble getting off the line, but here in Key West he is starting the boat much better, which makes a huge difference.”

UKA UKA Racing, the Italian entry owned by Lorenzo Santini and helmed by Lorenzo Bressani, now has an impressive series line of 2-1-2-5. Tactician Jonathan McKee, a Seattle native, said strategy and boat-handling have been paramount in the shifty conditions. “It’s not really about boat speed and much more about positioning,” he said. “Today was less shifty than yesterday, but it still wasn’t totally obvious which side of the course was favored.”

Bella Mente and Pugwash extended their leads in IRC 1 and 2, respectively, with a second straight strong day of racing. Bella Mente, a Reichel-Pugh 69-footer owned by Hap Fauth of Newport, R.I., has sailed very impressively in winning all four races.

“We are coming off a very successful summer season in Europe in which we won the Med Cup and several other regattas. Right now, the crew is on top of its game and we are getting the most we can out of the boat,” Fauth said.

Pugwash owner David Murphy looked quite content on Tuesday afternoon as he ate finger sandwiches and sipped green labeled beer aboard his Lyman-Morse 90-foot motor yacht, berthed at the end of the Galleon docks. Murphy deserved to enjoy happy hour after opening Key West 2010 with a stellar line of 2-1-1-2. The New York resident is a newcomer to competitive sailboat racing who has enjoyed tremendous early success.

Pugwash, a J/122 based in Newport, R.I., has won four of the seven events it has entered since Murphy took delivery in June. North Sails professional Larry Leonard is calling tactics for Murphy, who is looking to add Key West to his impressive list of victories that includes Chester Race Week and the Edgartown Round the Island Race.

“All the credit goes to the crew. Larry is the mastermind while our trimmers are terrific. I’m just kind of like Forrest Gump. I just focus on driving the boat,” Murphy said.

Savasana stretched its lead in J/105 class with a fourth and a second on Tuesday as skipper Brian Keane looks to repeat as winner of Key West. Mike Danish is serving as tactician for Keane, who praised the performance of second-place Ghost and said Savasana has to keep putting up good results.

“Ghost sailed great today and certainly is pushing us,” Keane said. “Ideally, our goal is to finish in the top five of every race and win each day. It’s all about avoiding the big mistake.”

North professional Will Welles holds the lead in J/80 class for the second straight day despite an eighth in Race 4. Jeff Johnstone of J/Boats steered Little Feat to a pair of bullets on Tuesday to close within one point of Welles and the Rascal team.

Johnstone may be with the company that designs the boat, but admitted even he can learn new tricks on the race course after finishing seventh in both races on Monday. "It was one of those things were you had to go left, but you couldn't bite off more than you could chew," Jeff Johnstone said, referring to how he played the shifts a bit differently on Tuesday.

Follow all the grand prix action, racing excitement, and results through the web-site blog and coverage, live tracking of the Melges 32 and J/80 fleets by Kattack, Scuttlebutt’s on the scene reports, and nightly on demand video by T2P on (after 9:00PM EST) and more.

Results, photos and news:

Press Officer Bill Wagner

Monday, January 18, 2010

Key West Race Week 2010 Coverage

It's beautiful in Key West today and we are underway with Key West Race Week 2010. Racing is due to start at any time and here's my mini-scoop:

Daily Blog Commentary - CLICK HERE!

That's it. Whatever work you hoped to accomplish today or this whole week, there is always next week. Hope you enjoy the event - Cheers!

Saturday, January 02, 2010