GMC Yukon Yachting Key West
Race Week 2000
January 17 - 21, 2000
Dave Gendell and Brian Trotta
21, 2000 — With the winners of only two of the 16 classes in the 2000 edition
of Key West Race Week predetermined as the fleet left the docks Friday morning,
another big northerly set the stage for some drama in the waters off Key West.
was time for the final act.
regatta closed Friday as it had opened on Monday: with a solid northerly dragged
in the wake of a cold front. The
261 boats and crews arrived at three racing circles in 18 to
20 knots of north-northeasterly breeze. As the day wore on, the breeze
dropped down a bit but the fleet
completed the race and closed the week on a high note. Event Director
Peter Craig’s stated goal of an eight race series was met with style.
the breeze axis was steady across the racing area, there were plenty of shifts
and throughout the day, and passing lanes were opened and closed on every
course. The shifts, combined with some puffs that approached 20 knots, induced
some boat handling mistakes that also allowed for position changes.
the Division 1 classes again banged away in decent sized seas generated by the
Main Ship Channel’s fetch, the Division 2 and Division 3 fleets were tucked in
the lee of Key West and saw slightly less breeze and considerably less seas than
their counterparts to the west.
set the windward mark and the finish way up close to the beach on purpose,”
says Division 3 PRO Ken Legler, who brought the circle’s three one-design
classes to within a mile of Smathers Beach at the finish of race 8. “I wanted
to give the fleet some flat water and shift coming off the land. We hadn’t had
that yet this week and I wanted the fleet to get a crack at those conditions.”
kind of attention to detail is what sets the Premiere Racing race management
team apart from the crowd. The weather gods cooperated and provided a diverse
five days that enabled the Key West classes to crown true overall champions
rather than simply light air magicians or heavy air strongmen.
course a deep and talented fleet—the majority have competed here in previous
years and more than half of the regatta’s entrants were sailing boats that
were less than five years old—ensures that every class winner has earned their
spot on the podium via pitched battle.
well-practiced crew aboard Irvine Laidlaw’s CM-60 Highland Fling returned to Race Week this year with the 1999 Yachting
Trophy for overall Boat of the Week sitting prominently back in Laidlaw’s
trophy case in England.
A highly anticipated battle with sistership Rima and a test with the fresh-from-the-box Farr One Design 52 Scream never really heated up, although there were a few skirmishes early in the week.
the end of Thursday’s afternoon race, the Highland
Fling team had already locked up overall honors in the nine-boat IMS class
with a 2-1-1-1-2-2-6.
skipper Laidlaw was unable to see the solid performance first-hand as he injured
his led in Sunday’s breezy tune-up session and did not compete aboard the
multi-class champion Eddie Owen moved from his role as tactician to Irvine
Laidlaw’s spot behind the wheel and the talented crew easily adapted to the
there was an “owner’s representative” on board throughout the week.
Christine Laidlaw, the owner’s wife, sailed in every race, serving as the
Lewmar Marine Trophy for the top Group 1 IMS Owner/Driver of the Week went to
George David of Idler.
the boat itself has held or currently holds the records in several major
distance races, the turbo SC 70 Chessie
Racing (ex-Pyewacket) was making her first spin around-the-buoys under the
stewardship of new owner George Collins. Collins took no chances in his effort
to keep the boat’s strong record intact and enlisted a crack crew that
included seven members of his former Whitbread team and past Rolex Yachtsman of
the Year Chris Larson. But it was Collins himself who drove for the majority of
Chessie overturned early predictions
of a heavy air meltdown, and won the competitive PHRF-1 class by a four-point
margin over Gray Kiger’s crew aboard the Farr 39ML Fatal Attraction.
Ironically, Fatal Attraction’s
tactician, Dave Scott, was a watch captain aboard Collins’ Whitbread team.
sailor who was a linchpin in the Pyewacket
program when the boat owned several major Left Coast distance race records was
at the heart of a winning Farr 40 effort this week.
Gold Medal sailor and Pyewacket
Project Manager Robbie Haines teamed up with his old friend, Greek sailor and Atalanti
XI owner George Andreadis, and stormed the ultra-competitive 27 boat
one-design class. After less than a year in the class, Andreadis, Haines, and
the team have certainly found the right combination. The core of the crew is
five of Andreadis’ Greek sailing team. Haines brought Rick Brent, Willem Van
Waay, and Ethan Bixby to the program for Key West 2000.
it was a magical combination. Solid boatspeed, nearly flawless tactics, crisp
crew work, and superb fleet management led to a 19-point win.
posting top nine finishes throughout the week but never winning an individual
race, the crew of Garth Dennis’ One Design 35 Smiling Bulldog finally
earned a big trophy yesterday, notching a 40-second victory in the 19-boat
fleet. Their week was a model of consistency and it showed in the final results,
which have the Ithaca, NY-based team in third overall, just behind Heartbreaker
Dennis, ``We didn’t try to win the regatta with one shift.’’ Smiling
Bulldog’s competitors also noted the smooth mark roundings that defined
the effort of the young crew sailing with Dennis.
highly competitive and very close racing in the 1D35 class produced the
regatta’s overall Boat of the Week: Heartbreaker.
J/29 class championship came down to a single race for all the marbles and the
crews of Titillation and Tomahawk
made it one to remember. With first
and second wrapped up between them, they had only each other to worry about. But
as has been the case all week, the two boats still settled in at the front of
the fleet before the duel began in earnest.
swapped the lead back and forth the whole race,” reported Tomahawk’s Woody Bergendahl. “They were in front of us by about
30 seconds at the last leeward mark,” but the crew of Tomahawk never gave up, “we just played the shifts well and ground
them back down.” It was a
nail-biter all the way to the finish, with Tomahawk
crossing the line overlapped with Titillation
but just ahead, claiming the race and the regatta.
and Donna Prucnal’s fourth earned them the top prize in PHRF 5 aboard Ultra
Violet. Geoff Longenecker’s Nemesis’
first for the day secured second overall. A DNF Friday cost Kevin Young and his
crew on the Viper 830 Black Seal a
chance at third for the week, and allowed Joseph Melino’s Owslarah
to take home a trophy.
Ballard and his Snake Eyes crew just
couldn’t seem to put together three good races in a row this week. But their
line of 1-1-3-1-1-2-1-1 was good enough to earn the Annapolis-based SR 33 the
title in PHRF 4.
in to Key West 2000, Bruce Gardner and the crew of L’Outrage felt that this could be their year. The boat was well
prepared, they had a core crew that had been together for almost five years, a
new set of sails and, most importantly, they were finally out of the sportboat
class. Their instincts were proven correct Friday when L’Outrage clinched the PHRF 7 title with a fourth for the day.
``We came here thinking we were better in heavy air and our two best finishes were in light air,’’ Gardner said.
all-around performance was also good enough to earn them The Key West Trophy
presented by Premiere Racing as the top PHRF boat in the regatta.
Townsley thought he finally had a chance to unseat John Esposito at the top of
the daily standings in PHRF 6 when he rounded the final mark about 2 and a half
minutes in front of the J/29. All Townsley had to do was hit the shifts on the
final beat and Savage would hold her
time against the New York boat.
had a loose cover on them and then a big left shift came for them and they got
their 30 seconds back,’’ Townsley said. ``Other than that we could have
Savage’s second-place finish locked
them into second overall.
Sampson’s S2 7.9 Rugger also had a
perfect record going. But with PHRF 8 wrapped up at the end of racing Thursday, Rugger
chose not to compete on the final day. That left an opening for another S2, Challenge, to take first and seal second overall.
wanted to stay clean. I didn’t want to take any major hits, we were looking
over our shoulders the whole race,” explained J/105 class winner Andrew Skibo
of Plum Crazy. Skibo won Friday’s lone race and the series title over
Geoffrey Pierini’s Phantom.
the only thing was for us to make sure nothing happened to lose the regatta,”
and with consistent first place finishes marred by one seventh place, Jay Lutz
and the crew of Syzegy were only
really worried about one other boat. Only
two points behind, Martin Kald’s Monster
Lady was the only one who could touch Lutz; “we kept Monster
Lady in our radar.”
so another KWRW goes into the books as a success. A new century brought more of
the same ingredients that keep racers coming back for more every year: fierce
competition, near perfect conditions, a highly skilled race management team, the
warm charms of Key West, and the camaraderie that comes from a January week in
despite a pair of poor finishes that kept him from bringing a trophy back home
to Toronto, MIR III skipper Ivan
Slezic provided a final soliloquy to Race Week 2000.
are going home better friends than when we came down, and that’s what it’s
Gross-Kehoe contributed reports on the J/105 and J/80 classes. She contributed
to the J/29 report.
for more information
Goss: (203) 453-2731, Fax (203) 453-3026, CynthiaGoss@compuserve.com
Craig: (781) 639-9545, Fax (781) 639-9171,
To follow hometown sailors from your area, please contact Cynthia Goss at the
numbers above until January 13. As of January 13, contact the Race Week Press
Center at 305-295-6373 (telephone) or 305-295-9254 (fax).
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Key West Media Center Page
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