GMC Yukon Yachting Key West
Dateline Key West: Tuesday, January 18
By Dave Gendell and Brian Trotta
Picture a powerful winter cold front dropping down from the north and blowing a big hole in the atmosphere as it passes through. From the surface up, the front scours the air leaving clean blue skies and cooler temperatures in its wake. Behind the front's leading edge, northerly breezes pour into this hole. The flow is strong at first and the momentum can carry on for a few days.
But eventually, the hole must fill. And that's what happened yesterday.
In a testing exercise for both racers and Premiere Racing's all-star regatta management team, the northerly breeze that had been the stuff of winter dreams proved fleeting and fickle before essentially vanishing in the afternoon.
Just as many boats at the event are crewed by local "all-star" teams assembled from a variety of summer programs, Event Director Peter Craig has assembled a regatta management dream team. It is difficult to secure a spot on Craig's crew. There are a number of talented race committee folks shivering up north and wishing they could be a part of the Key West team. Only the best make the cut.
And it showed yesterday.
And while one long race might pale in comparison to Monday's opening day romp, in many ways it was more of a challenge for Race Committees and sailors. And, in a five day event, it is OK to log one well-managed light air race. It makes for a more well-rounded overall winner. The top teams should, and must, master both physical and mental challenges.
All three fleets were able to complete a single contest and the dockside opinion held that the Race Committees were responsible and correct in their handling of Tuesday's race. "The RC did the right thing today. They were on the ball," said one Mumm 30 sailor reviewing the results board at Race Headquarters.
The breeze was about ten knots from the northern quadrant early in the day and all three circles were delayed as it settled. It soon fell off and leaned left as the day wore on. While optimists called it eight knots, others echoed the sentiment of a sailor who said, "it was four knots-a lot of the time."
A dying northerly.
A worn out team playing on emotion and failing in the fourth quarter.
The hole must fill.
With light air and holes across the course, lead changes were frequent and finish deltas were wide. Although the wind axis was fairly steady, some of the puffs were briefly 30 degrees on either side of the leg heading, allowing for a lot of room for error-and plenty of opportunities for gain.
To put things in perspective, compare yesterday's Race 3 to Monday's Race 1. The Farr 40 who won Race 1 (Al-Cap-One) sailed that 10.8 mile contest in one hour, 34 minutes. Yesterday's Farr 40 winner, Atalanti XI, sailed the 11.36 mile marathon in two hours, 42 minutes. The team was a whopping 3:11 ahead of second place Shadow. Monday's Boat of the Day-winning effort aboard the Italian-flagged Mascalzone Latino was strong enough that they retained a narrow overall class lead despite a seventh yesterday.
There were some other wide margins as well. The Viper 830 Impulsive Response won PHRF-5 by more than two minutes. Chessie Racing won her PHRF-1 class by nearly four minutes on corrected time. PHRF-6 was decided by more than 4 minutes.
And the big opportunities in the leverage provided by the puffs allowed for some big comebacks. Monday's 1D35 leader Roxanne was one of several 1D35s over early. "We were in, oh, about 21st place at that point," explained Roxanne's mainsail trimmer Ray Wulff. "But there were plenty of opportunities for patient teams." Indeed, five different 35s were out in front over the length of the three hour, 11.36 mile course.
Wulff and team were able to claw their way back to fifth and are even on points with John Wylie's Tabasco crew. Owen Krantz's Joss won the race.
Of course these trends were not evident across the fleet.
Among the exceptions was the Mumm 30 class where the first eight boats finished within a minute of each other and the entire class finished their 5.37-mile course within a seven minute window.
The current class leader is Turbo Duck, skippered by Bodo von der Wense, who used a third-place Tuesday finish to consolidate his lead over the other 25 boats in the class.
Meanwhile, Dick Jean Pierre and the crew of Ville de St. Raphael continue their remarkable recovery from their opening race 14th-place finish. Pierre won his second race in a row and Boat of the Day honors.
Mastering the conditions in three races on two diverse days is a tough thing and only three boats hold all aces after Day 2. John Esposito and the crew of his J/29 Hustler continued their string of bullets in PHRF-6, posting a convincing four minute, 37 second win over Alan Townsley and his C&C 34, Savage, who have posted three straight second place finishes.
Another boat with straight bullets is skipper Jeff Sampson aboard the S2 7.9 Rugger. Sampson and his Detroit-based crew led the other S2s in the class, Rooster Tail and Challenge, by just over a minute.
Houston sailor Jay Lutz has led the crew of his J/80 Syzyey to three first place finishes as well.
Consistency has paid off for the Buddy Melges-Peter Nauert team aboard the new Reichel/Pugh-designed Melges 32 Ceres Group, which lead PHRF-2 by five points after posting a 2-2-2. Three different teams have each notched a bullet.
In a similar situation but carrying a six point lead into Hump Day, is Gordon Schiff and the team aboard his Florida-based Mumm 36 The Wall, whose 3-2-2 puts them on top of a PHRF-3 class that has also been won by three different teams.
The Beneteau First Class 10 MIR III continued to dominate PHRF 7, posting their second bullet of the regatta with a 50-second win over Bruce Gardner's L'Outrage. MIR's win came despite leaving their mainsail trimmer back in the hotel room where he slept off the ravages of long night.
``He came home at 5 a.m., made the sandwiches and went to bed,'' said MIR III owner Ivan Slezic.
After rolling Snake Eyes in yesterday's two races, Tom Ballard's SR 33 of the same name managed a third on Tuesday, good enough to keep the team on top of the class, two points ahead of Frigate.
In the Melges fleet, Brian Porter and his crew on Full Throttle scored their second bullet of the week to tie for the lead in the 46-boat fleet. Porter's 1:01 victory gave him and David Clark's Snickers Workwear 10 points each. But trailing just behind with 16 points is Harry Melges aboard Zenda Express.
Tony Wattson, owner of Typhoon said the boats that did well were those that were able to find the wind.
``The water was the same for everyone, it was just the puffs and shifts,'' he said. With a seventh Tuesday, Typhoon stands in seventh overall; ready for the onslaught a smiling Wattson says is coming. ``We usually wait until the third day to start our string of bullets.''
Tom Steinhauer, skipper of the Catalina 38 Anticipation, finished seventh Tuesday, but said it was just good to be back sailing with his old crew again. Steinhauer relocated from Detroit to Punta Gorda, Fla. in August and brought the boat down with him. Key West, he said, seemed like the perfect time to get his former crew back together for their first race together in two years.
``I was tired of the Michigan winters,'' he said. And with the temperatures in the teens back in his native Detroit, it doesn't seem like such a bad decision.
In the battle between the Vipers and the Antrims in PHRF 5, the Vipers drew their first blood Tuesday with Ted Balfour's Impulsive Response finishing first followed by Ultra Violet and Thomas Podgorski's Carrera 290 Wild Thang.
The J/29 teams showed their ability to mix it up today. "It was a good tight fleet today," said John Cooper of Cool Breeze. "We had a new winner today, new first two places." Finishing first in today's race was Leo Bonser's Break Away whose previous finishes had been a third and an eighth. "We just got off the line well, in clear air and were able to stay ahead from there" said Bonser. Paul Anderson and the all-female team aboard Titillation continue to lead after today's third place finish, only one point ahead of Bruce Lockwood's Tomahawk.
Back this year with the largest one-design J Boat class, four boat in the competitive 18-boat J/105 fleet found themselves battling throughout the race course during today's race. Finishing within seconds of each other, Jim Doane's Florida-based Flame finished first.
One group pleased with yesterday's light air were the employees of the on-site sail lofts. The workers in the lofts have not been outside much lately due to the big breeze. Mike Smith, who runs North Sails Northeast in Salem, Mass., is spearheading North's repair efforts in Key West. "We're glad there was some light breeze because we have 10 percent of the work we did on Monday night," he explained. Smith and Mike McWilliams worked at the loft until 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.
A cold front is teeing up along the Gulf Coast and could receive a hero's welcome on the race course by the end of the week. "An eight-race series is the goal and our on-the-water team will work as hard as possible to make that happen," says Craig.
Amy Gross-Kehoe contributed reports on the J/29 and J/105 fleets.
For more information Cynthia Goss: (203) 453-2731, Fax (203) 453-3026,
Cynthia Goss: (203) 453-2731, Fax (203) 453-3026,CynthiaGoss@compuserve.com
Peter Craig: (781) 639-9545, Fax (781) 639-9171, PremiereRacing@compuserve.com
NOTE: 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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