Key West kick off

Monday will see the start of the US' premier regatta

Monday January 16th 2006, Author: Bill Wagner, Location: United States
Somewhere down in the cold southern ocean, Pirates of the Caribbean skipper Paul Cayard is dreaming of Key West. Out on the lonely Hauraki Gulf, Team New Zealand skipper Terry Hutchinson is thinking about his favorite winter hotspot. Cayard and Hutchinson are regular competitors in Key West. Neither could make it this year due to Volvo Ocean Race and America's Cup commitments.

However, a lot of their big-time buddies are here for Acura Key West 2006, presented by Nautica. After all, even jaded professionals love sailing in Key West, with its seemingly perpetual warm weather and strong winds. Take California sailmaker Dave Ullman for example. Ullman was slated to vacation in Hawaii with his wife this week, but pushed that trip back in order to make his annual pilgrimage to the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys. "Key West is the absolute best place to sail. I try not to ever miss this regatta," said Ullman, one of the favorites in the Melges 24 class.

Forecasts call for another glorious week on the emerald waters off the Conch Republic. Action begins Monday with predictions calling for sunny skies and 10-15-knot southeasterly winds.

Acura Key West 2006 has attracted 286 boats from 14 countries and 37 states. Competition in 19 classes will be held on four courses over the next five days with organizers from Premiere Racing planning to get in as many as nine races.

All eyes will be focused on the Swan 45 class, which is conducting its inaugural world championship. This is the largest North American gathering of Swan 45s with 16 entrants from four countries. Mintaka, owned by Stefano Polti with tactician Francesco Bruni, is considered the boat to beat by virtue of winning the Swan Gold Cup, held in Capri, Italy in 2004. "Of course I hope to win again, but it will not be an easy task this time around," Polti said. "We will have to fight off some very tough competition and the waters off Key West are not as familiar to me as those around Capri."

Vim owner Craig Speck, a class veteran from Newport, R.I., agreed there are numerous strong contenders. "I'm very excited. I think it's going to be an extremely competitive regatta. All the boats are well-sailed and capable of winning races," Speck said. "Since it's a no-throwout series, consistency and avoiding breakdowns will be crucial."

Among the high-profile tacticians competing are British match racing legend Chris Law ( Goombay Smash, Grant Gordon/Klaus Diederichs), ex-GBR Challenge helmsman turned Star sailor Andy Beadsworth ( Cuor Di Leone, Leonardo Ferragamo), US America's Cup veteran Tony Rey ( Yasha, Yukihiro Ishida) and French America's Cup helm Thierry Peponnet ( Atlantica Racing, Perrone Carlo).

Speck said the European teams are more experienced with big fleets, but believes American entries such as his own, Plenty (Alexander Roepers) and Devocean (Stephen DeVoe) "will be in the game." "The United States fleet has really improved and those of us who have sailed in Key West could have a slight advantage as far as knowing the conditions," he said.

As usual, the Farr 40 class is loaded with accomplished professionals and 'rock star' tacticians. There is no bigger name than three-time America's Cup champion Russell Coutts, who is teaming with Mascalzone Latino owner Vincenzo Onorato. Mascalzone is an Italian America's Cup challenger and several team members will comprise the crew here. Onorato and Coutts are pointing toward the 2006 Farr 40 World Championship and this is their initial regatta together.

Star class Olympic gold medallist Mark Reynolds, tactician aboard Steve Phillips' Le Renard, said having Coutts in the afterguard makes Mascalzone a serious player. "It's another really good fleet and any number of teams could come out on top. There are quite a few new boats with new sails so it's hard to predict," Reynolds said. "Obviously, any boat that Russell is on is going to be very competitive."

Coutts, who arrived in Key West Sunday and immediately took his new team on the water for a practice session, isn't sure what to expect. "This fleet is really tough and this is our first time sailing together," he said. "We'll try our best and see what happens."

Another heavy hitter is John Kostecki, who skippered illbruck Challenge to victory in the 2001-2002 Volvo Ocean Race. Kostecki is taking a brief break from his duties as inshore tactician for Volvo Ocean Race entry, Ericsson Racing Team to call tactics on Fred & Steve Howe's Warpath.

Other notable pros competing in Farr 40 class here this week include America's Cup veteran Vince Brun ( Barking Mad, Jim Richardson) and North Sails legend Tom Whidden ( Infinity, John Thomson).

The Transpac 52 class will have eight boats on the line and is another pro-laden class. All the teams are preparing for the inaugural class world championship, being held in conjunction with Acura Miami Race Week. "We're gearing up for Miami, but we want to win this event as well. Key West is a major regatta so it's always a big deal to win here," said Sjambok owner Michael Brennan. Former America's Cup helmsman Gavin Brady is tactician on Sjambok.

Rush, owned by Thomas Stark, is another strong team. Alinghi helmsman Ed Baird, is calling tactics for Stark. Other notable tacticians in the class include Adrian Stead on Stuart Robinson's brand new Stay Calm II, British Olympic medallist Ian Walker on Eamon Conneely's Patches and former Olympian John Bertrand on Doug DeVos' Windquest.

"The class continues to grow and this should be one of the best events we've had to date. I'm sure the racing will be very tight and intense," Brennan said.

The Melges 24 class is once again the largest with 60 boats. Action figures to be fierce since many of the teams are in top form after competing in the world championships, held off Key Largo in December.

Most skippers are pointing to Ullman as the man to beat since he finished third at worlds. Ullman, who sails for Pegasus Racing, doesn't agree with that logic. "That doesn't mean a thing. This is a different venue, a different regatta," he said. "I haven't sailed a Melges since the Worlds so I need to get back into the groove." Pegasus Racing, owned and funded by Philippe Kahn, has two other entries - Pegasus 492 (Jeff Madrigali) and Pegasus 575 (Kahn with Morgan Larson calling tactics).

Blu Moon, an Italian entry owned by Franco Rossini and skippered by Swiss Olympian Chris Rast, won the Melges 24 Worlds in 2004 and should also be a player. "I think all the Pegasus teams will be up at the front. They've done this event so often and are always very competitive," said Rast, regularly sails in the 49er class. "We'll also be looking out for Partners & Partners (Philippe Ligot), which has done very well on the circuit over the years."

New this year is the IRC rating rule with IRC 1 (10 boats) and an IRC 2 (7 boats) classes. All 17 boats will be vying for the inaugural US-IRC National Championship Trophy, which will be awarded to the top finisher in the combined fleet.

There are seven returning champions from Key West 2005 here this year. They are Groovederci (Mumm 30, Deneen Demourkas), Star (Melges 32, Jeff Ecklund), Rush (J/109, Bill Sweetser), Masquerade (J/105, Thomas Coates), C'Est Nasty (J/80, Rick Schaffer), Trumpeter (C&C 99, Bob Wilson) and Liquor Box (Tartan 10, Bill Buckles, Chuck Simon).

Entries:

Boat Owner Homeport Nat Helm Tactician
Swan 45s
Atlantica Racing Perrone Carlo Genova, ITA ITA Perrone Carlo Thierry Peponnet
Bandit Andrew Fisher Newport, RI USA Andrew Fisher Ben Mitchell
Bellicosa Massimo Ferragamo New York, NY USA Peter McCloskey Howie Schiebler
Better Than Andrzej Rojek Newport, RI USA Marcin Rojek Chris Zaleski
Cuor Di Leone Leonardo Ferragamo Etrusca, ITA ITA Leonardo Ferragamo Andy Beatsworth
Devocean Stephen DeVoe Jamestown, RI USA Stephen DeVoe Jack Slattery
DSK-Comifin Danilo Salsi Scarlino, ITA ITA Danilo Salsi Pietro D'alì
Fever G. Gordon/K. Diederichs Southampton, UK UK Grant Gordon Ruairidh Scott
Goombay Smash William Douglass Newport, RI USA William Douglass Chris Law
Jeroboam Canova Vittorio Codecasa Porto Cervo, ITA ITA Vittorio Codecasa Gabriele Benussi
Mintaka Stefano Polti Scarlino, ITA ITA Stefano Polti Francesco Bruni
Murka 2 Mikhail Mouratov Hamble, UK UK Mikhail Mouratov George Shayduko
Plenty Alexander Roepers Stonington, CT USA Alexander Roepers Geoff Ewenson
VIM Craig Speck Newport, RI USA Craig Speck Ed Adams
Vixen Dick Weismann Newport, RI USA Dick Weismann Brian Kelly
Yasha Yukihiro Ishida Tokyo, JPN JPN Yukihiro Ishida Tony Rey
Farr 40
Atalanti XII George Andreadis Athens, GRE GRE George Andreadis Andy Horton
Barking Mad James Richardson Newport, RI USA James Richardson Vince Brun
Calvi-Gameon Carlo Alberini Pesaro, ITA ITA Carlo Alberini Matteo Ivaldi
Canvasback Doug Croker Newport, RI USA Doug Croker Bryan Boyd
Fiamma Alessandro Barnaba Cala Galera, ITA ITA Alessandro Barnaba Tommaso Chieffi
Flash Gordon 5 Helmut Jahn Chicago, IL USA Helmut Jahn Mark Ivey
Fresh Guidance Simon Williams Newport, RI USA Simon Williams Cameron Appleton
Groovederci John Demourkas Santa Barbara, CA USA John Demourkas TBA
Heartbreaker Robert Hughes Holland, MI USA Robert Hughes Bill Hardesty
Infinity John Thomson, Jr. Sands Point, NY USA John Thomson, Jr. Tom Whidden
Le Renard Steven Phillips Annapolis, MD USA Steve Phillips Mark Reynolds
Madina Milano Dario Ferrari Portofino, ITA ITA Dario Ferrari Nico Celon
Mascalzone Latino Vincenzo Onorato Napoli, ITA ITA Vincenzo Onorato Russell Coutts
Monick David Holm Royal Danish YC, DEN DEN David Holm Nicklas Holm
Nerone Massimo Mezzaroma YC Punta Ala, ITA ITA Antonio Sodo Migliori
Nitemare Tom Neill Chicago, IL USA Tom Neill Pat Considine
Norwegian Steam Eivind Astrup Oslo, NOR NOR Eivind Astrup Morten Henriksen
Opus One Wolfgang Stolz Newport, RI USA Wolfgang Stolz Markus Wieser
PhishFood Alexis Michas Stonington, CT USA Alexis Michas Brian Ledbetter
Ramrod Rod Jabin Annapolis, MD USA Rod Jabin Scott Nixon
SLED Takashi Okura Tokyo, JPN JPN Takashi Okura Tatsuya Wakinaga
TBA US Naval Academy Annapolis, MD USA Gregory Storer
Temptress Alan Field Bristol, RI USA Alan Field George Szabo
Twins Erik Maris Newport, RI USA Erik Maris Philippe Presti
Warpath Fred & Steve Howe San Diego, CA USA Steve Howe John Kostecki
Mumm 30
2 Th' Max Kristen Lane San Francisco, CA USA Kristen Lane Jim Barkow
Black Seal Kevin Young Lakeside, OH USA Kevin Young
Cygnet Rick Swann Fairfield, CT USA Rick Swann Britt Hughes
Groovederci Deneen Demourkas Santa Barbara, CA USA Deneen Demourkas Hamish Pepper
Just Plain Nuts J. Cameron Dean Chelsea, NY USA Norm Dean Bill Heintz
Mummy Geoff Brown Toronto, ONT CAN Geoff Brown Terry Michaelson
One More Time Bruce Lockwood Noank, CT USA Carl Fast Chris Field
TeamBOLD Nelson Stephenson Southport, CT USA Nelson Stephenson Brian Bissell
Turbo Duck Bodo & Nick von der Wense Annapolis, MD USA Bodo von der Wense Nick von der Wense
USA 39 Maxim Logutenko Vladivostok, RUS RUS Maxim Logutenko TBD
USA 41 ACED Partners Key West, FL USA Miles Allen Jeff Diemand

Boat Owner Homeport Nat Helm Tactician
Melges 24
Adrenaline Michael Royer Marblehead, MA USA Michael Royer Ken Luker
All Or None Chris Doubek Chicago, IL USA Chris Doubek Dierk Polzin
AoXoMoXoA Platt Johnson Newport, RI USA Dave Doucet Tom Tanner
Badger Paul Lovejoy Hamble, UK UK Paul Lovejoy
Baghdad Kristian Nergaard Oslo, NOR NOR Kristian Nergaard Harald Blom Bakke
Barking Fish Mark Bryan Lynn Creek YC, TX USA Mark Bryan Ed Dobbs
Barracuda Bob Dockery Longboat Key, FL USA John Jennings Bill Schoenberg
Blu Moon Federico Valenti Lugano, SUI SUI Chris Rast Tiziano Nava
Boorinsla August Schram YCA, SUI SUI August Schram Thomas Jakobowitz
Borgo Scopeto Igino Angelini CVT, ITA ITA Igino Angelini
Bretwalda Bob Pethick Bayview YC, MI USA Gary Warner/J. DeOlazarra Mike Considine
Courage 8 Eddy Eich Munich, GER GER Alba Batzill Daniel Schroff
Cujo Greg McCliment Novi, MI USA Greg McCliment Alan Block
Elektra Dan Van Heeckeren Gates Mills, OH USA Dan Van Heeckeren W Van Heeckeren
Enigma Hubert Guy Pasadena, CA USA Hubert Guy Alex Mercier
Eric Martin Wedge Richmond, UK UK Martin Wedge
Excellent John Pollard Torquay, UK UK John Pollard Rob Smith
Flyer 02 Chuck Holzman Farmington Hill, MI USA Bora Gulari Chuck Holzman
Gazoo Geoffrey Pierini Perth Amboy, NJ USA Geoffrey Pierini TBD
Gill Quentin Strauss London, UK UK Stuart Rix Nigel Young
High Yield Richard Slosar Islamorada, FL USA Richard Slosar Wes Tone
Inside Voice Eric Nerlinger Chicago, IL USA Eric Nerlinger Blair Ross
Lamorak Mike Krantz Lake Lanier, GA USA Mike Krantz Brian Harrison
Lester the Nightfly Nigel Donnelly San Francisco, CA USA Nigel Donnelly Garrett Donnelly
Monsoon Bruce Ayres Newport Harbor, CA USA Bruce Ayres Jon Pinckney
Nautica Riccardo Simoneschi Genova, ITA ITA Giorgio Tortarolo Branko Brcin
Nothing Ventured Thomas Klenke Lake Tahoe, NV USA Thomas Klenke Toss O'Neill
Obsession Gary Schwarting Naples, FL USA Gary Schwarting
Partner & Partners Philippe Ligot La Rochelle, FRA FRA François Brénac Christian Ponthieu
Pegasus 492 Samuel "Shark" Kahn Honolulu, HI USA Samuel "Shark" Kahn Jeff Madrigali
Pegasus 505 Dave Ullman Newport Beach, CA USA Dave Ullman
Pegasus 575 Philippe Kahn Honolulu, HI USA Philippe Kahn Morgan Larson
Personal Puff Dan Hauserman Tahoe, CA USA Dan Hauserman Matt Clark
Pied Piper Jack Jennings Lake Geneva, WI USA Jack Jennings Bryn Palmer
Pro Spirit Stan Eriksson Tahoe City YC, CA USA Stan Eriksson Jim Granger
Red Paddy Bettesworth Torquay, UK UK Joe Woods Paddy Bettesworth
Riot Marc Ewing Newport, RI USA Marc Ewing Chuck Brown
Riot Act Guy Mossman Charleston, SC USA Guy Mossman Bruce Avery
Rock N Roll Argyle Campbell Newport Beach, CA USA Argyle Campbell
RocketBoard Peter Sulick Naples, FL USA Rodion Luka Jack Dreyfuss
Sailcheck Laurance Leonard Annapolis, MD USA Larry Leonard Ron Steele
Sailstars Othmar Muller v. Blumenc Annapolis, MD USA Othmar Mueller von Blumen Othmar Mueller von Blumen
Seat Belts Required Tim McGurk Treasure Island, FL USA Tim McGurk
Shisayo Clive Daem Fort Pierce, FL USA Pavel Kaprowski Clive Daem
Slingshot Shaun Murphy Hamble, UK UK Shaun Murphy
Smokin Kevin Clark Alameda, CA USA Kevin Clark Tom Rankin
Speedemon Rick Mallinson Oklahoma City, OK USA Rick Mallinson
Startack Nick Maxwell Madison, WI USA Nick Maxwell Jim Gluek
Team Gill Simon Strauss New York, NY USA Simon Strauss Toby Strauss
Tiburon Bill Carleton Annapolis, MD USA Bill Carleton
Tramp 24 Tom Ritter Bayview YC, MI USA Tom Ritter Karl Kuspa
Traveling Circus Kyle Hintze San Diego, CA USA Kyle Hintze Breck Jensen
Trick Monkey Matt Mayo Dallas, TX USA Matt Mayo Larry Ford
Twisted Mister Keith Grzelak Spokane, WA USA Keith Grzelak
USA 34 Mike Lebov Milford, CT USA Mike Lebov
USA 37 Gary Schneidman Nyack, NY USA Gary Schneidman
USA 493 Matt Frymier Tiburon, CA USA Matt Frymier Skip Dieball
USA 500 Marc Hollerbach Detroit, MI USA Marc Hollerbach Nathan Hollerbach
Wham-O Kay VanValkenburgh Cambridge, MA USA VanValkenburgh/E.Goethert Lisa Vedder / Julia Marsh
Zig Zag 17 Henri Samuel Dinard, FRA FRA Henri Samuel Marc Bouvet
J/105
Allegiance US Naval Academy Annapolis, MD USA Chris Schubert
Bambino Robert Mondo Chicago, IL USA Bob Mondo
BAT IV Andrew Kennedy Annapolis, MD USA Andrew Kennedy Reggie Rainard
Caress Jon Weglarz Chicago, IL USA Jon Weglarz Bill Bartz
Chemically Adjusted Mike Barber/Danny Bonner Atlanta, GA USA Mike Barber Danny Bonner
Coltrane Jay Schachne Barrington, RI USA Jay Schachne Tyler Keyworth
Convexity Donald Wilson Chicago, IL USA Donald Wilson
Eagles Wings John Gottwald Chicago, IL USA John J Gottwald
Flame James Doane Naples, FL USA James Doane
Forerunner John & Scott Mathis Pensacola Beach, FL USA Scott Mathis Jeremy Tudor
Ghost Kenneth Colburn Southport, ME USA Kenneth Colburn Jeff Sammis
Grace O'Malley Alice Leahey Los Angeles, CA USA Alice Leahey Ron Baerwitz
Groovador Alex Baluta Toronto, ONT CAN Alex Baluta
Gumption 3 Kevin Grainger Rye, NY USA Kevin Grainger Jon-Claude Zucconi
JATO Andrew Gillis Newport, RI USA Andrew Gillis
Java Chris Groobey Annapolis, MD USA Chris Groobey Carolyn Groobey
Jester Hugh Bethell Baltimore, MD USA Hugh Bethell Brian Tetrault
J'Makin Waves Steve Olinger Treasure Island, FL USA Steve Olinger Scott Gitchell
Masquerade Thomas Coates San Francisco, CA USA TBA TBA
Max Power Gerrit Schulze Cape May, NJ USA Gerrit Schulze Stefan Schulze
Puffin Fred Stone Charleston, SC USA Fred Stone
Rapid Transit Rob Stein Charleston, SC USA Rob Stein Ric Dexter
Rum At Six Worth Harris Beaufort, NC USA Worth Harris
Savasana Brian Keane Marion, MA USA Brian Keane
Twisted Lizard Michael Lathrope Chicago, IL USA Michael Lathrope Gerry Lampert
Vindicator Rick Bernstein St. Louis, MO USA Rick Bernstein Ralph Godkin
Wasabi Adam Rosen Clearwater, FL USA Adam Rosen Jeff Marks
Wind Czar Richard Lehmann Harbor Springs, MI USA Richard Lehmann Kevin Meier
Zuni Bear Rich Bergmann San Diego, CA USA Shawn Bennett
J/80
Angry Chameleon Brian & Kristen Robinson Annapolis, MD USA Brian Robinson Kristen Robinson
Bear Instinct Nelson Weiderman Wickford, RI USA Nelson Weiderman Dan Holloway
Blind Faith Daniel Wittig Annapolis, MD USA Daniel Wittig
Born 2 Run Rick Hanson North East, MD USA Rick Hanson Alan Wilkins
C'est Nasty Rick Schaffer Ft. Worth, TX USA Rick Schaffer David Hiebert
Emotional Rescue John DiMatteo Centerport, NY USA John DiMatteo Daniel Wittig
Harmattan David Leavenworth Dillon, CO USA Dave Leavenworth
Hoss Racing G. Darden/R. Hillard Fort Worth, TX USA Glenn Darden Reese Hillard
Hyperdrive Matthew Baker Perth Amboy, NJ USA Matt Baker Leo Vasiliev
Infinity Uzi Ozeri Houston, TX USA David Hinrichsen Tom Meeh
Kidzpace Rob Butler Collingwood, ONT CAN Rob Butler
Rumor John Storck, Jr. Huntington, NY USA John Storck, Jr.
Sweet Baby J Robin Team Beaufort, NC USA Robin Team Kevin Ryman
Synergy Jay Lutz Houston, TX USA Jay Lutz Joe Taylor
TBD Robert Limoggio Newport, RI USA Robert Limoggio
The Office Steve Coneys Gilford, NH USA Steve Coneys
Valiente Caleb Everett San Francisco, CA USA Caleb Everett
Veloce B & J Louther Madison, WI USA Brian Louther Dave Gorwitz
Willy T J World Racing Team Blue Annapolis, MD USA Kristen Berry

Boat Owner/entrant Homeport Tactician
TP52
Bambakou John Coumantaros Newport, RI Santi Lange
Glory John Buchan Hunts Point, WA Bob Pistay
Patches Eamon Conneely Galway, IRL Ian Walker
Rush Thomas Stark Newport, RI Ed Baird
Sjambok Michael Brennan Annapolis, MD Gavin Brady
Stay Calm II Stuart Robinson London, UK Adrian Stead
Trader Fred Detwiler Ft. Lauderdale, FL Mark Ploch
Windquest Doug DeVos Holland, MI John Bertrand
Melges 32
Crash Test Dummies Tim Kimpton Stamford, CT/TTO Doug Fisher
Grins Rick Orchard Flowery Branch, GA Dave Chapin
New Wave Michael Carroll Lake Geneva, WI
Quick Fix John Cooper Cane Hill, MO Billy Liberty
Star Jeff Ecklund Fort Lauderdale, FL Harry Melges
USA 120 Jonathan Money Falmouth, UK Matt Johnston
USA 128 Mick Shlens King Harbor, CA Mike Pentecost
XSNRG Beck Swanson Milford, CT Buddy Melges
Corsair 28R
Bad Boys Bob Harkrider Augusta, GA
Ballistic II Mike Reeves Birmingham, AL David Reeves
Dealer's Choice Steven Marsh Stuart, FL Keith Notary
Fifty-Fifty Robert Onsgard Miami YC, FL Jay Glaser
Flight Simulator Tom Reese Youngstown, NY Jan Steyn
Hot Flash Bob Gleason Wareham, MA Dave Calvert
Overdo John Novak Colleyville, TX Jon Colclasure
Paparazzzi Emmanuel Cerf Redington Beach, FL Peter Katcha
Persevere Michael Zotzky Kemah, TX Voldi Maki
Ranger Bruce Jenevein Dallas, TX Don Wigston
Rocketeer ll Ken Winters Ft Walton Beach, FL Jonathan Farrar
Zephyr Paul van Dyke Montreal, ONT Glenn Howell
J/109
Ecclesiastes Alice Martin Chicago, IL Roy Haslup
Hoodoo Ric Campeau Charleston, SC Jay Bowen
Mojo Steve Rhyne Kemah, TX John Wilson
Phoebe's Phling Charlie Milligan Newport, RI Bill Titus
RUSH Bill Sweetser Annapolis, MD Mike Hobson
Saykadoo Steve McManus Annapolis, MD
Storm Rick Lyall Wilton, CT Butch Ulmer
Surprise Jim Bradley Houston, TX Ken Horne
Tigh Soluis II Ken Grant Glasgow, SCT Chris Owen
Vitesse Jon Halbert Dallas, TX Mark Foster

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