To the wire

Bill Wagner reports from Acura Miami Race Week

Sunday March 12th 2006, Author: Bill Wagner, Location: United States
It's down to the wire at Acura Miami Race Week. Winners in nine of 12 classes won't be determined until the final day of the 142-boat regatta, organized by Premiere Racing. Adding to the intrigue is the fact the Acura Grand Prix Trophy is also up for grabs in six classes.

One entry in the TP52, Farr 40, J/105, Mumm 30, Melges 24 and Swan 45 will be honored for outstanding combined performance at Acura Key West 2006 and Acura Miami Race Week.

"For years, winning Key West has been one of the greatest achievements in U.S. sailing. Now the competition at Miami Race Week is just as stiff in several one-design classes," event director Peter Craig said. "Winning the Acura Grand Prix Trophy shows a tremendous level of excellence. To put forth a consistent performance at two major regattas is not an easy feat."

Stay Calm II, skippered by Stuart Robinson of Thames, England, holds an eight-point lead in the battle for the Acura Grand Prix Trophy. Adrian Stead is calling tactics aboard the British boat, which won Key West and stands fourth here in Miami.

Pegasus 52, owned by Philippe Kahn of Waikiki, Hawaii, held her overall lead in the nine-boat Rolex TP52 Global Championships by placing second in Saturday's coastal race. However, Eamon Coneely's Patches is just three-quarters of a point behind after winning the 42-mile jaunt into the Gulf Stream, up to Ft. Lauderdale and back to Miami.
It was a remarkable comeback for Patches, an Irish entry that broke its deck during the overnight distance race that began Thursday afternoon. Boat-builders worked fast and furiously to repair the Reichel-Pugh design in time for Saturday's start and the crew took over from there.

Action is equally intense in the 19-boat Farr 40 class, where skipper Eivind Astrup and Norwegian Steam maintained their overall lead for the third straight day. A sixth and a third on Saturday gave the Norwegians 35 points - two better than Vincenzo Onorato's Mascalzone Latino.

"It's been a fantastic week of sailing and it feels great to be in contention. The crew is gaining confidence with every day," said Astrup, who has not won a Farr 40 regatta since joining the class five years ago.

Norwegian Steam posted a podium finish at the Sardinia Cup and there have been moments of brilliance in other major events, just not the consistency needed to win. There was a sign this could finally be the regatta for the Norwegians, who fell into last place after hitting the top mark during Race 7 yet battled back to finish sixth.

"We've had high positions in individual races, but we have been irregular. We get a third then follow it with a 15th," Astrup said. "The trick is to avoid those huge downturns. So far, we have been able to do that here."

It must be unsettling for Astrup to have Mascalzone Latino breathing down his neck. The Italian entry has three-time America's Cup winner Russell Coutts calling tactics and has made a steady climb through the standings - going from sixth on Day 1 to third on Day 2 to second on Day 3.

"We've been getting better as we go along. We might be winning if we'd been able to get better starts. We've spent the week battling through the fleet," said Coutts, the cool and confident New Zealand native. "We've had very good downwind speed, which has enabled us to make up ground."

Mascalzone Latino, which won at Key West, holds a healthy 8-point lead over Warpath (Steve Howe, San Diego) for the Acura Grand Prix Trophy.

It appears there is a runaway winner for the Acura Grand Prix Trophy in Melges 24. Italian skipper Riccardo Simoneschi is dominating the 25-boat class here in Miami after finishing fourth out of 60 entries at Key West. "To be honest, that was one of my objectives. I saw the trophy here last season and thought it would very nice to win," Simoneschi said. "I appreciate the idea behind it, and will be very happy if I am able to hold it (Sunday)."

While the boat name has changed from Nautica to Giacomel Audi Racing,Simoneschi is sailing with the same crew as he did in Key West. After finishing third in Race 1 of Miami Race Week, the Geneva resident has reeled off five straight bullets.

"We are pleased with how we've performed at both events. We were battling for the win up until the last mark of the last race at Key West when we had to do a 720. We were determined to do better here," said Simoneschi, who picked up the Boat of the Day honor. The Melges 24 class was deemed the most competitive class.

Other leads in the Acura Grand Prix Trophy competition are Groovederci (Deneen Demourkas, Santa Barbara, CA) in Mumm 30, Gumption 3 (Kevin Grainger, Rye, N.Y.) in J/105 and Goombay Smash (William Douglass, Newport, R.I.) in Swan 45.

Monaco-based Dutchman Peter de Ridder missed Key West because he was launching a new TP52, but was determined to make Miami because the Mumm 30 world championships will be held here in November. Emirates Team New Zealander Ray Davies is calling tactics for de Ridder, who has steered Mean Machine to victory in four of five starts en route to building a four-point lead over Groovederci.

"We have been battling with Deneen for many years and it is always very close," said de Ridder, noting that he had not mathematically clinched the regatta.

There has been close competition in the Melges 32 class with the top four boats routinely overlapped at the finish line. Full Throttle, owned by brothers Brian and John Porter of Lake Geneva, WI, holds the overall lead on the strength of five bullets.

However, only five points separate the next three boats - Grins (Rick Orchard, Flowery Branch, GA), New Wave (Michael Carroll, Tampa, FL) and Star (Jeff Ecklund, Fort Lauderdale, FL).

"It's been a really tight regatta with lots of close racing and changing of places. Full Throttle has been strong, but with another good day we could possibly overtake them," said Steve Burke, crew member aboard Grins. "There are a lot of very good sailors in this fleet. The New Wave guys are real good and Star is always very tough."

Class organizers are hoping to have 12-14 boats at the North American Championships off Newport in July and possibly even more at Key West in 2007.

Two remain to be sailed on Sunday with close battles being fought in PHRF 2, 3 and 4, where four points or less separates the top two boats. The weeklong battle in IRC 1 goes in to the final day in a tie.


1, Pegasus 52, Philippe Kahn, Waikiki, Hawaii, 6-1-1-5-4-3-4-2=28.5
2, Patches, Eamon Conneely, Galway, Ireland, 1-6-3-1-1-1-dnf-1=29.25
3, Beau Geste, Karl Kwok, Hong Kong, China, 4-3-6-4-2-5-2-6=34.5


1, Aera, Nick Lykiardopulo, Cowes, UK, (2)-1-1-2-2-1-2-1=10
2, Moneypenny, Jim Swartz, Newport, RI, 1-(2)-2-1-1-2-1-2=10
3, Goombay Smash, William Douglass, Newport, RI, 3-3-3-4-5-(9)-3-3=24
Farr 40
1, Norwegian Steam, Eivind Astrup, Oslo, Norway, 8-1-2-5-6-4-6-3=35
2, Mascalzoni Latino, Vincenzo Onorato, Napoli, Italy,9-6-4-3-3-1-4-7=37
3, Heartbreaker, Robert Hughes,Holland, MI, 10-10-1-1-1-12-1-4=40
Melges 32
1, Full Throttle, Brian & John Porter, Lake Geneva, WI, 3-1-1-1-1-3-(5)-1=11
2, Grins, Rick Orchard, Flowery Branch, GA, 2-(3)-2-3-3-2-1-3=16
3, New Wave, Michael Carroll, Tampa, FL, 1-2-3-(4)-2-4-4-2=18
Mumm 30
1, Mean Machine, Peter de Ridder, Monaco, 1-1-2-1-1=6
2, Groovederci, Deneen Demourkas, Santa Barbara, CA, 2-3-1-2-2=10
3, Terra Firma, Dan Cheresh/Eric Wynsma, W. Michigan, MI, 3-2-3-3-3=14
Swan 45 (sub-class)
1, Goombay Smash, William Douglass, Newport, RI, 1-1-1-1-2-3-1-1=11
2, Better Than, Marcin Rojek, Newport, RI, 4-2-3-2-1-1-2-2=17
3, Fever, G. Gordon/K. Diederichs, Southampton, UK, 2-3-2-4-3-4-4-4-=26
(IRC 1 – dual scoring)
1, Moneypenny, Jim Swartz, Newport, RI, 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-(2)=7
2, Aera, Nick Lykiardopulo, Cowes, UK,(2)-2-2,2-2-2-2-1=13
3, Goombay Smash, William Douglass, Newport, RI, 3-3-3-3-5-(8)-3-3=23

1, El Ocaso, Rick Wesslund, Tiburon, CA, 1-2-1-1-1-1-(4)-3 =10
2, Peregrine, Hunt Lawrence, Oyster Bay, NY, 2-1-2-2-(dnc)-3-2-1 =13
3, Emocean, Bill Hanckel, Charleston, SC, (5)-3-5-4-2-2-1-2 =19

1, Defiance, Scott Taylor, Long Beach, CA, (4)-1-1-1-4-2-3-1=13
2, Triptease, Jeff Rubin, Fischer Island, FL, 1-(7dsq)-4-2-3-1-1-3=15
3, Temptress, Robert Hibdon, Charleston, SC, 3-2-2-(5)-2-3-2-2=16
1, Rum At Six, Worth Harris, Beaufort, NC, 2-1-1-1-2-2-2-3=14
2, Gumption 3, Kevin Grainger, Rye, NY, 1-2-2-2-3-4-5-2=21
3, Eagles
Wings, John Gottwald, Chicago, IL, 3-3-4-4-5-1-1-5=26
1 , Sazerac, Gordon Ettie, Miami, FL, (3)-1-3-1-2-3-1-2=13
2, Kalevala II, Tapio Saavalainen, Annapolis, MD, 4-2-1-5-(dnc10)-2-2-1=17
3, Primal Scream, Steven Stollman, Key Biscayne, FL, 1-3-2-3-3-4-(5)-3=19

Melges 24
1, Giacomel Audi Racing, R Simoneschi, Genova, Italy, 3-1-1-1-1-1=8
2, Excellent, John Pollard, Torquay, UK, 7-5-2-2-2-2=20
3, Rock N Roll, Argyle Campbell, Newport Beach, CA, 1-3-3-3-4-9=23
1 , La Calaca, Iker Belausteguigoitia, Miami, FL, 3-2-1-1-1-(4)=8
2, Gottago, Peter Benziger, Miami, FL, 1-(5)-3-4-2-1=11
3, Pick Up Styx, Jonathan Luscomb, Palm Beach, FL, (4)-3-2-3-3-2=13
1, Oriental Express, Jud Smith, Marblehead, MA, NC, 2-4-1-2-1-(6)=10
2, Victory, Buddy Cribb, Miami, FL, 4-3-7-(22)-3-4=21
3, Pipe Dream XII, Scott Piper, Miami, FL, 1-(13)-4-9-2-9=25

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