Warm start to the New Year

Acura Key West Race Week fires up on 19 January

Monday January 5th 2009, Author: Jeanne Kleene, Location: United Kingdom
Tough competition, sunshine, and warm breezes will greet entrants as they head for the race course in less than two weeks for the 22nd edition of the winter classic, Acura Key West 2009 presented by Nautica.

Three–time Farr 40 World Champion Mascalzone Latino, Melges 32 Gold Cup Champion New Wave, Melges 24 World Champion Uka Uka Racing are just a few of the top names on the scratch sheet.

“Key West traditionally attracts top tier programs and this year is no exception,” reports event director Peter Craig. “Given the global economic issues, it’s extremely gratifying to see the number and quality of programs that will be racing in Key West,” he added.

IRC boats are stronger in number than last year with new designs and international favorites lining up. IRC 1 will have four TP52s, all with strong finishes and international experience. IRC 2 debuts the new Mills 43 Cool Breeze, features three King 40s (Sailing World’s Boat of the Year), and three Santa Cruz 37s (SAIL Magazine’s Best Performance Boat for 2009). Add in the hot Elan 450 from Switzerland, an AC 40 and this is has the makings of one exciting class.

One Design classes will be as exciting as ever with Melges 24s, Melges 32s, Farr 40s, and J/80s showing up in strong numbers.

Jim Richardson’s Farr 40 Barking Mad will defend his Key West championship against a field that includes Vincenzo Onorato’s World Champion Mascalzone Latino, Giovanni Maspero’s 2nd Place finisher Joe Fly , and William Douglass’s North American Champion Goombay Smash.

Terry Hutchinson, the leader of Quantum Racing’s TP52 Med Cup triumph and recent World Championship, will again team up with Richardson. Onorato has Adrian Stead as tactician; Douglass has Morgan Larson; and Maspero will be guided by Francesco Bruni.

The Melges 32 Gold Cup Championship New Wave team of Mike Carroll and Marty Kullman won the 2008 Acura Grand Prix Trophy last March. Awarded to the best combined score for both Acura Key West and the Acura Miami Grand Prix, this year the series will include the recent Gold Cup results as well.

Defending Melges 32 Key West champion Jeff Ecklund’s Star and podium finisher Joe Wood’s UK boat Red will face off in a strong 20 boat class. This year, they will be racing on the same division as the Melges 24s.

Always the largest class in Key West, the high performance Melges 24 class can boast of entries from no less than eight countries and over 12 states.

Lorenzo Bressani’s 2008 World Champion UKA UKA Racing (ITA) team faces Key West veterans and perennial top ten finishers. Riccardo Simoneschi’s Giacomel Audi was 2007 Boat of the Week and Class Champion.

J/Boats, and in particular the J/105 and J/80 classes, have been an important part of Key West Race Week for many years. Tom Coates’ J/105 Masquerade has won the last four Key West championships and will be defending against a dozen boats no doubt eager to end his streak.

J/80 defending champion John Storck Jr. is one of 15 boats in what is sure to a very competitive class.

PHRF entries will race in four separate classes. Ranging from 40 foot J/120s to 24 foot J/24s, each of these classes has a good mix of Key West veterans and new comers. Will Hanckel’s J/120 Emocean was class winner last year and Pete Hunter’s Thompson 30 Wairere was a mere 2 points of out 1st place in 2008. In separate classes last January, this year they’ll face each other in PHRF 1.

The 2009 divisions and preliminary class assignments are:
Division 1 (PRO Ken Legler) - IRC 1, Farr 40, Swan 42, IRC 2 and Farr 30
Division 2 (PRO Dave Brennan) – Melges 32, Melges 24, J/105
Division 3 (PRO Wayne Bretsch) – J/80 and PHRF 1 - 4

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