Key West revisited
While much of the nation shivered, for five days it was the sailors' time to crow in consistently double digit winds that produced winners from five countries and 11 states coast to coast and allowed a Key West record number of nine races to be sailed. Conditions were so nice that there were moments when it looked like a swim meet. More on that later.
There were 301 boats in 10 one-design and 11 PHRF classes representing 18 countries and 32 states. Eighty were J Boats, sprinkled through both groups.
Underscoring the event's evolution into a global event through its 17 years, the big winner came from The Netherlands, and an epic human contest was played out between a young Frenchman and his much younger American adversary.
Peter De Ridder, a 57-year-old Dutch investor who lives in Monaco, elbowed his way to the table and rolled the dice in the tough Farr 40 fleet, cashing out some world-class rivals with a one-point victory. That also earned him the Terra Nova Trading Trophy as 'Boat of the Week' for winning the most competitive class and a share of the Nautica Trophy in the International Team Competition.
His Mean Machine was paired with Kristian Nergaard's Melges 24, Baghdad, from Norway as the Europe B team, which outsailed nine other Farr 40-Melges 24 global alliances. "All of that makes it a very big day for us," De Ridder said.
He has sailed most of his life on boats called Mean Machine, but he wasn't taken seriously as a contender. After all, when he had to drive his boat the year before at Key West, he had finished 15th.
"I'd never helmed a boat at this high a level," he said. "We improved during the year, and here we started low key and sneaked into second place [the next to last day] with a fourth and a second - and all of a sudden we're tied with Barking Mad."
In the last race, Jim Richardson's perennial entry chased him all the way to the finish line for second overall.
Mean Machine's tactician, Ray Davies of New Zealand, said, "I've done a lot of sailing with Peter, including the Admiral's Cup we won in '99. But this is huge. To win in a fleet like this is a special achievement."
Sebastian Col also sneaked up on people. While most observers tried to pick a Melges 24 winner from among several former world champions, including 14-year-old Samuel (Shark) Kahn, Col drove Philippe Ligot's P&P Sailing Team back from a 59-point premature start penalty on Day 1 to a four-point win over the California prodigy, whose father Philippe wound up sixth.
As Kahn ran away from the fleet at mid-week, it was easy to overlook that Col, sailing consistently well and quietly, would be able to discard those 59 points after seven races and reel the Shark in decisively. In the final race Kahn passed Col on the beat to the finish for his third consecutive win and fourth overall, but he needed four boats between them.
Col said, "We wanted to stay close to Shark the whole time. We started in the same position as Shark, and by the middle of the first beat we were in front and were able to sail our own course and focus on going fast." Philippe Kahn added it was still a good week for Team Pegasus. "Without the throwouts, he [Shark] wins the regatta," he said. "But the French deserved to win. They're a great team."
The first five boats represented as many countries.
Kelly, Andrew Cheney's Beneteau First Class 10 received the Lewmar Trophy as PHRF Boat of the Week for winning PHRF 9, where six of the 10 entries won races but he won three.
"Boat of the Day" honours were awarded to those that prevailed in the class with the most competitive racing each day. California entrants were recognised the first four days: Philippe Kahn (Melges 24) on Nautica Day Monday; John MacLaurin's Farr 40 Pendragon V on City of Key West Day Tuesday; Roger Sturgeon's Transpac 52, Rosebud (PHRF 1), San Francisco, on Mount Gay Rum Day Wednesday, and Tom Coates' J/105 Masquerade on Lewmar Day Thursday.
Rumor, John Storck Jr.'s J/80 was Terra Nova Trading Boat of the Day for winning Friday's finale, which earned him fourth place overall.
Swan 45 and C&C 99 one-design fleets were new on the scene. Six of the eight Swans won races, but consistency was key for Thomas Stark's RUSH (Reloaded) with Ed Baird as tactician.
Colin Andrew’s Trumpeter, one of six C&C 99 entries from central Canada in this 11-boat class, won four of the nine races.
The Swan Performance Trophy went to So Far, Lawrence Hillman's Swan 48 from
Chicago, for its consistent dominance in PHRF 8, where it was first or second in seven races. Seven-time Soling world champion Jorgen Johnsson steered So Far while 17-year-old Brian Smith distinguished himself as tactician.
Some sailors also worked on their freestyles. Three hard-hiking crew members fell off a Farr 40 when their lifeline gave way at the start, and America's Cup star Peter Holmberg took a dive when Tom Hill's R/P 75, Titan, the biggest boat in the event, shrimped its spinnaker with a sheet wrapped around his left ankle. Two days earlier Titan bowman Ken Nevor also went overboard in a similar incident. All were recovered safely.
Philippe Kahn summed up the general feeling afterward when he said, "It's a great event - a perfect regatta. The race committee did a great job. Starting 58 Melges 24s isn't easy. They talk on the radio and explain everything to you. It's awesome. It's the greatest regatta in North America."
(9 races; 1 discard, except in Swan 45, Farr 40 and Mumm 30)
Swan 45 (8 boats)---RUSH (Reloaded), Thomas Stark, Newport, R.I. (4-2-2-4-1-2-4-5-1), 25 points.
Amid some rough and tumble elegance, Stark chartered the boat he once owned and survived a flurry of final-day protests. Veteran Andreas Josenhans of North Sails, a trimmer on board, said, "The crew put in a lot of hours practicing on the tiny details that
Farr 40 (23)---Mean Machine, Peter De Ridder, The Netherlands (6-7-18-5-6-12-4-2-1), 61.
Defending champion Crocodile Rock from California led five boats that were within two points entering the last race, but co-owner/helmsman Scott Harris said, "It's tough sailing. The fleet has improved. There are more boats and they're better prepared."
Mumm 30 (13)---Turbo Duck, Bodo Von Der Wense, Annapolis, Md. (1-2-2-1-2-4-3-5-3), 23.
Showed its winning '02 style after a slip last year. "Last year we were OCS a bunch of times," Von Der Wense said. "Our goal this time was to stay out of trouble." Husband-wife John and Deneen Demourkas of Santa Barbara, Calif., drove his and her entries to fourth and third place, respectively - and were still compatible at week's end.
Melges 24 (58)---P&P Sailing Team, Philippe Ligot/Sebastian Col, France (1-(59)-1-2-1-6-7-3-2), 23.
Ligot said, "We came here to study the other top teams. We were sailing without pressure because our target was not to win the regatta but rather the Worlds." That showdown is scheduled for August in Sweden.
J/105 (29)---Zuni Bear, Richard Bergmann, San Diego (1-(19)-1-2-1-1-9-6-7), 28.
Last year's Boat of the Week was working on a runaway until Tom Coates' Masquerade from San Francisco got hot the last two days and forced Zuni Bear to claim victory on a tiebreaker - four wins to Masquerade's two.
J/80 (20)---Warrior, Craig and Martha White, Ft. Worth, Tex. ((13)-2-2-1-7-6-1-1-4), 24.
A repeat for the husband-wife team from the Lone Star State.
Corsair 28R (10)---Bad Boys, Bob and Doug Harkrider, Augusta, Ga. (1-1-3-2-1-(5)-1-2-2), 13.
Repeat winners but, oh brothers! - this time they had to beat America's best multihull sailor, Randy Smyth, who finished third behind Condor from Florida by one point.
Corsair 24 (9)---Breaking Wind, Robert Remmers, Buda, Tex. ((10)-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-2), 10. A two-boat contest. Steve Marsh's I-Fly, Miami, FL, had two firsts and six seconds.
C&C 99 (11)---Trumpeter, Colin Andrews, Toronto, Canada (1-(4)-3-1-1-2-2-3-1), 14.
A smash debut for this new class. Helmsman Wally Hogan, a winner by 14 points, said, "We got mediocre starts, but we caught most of the shifts and sailed very clean."
T-10 (8)---Liquor Box, Chuck Simon/Bill Buckles, Vermilion, Ohio and Key West (1-2-3-1-1-3-1-1-(9)), 13.
A bittersweet victory after owner Simon went home early following the death of his brother. "He gave us a really inspiring talk before leaving," Buckles said. "I'm proud we were able to finish off the series so well for Chuck."
PHRF 1 (9)---Chippewa (Swan 68), Clay Deutsch, Road Harbour, BVI (7-1-1-1-(8)-1-1-1-1), 14.
The boat's on the heavy side, but a crew of 18, strong winds and great tactics were a winning combination when you're finishing last, boat for boat, but getting 30 to 102 seconds from the rest of the fleet. "We came down here to see what Key West Race Week was all about," Deutsch said. "It's everything I've heard and more - great sailing
and great racing. I've had an absolute blast."
PHRF 2 (8)---Storm (R/P 43), Les Crouch, San Diego (1-2-1-1-4-5-1-1-(9)), 16.
With the smallest boat, Crouch said, "We tried to get off by ourselves rather than slug it out with everybody else. They are bigger and they do block your wind." And forget handicaps---boat for boat, Storm had four seconds and two thirds. North Sails President Gary Weisman was tactician.
IMS (5)---Talisman, Marco Birch, New York, N.Y. (DSQ-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1), 9.
Birch said, "This boat bas been optimized for winds in the 12-16 range, so the conditions were very much to our liking."
PHRF 3 (8)---Raincloud (J/133), Mike Rose, Kemah, Tex. (1-1-(2)-1-1-1-2-1-1), 9.
Brothers Jody and Jay Lutz drove and called tactics. They were having so much fun they raced the last day for the fun of it.
PHRF 4 (10)---Tiburon (Melges 30), Michael Gray/John Dane, New Orleans, La. (1-(5)-1-1-2-1-1-2-3), 12.
Dane drove with his wife Leslie and son Shaffer as crew. Gray said, "We just went about our business."
PHRF 5 (12)---K2 (J/120), Luis Gonzalez, Mallets Bay, Vt. ((10)-2-1-2-9-1-2-3-3), 23.
The way Howard Dean's week went, this was the best thing that happened for the state of Vermont.
PHRF 6 (14)---Bounder (Sydney 36), David Hudgel, Detroit (1-(5)-1-2-2-1-3-1-2), 13.
Hudgel gave time to 10 boats but sailed consistently and won comfortably. This is the third Key West for Hudgel, who took 10th in a 13-boat class in 2002 then improved to 3rd in PHRF 5 a year ago.
PHRF 7 (12)---Phaedra (Evelyn 32-2), Robert Patroni, Pensacola, Fla. ((7)-1-3-2-1-2-2-5-3), 19.
Evelyn 32s finished 1-2-3 as Phaedra held off Mike Perry's Bloody Hell from New Jersey by one point.
PHRF 8 (9)---So Far (Swan 48), Lawrence Hillman, Chicago, Ill. ((9)-2-1-5-2-1-2-1-1), 15. The Swan Performance Trophy winner was built in 1974. "It shows they built them great back then," Hillman said.
PHRF 9 (11)---Kelly (Beneteau 1st 10), Andrew Cheney, St. Petersburg, Fla. ((7)-3-1-5-6-2-1-1-2), 21.
A strong stretch run that beat out John Edwards' J/29, Rhumb Punch, earned the Lewmar Trophy as PHRF Boat of the Week.
PHRF 10 (7)---Phantom (B-25), Frank Silver, Kill Devil Hills, N.C. (1-(6)-1-2-4-2-3-1-1), 15.
As a tribute to its home port for the 100th anniversary of powered flight, this boat was airborne.
PHRF 11 (12)---Circus (J/30), Team Circus, Chicago, Ill. ((3)-2-3-2-3-3-1-3-1), 18.
The circus was in town with a high-wire act that triumphed in a class that included five J/24s.
Title Sponsor, Terra Nova Trading, L.L.C. (member NASD, SIPC & PCX), is
recognised as an innovative leader in Electronic Direct Access Trading. The Chicago-based firm enables customers to electronically route orders to major markets and ECNs. Terra Nova Trading's technology partner, Townsend Analytics, Ltd., is the developer of the premier real-time trading platform, RealTick(r), which is also a Key West sponsor.
Nautica was the Presenting Sponsor. Their high fashion eyewear and elegant timepieces were awarded to each day’s Boat of the Day, class champions, and the top three teams in the International Team Competition.
Mount Gay Rum, Lewmar, Samson Rope Technologies, Pearson Yachts, Raymarine and the Florida Keys and Key West Tourist Development Council rounded out the official line-up. The Historic Seaport was the Official Site for the event. The Performance Sailing Industry Partner Program, now in its third year, features 26 companies that have made a multi-year commitment to the event.