Crocodile Rocks

Rich Roberts and Fi Brown report from a smashing day one of Key West Race Week

Monday January 20th 2003, Author: Rich Roberts, Location: United States
Above: Italy's Bottado Culo leads the Farr 40 fleet to the first windward mark in Race 1.

Monday's weather: Clear; wind NE, 15 knots diminishing to 10; air temperature 62.
Tuesday's forecast: Clear; wind E, 10 knots diminishing to 7; air temperature upper 60s.

Terra Nova Trading Key West 2003 promised serious sailing this week, but it wasn't supposed to be a swim meet.

That's what happened today when 290 boats from 20 countries squared off in a 15 knot breeze to start the competition with a bang - three, actually. There were that many serious collisions in the spirited racing on the four inshore courses. Ken Read, recently returned from the America's Cup wars with Team Dennis Conner in New Zealand, found similar intensity in this more bucolic venue.

Read, driving George David's Idler from New York in the IMS class, was knocked into the water a minute and a half before the start of the first race when the Nelson/Marek 50 was tagged in the starboard stern quarter by Larry Bulman's Farr 49, Javelin , from Annapolis.

"I went flipping over the rail," Read said. "I was fully in the water. I had to swim back to the boat." Fortunately, the water was 71 degrees and Read's freestyle form was fine. "We won the race," he continued. "That's something to be proud of."

The bad news: "Now I've got to make that fun phone call," Read said. " 'Hey, you've got a little hole in your boat.' "

David, the owner, was delayed on business and won't arrive until Wednesday. But he'd be pleased to learn that eight hours after the incident Javelin was disqualified in a protest hearing. Read, on port tack, said he made a couple of moves to avoid Javelin , which was on starboard tack, and Bulman echoed his comments. "We just didn't know which way they were gonna go," Bulman said. "They went down and then they went up. We were trying to get out of their way."

Two years ago Javelin was knocked out of the regatta on opening day in a collision with Highland Fling . "That was my fault," Bulman said. "This one wasn't my fault."

John and Tony Esposito's J/29 Hustler , took a temporarily disabling hit from Paul Anderson's Titillation , while Geoffrey Perini's J/30 Bada Bing , was crunched by Paul Baehr's Fast Company . The striking boats were tossed.

Elsewhere on the four courses set along Hawk Channel, the Scott Harris/Alexandra Geremia Crocodile Rock slipped quietly into first place among the Farr 40s with a pair of second-place finishes, while Doug and Dick DeVos' Windquest scored two wins in the 1D35s.

Robert Hughes' Heartbreaker and Dr. Wolfgang Schaefer's Struntje light with Iain Percy calling tactics won the two Farr 40 races but couldn't match Crocodile Rock 's consistency.

"Our secret weapon was Vince," Harris said, referring to multi-world champion Vince Brun, his tactician for the week. "He's very good with the shifts, and these light spots late in the day were very tricky."

Struntje light , beat Crocodile Rock by about three feet when Percy called a slam dunk by Schaefer at the finish line. It was so close that the Crocodile Rock crew momentarily reached out prepared to fend off its foe, but no contact was made.

'"After leading the whole race, we didn't want to lose," Schaefer said. Percy added, "they were all over us like a rash the last two legs."

The familiar curly mop of Paul Cayard, tactician on John Kilroy's Farr 40

Remarkable about Heartbreaker 's win was that she was over the line early - a common fault among 15 of the 24 Farr 40s in the two race - despite the 'I' flag flying, requiring line-jumpers to round the ends of the line to restart. Fortunately, Hughes was at the pin end on the advice of his tactician, two-time Olympic medallist Jeff Madrigali, and simply spun the boat around without losing the fleet. Then they clawed their way back to win.

Ken Legler, principal race officer on that course, said, "the current was a half-knot upwind, but the problem was that the boats were lining up too close to the line, and when a boat ran the line that would sucker them all up. It's easier for us and more fun for them if they start behind the line."

Among the 57 Melges 24s, there were notable performances by Kate Mullin and 14-year-old Samuel (Shark) Kahn. Mullin, driving John Sherlock's boat Frequent Flyer from Toronto, scored a 1-2 day. Kahn, the son of 2001 Transpac winner Philippe Kahn, is driving his own boat this year after crewing in 2002. He finished 22nd and 12th to stand18th overall in a keenly competitive fleet.

Italy's Flavio Favini, who won the delayed 2001 class world championship here a year ago, is stalking Mullin at 2-4. Current world champion Harry Melges and sidekick Jeff Ecklund are crewing for Norway's Kristian Nergaard, who stands eighth with a 4-22.

Farr 40s

Pos Name Entrant Tactician R 1 R 2 Total Country
1 Crocodile Rock A. Geremia/S. Harris Vince Brun 2 2 4 USA
2 BOTTADI CULO Arrivabene/Mincione 3 4 7 ITA
3 Struntje light Dr.Wolfgang Schaefer Iain Percy 8 1 9 GER
4 Samba Pa Ti John Kilroy Paul Cayard 4 7 11 USA
5 Atalanti XII George Andreadis Robbie Haines 11 3 14 GRE
6 Heartbreaker Robert L. Hughes Jeff Madragali 1 14 15 USA
7 Barking Mad James B. Richardson Gavin Brady 10 5 15 USA
8 ISKRA Borys B. Jarymowycz Dave Curtis 7 12 19 USA
9 Joss Owen Kratz Terry Hutchinson 5 18 23 USA
10 Groovederci Deneen & John Demourkas Jesper Bank 15 9 24 USA
11 Honour Alek Krstajic Tony Rey 9 16 25 CAN
12 Virago Stuart Townsend Steve Benjamin 20 6 26 USA
13 SLED Takashi Okura Yutaka Takagi 6 20 26 JPN
14 Mean Machine Peter De Ridder Stu Bannantyne 16 10 26 NED
15 Bambakou John G. Coumantaros Chris Larson 13 15 28 USA
16 LeRenard Steve Phillips Andy Horton 21 8 29 USA
17 Warpath Fred & Steve Howe George Szabo 14 17 31 USA
18 Racing Bull Jean Pierre Delmotte Franck Cammas 12 21 33 FRA
19 Nitemare Tom Neill Pat Considine 23 11 34 USA
20 Breeze Vincenzo Onerato 22 13 35 ITA
21 Diana S.A. Promendo Afonso Domingos 19 19 38 POR
22 Gone Too Farr David Carrel Jason Rhodes 17 23 40 USA
23 Kokomo Lang Walker Roger Hickman 18 22 40 AUS
24 Flash Gordon 4 Helmut Jahn 24 24 48 USA

Class leaders (after 2 of 9 races):

FARR 40 (24 boats)---Crocodile Rock, Scott Harris/Alexandra Geremia, Santa Barbara, Calif., 2-2, 4 points.

1D35 (8)—Windquest, Doug and Dick DeVos, Holland, Mich., 1-1, 2.

MUMM 30 (15)—Tie between Printel Wind, Pierpaolo Cristofori, Rome, Italy, 1-4, and Foreign Affair, Richard Perini, Sydney, Australia, 2-3, 5.

MELGES 24 (57)---Frequent Flyer, Kate Mullin, Toronto, 1-2, 3.

J/105 (29)---Gigi, David Wagner, Chicago, 4-2, 6.

J/80 (22)---Warrior, Craig and Martha White, Fort Worth, Tex., 1-2, 3.

J/29 (10)---Tie between Patriot, Case Whittemore, Deltaville, Va., 3-2, and Rhumb Punch, John Edwards, Solomons, Md., 2-3, 5.

TARTAN 10 (8)---Liquor Box, Robert and Bill Lehnert, Cutchogue, N.Y., 1-2, 3.

CORSAIR 28R (14)---Tie between Hot Flash, Robert Gleason, Wareham Mass., 1-3, and Whipper Snapper, Donald Wigston, Atlanta, Ga., 2-2, 4.

IMS (4)---Idler (N/M 50), George David, New York, 1-1, 2.

PHRF 1 (5)---Rosebud (Transpac 52), Roger Sturgeon, San Francisco, 1-1, 2.

PHRF 2 (6)---Bandolier (1D48), Charles Burnett III, Seattle, 2-4, 6.

PHRF 3 (12)---Tsunami (Farr 395), Ostberg/Aras/Daily, Annapolis, 1-1, 2.

PHRF 4 (10)---New Wave (Henderson 30), Michael Carroll, Clearwater, Fla., 1-1, 2.

PHRF 5 (13)---Fitikoko (Tripp 38 ML), Andrew Wilson, Annapolis, 3-2, 5.

PHRF 6 (12)---Dr. Evil (Olson 29), Tom Treat/Cliff Davis, Milford, Conn., 3-1, 4.

PHRF 7 (10)---Invincible (N/M 30), Brian Lees/Jeff Gastrau, Annapolis, 1-1, 2.

PHRF 8 (9)---E-Ticket (Moorings 38), Dan Myers, Lighthouse Point, Fla., 1-4, 5.

PHRH 9 (10)---Ruby My Dear (Express 37), Grosse Point Park, Mich., 3-4, 7.

PHRF 10 (12)---Rumblefisch (J/24), Peter Fischel, Savannah, Ga., 1-3, 4.

Melges 24 update

Canadian Kate Mullin, helming for John Sherlock, leads the 57 strong Melges 24 class at Terra Nova Key West after two races with a 1, 2 scoreline, ahead of 2001 Melges 24 World Champion Flavio Favini, helming for Switzerland's Franco Rossini. "We are really pleased to be in second place after the first day. I've been involved with the America's Cup and haven't set foot in a Melges 24 since we finished Key West last year!" said Favini after racing.

The first day's racing took place in a testing light to moderate shifty northerly breeze making for lots of place changes and one or two upsets. Race one got underway in 8-10 knots at the first attempt with only a couple of individual recalls. Mullin and Faini commenced battle early on and fought for the lead all the way round the course with Mullin eventually getting the better of Favini on the final leg to take the race.

Behind them Californian Bruce Ayres and Norway's Kristian Nergaard, sailing with a crew which includes reigning Melges 24 World Champions Harry Melges and Jeff Ecklund, had an equally tought battle for third place with Ayres just managing to hold off Nergaard. After a rather average first lap Wisconsin's Art Brereton found his form and battled back from the mid teens to take fifth ahead of Britain's Jamie Lea, helming for Richard Thompson. Hawaii's Philippe Kahn had good pace early on, rounding the first leeward mark fifth, but by the finish had dropped back behind Brereton and Lea into seventh.

By the start of race two the wind was down to a patchy 6-8 knots. Although the fleet got away at the first attempt there were a large number of individual recalls including Lea, Nergaard, Brereton and Kahn. Kahn failed to recross the line along with Argyle Campbell from California and Britain's John Pollard.

At the first mark it was Scott Nixon, helming for Jeff Jones from Michigan, who led the fleet ahead of Chris Doubek of event sponsor Terra Nova Trading racing in his first major Melges 24 regatta. Mullin rounded third in front of Englishman Joe Woods with Favini in fifth. By the leeward mark Nixon had managed to take the lead and successfully defended his position up the final beat.

Mullin overtook Doubek for second and despite numerous challenges Doubek fought off Favini to keep third. Having lost his battle for third Favini then faced and defeated a last minute challenge from Brian Porter who eventually settled for fifth ahead of Sean Scarborough from New Jersey.

One of the most hard fought battles on the Melges 24 course today was between Philippe Kahn and his 14 year old son Shark, helming in his first international Melges 24 event. Although father got the upper hand in the first race it was Shark who took the honours in race two with a very creditable twelfth place. Overall Shark is now lying in 18th whilst Philippe languishes down at 32nd after is OCS in race two. We'll be watching this family battle with interest!

In the overall standings Bruce Ayres' 3, 8 score line puts him in third behind Kate Mullin (1, 2) and Favio Favini (2, 4) and five points ahead of Brian Porter (11, 5) with Joe Woods in fifth (17, 7). "It was a really tough day's racing in a very strong fleet. We did OK in race two but in race one we got trapped out on the lay line at the first weather mark and lost a couple of places, then lost a couple more trying to cover down the last run taking us from a probable fifth or sixth down to twelfth. We're hoping for a better day tomorrow." commented Brian Porter.

Bill Alcott's Equation , formerly Magnitude , douses chute at leeward gate.

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