Strange results on flukey day

Rich Roberts and Fi Brown reports from Key West Race Week

Wednesday January 22nd 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: United States
Nick Maxwell is a successful general surgeon from Madison, Wisconsin, which answers the question sweeping the Melges 24 fleet after the third day of Terra Nova Trading Key West 2003: Who?

"I was very lucky," Maxwell said after winning Wednesday's race, and he means it. The victory lifted him into, uh, 35th place in the 57-boat fleet, still behind a couple of world champions and other world-class talent overall but thoroughly enjoying his moment of glory.

When dying wind brought abandonment of the day's competition after only one race, Maxwell had no complaint. That meant he could enjoy it the rest of the day and all night long, because Thursday's forecast looks gnarly. It calls for ideal breeze to 15 knots in the morning followed by a cold front bringing a sustained blow of 20-25 knots in the early afternoon when the second race should be under way.

"Wait 'til tomorrow when the wind picks up," Maxwell said. "I think we'll have a little more trouble. This is the best race I've ever done in this boat. It was great to hang with the big boys. Usually, we just see them going by, but today we went by them."

Wind shifts - including one of 100 degrees that shuffled the Farr 40s, 1D35s and Mumm 30s on a different course - may have played a part in Maxwell's success, but he also said, "We had a very loose rig with a lot of power."

While the Division 1, 3 and 4 courses managed one race, the biggest boats on Division 2 called it a day when the wind swung so far, principal race officer Bruce Golison said, that "there was no way to get a finish line [placed] due to the rocks." That left Rosebud, Roger Sturgeon's Transpac 52 in command of PHRF 1 ahead of Bill Alcott's Andrews 70 turbosled, Equation.

The Farr 40s remained muddled as George Andreadis' Atalanti XII with Robbie Haines on tactics and the Scott Harris/Alexandra Geremia Crocodile Rock swapped spots on the leaderboard and John Kilroy's Samba Pa Ti with Paul Cayard calling the shots appeared to be running away (following their last place yesterday) until the monster shift kicked her back in to seventh place.

Atalanti XII struggled from the start and was recovering nicely until the shift dumped it into 15th place in the race and second in the regatta, two points behind Crocodile Rock.
The day's winner? Stuart Townsend's Virago with Steve Benjamin tactician finished first, but opted for a 20% alternative penalty on the water rather than risk a DSQ on a protest by Alex Krstajic's Honour, which claimed leeward rights at the start. That made John Coumantaros' Bambakou the day's low scorer in second place, although still in mid-fleet overall.

It was clear that the race committee had its hands full, but the sailors seemed satisfied that the difficulties were handled as well as possible. Gavin Brady, the tactician on Jim Richardson's Barking Mad, has raced in the top level all over the world and had high praise for Division 1 PRO Ken Legler, although he didn't know his name.

"The race committee guy on that course is the best I've ever seen," Brady said. "He doesn't make it a mystery for the competitors. He talks to us [by radio] and lets us know what's going on: 'Hey, guys, I'm only going to do one race today . . .' He needs to write the book on how to run a race committee."

The 1D35 class is now in the grip of David Kirk's Détente. Kirk said, "The wind gods smiled on us." Détente has a string of 2-2-1-1-1 finishes after Wednesday's win.

The strong West Coast group is absent this year, but Chris Busch, who won six of seven races with Wild Thing last year, is sailing on Détente to wind down from service with Team Dennis Conner's America's Cup campaign. Kirk recruited Busch to make his boat more competitive.

"Our biggest shortcoming was boat speed," Kirk said. "Tactically we had enough depth, but Chris is extremely familiar with how to get these boats going. Last year we weren't even in the game. They sent the Coast Guard out for us a couple of times."

Among the Melges 24s, while Maxwell had his fun defending champion Flavio Favini benefited from leader Bruce Ayres' 21st-place finish and slipped into first place overall with a fourth. Favini is four points ahead of Ayres' Newport Beach colleague Argyle Campbell, with Ayres another 10 points back.

Favini blitzed the fleet last year when the prize was the delayed 2001 class Worlds title, but he hadn't sailed a Melges since while participating in the America's Cup.

"It's a nice place to sail, but you face a lot of different conditions," he said. "We were over the line at the start, so we had to go back. But [the wind] was streaky, and when it's streaky you have a chance to get back."

Favini, an Italian, again is sailing Franco Rossini's Blu Moon from Switzerland, which is part of the German team that took over the lead from Italy in the International Team Competition for the Key West Trophy by a single point. The other two are Dr. Wolfgang Schaefer's Farr 40, Struntje light, and Bent Dietrich's Mumm 30, Rainbow.

There is only one unbeaten boat remaining -Mike Carroll's Henderson 30, New Wave, with four wins in PHRF 4, which was unable to race Wednesday.

Class leaders (after 5 of 9 races, except 4 of 9 in Div. 2):

FARR 40 (24 boats)---Crocodile Rock, Scott Harris/Alexandra Geremia, Santa Barbara, 2-2-4-17-5, 30 points.

1D35 (8)—Détente, David Kirk, Chicago, 2-2-1-1-1, 7.

MUMM 30 (15)—Foreign Affair, Richard Perini, Sydney, Australia, 2-3-4-1-4, 14.

MELGES 24 (57)---Blu Moon, Flavio Favini, Switzerland, 2-4-12-7-4, 29.

J/105 (29)---Wet Leopard, Jim Sorensen, Sag Harbor, N.Y., 12-1-7-1-3, 24.

J/80 (22)---Warrior, Craig and Martha White, Fort Worth, Tex., 1-2-1-9-1, 14.

J/29 (10)---Rhumb Punch, John Edwards, Solomons, Md., 2-3-2-1-1, 9.

TARTAN 10 (8)---Liquor Box, Robert and Bill Lehnert, Cutchogue, N.Y., 1-2-1-1-1, 6.

CORSAIR 28R (14)---Hot Flash, Robert Gleason, Wareham Mass., 1-3-1-6, 11.

IMS (4)---Idler (N/M 50), George David, New York, 1-1-2-1, 5.

PHRF 1 (5)---Rosebud (Transpac 52), Roger Sturgeon, San Francisco, 1-1-2-2, 6.

PHRF 2 (6)---Bandolier (1D48), Charles Burnett III, Seattle, 2-4-1-2, 9.

PHRF 3 (12)---Tsunami (Farr 395), Ostberg/Aras/Daily, Annapolis, 1-1-2-1, 5.

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

PHRF 5 (13)---Fitikoko (Tripp 38 ML), Andrew Wilson, Annapolis, 3-2-1-3, 9.

PHRF 6 (12)---Dr. Evil (Olson 29), Tom Treat/Cliff Davis, Milford, Conn., 3-1-3-1-3, 11.

PHRF 7 (10)---Invincible (N/M 30), Brian Lees/Jeff Gastrau, Annapolis, 1-1-1-1-2, 4.

PHRF 8 (9)---Hot Ticket (Farr 37), Jim Hightower, Houston, Tex., 5-1-4-1-4, 15.

PHRH 9 (10)---Ruby My Dear (Express 37), Grosse Point Park, Mich., 3-4-2-2-2, 13.

PHRF 10 (12)---Rumblefisch (J/24), Peter Fischel, Savannah, Ga., 1-3-1-4-2, 11.

Farr 40

Pos Name Skipper Tactician R 1 R 2 R 3 R 4 R 5 Total Country
1 Crocodile Rock A. Geremia/S. Harris Vince Brun 2 2 4 17 5 30 USA
2 Atalanti XII George Andreadis Robbie Haines 11 3 1 2 15 32 GRE
3 Barking Mad James B. Richardson Gavin Brady 10 5 2 16 3 36 USA
4 BOTTADI CULO Arrivabene/Mincione 3 4 14 6 12 39 ITA
5 ISKRA Borys B. Jarymowycz Dave Curtis 7 12 6 10 4 39 USA
6 Samba Pa Ti John Kilroy Paul Cayard 4 7 3 23 7 44 USA
7 Virago Stuart Townsend Steve Benjamin 20 6 11 7 6 p20 50 USA
8 LeRenard Steve Phillips Andy Horton 21 8 5 5 18 57 USA
9 Struntje light Dr.Wolfgang Schaefer Iain Percy 8 1 9 21 19 58 GER
10 Heartbreaker Robert L. Hughes Jeff Madragali 1 14 16 19 8 58 USA
11 Bambakou John G. Coumantaros Chris Larson 13 15 21 8 2 59 USA
12 SLED Takashi Okura Yutaka Takagi 6 20 17 4 13 60 JPN
13 Warpath Fred & Steve Howe George Szabo 14 17 8 3 20 62 USA
14 Breeze Vincenzo Onerato Adrian Stead 22 13 7 1 21 64 ITA
15 Mean Machine Peter De Ridder Stu Bannantyne 16 10 12 22 6 66 NED
16 Groovederci Deneen & John Demourkas Jesper Bank 15 9 13 15 14 66 USA
17 Honour Alek Krstajic Tony Rey 9 16 24 9 9 67 CAN
18 Joss Owen Kratz Terry Hutchinson 5 18 25 p20 18 10 76 USA
19 Racing Bull Jean Pierre Delmotte Franck Cammas 12 21 15 13 16 77 FRA
20 Nitemare Tom Neill Pat Considine 23 11 10 12 25 dsq 81 USA
21 Flash Gordon 4 Helmut Jahn 24 24 19 14 11 92 USA
22 Kokomo Lang Walker Roger Hickman 18 22 22 11 22 95 AUS
23 Gone Too Farr David Carrel Jason Rhodes 17 23 18 25 dsq 17 100 USA
24 Diana S.A. Promendo Afonso Domingos 19 19 23 20 23 104 POR

Fi Brown reports on the Melges 24

It was a very hard day's racing with light airs and two huge shifts for the Melges 24 crews to contend with in the single race completed at Key West today. Nick Maxwell was the delighted winner of the race which caught many of the series leaders on the hop. "We got a little bit lucky and the Gods were in our favour." commented Maxwell after racing.

Race five in the series started in a steady 10-12 knots from the North East with the fleet spread pretty evenly down the line. Series leader Bruce Ayres was looking good off the start until he heard his number called over forcing him to turn back. Also fouled up at the start was Kristian Nergaard who got caught in a scrum at the committee boat end and actually ended up caught on the committee boat's transom.

Once away up the beat the fleet was spread out across the course, but the breeze began to go left and drop so those out on the left benefitted enormously. At the weather mark it was Stuart Rix who once again led the fleet closely followed by Nick Maxwell, Argyle Campbell, Joe Woods, Jeff Littfin, Terry Gibson and Peter Wright.

Down the first run right was pretty much the only option and the top three arrived at the leeward mark in the same order. Mike Dow put in an impressive leg to come from the teens to fourth place with Woods dropping back to fifth and Gibson and Wright still in sixth and seventh. At the leeward mark a change of course was being signalled to allow for the big left hander and the course was also shortened slightly.

Rix and Maxwell were tight all the way up the second beat until just before the mark "We got Rix right at the top of the second beat and just managed to sneek inside him on the mark." said Maxwell. Behind them Dow had overtaken Campbell with Wright now fifth. Meanwhile Kristian Nergaard, whose crew includes reigning Melges World Champions Harry Melges and Jeff Ecklund, was making up for time lost at the start and rounded sixth, just ahead of Woods.

As the front of the pack bore away there was a massive shift to the right and the final run to the finish turned into a tight reach. Those who spotted it just managed to hold their kites to the finish but many boats ended up two sailing in. "That last run was very tough as it was a tight reach." said Maxwell, "the two boats behind us took their chutes down but we were able to hold on to ours so we ended up with a comfortable lead of probably ten boat lengths." Behind him places were changing rapidly as boats struggled to hold their kites and many of those forced to drop lost out big time. By the finish Wright had worked his way up to second with Campbell third.

Overnight second place holder Flavio Favini sailed a terrific final lap to come from twelfth to fourth whilst Rix dropped down to fifth ahead of Porter. Nergaard ended up seventh with Dow eighth, Mike Budd ninth and Cutler tenth. With the light winds becoming increasing unstable the race committee wisely decided to call it a day and sent the crews home for an afternoon by the pool.

Overall after five races Flavio Favini, helming for Switzerland's Franco Rossini, now holds the lead by four points ahead of Argyle Campbell. Bruce Ayres has dropped back to fourth with Alec Cutler, helming for John Sherlock, fifth, Brian Porter sixth and Kristian Nergaard seventh.

Tomorrow's forecast is for much stronger, colder winds which will bring a new element into the regatta. Full results are available at www.premiere-racing.com and further information about the Melges 24 Class is available from www.melges24.com, which also features comment from race winner Nick Maxwell and Britain's Joe Woods.

Place Name Entrant Country R 1 R 2 R 3 R 4 R 5 Total
1 Blu Moon Franco Rossini SUI 2 4 12 7 4 29
2 Rock N' Roll Argyle Campbell USA 12 12 2 4 3 33
3 Monsoon Bruce Ayres USA 3 8 3 8 21 43
4 Frequent Flyer John Sherlock CAN 1 2 22 9 10 44
5 Full Throttle Brian D. Porter USA 11 5 17 6 6 45
6 Baghdad Kristian Nergaard NOR 4 23 1 15 7 50
7 Gorgeous Worgeous Quentin Strauss GBR 20 16 7 5 5 53
8 USA 399 Morgan Larson USA 13 11 13 1 20 58
9 Madison David Happ USA 14 19 5 2 26 66
10 Liberty 3 Paul Lovejoy GBR 9 24 8 18 9 68
11 Kilroy Jeff Jones USA 27 1 9 17 18 72
12 Joe Fly Maspero Giovanni ITA 35 17 11 3 16 82
13 No Manners D Clark/ T Wetherell GBR 8 21 28 16 12 85
14 Wicked Feet Art Brereton USA 5 26 23 12 24 90
15 Flying Toaster Mike Dow USA 15 18 20 29 8 90
16 Panty Raid Sean & Todd Scarborough USA 19 6 19 13 35 92
17 First Crush Paula M. Zubrzycki USA 40 9 10 14 23 96
18 Pegasus Philippe Kahn USA 7 27 6 31 27 98
19 Mad Hatter Nick Halmos USA 26 22 14 10 30 102
20 WKD Silver Joe Woods GBR 17 7 21 48 13 106
21 Black Seal Richard Thompson GBR 6 30 4 45 22 107
22 Cagey Karen Gottwald USA 16 25 18 22 33 114
23 Defiant Peter Wright USA 33 28 33 24 2 120
24 Pegasus Samuel "Shark" Kahn USA 22 13 25 28 32 120
25 Spider Cookie Steve Suddath USA 21 14 31 26 28 120
26 Own-It Chris Doubek USA 24 3 36 19 43 125
27 My Dixie Wrecked Brian J. Harrison USA 23 10 35 30 34 132
28 Xcellent John Pollard GBR 10 58 ocs 16 11 38 133
29 Mach Schnell Kent Haeger USA 25 31 15 50 14 135
30 Sofa King Fast Bret Gripenstraw USA 18 37 24 32 36 147
31 Grinder Jeff Littfin USA 29 36 26 20 39 150
32 Suzanne Routt Reigart USA 39 15 32 27 40 153
33 booby trap Terry Gibson CAN 44 32 34 35 11 156
34 No Tourism John Raymont USA 31 38 30 38 19 156
35 Star Tack Nicholas Maxwell USA 37 43 41 42 1 164
36 Foursquare Spiced Rum Ron Weed USA 47 20 44 41 15 167
37 Aura Sheldon Ecklund USA 30 44 40 21 37 172
38 Panic Pending Lainie Pardey USA 46 29 46 23 31 175
39 AF GAAT LIGGEN Carlo Vroon NED 28 35 29 37 47 176
40 Lamorak Mike Krantz USA 32 33 38 36 45 184
41 Ajax Cindy Cromwell USA 36 52 39 34 25 186
42 Adrenaline Michael Royer USA 45 45 42 44 17 193
43 Bling Bling Evan Jahn USA 34 41 27 51 46 199
44 Highland Heritage Ian Cleaver SCT 41 40 43 25 58 ocs 207
45 Adrenaline Wolf Lixfeld CAN 38 34 45 47 44 208
46 MovingMtnsChalets Frits Bus ANT 42 49 37 40 42 210
47 USA 525 Tim Fay USA 43 50 49 33 41 216
48 Flyer 02 Chuck Holzman USA 52 48 53 46 29 228
49 Express Lane Frank A. Davenport USA 51 39 47 43 48 228
50 Mellow Yellow Vladimir Butenko RUS 50 46 50 39 49 234
51 Nobody's Girl Scott A. Baker USA 49 51 48 53 53 254
52 Elektra Dan van Heeckeren USA 48 42 58 dsq 49 58 ocs 255
53 CPB Tom & Deanna Hager USA 53 47 52 58 dnc 51 261
54 Forerunner John L. Mathis USA 54 53 51 54 52 264
55 Mayhem Colin Cassady USA 58 dnf 54 55 52 50 269
56 Maiden Heaven E. Middleton/K. Maguire GBR 55 55 54 55 54 273
57 TBA John Muir 58 dnc 58 dnc 58 dnc 58 dnc 58 dnc 290

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