Another leader on countback
Top scoring boat on a two race day at the 52 Super Series, Azzurra, have edged to the top of the leaderboard. But just as Quantum Racing and Rán Racing have done on the previous two days, their overall lead is only by virtue of tie break. Azzurra’s two second places overturned the previous tie break that they had been in with Rán Racing. The top duo now have a 16 point aggregate, two better than Quantum Racing whose 1,4 for the day could not improve their third place overall.
After Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s Interlodge won Race 6 today, now five different boats have won races, while only Doug DeVos’s Quantum Racing has won two races so far. Rán Racing navigator Jules Salter came ashore with the prediction that this regatta looks set to go to the final day: “It was a tough old day, very shifty with big changes in pressure again. It was pretty close racing, we had a couple of good downwind legs, but perhaps were not so strong upwind. I think the other boats are going really well upwind and when you get hit once, then you get hit again and you lose your lane and then it gets really tough. But it is such good racing it is great fun. This regatta is going to be about hanging in there until the last day. I don’t think anyone will be clear until the last day.”
Azzurra’s costly mistakes which has troubled them variously during both of the first two days appeared to be in the past. They started well in both races and just stayed solid and focused, tactician Vasco Vascotto doing an excellent job of keeping the team which are the current 52 Super Series champions in phase with the shifting breeze and most of the time in the best of the gusty, puffy breeze.
In the first race Azzurra was absolutely alongside Quantum Racing at the first windward mark, but as soon as Quantum Racing was able to make a small gain, she very quickly extended with an excellent reading of the breeze downwind by Andy Horton and Ed Baird for Doug DeVos. From there the race leader’s advantage was mostly in having free rein to sail the shifts and pressure. But the never-say-die attitude which characterises the Azzurra team spirit was obvious when they made more than 100 metres back to Quantum Racing on the exciting final run, only just running out of race track.
The second race, with the breeze up to 20 knots in the puffs, had Interlodge’s signature all over it after they made a beautiful start with good, clean positioning with perfect timing and good speed. That was enough for Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s team to get their bow in front early in the five leg race. With good speed and power upwind especially, they were able to lead all the way around the course, beating Azzurra across the finish by a decent margin, recording their first win of the regatta.
Marty Kullman, Interlodge’s tactician remarked: “Getting off the start line and getting to the left was our goal. We did that in the first race but the guys to the left of us ended up beating us to the mark. We started in the middle again in the last race there and just really worked hard, we got a couple of good shifts and it really paid off. Getting to the first mark first then, there were big gains. We were always under pressure in that second race. The Italians on Azzurra are fast and always fight back hard. You cannot give anything away.
"The boat is pretty nice and you can see that. We get off the line and then we can hold our lane and go fast. We decided we did not want to start in the favoured spot on the line, if we can get off the line then the boat is going to work for itself and then the boat is going to work for itself.”
After six races there is still only three points separating the top four boats in the fleet, Interlodge’s win leaving them very much in touch with the overall regatta leaders.
Andy Horton, Quantum Racing’s strategist rounded up: “We had a great first race. We had a good start, it was really tight because all the boats are tight on speed and we were able to get away a little on the strength of the top left, we took off downwind and won that one. The second race was kind of the opposite. We got into a pack of boats and we were late in behind, but we sailed a couple of shifts and got back into the group but we were not able to get back from there, ending up fourth. It was nice to see Interlodge win that race and see them going away.
"We are really always working on our boat speed and today we made a nice improvement in our boat speed. We changed a few things. We can improve our starting and if we put that together with our boat speed like that first race then we are comfortable. But at this stage it is trying to have it all happen at the same time not like in that second race, a race with great start where you are not fast. It is about putting the pieces together. The level of competition is high and so you need to have everything right. It is an amazing level. Essentially three of the boats are from the same mould, one is a slight variation of that and the others are sped up a little under IRC modifications and so it is anybody’s day out there. It has never been closer for the group. It was awesome today. You can go fast, there were puffs and shifts, I like that. It was great.”
Elsewhere several teams made major moves today - none more dramatic than that pulled by Decision in the High Performance Class.
Spookie, skippered by North Sails professional Steve Benjamin, opened the regatta with four straight victories - all in convincing fashion - and it appeared the rout was on. However, Decision, skippered by Stephen Murray, turned the tables big-time by winning both today's races. Meanwhile, Spookie finished last in Race 6 after shredding its spinnaker on the last downwind leg.
"We were really getting frustrated," admitted Murray. "But we knew if we just hung in there and caught some breaks that we could beat them. Today, we sailed really well. We had clean mark roundings and clean sets."
Decision and Spookie are identical HPR Carkeek 40 designs with the former having been launched in March and the latter in September of last year. Murray said the boats, which have subtle differences in terms of sails and crew weight, have been evenly matched this week: "They are a bit faster upwind and we may be a click faster downwind. All around, they are awfully close in performance."
Suddenly, Decision now holds a three-point lead over Spookie. "We certainly feel better about our chances now, but there is still a lot of racing to be done. With no throwouts, you're one bad race away from going from the penthouse to the outhouse," Murray said.
Another climber today was Philip Lotz' Arethusa, which moved from third to first in Swan 42 class. Arethusa posted a first and a fifth on Wednesday and now leads the seven-boat fleet by virtue of tiebreaker over James Madden's Stark Raving Mad VI.
"Conditions were great today," Lotz said. "The breeze was enjoyable, but very shifty and hard to figure out, which was a challenge. A premium was put on boat-handling with a higher level of breeze and the tactician was kept very busy in this highly competitive fleet."
It appeared there was a new leader in J/70 class after racing concluded on Wednesday. Newport-based pro Tim Healy and his Helly Hansen team won Race 6, finished third in Race 7 and threw out a 23rd suffered in Race 1. That briefly allowed Helly Hansen to overtake Moxie for the overall lead in the regatta's largest class with 39 boats.
However, Healy lost a protest and was hit with a penalty that changed the seventh race result to 19th and dropped Helly Hansen to fourth in the overall standings. Moxie, sailed by Annapolis-based brothers Cole and James Allsopp, remained the leader for the second straight day with 34.5 points, 1½ better than Peter Duncan's Relative Obscurity.
Healy was disappointed with the protest decision, but remained confident his crew could wind up on top at the end. "We're going to give it our best shot. We just have to keep plugging away," he said.
There is a tight duel in the 23-boat Melges 24 class between the hedgehog and Full Throttle teams, which are now tied with 11 points. Full Throttle, skippered by Brian Porter, is ahead after the tiebreaker on the strength of three first place finishes.
"Those guys are like a bad piece of corn. We can't get them out of our teeth," hedgehog skipper Alec Cutler said of Porter and crew. "We started right next to each other in both races today and it was a drag race upwind and downwind. Sometimes they're quicker and sometimes we're quicker. It's really close, competitive racing."
Full Throttle was named Mount Gay Rum Boat of the Day after posting a third and first in what was declared the most competitive class on Wednesday. Cutler had high praise for his rival who erased a four-point deficit to hedgehog. "Those guys have been sailing together for 20 years and that is very evident by the fact they don't have any crew mistakes. They are also true gentlemen and a pleasure to sail against. We're in a good battle, but we enjoy the people we're battling against."
Barking Mad, skippered by Jim Richardson, didn't rest on its laurels after capturing the Lewmar/Navtec Boat of the Day honor on Tuesday. With renowned pro Terry Hutchinson making the tactical calls, Barking Mad tacked on a third in Race 5 before scoring its second bullet in Race 6 and now leads the Farr 40 class by six points over John Demourkas' Groovederci.
"It's tough sailing out there, kind of like a heavyweight fight," Richardson said of the competition among the six Farr 40s. "We may only have six boats, but five of them have won world championships. It's just a real solid fleet. It's a game of inches and we just have to keep sailing consistently well in order to maintain this lead."
Bombarda, with owner Andrea Pozzi driving and past world champion Lorenzo Bressani, calling tactics, remained atop the 11-boat Melges 32 class for the second straight day thanks to a first and second on Wednesday. Bombarda leads fellow Italian entry Vincenzo Onorato's Mascalzone Latino by three points.
Today's winners were Bombarda and Alex Jackson's Leenabarca. Pozzi exploded onto the scene, taking an immediate and aggressive stance to win the first race of the day. It's obvious that the big breeze conditions played to his best advantage. Joel Ronning aboard Catapult had a fantastic race placing second, while Keisuke Suzuki on Swing claimed third.
Jackson, a veteran Melges 32 owner, finally got his due as he won race seven in a potential full series of 12. "The conditions here in Key West were incredible today," he said post racing. "It was a beautiful day to be out racing. In the first race, we were off a little, but our sail combination in Race Two was perfect. And, I can't say enough about racing with Paul (Goodison). Tactically, Paul did a great job and put us right where we needed to be in order to win. We hope for more of the same tomorrow and Friday." Bombarda finished second and Mascalzone Latino was third.
Bill Sweetser has been racing his J/109 Rush in Key West since 2004 and has been class runner-up more times than he cares to remember. The Annapolis resident moved one step closer to finally being crowned champion by holding his lead for a third straight day. Conditions were not ideal for Rush, which excels in moderate winds, but Sweetser posted a third and second to remain seven points ahead of another Annapolis boat - Gerry Taylor's Cape Fear 38 Tangent.
"We knew with the high winds that we couldn't show the full capability of our boat. Our goal was to survive and live to fight another day, which we were able to do," said Sweetser, noting that Rush did not lose any points to Tangent.
KWRW Division 1 Course
High Performance Class (HPR - 9 Boats)
1. Decision, HPR Carkeek 40, Stephen Murray , New Orleans, LA, USA, 2-2-2-4-1-1; 12
2. SPOOKIE, HPR Carkeek 40, Steve & Heidi Benjamin , Norwalk, CT, USA, 1-1-1-1-3-8; 15
3. Santa, Farr 400, Jesper Bank / Michael Hestbek (T) , DEN, 3-3-3-8-6-2; 25
IRC 1 (Mini Maxi Class) (IRC - 2 Boats)
1. Shockwave, Reichel/Pugh mini maxi, George Sakellaris , Framingham, MA, USA, 1-2-1-1-1-2; 8
2. Bella Mente, Judel-Vrolijk Mini Maxi, Hap Fauth , Minneapolis, MN, USA, 2-1-2-2-2-1; 10
IRC 2 (52 Class) (IRC - 6 Boats)
1. Azzurra, TP 52, Alberto Roemmers , Porto Cervo, Sardinia, Italy, 1-6-4-1-2-2; 16
2. Rán, TP 52, Niklas Zennstrom , Southampton, Hampshire, UK, 5-2-1-2-3-3; 16
3. Quantum Racing, TP 52, Doug DeVos , Ada, MI, USA, 4-1-5-3-1-4; 18
IRC 2 (52 Super Series) (IRC - 6 Boats)
1. Azzurra (SS), TP 52, Alberto Roemmers , Buenos Aires, Caba, ARG, 1-6-4-1-2-2; 16
2. Rán (SS), TP 52, Niklas Zennstrom , Southampton, Hampshire, UK, 5-2-1-2-3-3; 16
3. Quantum Racing (SS), TP 52, Doug DeVos , Ada, MI, USA, 4-1-5-3-1-4; 18
IRC Sub-Class (IRC - 4 Boats)
1. SPOOKIE (IRC), HPR Carkeek 40, Steve & Heidi Benjamin , Norwalk, CT, USA, 1-1-1-1-3-4; 11
2. Catapult (IRC), Ker 40, Marc Glimcher , New York, NY, USA, 3-3-2-2-1-2; 13
3. Decision (IRC), HPR Carkeek 40, Stephen Murray , New Orleans, LA, USA, 2-2-3-4-2-1; 14
Farr 400 One Design (One Design - 4 Boats)
1. Chessie Racing (OD), Farr 400, George Collins , Miami Beach, FL, USA, 3-1-1-1-1-3; 10
2. Meridian X (OD), Farr 400, W.S. Shelhorse , Virginia Beach, VA, USA, 2-4-2-3-2-2; 15
3. Spaceman Spiff (OD), Farr 400, Rob Ruhlman , Cleveland, OH, USA, 4-3-4-2-3-1; 17
4. Team Premier (OD), Farr 400, Hannes Waimer , Dubai, UAE, 1-2-3-4-5/DNF-5/DNS; 20
Farr 40 (One Design - 6 Boats)
1. Barking Mad, Farr 40, James Richardson , Boston, MA, USA, 1-4-2-3-3-1; 14
2. Groovederci, Farr 40, John Demourkas , Santa Barbara, CA, USA, 2-2-3-6-5-2; 20
3. Struntje light, Farr 40, Wolfgang Schaefer , Lueneburg, GER, 5-1-1-5-6-3; 21
Swan 42 (One Design - 7 Boats)
1. Arethusa, Swan 42, Philip Lotz , Newport, RI, USA, 6-4-1-3-1-5; 20
2. Stark Raving Mad VI, Swan 42, James Madden , Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA, 5-2-4-5-3-1; 20
3. Apparition, Swan 42, Ken Colburn , Dover, MA, USA, 7-3-2-1-4-4; 21
KWRW Division 2 Course
Melges 32 (One Design - 11 Boats)
1. Bombarda, Melges 32, Andrea Pozzi , Milano, ITA, 1-8-6-1-6-1-2-; 17
2. Mascalzone Latino, Melges 32, Vincenzo Onorato , Milano, ITA, 6-10-1-2-4-4-3-; 20
3. Swing, Melges 32, Keisuke Suzuki , Nishinomiya, Hyogo, JPN, 5-4-8-4-2-3-5-; 23
Melges 24 (One Design - 23 Boats)
1. Full Throttle, Melges 24, Brian Porter , Lake Geneva, WI, USA, 7-1-2-3-1-3-1-; 11
2. hedgehog, Melges 24, Alec Cutler , Pembroke, BER, 2-2-3-1-2-2-2-; 11
3. West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes, Melges 24, Bora Gulari , Detroit, MI, USA, 6-4-1-4-4-4-
J 70 (One Design - 39 Boats)
1. Moxie, J 70, Cole / James Allsopp , Annapolis, MD, USA, 5-10-14-4-3-8-4.5-; 34.5
2. Relative Obscurity, J 70, Peter Duncan , Rye, NY, USA, 19-6-7-9-5-3-6-; 36
3. Savasana, J 70, Brian Keane , Weston, MA, USA, 15-25-1-19-2-2-1-; 40
J 70 (Corinthian) (One Design - 12 Boats)
1. B Squared (COR), J 70, Brian Elliot / David Hyer (T) , Sayville, NY, USA, 1-1-9-1-4-2-2-; 11
2. Nostalgia (COR), J 70, Blake & Lud Kimbrough , Newport, RI, USA, 4-6-1-7-2-1-1-; 15
3. Spring (COR), J 70, David Franzel , Somerville, MA, USA, 3-5-4-2-1-3-7-; 18
KWRW Division 3 Course
J 80 (One Design - 4 Boats)
1. Vayu 2, J 80, Ron Buzil , Evanston, IL, USA, 1-1-1-2-1-1; 7
2. Participant III, J 80, G. John Krediet , Stamford, CT, USA, 2-2-3-1-3-2; 13
3. Courageous, J 80, Gary Panariello , Manhasset, NY, USA, 4-4-2-3-2-4; 19
PHRF 1 (PHRF_ToT - 6 Boats)
1. Teamwork, J 122, Robin Team , Lexington, NC, USA, 1-2-1-2-2-1; 9
2. White Gold, J 44 MOD, James D. Bishop , Jamestown, RI, USA, 3-1-5-1-1-6; 17
3. Lake Effect, J 111, Robert Hesse , Youngstown, NY, USA, 2-3-2-4-3-3; 17
PHRF 2 (PHRF_ToT - 8 Boats)
1. Rush, J 109, Bill Sweetser , Annapolis, MD, USA, 2-1-2-1-3-2; 11
2. Tangent, Cape Fear 38, Gerald Taylor , Annapolis, MD, USA, 5-5-1-2-2-3; 18
3. Alliance, Summit 35, John Borowski / John Cooper , Springfield, MO, USA, 3-6-4-4-4-5; 26
Photos from Jesus Renedo/www.sailingstock.com