Key West 2010: The Press Releases

The official word from Key West 2010 organizer Premiere Racing and others.

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January 21, 2010

Steady Winds and Boat Speed Rule the Day in Key West - Leaders and Challengers Ready for Final Day

Key West, Fla - John Kilroy has been leading the Melges 32 class since Tuesday and holds a comfortable 10-point advantage with just two races remaining at Key West 2010, presented by Nautica. However, the California skipper plans to sail the last day of the regatta the same way he did the first.

"We're not going to do anything different. We'll just go out and sail as well as we possibly can and hope that is good enough to get the job done," Kilroy said. "We don't really look at the score until the regatta is over. Of course, you always would rather be in the lead going into the last day, but we can't allow that to change our approach."

Stu Bannatyne is calling tactics while Morgan Reeser is trimming and helping with strategy aboard Samba Pa Ti, which has won three of eight races and finished sixth or better in three others in totaling 27 points. New Wave, owned by Michael Carroll of Clearwater, Fla., had a superb outing on Thursday to move into second place - 10 points behind.

Quantum professional Scott Nixon is calling tactics while Marty Kullman is steering New Wave, which won Race 8 and placed second in Race 7 to jump from sixth to second in the overall standings.

"We carved a lot out of the lead today. Whether it was enough remains to be seen," Carroll said. "We are certainly in range and have given ourselves a chance. Hopefully, we can sail as well tomorrow as we did today."

Competition is still close in the Melges 24 class with skipper Lorenzo Santini and UKA UKA Racing taking a three-point lead into Friday. Lorenzo Bressani is steering while Jonathan McKee is calling tactics for UKA UKA Racing, which has been remarkably consistent this week. The Italian team has won three races and counts no worse than a third in totaling 12 points - three better than the Swiss entry Blu Moon.

"They are sailing unbelievably. We are going fast, but they are just a click better," said Flavio Favini, helmsman aboard Blu Moon, which won Race 7 and took third in Race 8. "We have a chance, but it is a very small one. After what the UKA UKA guys did today, they deserve to be winning the regatta."

Thursday brought the strongest wind of the regatta with a south-southeasterly delivering 14-16 knots. After three days of shifty conditions, the breeze stabilized and allowed tacticians to focus on boat speed instead of choosing sides of the course.

"It was the steadiest wind I've ever seen, both in terms of velocity and direction," said Ken Legler, principal race officer on Division 1.

Skipper Giovanni Maspero and the Joe Fly team tacked on two more good results on Thursday and now hold a solid 11-point lead in the Farr 40 class. Tactician Francesco Bruni has made all the right calls this week as the Italian boat has finished fourth or better in seven of eight starts, notching its first victory of the regatta in Race 8.

Barking Mad, an American boat skippered by Jim Richardson of Newport, R.I., notched a second and third on Thursday to move from fifth to second in the overall standings. Tactician Terry Hutchinson believes Barking Mad has been sailing relatively well all week and finally caught some breaks.

"I'm incredibly happy with our performance today. We started the day by setting a team goal of finishing on the podium and this was certainly a step in the right direction," he said. "Joe Fly is sailing really well and will be hard to beat. We just have to continue sailing the way we did today and be in position to capitalize if Joe Fly makes any mistakes."

All the boys on the Highland Fling were happy to hear the weather forecast for Thursday. The Wally 82-footer, easily the largest entry at Key West 2010, has been unable to maximize its potential in the moderate, shifty conditions that predominated the initial three days of the regatta.

"We were really, really pleased when we went out this morning and found the breeze was what it was predicted," tactician Peter Isler said.

Highland Fling, owned by Irvine Laidlaw of Monaco, responded with its best day of the regatta - posting a second and a third to close to within two points of second place in IRC 1. "We got the sails up and down real well and our maneuvers were terrific. We turned that 82-footer into a small boat today," Isler said.

Bella Mente, a Reichel-Pugh 66, owned by Hap Fauth of Newport, R.I., has run away with IRC 1 by winning seven of eight races. At this point, the battle is for second place between Highland Fling and the TP52 Interlodge (Austin Fragomen, New York).

There is a great battle going on in IRC 2 class between the Summit 40 White Heat and the J/122 Pugwash. Those two boats finished one-two in Class 3 at the IRC East Coast Championship off Annapolis in late October and are positioned to do so again in Key West.

Skipper Mike Williamson and the White Heat team saw their lead cut to one after Race 7 on Thursday, but rebounded to win Race 8 and push the advantage back to five points. Tactician Larry Leonard, a North Sails professional, admitted Pugwash will need two terrific results and a little good luck in order to overtake its hometown rival from Newport.

"We'll go out and sail the best we can and hope the breaks fall our way," Leonard said. "We can't really engage White Heat because their boat is faster than ours. We just try to sail in the same vicinity."

Savasana, owned by Brian Keane of Marion, Mass., continued its impressive performance in the J/105 class with a pair of seconds on Thursday. Savasana holds a 16-point lead over ghost (Kenneth Colburn, Southport, Maine) and has pretty much clinched the overall victory.

"It's been an awesome week of all-around sailing and we're very, very pleased," said Keane, whose team has placed first or second in six of eight races and no worse than fourth.

Le Tigre, co-owned by Glenn Hilliard and Reese Darden of Forth Worth, Texas, posted a pair of bullets on Thursday to take over the lead in J/80 class, which is contesting its Midwinter Championship at Key West 2010. Little Feat, skippered by J/Boats executive Jeff Johnstone, entered the day atop the 19-boat fleet but exited six points behind Le Tigre.

In the International Team Competition for the Nautica Watches Trophy, the two Italian Teams have been close all week. Joe Fly, Calvi Network and UKA UKA Racing have a narrow 6 point lead over Nerone, Fantastika, and Blu Moon.

Follow all the grand prix action, racing excitement, and results through the web-site blog and coverage, live tracking of the Melges 32 and J/80 fleets by Kattack Kattack.com, Scuttlebutt's on the scene reports SailingScuttlebutt.com, and nightly on demand video by T2P on www.T2P.tv (after 9:00PM EST) and more.

Results, photos and news: www.Premiere-Racing.com

Key West 2010, presented by Nautica

January 21, 2010

Provisional top three in class after eight races - January 21, 2010

IRC 1

1. Bella Mente, R/P 69, Hap Fauth, Newport, RI, USA, 1-1-1-1-1-3-1-1, 10

2. Interlodge, TP52, Austin Fragomen, New York, NY, USA, 4-2-2-2-4-2-2-5, 23

3. Highland Fling XI, Wally 82, Irvine Laidlaw, Monaco, 2-4-4-3-3-4-3-2, 25

IRC 2

1. White Heat, Summit 40, Mike Williamson, Newport, RI, USA, 1-2-5-4-1-4-5-1, 23

2. Pugwash, J/122, David Murphy, Newport, RI, USA, 2-1-1-2-7-1-3-5, 28

3. Cool Breeze, Mills 43, John Cooper, Cane Hill, MO, USA, 6-3-7-6-3-3-2-2, 32

Farr 40

1. Joe Fly, Giovanni Maspero, Rome, ITA, 4-3-4-4-5-2-3-1, 26

2. Barking Mad, James Richardson, Newport, RI, USA, 2-5-8-5-7-5-2-3, 37

2. Nerone, Massimo Mezzaroma, Punta Ala, ITA, 10-2-3-1-10-1-1-11, 39

Melges 32 (with discard) - Mid-Winter Championship

1. Samba Pa Ti, John Kilroy, Malibu, CA, USA, (14)-1-4-1-1-1-1, 18

2. Star, Jeff Ecklund, Ft Lauderdale, FL, USA, 1-9-(15)-10-7.4rdg-2, 29.4

3. Ramrod, Roderick Jabin, Annapolis, MD, USA, (12)-5-1-8-10-7, 31

Melges 24 (with discard) - Mid-Winter Championship

1. UKA UKA Racing, Lorenzo Santini, Porto Civitanova, ITA, 2-1-2-(5)-1-3-2-1, 12

2. Blu Moon, Franco Rossini, Lugano, SUI, 1-4-(9)-2-3-1-1-3, 15

3. WTF, Alan Field, Marina del Rey, CA, USA, 3-2-1-4-2-4-3-(8), 19

J/105 - Mid-Winter Championship

1. Savasana, Brian Keane, Marion, MA, USA, 2-1-4-2-1-4-2-2, 18

2. Ghost, Kenneth Colburn, Southport, ME, USA, 6-4-2-3-6-5-4-4, 34

3. Blackhawk, Scooter Simmonds, San Francisco, CA, USA 3-5-9-7-4-3-1-3, 35

J/80 - Mid-Winter Championship

1. Le Tigre, Darden / Hillard, Ft. Worth, TX, USA, 2-10-2-2-6-3-1-1, 27

2. Little Feat, Jeff Johnstone, Newport, RI, USA, 7-7-1-1-4-4-6-3, 33

3. Rascal, Will Welles, Newport, RI, USA, 1-3-3-8-5-7-2-5, 34

PHRF 1

1. Stark Raving Mad, J/125, James Madden, Oyster Bay, NY, UsA, 1-1-1-1-1-1-2-4, 12

2. Mariners Cove, Summit 35, Royal Cork Yacht Club, Cork, IRL, 3-2-5-4-2-2-4-1, 23

3. Rhumb Punch, Farr 30, John and Linda Edwards, Solomons, MD, USA, 2-4-3-3-4-3-5-3, 27

PHRF 2

1. Bluto, Evelyn 32-2, Berges / Hall, Bokeelia, FL, 2-2-2-5-2-2-1-1, 17

2. Rush, J/109, Bill Sweetser, Annapolis, MD, USA, 1-3-4-1-1-1-4-3, 18

3. L'outrage, Beneteau 10M, Bruce Gardner, Annapolis, MD, 4-1-6-2-4-3-3-2, 25

PHRF 3

1. Bad Dog, Mariah 27, John Chick, Key West, FL, USA, 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1, 8

2. Blah, Blah, Blah, J/24, Mark Milnes, Key West, FL, USA, 3-2-2-2-2-2-2-2, 17

3. Nojoe, J/24, Naroski/LeBlanc, Marblehead, MA, USA 2-4-3-5-4-3-5-5, 31

Multihulls

1. Merlin, Gulfstream 35, Bob Harkrider, Sarasota, Fl, USA, 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1, 8

2. Tobiko, Corsair Sprint 750, Tim Britton, Peru, VT, USA, 3-2-2-2-2-3-5-4, 23

3. Strategery V, Corsair Sprint 750, Cliff, Farrah, Destin, FL, USA, 2-4-3-4-5-4-3-2, 27

January 20, 2010

Key West Contenders Emerge on Day Three - After Six Races at Key West 2010 Big Picture Takes Shape

Key West, Fla - It is three days into a five-day regatta - normally the time when the contenders are separated from the pretenders. With six races completed and four more to be contested at Key West 2010, presented by Nautica, the big picture is taking shape under sunny skies.

Barking Mad tactician Terry Hutchinson was intently reviewing the scoreboard after racing on Wednesday when he was asked if the American entry was a contender or a pretender in the 19-boat Farr 40 class.

"Probably somewhere in between the two at this point, but if we don't get our act together and start sailing better we'll be in the pretender category," said Hutchinson, shaking his head about several missed opportunities that have Barking Mad in fifth place overall.

Skipper Giovanni Maspero and the crew on Joe Fly increased their lead in the Farr 40 class to five points over fellow Italian entry Nerone (Massimo Mezzaroma) on the strength of a 5-2 line on Wednesday.

"I think we are sailing fairly well. We have not won a race yet, which is a bit painful since we have been leading at times on the course," Joe Fly tactician Francesco Bruni said. "We cannot complain when we have a five-point lead with four races to go. The owner is steering the boat very well around the course and we are very happy with our boat speed."

Plenty, owned by Alex Roepers of New York, posted its second victory of the series on Wednesday and moved from sixth to third in the overall standings.

Hutchinson, the 2008 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, was frustrated because Barking Mad had the lead midway through Race 5 and wound up finishing seventh. Skipper Jim Richardson (Newport, R.I.) and team are tied with the German entry Struntje Light (Wolfgang Schaefer) on points - just two out of third and 10 behind the leader.

"Joe Fly is sailing very well so they certainly look like the boat to beat, but there are still plenty of points on the table and things could change quite a bit between now and Friday afternoon," Hutchinson said. "We just have to keep chipping away and hope we get some better karma."

Bella Mente, the Reichel-Pugh 69 owned by Hap Fauth of Newport, R.I., stretched its winning streak to five with a bullet in the opening race on Wednesday and holds a commanding eight-point lead in IRC 1.

"I'm very pleased. We have won every start except one and the crew has been just superb in its execution," Fauth said.

Kelvin Harrup and Eric Doyle are combining on tactics while Sean Clarkson (main) and Brett Jones (jib and spinnaker) are the lead trimmers aboard Bella Mente, which would probably have to fall apart to lose the regatta at this stage. Fauth did not want to hear any of that talk.

"Sure we could be beaten. This will be a boat race right up until the end," he said emphatically. "It was tough out there today. The wind was up and down and clocked hard right then back left a bit. The TP 52s came to the finish line on a much stronger breeze and two of them beat us on corrected time. Things could change quickly if the TP52s get the type of conditions in which they excel."

Decision, a TP52 owned by Stephen Murray of New Orleans, La., became the first IRC 1 entry other than Bella Mente to win a race when it corrected to first in Race 6. Interlodge, a TP52 owned by Austin Fragomen of New York, has finished second in four of six races and heads the pack in what appears to be a battle to be runner-up to Bella Mente.

"Bella Mente is very fast and very well-sailed so it will be tough to beat," Fragomen said. "We're most interested in winning the sub-class of TP52s, but obviously while we're doing that we would like to contend for the overall class victory."

Bill Lynn, a professional based in Marblehead, Mass., is calling tactics on Interlodge while Pete McCloskey (main) and Dave Armitage (jib) are primary trimmers. This is only the second regatta for Interlodge since Fragomen took ownership of the Judel-Vrolijk design, which was launched in 2006.

"We are still figuring out the boat so it's great to be able to line up against three other TPs and gauge our performance. We are getting a little better every day."

John Kilroy steered Samba Pa Ti to victory in second start on Wednesday to extend his lead in Melges 32 class, largest of the regatta with 22 boats. Completion of six races allowed each boat to drop its worst result and Samba Pa Ti tossed a 14th suffered in Race 1.

Star received redress for Race 5 after winning a protest, moving skipper Jeff Ecklund and team up to second place with a score of 29.4 - six-tenths of a point ahead of Ramrod (Rod Jabin, Annapolis). Jabin was a bit downcast on the dock after suffering an 18th in Race 5.

"I'm disappointed on a personal level because we were sailing in second and got wrapped up with the IRC 1 boats at a mark rounding and lost about 16 places," Jabin said. "Tomorrow is going to be critical because we've already sailed our throw-out so every race is a keeper from here on out. We've just got to keep fighting."

Perhaps the most surprising entry in Melges 32 is Yasha Samurai, a newcomer to the highly-competitive, professional-laden class. Owner Yukihiro Ishida of Tokyo, Japan, vaulted from 11th to fifth in the overall standings after winning Race 5 and dropping a 16th from Race 2 and was selected as Mount Gay Rum Boat of the Day.

"To be fifth in this fleet with a new team is downright amazing, but I don't pay much attention to scores at this point of a regatta," said Charlie McKee, tactician aboard Yasha Samurai. "We had some good fortune today, but the breeze is supposed to build tomorrow and that could present some challenges."

This is only the second Melges 32 event for Ishida, who has sailed Swan designs in Europe and a J/24 back in Japan. McKee, a Seattle native who owns a couple Olympic bronze medals, brings a positive, upbeat attitude as tactician. British pro Gerry Mitchell and Snipe standout Takumi Nakamura are serving as trimmers.

"(Ishida) is having a lot of fun and has very good concentration when steering the boat," McKee said. "He is very much a student of the sport. He thinks about the races overnight, analyzes things and comes back the next day with a lot of questions."

It continues to be a three-way battle between UKA UKA Racing (Lorenzo Santini, Italy), Blu Moon (Franco Rossini, Switzerland) and WTF (Alan Field, United States) with only three points separating those top contenders.

Helmsman Lorenzo Bressani won Race 5 and added a third in Race 6 to take sole possession of first place with a low score of nine points. Flavio Favini steered Blu Moon to the exact same results (3-1) on Wednesday and moved into second with 11 points. Field, from Marina Del Rey, Cal., kept pace with a second and a fourth and has 12 total points.

"It has been very good competition so far. The top teams have the same speed so the tacticians have been very important. Tactics has probably been 80 percent of the results," Bressani said. "We are hoping tomorrow brings more wind to ensure the speed of the boat is most important."

There is a new leader in IRC 2 as skipper Mike Williamson and the White Heat team overtook early pacesetter Pugwash on the strength of a bullet in Race 5. That was the second win of the week for the Summit 40, which now has a three-point advantage over the J/122 owned by David Murphy (Newport, R.I.).

Simon Shaw of Great Britain is calling tactics for Williamson, who splits his time between homes in London and New Castle, New Hampshire. This is the second time in three months that White Heat and Pugwash have squared off, having finished one-two in Class 3 at the IRC East Coast Championship off Annapolis in late October.

Jeff Johnstone placed fourth in both starts on Wednesday and moved from second to first in J/80 class, which has attracted 19 boats for its Midwinter Championship. Brian Keane and the Savasana team have won two races and finished second or fourth in the others and have led the 14-boat J/105 class at the end of each day's action.

Follow all the grand prix action, racing excitement, and results through the web-site blog and coverage, live tracking of the Melges 32 and J/80 fleets by Kattack Kattack.com, Scuttlebutt's on the scene reports SailingScuttlebutt.com, and nightly on demand video by T2P on www.T2P.tv (after 9:00PM EST) and more.

Results, photos and news: www.Premiere-Racing.com

January 19, 2010

Lead Changes and Challenges on Day Two at Key West-Good Tactics and Boat Speed Rule the Day

Key West, Fla - Another day of good wind brought two more races and a shakeup in some of the standings in many of the 11 classes at Key West 2010, presented by Nautica.

A northeast wind that started off at seven knots and built to 13 allowed organizers with Premiere Racing to remain on schedule for a 10-race regatta. Some of the professionally-crewed grand prix classes saw the overall lead change hands while other classes saw the opening day pace-setters strengthen their grip on first place.

Joe Fly, an Italian entry skippered by Giovanni Maspero posted a pair of fourths on Tuesday to take over the lead in Farr 40 class. Francesco Bruni is calling tactics on Joe Fly, which began the day in third and now leads fellow Italian boat Nerone by one point.

Nerone, skippered by Massimo Mezzaroma of Punta Ala, had a terrific Tuesday with a first and a third to jump from sixth to second in the overall standings. Vasco Vascotto is tactician on Nerone, which was named Sperry Top-Sider Boat of the Day.

Struntje Light, skippered by Wolfgang Schaefer of Germany, fell out of first place despite winning Race 3. Schaefer was remained optimistic despite falling to third overall due to an 11th in Race 4.

"Of course, we are very happy to be in the game. We came here to get some experience in the new boat and so far our boat speed has been very good," said Schaefer, who took delivery of a Farr 40 formerly owned by Peter de Ridder a few days before the regatta.

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark had planned to compete in Farr 40 class at Key West 2010, but wound up having to attend the World Future Energy Summit in the United Arab Emirates. However, the prince still entered his boat and has been following the results very closely each day. He was no doubt thrilled to see that Nanoq won Race 3 on Tuesday with Anders Myralf on the helm and Volvo Ocean Race veteran Bouwe Bekking calling tactics.

"We wish Frederik was here to enjoy this win with us, but we understand that he has to take care of his official work as prince," Myralf said.

Nanoq's crew has not sailed together since the Farr 40 European Championship in Sardinia so that is why Prince Frederik felt it was important for the boat to race at Key West. Tuesday's victory brought some positive reinforcement about Nanoq's new rig setup.

"We had a very good start, hit the first couple shifts and rounded the first mark just ahead of Joe Fly. We then had a very good downwind leg and were able to extend the lead to five boat lengths at the bottom mark. We just covered the fleet from there," Myralf said.

Barking Mad, skippered by Jim Richardson of Newport, R.I., rallied from last in the 12-boat fleet to fifth in a race for the second straight day and is fourth overall.

In the Melges 32 class, John Kilroy and his team aboard Samba Pa Ti had a superb day on the water and vaulted from third to first in the 22 boat class. Stu Bannatyne is calling tactics while fellow pro Morgan Reeser is trimming the main for Kilroy, who won Race 4 and placed fourth in Race 3 to move ahead of Monday leader Ramrod (Rod Jabin, Annapolis, Md.) by a point.

"We had confidence in our boat speed based off of yesterday so today wanted to have good clean starts so we could get clear lanes," Kilroy said. "We were seventh at the last mark in the first race and rallied to get a fourth. We got a great start in the second race and were able to just extend and extend. Stu did a great job on tactics today while Morgan and Sam Rogers did a great job of trimming."

This is only the fifth Melges 32 event for Kilroy, who has competed in Key West with a Farr 40 and a TP52 among other designs. The Malibu, California resident loves the exciting sport-boat and said the competition in the class is intense.

"This fleet is so close that one small mistake can cost you 10 or 15 boats. It's the outhouse or the penthouse and you just have to try to stay in between and hope to be there at the end," he said.

There is a new leader in the 21-boat Melges 24 class as well with Alan Field and his USA 587 team moving into a tie with UKA UKA Racing. Former College of Charleston All-American Steve Hunt is calling tactics for Field, a California resident who won Race 3 on Tuesday then tacked on a fourth in Race 4.

"It's pretty shifty out there so it's important to be in the front row and able to control your own destiny. Alan won the start (in Race 3) and that allowed me to play the shifts better," said Hunt, who spent seven years mounting an Olympic campaign in 470 class. "Our boat speed is pretty decent and we really improved our tacking today."

Field finished a somewhat disappointing 11th at the Melges 24 Worlds in October and Hunt admitted a win in Key West would help ease the sting of that result. "At the worlds Alan had a little trouble getting off the line, but here in Key West he is starting the boat much better, which makes a huge difference."

UKA UKA Racing, the Italian entry owned by Lorenzo Santini and helmed by Lorenzo Bressani, now has an impressive series line of 2-1-2-5. Tactician Jonathan McKee, a Seattle native, said strategy and boat-handling have been paramount in the shifty conditions. "It's not really about boat speed and much more about positioning," he said. "Today was less shifty than yesterday, but it still wasn't totally obvious which side of the course was favored."

Bella Mente and Pugwash extended their leads in IRC 1 and 2, respectively, with a second straight strong day of racing. Bella Mente, a Reichel-Pugh 69-footer owned by Hap Fauth of Newport, R.I., has sailed very impressively in winning all four races.

"We are coming off a very successful summer season in Europe in which we won the Med Cup and several other regattas. Right now, the crew is on top of its game and we are getting the most we can out of the boat," Fauth said.

Pugwash owner David Murphy looked quite content on Tuesday afternoon as he ate finger sandwiches and sipped green labeled beer aboard his Lyman-Morse 90-foot motor yacht, berthed at the end of the Galleon docks. Murphy deserved to enjoy happy hour after opening Key West 2010 with a stellar line of 2-1-1-2. The New York resident is a newcomer to competitive sailboat racing who has enjoyed tremendous early success.

Pugwash, a J/122 based in Newport, R.I., has won four of the seven events it has entered since Murphy took delivery in June. North Sails professional Larry Leonard is calling tactics for Murphy, who is looking to add Key West to his impressive list of victories that includes Chester Race Week and the Edgartown Round the Island Race.

"All the credit goes to the crew. Larry is the mastermind while our trimmers are terrific. I'm just kind of like Forrest Gump. I just focus on driving the boat," Murphy said.

Savasana stretched its lead in J/105 class with a fourth and a second on Tuesday as skipper Brian Keane looks to repeat as winner of Key West. Mike Danish is serving as tactician for Keane, who praised the performance of second-place Ghost and said Savasana has to keep putting up good results.

"Ghost sailed great today and certainly is pushing us," Keane said. "Ideally, our goal is to finish in the top five of every race and win each day. It's all about avoiding the big mistake."

North professional Will Welles holds the lead in J/80 class for the second straight day despite an eighth in Race 4. Jeff Johnstone of J/Boats steered Little Feat to a pair of bullets on Tuesday to close within one point of Welles and the Rascal team.

Johnstone may be with the company that designs the boat, but admitted even he can learn new tricks on the race course after finishing seventh in both races on Monday. "It was one of those things were you had to go left, but you couldn't bite off more than you could chew," Jeff Johnstone said, referring to how he played the shifts a bit differently on Tuesday.

Follow all the grand prix action, racing excitement, and results through the web-site blog and coverage, live tracking of the Melges 32 and J/80 fleets by Kattack Kattack.com, Scuttlebutt's on the scene reports SailingScuttlebutt.com, and nightly on demand video by T2P on www.T2P.tv (after 9:00PM EST) and more.

Results, photos and news: www.Premiere-Racing.com

January 18, 2010

Picture Perfect Start to Key West 2010 --- Two Race Day with Blue Skies and Warm Breezes

Key West, Fla - Mother Nature flipped the switch just in time for Key West 2010, presented by Nautica. The unseasonably chilly temperatures gave way and competitors in the 23rd edition of North America's most prestigious winter regatta were greeted by Chamber of Commerce conditions on Monday. "This shapes up to be the warmest race week here in Key West in recent memory," event director Peter Craig said.

Sunny skies, 75-degree temperatures and solid wind produced an ideal opening day for the week-long event, organized by Premiere Racing.

"It was a picture-perfect day for sailboat racing. The weather was wonderful, the seas were calm and the wind was more than adequate," said Wayne Bretsch, principal race officer on Division 3.

Bretsch and fellow PROs Ken Legler (Division 1) and Dave Brennan (Division 2) were all able to complete two races in oscillating winds that held steady between 7 and 10 knots. Competitors reported wind shifts ranging from five to 50 degrees, which kept tacticians on their toes.

"The wind speed was up and down and it was shifting as much as 45 degrees so there were plenty of opportunities to gain or lose," said North Sails professional Larry Leonard, tactician aboard the J/122 Pugwash, which is leading the IRC 2 class after posting a first and a second on Monday. "It was very tactical racing and we got fortunate a few times. We managed to hit more shifts than we missed."

No skipper sported a broader smile on the dock afterward than Wolfgang Schaefer, who won a race in Farr 40 class for only the second time in four trips to Key West. Schaefer steered Struntje Light to victory in Race 2 after finishing sixth in Race 1 and holds the overall lead via tiebreaker over both Barking Mad (Jim Richardson, Newport, R.I.) and Joe Fly (Giovanni Maspero, Rome, Italy).

"I am very happy because this is a new boat and a fairly new team. It is also the first time in nearly 40 years that I am steering with a tiller," said Schaefer, whose previous Struntje Light had a wheel.

Struntje Light finished 17th in Farr 40 class at Key West 2008 and it was navigator Angela Schaefer who realized a newer design was needed in order to win the prestigious regatta. "My wife asked me if I wanted to just compete or if I wanted to try to win," Wolfgang Schaefer said.

Schaefer purchased the former Mean Machine from Peter de Ridder and the crew sailed the boat for the first time in practice last week. Apparently tactician Jes Gram Hansen and the rest of the crew figured out the new boat fairly quickly.

"We did very well on the first downwind run. We rounded the mark in third and went left. The left proved to be really strong and we opened up a lead of about six boat lengths," Hansen said of how Race 2 unfolded.

Early competition is also close in the 21-boat Melges 24 class as two of the top contenders - UKA UKA Racing and Blu Moon - both won a race. Helmsman Lorenzo Bressani also posted a second as the Italian team took a two-point lead on the Swiss entry. UKA UKA Racing, owned by Lorenzo Santini of Porto Civitanova and featuring American Jonathan McKee as tactician, was declared the Nautica Watches Boat of the Day.

Flavio Favini, helmsman aboard Blu Moon, posted a fourth in Race 2 and was happy to get through the first day in good shape. "It was light and shifty, which is something we have encountered before here. It was a bit tricky for the tacticians, but all in all very nice racing conditions," Favini said. "I thought the race committee did a great job of setting the course very quickly between races. They hurried to get the fleet started again while there was still good wind."

Rod Jabin and his crew aboard Ramrod posted a pair of third place results to grab the early lead in Melges 32, which is loaded with professional talent like the Farr 40 and Melges 24 classes. Jabin is a former Farr 40 owner who moved into the Melges 32 last spring and enjoyed immediate success - winning the Gold Cup held off Fort Lauderdale in early December. America's Cup veteran Gavin Brady is calling tactics for Jabin, who has picked up right where he left off last month here in Key West.

"You take an average boat and put Gavin Brady onboard it makes a big difference," Jabin said. "I did a reasonable job of getting us off the start line and Gavin did a great job of positioning the boat.

Jabin has a crew comprised entirely of fellow Annapolis residents and said the ability to get out on the water and practice together on a regular basis should not be underestimated. "We have worked very hard with North Sails on rig tune and that has been a big help," said Jabin, who practiced with John Kilroy and the Samba Pa Ti team last week. "I don't think we're the fastest boat out here, but our rig is set up well while our crew work and tactics are strong."

Bella Mente, a Reichel-Pugh 66-footer skippered by Hap Fauth of Newport, R.I., is the opening day pacesetter in IRC 1 class, which features the largest boats in the regatta. Kelvin Harrup is calling tactics aboard Bella Mente, which won both races on Monday and holds a four-point lead over the TP52 Interlodge (Austin Fragomen) and the Wally 82 Highland Fling (Irvine Laidlaw).

"Today was an ideal Bella Mente day, absolutely ideal conditions for our boat," Fauth said. "Give me a few more days like this and I'll be a happy camper."

Highland Fling is by far the biggest boat entered in Key West 2010 and was expected to sail around the IRC 1 course by itself. However, Fauth said Bella Mente was able to keep the 82-footer in range in Monday's flat water and less than 10 knots of wind.

"Off the wind in this type of breeze, we're very competitive with Highland Fling," said Fauth, noting that owner Irvine Laidlaw and his 24-man crew are learning the newly-launched maxi. "They're still shaking her down so we haven't seen her top end by any means."

Premiere Racing has introduced a handicap multihull class at Key West 2010 and all involved were eager to see how it would work out. Merlin, a Gulfstream 35 that is scratch boat in the fleet and the lone catamaran, notched two bullets to seize the early lead. "Today's conditions favored us because we have more sail area," said tactician Doug Fisher, a Florida-based professional with Ullman Sails.

Skipper Bob Harkrider and the Merlin team are sailing out in front of the six smaller trimarans in the class and thus have to focus on sailing their own race. "It's all about going fast and going in the right direction. In a fleet like this in which the boats are so different, you need to make sure you take care of yourself… which is probably what you should do most of the time anyway," Fisher said.

Brian Keene (Marion, Mass.) is off to a good start in his bid to repeat as J/105 champion at Key West, steering Savasana to a first and a second on Monday. North Sails professional Will Welles (Newport, R.I.) won Race 1 and took third in Race 2 to jump ahead in the 19-boat J/80 class, which is contesting its Midwinter Championship at Key West 2010.

Follow all the grand prix action, racing excitement, and results through the web-site blog and coverage, live tracking of the Melges 32 and J/80 fleets by Kattack Kattack.com, Scuttlebutt's on the scene reports SailingScuttlebutt.com, and nightly on demand video by T2P on www.T2P.tv (after 9:00PM EST) and more.

January 17, 2010

Key West, Fla -- A diverse assortment of sailors and boats has descended upon the southernmost tip of Florida. Key West 2010, presented by Nautica welcomes veterans and first-timers, big boats and small. An impressive fleet of 133 boats in 11 classes on three divisions will begin racing Monday in the 23rd edition of this popular international regatta. Many participants, such as Farr 40 owner Jim Richardson, have been coming to the Conch Republic for years. This is the 14th Key West for Richardson, a Boston resident who anxiously awaits his annual winter getaway from the frigid northeast. "I think this is the premier sailing event in the United States every year and I wouldn't miss it for anything. Key West always attracts the best sailors so the competition is second-to-none and the race management is top-notch so you can count on quality racing," Richardson said. "Add in the fact the weather is wonderful and the town of Key West is a lot of fun… this regatta has all the elements you could ask for." At the opposite extreme are Jeremy Reynolds and his team aboard Magic in Motion. Having joined the J/80 class less than a year ago, the Annapolis resident is making his Key West debut. Reynolds readily admits his crew is still learning the boat, but that has not stopped them from taking the plunge and entering one of the most competitive events in North America. "We are doing this for the experience. We are not concerned with the final result or worried about placing," Reynolds said. "We just want to soak in the atmosphere and learn as much as we can." Reynolds and the rest of the Magic in Motion team hopped in a truck on Friday and made the 24-hour trek from the Chesapeake Bay regions to his Stock Island marina with the J/80 in tow. Some of the top J/80 teams in the United States are part of a 19-boat fleet and the regatta rookies are excited to see how the game is played at this level. This is the Midwinter Championship for the class and attracts all the top competitors, including two-time defending Key West champion Rumor (John Storck Jr., Huntington, N.Y.). New York professional sailmaker Kerry Klingler (Larchmont) and his Lifted team won in 2007 while Annapolis amateur Brian Robinson always has Angry Chameleon in the mix, finishing third last year. "Everybody talks about Key West and what a fabulous regatta it is so we are very, very excited to be participating. This is going to be an amazing experience for us," Reynolds said. Just as there is a large disparity in experience level, so too is the range of boat sizes. At the top end of the spectrum is Highland Fling XI, a Wally 82-footer owned by Irvine Laidlaw of Monaco. This is the first buoy regatta for the massive yacht, which was launched from the Goetz facility in Newport this past August. "It's a new boat and this regatta will be its first true test. We are still learning how to handle it," said Peter Isler, a veteran professional who is serving as tactician aboard Highland Fling. "The sheer size of the boat is one thing, but the fact it goes twice as fast as some of the other boats in our fleet is another issue. Everything happens so fast and it's sometimes hard to gauge if you can cross another competitor or not." This is the sixth of 11 Highland Fling designs that Laidlaw has brought to Key West, joining a Swan 53 and Farr 60 among others. Laidlaw said the Wally 82, which has been described as a oversized sport-boat, achieved 27 knots of speed in 22 knots of breeze during practice last week. "I always enjoy coming to Key West because this is one of the best organized regattas in the world. Peter Craig and his team do a tremendous job," Laidlaw said. "The wind is very reliable over the course of the week and the fleet is usually very competitive." One of the smallest boats in the fleet is berthed right here in Key West and has competed in the regatta 21 of the 23 years it has been held. Mark Milnes, a resident of Big Pine Key, has won the J/24 sub-class in the past and finished second or third in his overall PHRF class many times. "When you have a major regatta like this right in your backyard it makes sense to enter. We always have a lot of fun," said Milnes, whose crew consists of Key West or Stock Island residents. The Melges 32 made its debut as a one-design class at Key West in 2006 with eight boats. Interest in the exciting sport-boat has soared since then and Melges 32 is now the largest class at Key West 2010 with 22 entries stocked with some of the top professionals in the world. Star, owned by Jeff Ecklund of Fort Lauderdale, is the two-time defending champion at Key West. Other top competitors include 2006 winner New Wave (Michael Carroll, Clearwater, Fla.), 2009 runner-up Red (Joe Woods, Great Britain) and reigning Gold Cup champion Ramrod (Rod Jabin, Annapolis, Md.).Successful owners from other grand prix classes have moved into the Melges 32 while the list of tacticians reads like a who's who of the sport with America's Cup competitors such as New Zealand native Gavin Brady (Ramrod) competing alongside Volvo Ocean Race veterans such as Richard Clarke (Arethusa, Phil Lotz, Newport, R.I.).** **
"I think there are a number of reasons why the Melges 32 has taken off. First and foremost, it's a fun boat to sail… it gets up on top of the water and planes very easily. Second, the Melges folks are doing a really good job of managing the class and making sure regattas are run at a high level," said Shakedown tactician Chris Larson, a long-time pro who recently teamed with Clarke to capture the Melges 24 world championship. Farr 40 and Melges 24 are two other classes that feature considerable professional talent. Richardson steered Barking Mad to victory in Farr 40 class at Key West 2008 and is the reigning world champion. Italian entries Joe Fly (Giovanni Maspero) and Nerone (Massimo Mezzaroma) are always in contention while Goombay Smash (William Douglass, Newport, R.I.) has come on strong in recent years. All 13 boats in the fleet boast a big-name tactician with America's Cup, Volvo or Olympic experience with Ian Walker of Great Britain, Bouwe Bekking of Denmark and Vasco Vascotto of Italy among the international standouts. "I think it's going to be the usual knockdown, drag-out fight and I expect this regatta to come down to the wire as usual," said Richardson, who has former Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Terry Hutchinson calling tactics. It's a similar story in the Melges 24 class where UKA UKA Racing, the Italian entry steered by Lorenzo Bressani, is the defending champ. USA 587, skippered by Alan Field of California, is an up-and-comer in the class while Baghdad (Kristian Nergaard, Oslo, Norway) and Blu Moon (Franco Rossini, Lugano, Switzerland) should also be in contention. "It's a typically competitive fleet with a bunch of boats that could do well. I think several teams have the potential of winning," said Bruce Ayres, whose Monsoon is annually one of the top amateur Melges 24 programs at Key West. A new addition to Key West 2010 is a multihull handicap class that has attracted seven entries. For many years, the regatta featured a Corsair 28R One-Design fleet, but interest from other multihull owners prompted event director Peter Craig to institute handicap racing. Merlin, a Gulfstream 35 owned by Bob Harkrider of Sarasota, Fla., is the lone catamaran in the fleet and scratch entry with a minus -12 rating. Merlin owes the smaller trimarans such as the Corsair 28-footers up to 33 seconds per mile. "It will be interesting to see how it plays out. We'll need to win by three or four minutes in order to save our time on the trimarans. Hopefully, it will be like a bunch of tortoises chasing a rabbit ," said Harkrider, a past Key West winner in the Corsair 28 class. "I think this is a great idea that Premiere Racing has come up with and could really take off. Next year, we could have twice as many boats."

January 15, 2010

Key West Heating Up - Race Week Begins Monday_ - World Class Competition on Tap
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By Jeanne Kleene, Premiere Racing

Key West, Fla - Sailors from around the world are arriving in Key West and preparing to race in North America's premiere annual international regatta - Key West 2010, presented by Nautica.

The cold snap that has gripped much of the country, and even dropped Key West temperatures into the low 40's, is past tense as temperatures rise with balmy conditions on tap for the weekend practice sessions and racing in the early part of the week. Key West's dependable breezes and warm waters will be welcome news for crews from over 14 countries and 20 states. The five days of intense competition begins on Monday, January 18th.

IRC, PHRF and one design boats will race in three divisions. Grand Prix headliners include the Farr 40 and Melges 32 fleets. The turnout for both classes is up from last year, with an impressive roster of Olympians, America's Cup and World Champions in the mix. They will be joined on Division 1 by two IRC classes. IRC entrants range in size from 40 feet to Irvine Laidlaw's Wally 82 foot Highland Fling XI.

There's talent galore in the other seven classes as well. The Melges 24, J/105 and J/80 classes will do battle on Division 2. All three classes have Key West champions back to defend their coveted titles. They'll see tough competition from veterans and newcomers alike.

New to race week this year is a multihull handicap class. They will start first on Division 3. There is plenty of optimism for growing this class of trimarans and catamarans in 2011.

Three PHRF classes will also race on Division 3. James Madden's high performance J/125 _Stark Raving Mad _(Oyster Bay, NY) is the scratch boat in PHRF 1. PHRF 2 has nine boats from seven different states, Canada and Ireland, any one of which could end up on the podium at the end of the day. PHRF 3 has the smallest boats in fleet with local favorite Mark Milnes' J/24 challenged by boats from the Great Lakes, New England and Canada.

International Team Competition has become an exciting tradition over the years and 2010 is no exception. There are nine strong teams with their eye on the coveted Nautica Watches trophy. Full Scratch Sheet_
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Follow all the grand prix action, racing excitement, and results through the web-site blog and coverage, live tracking of the Melges 32 and J/80 fleets by Kattack, Scuttlebutt's on the scene reports _SailingScuttlebutt.com_, and nightly on demand video by T2P (after 9:00PM EST) and more.

Scratch sheet, schedules and news: www.Premiere-Racing.com