Key West Moving Day

The Wednesday of Key West Race Week is called Moving Day. For some, it's the day they put the regatta in the bag, and for others it's the day they give up any chance of taking a trophy or two home. At this year's Key West Race Week, Moving Day was the day the big breeze that had dominated the first two days of racing abated somewhat and race committees were able to get off as many as three races in 12-to-15-knot conditions. For the crew of Tom Hill's R/P 75 Titan, it was the day they finally broke the stranglehold that Makoto Uematsu's Farr-designed TP 52 Esmeralda had on PHRF 1. In the heavy air of Monday and Tuesday Esmeralda scored three straight first-place finishes, but in Wednesday's lighter conditions Titan scored three bullets in three races, raising them to second overall in the class, seven points behind Esmeralda. For others in PHRF 1, it was merely a miserable continuation of the previous day's results; Marco Birch's succesful IMS racer Talisman scored a 6-10-6, and kept their place at the bottom half of the class with 45 points, 38 points behind Esmeralda. On Division 4's circle, only two races were sailed, which left the second and third-place Tartan 10s, Team Farr From Sober, and Cygnet within striking distance-5 and 6 points respectively-of their fellow Chicago sailors aboard Liquor Box. "Liquor Box is doing a great job," said Neil MacDonald, crewmember on Cygnet. "They have their heads in the game." MacDonald described Monday and Tuesday's race days: "There were no shifts to look for, it was blowing hard everywhere. We just tried to stay in touch with the guys we knew we needed to beat. We got a 3-2-5 and earned our third-place position; no excuses." On Wednesday, the Cygnet crew went out early and tried to turn their regatta around. "We took tension off the rig and it paid off," said MacDonald. "You have to be sensitive to the changing conditions." MacDonald and crew plan to make the most of the four races left. "We're going to check the weather, get good, clean starts, and be tuned in to the shifts." John Bonds is sailing as the offside trimmer on Jim Swartz's Mumm 30 Q, which boasts Dee Smith as tactician and is in eighth place after five races. Q's owner Jim Swartz is new to the racing scene, but had attended J/World classes in Key West and is familiar with the area. Swartz, who has a Swan 601 on order, wanted to get into racing and the Mumm 30 seemed like a good fit. "We thought a Mumm 30 would be a fun boat for him to sail," said Bonds. "He's got a natural talent for driving, and today was a lot easier for him to drive straight because there were less waves." Swartz has to miss the rest of the regatta, so Peter Stoneberg, who owns the San Francisco-based Farr 40 Shadow will take over helming duties. A Key West Race Week without the Esposito family and their J/29 Hustler wouldn't be the same. Once again, the Hustler team has dominated the J/29 class-this year with five first-place finishes in five races. "It's not easy, but we come down here every year with a new set if sails," said John Esposito, who praised their driver, Greg Smith. "This guy's the man," said Esposito. Smith's game plan for the rest of the regatta is simple: "Tomorrow we'll go out and try to stay in front of the competition," he said. One of the great sights on the racecourses Wednesday was the Farr 40 Flash Gordon, steered by Helmut Jahn, taking a first-place finish in the final race of the day. Jahn, an enthusiastic supporter of the Farr 40 class has seen more than his share of bottom-of-the-fleet finishes, but thanks to a respectable scoreline in the 18-boat class this week, now lies in sixth place. Topping the class is Peter DeRidder's Mean Machine, which leads Hasso Plattner's Morning Glory by three points. With six points separating the top four boats, the final three races should be a classic Farr 40 dogfight. Tom Carruthers' J/105 Invisible holds the top spot in his 40-boat class, one point over Tom Coates' Masquerade. Maspero Giovanni's well-sailed Melges 24 Joe Fly has taken the lead from Freddy Loof and Kevin Burnham on Pegasus Racing by 8 points. The hotly contested Swan 45 class is led by Andrzej Rojek's Better Than, with Craig Speck's Vim, and Alex Roeper's Plenty 6 and 7 points back, respectively. To illustrate how tightly the Swans are grouped, at the end of one Swan 45 race on Tuesday the top four boats finished within 8 seconds of each other. The 1D35 class is a nail-biter, with Stig Osterburg's Midsummer in first with 14 points, getting the nod in a tie with Chris and Kara Busch's Wild Thing. Deneen Demourkas's well-traveled Mumm 30 Groovederci is in first place by four points over Bodo van Der Wense's Turbo Duck. The C&C 99 class is led by Bob Wilson's Trumpeter, but with Wally Hogan's TAM only one point behind. The brand-new Melges 32 Star, steered by Jeff Ecklund, is atop the sports boat class PHRF 3, but he's only three points ahead of the Thompson 30 Wairere, which goes well in light air, and the Farr 36 speedster Grins, owned by Rick Orchard. The Muller family's Andrews 38 Pamlico has a near-impeccable 1-1-1-3-1-1 record in PHRF 4, but can't relax with Otto von Blumencron's Dame Blanche not far behind. Thursday's forecast is for lighter winds, and Friday's forecast is even worse. For most boats in the 295-boat regatta Wednesday may have been Moving Day, but Thursday will be their last chance to take a spot on the podium come Friday evening.