MCKEE FIGHTS FOR LEAD IN TRANSAT 6.50At 7 a.m. this morning, Jonathan McKee was in the lead of the Mini Transat, two miles ahead of Samuel Menard. As of 3 p.m. this afternoon, he was 2/10 of a mile behind. With less than 300 miles to go to the finish line in the Canary Islands, this duel should be fun to watch. If you’d like to follow Mckee’s progress, go to the Mini Transat site-which is all French all the time-http://www.transat650.org, click on “Classements et Positions,” then click on “Positions en Course.” And don’t forget to follow the other American in the race, Adam Seamans, sailing the production-class Spirit of America, currently 45th out of the 70 entries.The Mini 6.5 boats are 21’4″ long, almost as wide, and carry an impressive amount of sail area. The top boats, mostly all custom, or “prototype” boats, have swing keels and look like miniature versions of the Open 40, 50, and 60-foot classes. In fact, to make it in the world of European singlehanded grand-prix events, you need to cut your teeth sailing used Minis around. The biggest test of the Minis is the Transat 6.50, which takes the singlehanders from Charente, on the Atlantic Coast of France, to the Canary Islands, where they’ll re-start and sail to Bahia, Brazil for the final leg on Sept. 27. OLYMPIC CLASSES: SAILING BEGINS IN CADIZRacing at the 2003 ISAF Olympic Sailing Worlds in Cadiz, Spain, began on Thursday with the first day of qualifying in the Europe class. The staggered schedule had the Yngling sailors starting on Saturday and the Mistral and Star competitors commencing their qualifying on Sunday. As expected the U.S. Yngling sailors are crowded at the top of the leader board. A first in what is likely the first of two races today has vaulted Hannah Swett, Joan Touchette, and Melissa Purdy into first place. The trio started the event with the 16th and a 12th, but has gone 2-7-1 in the last three races, and with the throwout in effect, is tied on points with American teammates Jody Swanson, Cory Sertl, and Elizabeth Kratzig. Swett wins the tiebreak because her second best finish is a second while Swanson’s is a third. Tied on points for third, eight points out of first, is the German team skippered by Ulrike Schuemann and Dorte Jensen’s Danish crew. The other three American teams are in eighth (Carol Cronin, Liz Filter, and Nancy Haberland), ninth (Betsy Alison, Lee Icyda, and Suzy Leech) and 16th (Sally Barkow, Carrie Howe, and Debbie Capozzi). Felicity Clarke, Martha Henderson, and Kari Mackay are the top Canadian team in 28th.U.S. Europe sailor Meg Gaillard sailed very well in the six qualifying races, never finishing outside the top 10 in the split fleet starts. She has struggled slightly in the first two races of the finals, finishing 23rd and 34th. But she is still seventh overall in the regatta and just four points out of fourth and 14 points out of a medal. The top Canadian sailor is Magalie Bonneau-Marcil in 24th. Other Americans competing include Krysia Pohl (40th), Christin Feldman (46th), Lauren Maxam (82nd), Jamie Mack (95th), Kathleen Tocke (100th), and Tanya Haddad (116th).In the Mistral Men’s division Peter Wells is the top American in 54th after three races. Ben Barger is 10 places behind with Steve Bodner, Kevin Jewett, and Phil Muller further back. Kevin Stittle is the top Canadian in 65th.Due to website difficulties, results for the Women’s Mistral and Star classes were not available at press time. The Finns are scheduled to begin racing on Wednesday, with the 49er, Tornado, Laser, and Men’s and Women’s 470 competitions kicking off on Thursday. Each class, with the exception of the Finn class, has three days of qualifying and three days of finals sailing.http://www.cadizworlds2003.comWASHINGTON COLLEGE BACKS UP SEASON OPENING WINThe 11th-ranked Washington College sailing team proved its victory at Yale’s Harry Anderson Trophy was no accident when they placed second at Dartmouth College’s annual Captain Hurst Bowl this past weekend.”We had a solid weekend,” said Washington College senior Mike Buckley. “Both [B division skipper]Colin Robertson and I sailed consistently, and this weekend, that was all we needed to be on top.” Buckley and his crew Halle Ricker placed fourth in A division, with Robertson and his crew Jen Hanley equaling that result in B division.For the complete story for SailingWorld.com’s college correspondent Amory Loring, http://www.sailingworld.com/sw_article.php?articleID=2011OPEN 60SEmma Richards, the youngest woman to complete the Around Alone Race (at age 28), has maintained the appreciation of her long-term sponsor Pindar, which recently ponied up the funds to buy her an Owen Clark-designed Open 60. Since the completion of the Around Alone last spring, Pindar has undergone a major refit to be tailored towards Richards’ build.The young British sailor will further her shorthanded career on November 1 by sailing Pindar in the doublehanded Transat Jacques Vabre with co-skipper Mike Sanderson, of New Zealand, a former Oracle BMW Racing mainsheet trimmer and current race skipper for Mari Cha IV.According to Pindar’s publicist, Richards plans to compete in other races next year such as the RWYC Singlehanded transatlantic race (formerly OSTAR) as well as the Quebec to St. Malo crewed race, but the long-term plan for both Emma and Pindar is to use the new boat as a platform for a Volvo Ocean Race campaign. http://www.pindarMINI CLASS FOR U.S.There’s no disputing the popularity of the Mini 6.5 Class in Europe. Since the autumn of 1978 when they originated in England, over 400 production and custom versions have been built and series such as the Mini Transat have more entrants than the event can handle. Jack Boye, of West Newton, Mass. thinks that the time is ripe for an American version of the class and has announced the founding of the Mini Class US. Boye, himself an owner of a 1995 Mini prototype-Minis come in two flavors, production and prototype-says that Jonathan Mckee is onboard and is member Number One. “We’re going to market these boats,” says Boye. “There are only four of them in the country and I’ve got lots of people who are interested. We’ll help people find both new and used boats that will range in price from $30,000 to $50,000.” “Most of the initial races will be coastal doublehanded events,” says Boye. “One of the edicts that I think is important is that when close to traffic, it’s really important for shorthanded boats to keep a good lookout.” Boye doesn’t rule out singlehanding entirely. “It’s very difficult and very expensive for Americans to compete in the Mini-Transat,” he says. “The idea is to build our own class here and eventually have enough boats to get a class start in races like the Bermuda One Two.” Needless to say, Boye is following McKee’s progress in the Mini Transat with great interest. “If he wins” says Boye, that’ll be the start of the new Battle of the Atlantic.” A Mini Class US website, http://www.miniclassus.com, will be up and running soon.