More often than not for the past 20 years, the third week of January has found Flavio Favini away from his home on northern Italy’s Lake Maggiore, racing in Key West, Fla. For the past 10 editions of Key West Race Week, Favini has skippered Franco Rossini’s Swiss-flagged Melges 24 Blu Moon. Despite the substantial expenses involved in transporting the boat and crew from Italy and Switzerland and, in recent years, the dwindling entries, Favini and Rossini have never entertained the idea of missing their favorite U.S. event.
“This is probably one the best regattas in the world,” says Favini. “Unfortunately, it’s getting a little bit quiet. There used to a huge fleet, both for the Melges 24 and other classes, but we know the situation, and it’s always great to be here.
“It’s January,” continues Favini. “It’s cold in Switzerland. And here, it’s like this [motions towards the gently swaying palm fronds brushing against the balcony of Kelly’s Caribbean Bar, regatta headquarters for the week]. It’s expensive. You pay a lot of money to come here, and it’s a 10-day committment. But it’s well worth it. It’s Key West.”
Favini led his team to first-place in the 22-boat Melges 24 division, besting perennial frontrunner Uka Uka and earning Boat of the Week honors. “Sailing is a difficult sport,” he says. “Sometimes, things go the right direction in the beginning and everything works okay. It was a lucky week for us.”
Of course, excellent light-air boatspeed, smart playcalling by tactician Matteo Ivaldi, and a crew keeping vigilant lookout for the speed-sapping weeds that plagued so many boats this week went a long way toward improving the team’s luck. “Like always, the key to winning any regatta is consistency,” says Favini, whose team never finished worse than ninth and won three of 10 races. “We didn’t make any big mistakes. I didn’t make very good starts, so we could be better there, but overall we were very consistent. The crew did a great job of putting the boat where it needed to be.”
Leading up to the 2011 Melges 24 World Championship in Corpus Christi, Texas, Blu Moon will compete in Bacardi Miami Sailing Week in March.