Tough Conditions on Day 3 of Key West Race Week

Wednesday brought changes to the leaderboard in some classes, while in others, the favorites extended their reign with top finishes.
Quantum Key West Race Week
High Noise chasing Second Star in the ORC Class. Key West Race Week/PhotoBoat

Day 3 at the 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week – Mount Gay Rum Day – saw a softening of the breeze on the racecourse and a corresponding shakeup on the scoreboard in some classes.

After a windy and wavy start to the regatta today’s conditions were far more manageable. Depending on the racecourse the wind ranged anywhere from a high of 10 to 13 knots before dying away to 7 to 9 knots by the third race in the afternoon. The sea state, while calmer than the first two days was still lumpy.

The Mount Gay Rum Boat of the Day was awarded to J.D. Hill’s (Houston, TX) Second Star (J/122) in the ORC Class. Competing in his first Quantum Key West Race Week, Hill’s crew won today’s first two races and finished tied for 2nd in the third. Second Star leads the class with 13.5 points and holds a 6-point lead over Alex Sastre’s (Coconut Grove, FL) High Noise (Italia Yachts 9.98m).


“Winning an award like this makes you teary,” said Hill. “I was telling my wife Susan that 30 years from now, if we’re lucky to still be around, sitting on a porch with our teeth on a table beside us and sipping on a mint julep, these are the days you want to think back to. These are the memories that will last a lifetime. To be here with your friends – we have tons of friends on other boats who’ve been mentors to us – to be able to look back on a day like today with terrific competitors and good friends, those are the memories that will last a lifetime.

“This event is something that every sailor should do at least once. If you don’t you miss out on something that can’t be replicated anywhere else,” said Hill.

In the 52 Super Series Harm Müller Speers’ Platoon from Germany temporarily dropped out of the lead after placing 10th in Race 5, but then rebounded with a 2-5 in Races 6 and 7 to stand tied for the lead with Alberto and Pablo Roemmers’s (Buenos Aires, ARG) Azzurra, each with 31 points. Third place is held by Ergin Imre’s Provezza IX of Turkey with 32 points.


The low point boat of the day in the class, however, was Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s (Newport, RI) Interlodge V. The newest boat in the class from the Botin design group, Interlodge V posted scores of 1-1-8 and holds fifth place overall with 39 points.

“We had a great day on the water,” said Interlodge tactician Andy Horton (Shelburne, VT) “In the first race we led all the way around. In the second we led, got overtaken on the run, but then retook the lead for the win. It was probably our best race yet in the new boat. In the third race we got caught in a little inside-out shift that dropped us to 8th and we couldn’t dig out of that. But we’re in the hunt and happy for that.”

In the J/70 Class it looked as if Carlo Alberini’s Calvi Network/ from Italy was charting a course to a third consecutive class victory and then the crew finished 13th in Race 9 while Tim Healy’s (Jamestown, RI) New England Ropes finished 2nd. That allowed Healy to close a 12-point deficit down to 1 point with three races remaining.


“Thankfully we had a consistent day,” said Healy, the J/70 Class and Boat of the Week winner in 2014. “Calvi was having a good day but had a higher score in the last race and that allowed us to gain some points.”

Quantum Key West Race Week
Interlodge blasts off the start line to help win the day in the 52 SuperSeries class. Quantum Key West Race Week/Sharon Benton

Healy said that one side wasn’t favored over the other and added that it was important to stay in the puffs. “Both sides of the course were working,” Healy said. “It was important to stay in the puff and in phase, and John (Mollicone, tactician, Providence, RI) did nice job for us. When you were in pressure then you could tack. You couldn’t tack if you weren’t in a puff because you wouldn’t accelerate out of the tack. Every windward leg we probably cycled through 10 puffs and lulls.

“I don’t know what happened to Calvi, but I think they missed out on some pressure on the first beat of the last race,” Healy said. “They didn’t have a bad start but fell behind on the first leg and then it was hard to get back into the lead group.”


In the J/111 Class, Rob Ruhlman’s (Cleveland, OH) Spaceman Spiff went 1-3 in the first two races and looked to be well in control of the class. But then the Spaceman Spiff crew finished 9th in the third race and now finds itself 1 point ahead of Peter Wagner’s (Atherton, CA) Skeleton Key, the reigning class champion. Observers on the J/111 course noted that Spaceman Spiff got stuck in both the left and right corners in the last race.

In the C&C 30 One-Design Class, Dan Cheresh’s (Saugatuck, MI) Extreme2 won all three races today to all but lock up the class with two days to spare. Through nine races Extreme2 has eight 1sts and one 3rd for the low score of 11 points.

The real battle in the class is for second place between Kip Meadows’s (Raleigh, NC) RoXanne, Sandra Askew’s (Cottonwood Heights, UT) Flying Jenny and Julian Mann’s (San Francisco, CA) Don’t Panic. RoXanne and Flying Jenny each have 26 points and Don’t Panic has 29 points.

“In the lighter breeze we found it was really shifty throughout day. We found it hard to predict,” said Mann, racing in his second race week. “Sometimes one side was favored but it would shift to the other side on the next upwind leg. We just tried to stay with the fleet and be close enough so that when things change we were all getting it. As soon as you open up separation you might get lucky and catch something, but you could also just as easily lose it.”

In the J/88 Class, Laura Weyler’s (Williamsville, NY) Hijinks won the first two races to extended its winning streak to four races, but then finished 6th in Race 7. Still, Hijinks leads the class with 13 points and is 10 points ahead of Ryan Ruhlman’s (Bratenahl, OH) Spaceman Spiff.

The standings also tightened up in the Flying Tiger 7.5m Class. Nigel Brownett’s (Long Beach, CA) Hogfish Racing finished 1-4 today while Brian Tyrell’s (Benton City, WA) 04 placed 2-1. Hogfish Racing now has 10 points, good for a 2-point lead over 04.

“We had a fantastic day on the water,” said Alan Wright (Kelowna, B.C.) of Canada, tactician on 04. “We got a little beat up the first couple of days. It’s a lot of fun to go planing downwind but not so much getting beat up sailing upwind. But we’re lake sailors from home so this is great. It’s a treat to sail in strong winds and open, expansive water. The water doesn’t taste as good as home, but it sure looks pretty.”