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Unsung Heroes at Key West

SW gives the nod to some of the winners you may not have heard about.

January 26, 2002

You may not find Dan Myer’s name on the cover of any magazines or emblazoned at the top of a website but he and the crew of E-Ticket, a Moorings 38 from Lighthouse Point, Fla., will be able to proudly say that they won at Key West Race Week 2002. Winning the PHRF 9 class won’t make you famous but winning at Key West in any class is an accomplishment to be proud of.

A point to consider about E-Ticket’s win is the fact that Myers and his crew raced in a class that covered the gamut from a J/24 to an O’Day 40. In a handicap class, your enemy is the clock. Rather than surviving on the adrenaline that comes with close one-design competition, your motivation must come from within. For the entire week the crew of E-Ticket just went out and did the best they could, knowing that conditions entirely out of their control–a breeze coming in after their finish, an un-coverable boat lucking out on a flier–could make or break them.

Other unsung heroes of Key West:

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The crew of Peter De Beukelaer’s Tripp 26 Dream Cookie, who mixed it up with the super-competitive Tartan Ten class in PHRF 8, and beat the veteran team on Liquor Box by a scant 2 points.

John and Anthony Esposito, the Western Long Island Sound team of the J/29 Hustler that have made winning at Key West, and everywhere else they go, a habit.

Bad Dog, the Olson 30 which won PHRF 6, driven and owned by Dean Cleall, who became such a fixture on the podium every evening that the DJ at the awards ceremony had “Who Let the Dogs Out” teed up and ready to go every evening, much to the delight of the crowd.

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The three top boats in PHRF 4, Tango, Chutzpah, and Tsunami. Ending up at 18, 19, and 20 points, respectively, all three of them deserved the win, and they all wanted to race on the windless last day.

The first multihull class to ever race in a Key West Race Week, the F-28R class, who watched the master, Randy Smythe win, but not without a few scares from Tim Mckegney and his crew on Lil Joe, who used some very effective sail and crew weight combinations to win the first race of the week. The multihulls also had to deal with a racecourse populated with sleds, IMS 50s, and Sportboats. On the windier days of the regatta, even the most dedicated monohullers could see the attraction as the F-28Rs flew around the racecourse at speed.

The crews of Titan XI and Decision, who showed the rest of us what seamanship and honor are all about. Titan’s crew kept the savagely mauled boat afloat to sail another day, while the crew of Decision graciously bowed out and allowed the Titan crew to finish out the week’s racing.

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Credit, of course must also be given to the big winner, George Andreadis’ Atalanti XI, which survived a brutally competitive Farr 40 class to claim Boat of the Week honors. To win this class is a big deal, to win it for the third year in a row is downright amazing. The same credit must also be given to Italian Flavio Favini, driving Franco Rossini’s Melges 24 Blu Moon which, after a slow start, racked up an incredible five bullets in five straight races, tough to do in a 77-boat fleet that boasted such names as Brun, Porter, and Toppa.

So here’s to the crews and owners that won, and the ones that just had a good time. No matter the result, the fact is that the Conch Republic is a great place to spend a week racing sailboats. The weather is warm, the beer is cold, and the racing is competitive. If you didn’t make it down this time, start saving up pennies and vacation time now. It really is as good as everyone says it is.

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