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Thrilling conclusion to Acura Miami Race Week

There’s nothing more exciting than to have a major sailing regatta come down to the last race of the last day. That proved the case in multiple classes at Acura Miami Race Week, held in mid-March.

Just ask Eamon Conneely, owner of the Irish TP 52, Patches. Conneely and crew captured the inaugural Rolex TP52 Global Championship in dramatic fashion, placing second in the 10th and final race to overtake Pegasus 52.

Pegasus, skippered by Philippe Kahn of Waikiki, Hawaii, entered the day leading by three quarters of a point, and wound up 1-1?4 points behind after finishing one place behind Patches in both races on Sunday.

The IRC 1 class was closer as the Swan 601 Moneypenny nipped the Ker 55 Aera by a tiebreaker after both boats totaled 13 points. Owner Jim Swartz and his team aboard the recently launched Moneypenny broke the deadlock by winning the last race.

Things were tense on the Farr 40 dock as a result of a protest involving on-water winner Heartbreaker. Skipper Robert Hughes vaulted from third to first on the last day, edging weeklong leader Norwegian Steam by a point. However, the Italian entry Nerone protested Heartbreaker for tacking too close in Race 10, and that led to an uneasy two-hour period of waiting for the outcome.

Hughes, who owns an employee benefits company in Grand Rapids, Mich., was ecstatic when word came the protest had been dismissed. “To win a biggie like this is incredible. I’ll be walking on the tips of my toes for a week,” said Hughes, who took home the Acura Trophy as overall Boat of the Week and the Baxter Trophy as top performing Farr 40.

There figures to be more Melges 32s in Miami come 2007 after a strong debut showing this week. Brothers Brian and John Porter got the gun in half the races in leading Full Throttle to a one-point victory over Rick Orchard and Grins. “It was great racing all week. The boats are a blast and very evenly-matched,” said John Porter, who steered while getting tactical calls from his brother.

A tiebreaker was also required in PHRF 3, where Scott Taylor’s B-32 Defiance and Jeff Rubin’s Tripp 33 Triptease scored 19 points apiece. Peter de Ridder’s Mean Machine and Deneen Demourkas’ Groovederci traded first and second places in Mumm 30 with the former ultimately winning by 2 points.

There was terrific action on the Biscayne Bay course, which featured the regatta’s two largest classes. Italian skipper Riccardo Simoneschi gave a command performance in the 25-boat Melges 24 class while Massachusetts sailmaker Jud Smith was equally dominant in the 28-entry Etchells class.

Smith, who was sailing with his 17- and 16-year-old daughters, finished first or second in five of the initial seven starts, and was able to sit out the final race and still win by 11 points.

Other boats posting the top combined scores at Acura Key West 2006 and Acura Miami Race Week were Groovederci, the TP52 Stay Calm (Stuart Robinson, Royal Thames, UK), Farr 40 Mascalzone Latino (Vincenzo Onorato, Napoli, Italy), J/105 Gumption 3 (Kevin Grainger, Rye, NY), Swan 45 Goombay Smash (William Douglass, Newport, RI).

www.premiere-racing.com

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International Yacht Club Challenge debuts

Sailors from around the world are invited to participate in a regatta to promote international goodwill through friendly competition care of Dennis Conner and New York City’s North Cove Marina.

“I’m inviting sailors from all over the world to come to New York City,” Conner said.

The Dennis Conner International Yacht Club Challenge will take place Aug. 22 to 26 from North Cove, the city’s megayacht marina of which Conner became chairman last year.

“North Cove is a unique and special marina, located next to Wall Street and the business capital of America,” Conner said. “We’re in the process of rejuvenating North Cove to make it a world-class facility for yachts and sailors. Our first year was a great success and we would like to build on this.”

The N.Y. Harbor Sailing Foundation will support the amateur event. Racing will take place on a fleet of identical J/24 sailboats provided by the Manhattan Sailing Club. This event is designed for club sailors who would like to visit New York City with their friends and families. Social events will be scheduled around the racing. For more information visit www.thenorthcove.com .