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Sail Scene

East Coast sailors light up Key West ‘05

East Coast sailors light up Key West ‘05

From across the country and across two oceans they came for Key West 2005 — 295 boats and some 3,000 sailors strong in 20 classes. Over five days in challenging conditions ranging from 25 knots down to 2, principal race officers on the four courses started a total of 170 races without a single general recall at the Jan. 17-21 Race Week.

Melges Performance Sailboats of Zenda, Wis., swept overall honors. The Pegasus Racing Melges 24 was Boat of the Week. Philippe Kahn drove the team’s Farr 40 while Bill Hardesty drove the Melges, which was honored for winning the most competitive class.

The new Melges 32, with Jeff Ecklund as skipper, won the Key West Trophy as PHRF Boat of the Week by winning PHRF-3.

Andrzrej Rojek of Brooklyn, N.Y., sailing Better Than, won the Swan 45 class on a tiebreaker with Craig Speck’s VIM of Newport, R.I.

Tom Hill’s R/P 75, Titan 12, the biggest boat in the regatta, came on in lighter winds the last three days to correct out on its PHRF-1 opposition in five of six races but couldn’t overtake Makoto Uematsu’s Transpac 52, Esmeralda. The Japanese entry, driven by Tom Lihan with Ken Read as tactician, enjoyed a four-point margin by winning the other four races.

George Petrides’ Avra of New York won the J/120s wire to wire, but in the J/109s Bill Sweetser’s Rush, of Annapolis, Md., barely held off Mike Manila’s Antaean by a point when the Southlake, Texas, rival won the last four races in lighter wind.

John and Tony Esposito’s Hustler, of City Island, N.Y., won the J/29 class by blitzing the fleet in the first six races — the regatta’s longest unbeaten streak. John Fries’ Remedy from Mystic, Conn., won double honors in PHRF-5 and the sub-class of six Evelyn 32s.

Amethyst, the Davies/Eppig J/27 from Glen Cove, N.Y., cruised through PHRF-7 with four firsts.

Hasso Plattner celebrated his 61st birthday with the Farr 40 class win. Morning Glory won three of nine races and was fourth in the final.

The Farr 40s also awarded their new class Corinthian prize to Tom Neill’s Nitemare, from Chicago, one of three boats eligible for sailing with no more than two professionals instead of three and only three new sails on board. Nitemare placed 16th in the fleet of 18.

The J/80s were a three-way fight won by Rick Shaffer’s C’est Nasty, from Fort Worth, Texas by one point with a race to spare.

The International Team Competition for the Nautica Trophy matched a designated eight pair of Farr 40s and Melges 24s. The dogfight ended with four teams separated by two points, led by the USA East team composed of Barking Mad and Neil Sullivan’s M-Fatic from Annapolis, driven by Olympic silver medallist Morgan Reeser. They edged Europe A (Mean Machine and Team SBAB) by one point, followed by Europe B (Atalanti and Joe Fly) and Italy (Mascalzone Latino and Blu Moon).

Conn. boat’s record

run to Key West

The records for both monohull and multihull classes in the Storm Trysail Club’s Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race were obliterated in January when Carrera, the Reichel/Pugh 81 owned by Joe Dockery of Stamford, Conn., and Zephyr, the Antrim 40 multihull owned by Duane Zelinsky of Ontario completed the 160-mile race in less than 11 hours.

With favorable north-northeast wind and regular 25- to 30-knot gusts, the 1995 monohull record of 13 hours, 14 minutes, 21 seconds and the 2003 multihull record of 13 hours, 10 minutes, 14 seconds were history. The new elapsed time records set by Carerra and Zephyr are, respectively, 10 hours, 24 seconds, 2 minutes and 10 hours, 11 minutes, 35 seconds.

A 43-boat fleet departed Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 12 for the 30th annual sprint south to Key West, a feeder race to Key West Race Week. The overall fleet winner on corrected time was Mirage, the Hobie 33 owned by Christian Schaumloffel of Virginia Beach, Va.

Schaumloffel and his six-person crew have competed in the race for the past three years, and decided to undertake this offshore classic “one more time.” They raced to Key West not as a way to get south for more racing but as a test against other boats, since Mirage usually competes in one-design racing.

Carrera almost didn’t finish the race.

“We were one mile from the turning mark that begins the four-mile run to the finish when we heard a bang and thought we had hit something,” said Dockery. “We realized that we had broken the rudder, so we put a double reef in the main and continued to the finish. We didn’t realize we were in the lead; we thought a multihull would beat us.”

What Dockery and his veteran crew also did not know was that Patriot, the 76-foot multihull owned by Michael Rush, had dropped out, leaving the race — and the record — up for grabs.

“I have what you might call a ‘perma-grin,’ ” said Dockery, “and Ken Read said it was the race of his life.”

Zephyr led the fleet for the first half of the race, but as Zelinsky described it, the conditions were starting to take a toll on the entire fleet.

Sjambok, the TP52 owned by Michael Brennan of Annapolis, Md., claimed first in class A while breaking the race record.

“We’ve finished second for the past four years,” said Brennan from the dock in Key West. “And I’m pleased to finally get a chance to kiss the groom. It was a phenomenal night; the boat was just screaming, averaging in the mid-20s speed-wise. These boats are a handful and it’s hard work, but we have a great crew. The boys worked hard from the minute we left to the second we finished.” n