PREMIERE RACING HOME | PRESS RELEASES | RACE WEEK NEWS | PHOTO GALLERY
RESULTS: DIVISION 1 | DIVISION 2 | DIVISION 3 | DIVISION 4
Wednesday - Issue 3 - January 21, 2004
A Vision of Grace
By Bill Wagner
This is what Leonardo Ferragamo envisioned when he and his brother Massimo purchased Nautor Swan in 1998: High-performance Swan yachts racing one-design at a major international regatta.
That dream has come to fruition as eight of the new Swan 45s doing battle at Terra Nova Trading Key West 2004. It has been a dynamic debut for the inaugural class with numerous big-name professionals participating and parity ruling among the evenly-matched German Frers designs.
All four races held thus far have been won by different boats, which shows the depth of the fleet. Vim, owned by Craig Speck of Newport, R.I., is the overall leader with nine points, but trailing are four boats that are within five points of one another.
"All the boats are extremely similar in terms of speed so the competition has been outstanding," Ferragamo said.
Dee Smith, tactician aboard Vim, seconded that assessment: "There are definitely five or six boats that are always together all the time. This is racing depends more on the conditions than the boat speed, which is what you want in one-design."
That is music to the ears of Ferragamo, who wanted to see Nautor Swan more active in class racing. However, the 45-footer has maintained the Swan repuation as an elegant and comfortable cruising sailboat.
"We have a long-term plan for this class. Our hope is that it will continue to grow and build for another 10 years or so, but that once the owners are done racing they will still have a wonderful cruising boat," Ferragamo said.
If the past two days are any indication, the Swan 45s will be racing in Key West for quite some time. Action on the course has been close and exciting with plenty of passing. Bellicosa (Massimo Ferragamo) and Bandit (Andrew Fisher) notched bullets on Monday then two different boats got the gun on Tuesday.
Ferragamo, with Vasco Vascotto calling tactics, got off the line in superb position in Race 1 and had built a nearly one-minute lead at the second upwind mark in scoring an impressive victory.
"We got a very, very good start and our tactics on the course were perfect the whole way," said Ferragamo, an accomplished Flying Dutchman competitor. "It was very shifty today, but I find itís a lot of fun when the conditions are like this."
Race 4 saw Speck, a longtime Swan owner-driver, become the fourth different boat to garner a first. Vim has been the most consistent entry in the early going with a line of 2-2-4-1. Rush Reloaded, steered by Thomas Stark of Newport with Ed Baird calling tactics, stands second overall with 12 total points.
"Weíve learned that itís OK to play the shifts as long as you have pressure when you go," said Smith, whose team rebounded from a fourth in Race 3.
Swan 45 class rules allow for five professionals onboard and almost every owner has that many, which surprised Smith.
"I thought this might be a nice, easy regatta, but then all these tough guys show up and itís full-on," Smith said.
John MacLaurin was a bit surprised to learn that owners had to drive virtually at all times in Farr 40 class. The Los Angeles resident, who has owned a variety of ocean racers, did not pick up on that stipulation when he initially purchased the high-performance racer.
It turns out that MacLaurin enjoys driving his Farr 40 and is quite adept at doing so. MacLaurin steered Pendragon V to a first and a third yesterday, earning City of Key West Boat of the Day honors.
"Iím finding that I like to drive. When I get locked in, I donít want to change (to another helmsman)," he said. "Monday, I drove both races the whole time and got too tired. Today, I took a 15-minute break in each race."
Pendragon V, coming off a 22nd-place finish in the 23-boat class, vaulted into fifth place overall with the strong effort.
Warpath, sailed by brothers Steve and Fred Howe of San Diego, assumed the overall lead after taking the gun in Race 4. Warpath is actually tied with Barking Mad on points (24 apiece), but wins the tiebreaker by virtue of the bullet.
Two teams have set themselves apart from the fleet in Mumm 30 class.
Turbo Duck, sailed by the father-son team of Bodo and Nick von der Wense, has sailed brilliantly in posting six points on the strength of a tremendous line of 1-2-2-1. Team Bold, skippered by Nelson Stephenson of Southport, Conn., also has a pair of bullets and is just two points behind.
Deneen Demourkas and Groovederci are a distant third with 16 points followed by Dave Pyles and USA 65 stand fourth with 20.
"Turbo Duck and Bold are both sailing really well. They will be tough to beat," said Scott Nixon, tactician aboard USA 65.
There is an interesting battle brewing in the Corsair 28 fleet with defending champion Bad Boys getting pushed by newcomer Rocketeer II.
Bad Boys is sailed by brothers Bob and Doug Harkrider of Augusta, Ga., who led last yearís regatta almost from start to finish. Rocketeer is skippered by multihull legend Randy Smyth, who captured class honors at Key West 2002.
"Iíve raced against the Harkriders many times over the years and they are quite tough," said Smyth, a resident of Fort Walton Beach, Fla. "Today, we were not only able to beat them, but also to put a boat in between, which was big."
Smyth has beach catamaran veteran Keith Notary working the bow and calling tactics. Charles Nethersole (jib) and Marc Blouin (mast) complete the crew aboard Rocketeer, which is owned by Ken Winters of South Lake, Texas.
Winters, who has minimal use of one leg due to the affects of polio, is slated to join the team beginning today.
"It has been Kenís life dream to get into a sport that he could do himself. I thought it would be cool to set this up for him," Smyth said. "He may have some mobility problems on the boat, but weíll make it work."
Chippewa continued its strong performance in PHRF 1 as skipper Clay Deutsch steered the Swan 68 to its third straight first-place finish. Storm, a Reichel-Pugh 43 owned by Les Crouch, grabbed bullets in both races yesterday to take a comfortable lead in PHRF 2.
Chippewa and Storm are among four leaders in Division 2 that have won three of the four races held. Rain Cloud (J/133, Mike Rose) and Tiburon (Melges 30, Michael Gray) have accomplished the same feat in PHRF 3 and 4, respectively.
Bounder, a Sydney 36 owned by David Hudgel of Detroit, maintained its lead in PHRF 6 with a first and second yesterday. Hudgel has noticed positive effects from a new racing bottom consisting of performance epoxy.
"Our downwind legs have been where weíve moved out on people and thatís surprising because weíve always been known as an upwind boat," Hudgel said.
This is the third Key West for Hudgel, who took 10th in a 13-boat class in 2002 then improved to third in PHRF 5 a year ago.
"Everything is falling into place. This crew has been with me for two years and weíre getting great coordination. Our tactics are sound and our trimming is solid."
It didnít make sense that a boat named Sooner Magic listed a home port of Forth Worth, Texas. Owner Mac Kilpatrick cleared up the confusion, explaining that he and most of his crew hail from Oklahoma City yet sail out of the Forth Worth Boat Club.
What is clear is that Sooner Magic is well sailed, evidenced by a line of 1-5-1-2 that has Kilpatrick atop the 20-boat J/80 class with nine points.
"Weíre doing a real good job of getting lucky," Kilpatrick said. "We have decent boat speed, but we have also been blessed with being in the right place at the right time."
While it may appear Sooner Magic has a comfortable lead, Kilpatrick pointed out that an expected throwout would change things. Second-place Warrior (Craig and Martha White, Fort Worth) cannot wait to toss a 13th suffered in Race 1.
"If you factored in throwouts right now it would be tied. Itís really neck-and-neck and the Whites are smart sailors with a fast boat," Kipatrick said.
The father-son battle between Philippe and Samuel "Shark" Kahn continued in Melges 24. It was a big day for 14-year-old Shark, who took the overall lead away from his pop with a fourth and a first.
Defending champion Zuni Bear seized the lead in J/105 with a first and a second on Tuesday. Skipper Richard Bergmann was beaming about his teamís ability to rebound from a 19th in Race 2.
"It feels good. Everybody was sulking about what happened yesterday, but they feel better now," Bergmann said. "We played the shifts much better and didnít take any flyers. We were 12th at the first mark in the second race, but we just kept picking off boats."
Patriot is appropriately named since the Evelyn 32 has crew members representing five different states. Owner Chip Crawford hails from Lexington, Ky., while tactician Joe Waters is a sailmaker from Columbia, S.C.
There are also sailors from Michigan, Ohio and Georgia onboard the boat, which Crawford has owned since October.
"This is my first time racing at Key West and Iím loving it," he said.
A solid and consistent line of 1-3-2-3 has certainly bolstered Crawfordís mood. Patriot holds a narrow lead over Phaedra and Bloody Hell, which are also Evelyn 32s.
"This team hasnít sailed together before so we are still feeling things out, but our boat speed has been good and weíve made some good tactical calls."
The crew aboard the Nelson-Marek 30 Invincible was downcast upon return to the dock after enduring what they thought was a tough day. It turns out that co-owners Brian Lees and Jeff Gastrau remain first overall in PHRF 9 after taking a second and a fourth on corrected time.
"We knew it would be extremely difficult to do well in this class and that has been the case," said Gastrau, who thought Invincible endured a deeper finish in Race 4. "All of the boats are sailed very, very well so you had better be spot-on. One ugly race could ruin your chance of winning the regatta."
Liquor Box, co-campaigned by Chuck Simon and Bill Buckles, is looking to repeat as champs in Tartan 10. Buckles has steered the Key West entry to all top three finishes, but has Tim Rathbun (Cygnet) and Andrew Nicoletti (Maverick) breathing down his neck.
"Itís been very tight racingÖ we won todayís second race by only five seconds," Simon said. "We welcome the increased competition. Itís nice when you have to work hard to win."
PREMIERE RACING HOME | KEY WEST 2004 | CONTACT US