An Australian team coming from way Down Under to win in North America took on a new meaning in the Bell Mumm 30 World Championship, but it's becoming routine for Richard PERINI and his crew.
While most eyes were watching whether hometown favourite Fred SHERRATT'S frontrunning Steadfast, with Andy ROY as skipper, could fight off Tom RITTER'S Tramp from Michigan and the Kahns, father and son, from California and Hawaii on the fourth and final day Friday, the issue became a Foreign Affair.
That's the name of Perini's boat from Sydney that won the class at Key West in 2002 and 2003 and arose from fifth place here to bite all the contenders with a runaway flourish in the last race. Pending the outcome of some protests, that left Foreign Affair three points ahead of Steadfast, four ahead of 15-year-old Shark KAHN'S Pegasus 20 and five ahead of Tramp. Nelson STEPHENSON, the Mumm 30 World Council president from Connecticut, was fifth with TeamBOLD.
The 15-year-old Shark led the regatta after two days and again after winning the first race Friday. Then his comeback from the previous day's belly flop fizzled when he became entangled with Carlo ALBERINI'S Calvi from Italy at the leeward gate. Forced wide by the Italians and two other boats, Pegasus 20 was passed by several and protested by Calvi, as well, for not giving room at the mark on its way to 15th place.
Steadfast, meanwhile, struggled to 11th and 13th places, leaving the door wide open to Perini for the 49-year-old businessman's first class world title in five tries. Overall, he scored two firsts and three seconds in the nine races and seemed a popular winner as one rival after another came by his boat to congratulate him.
"There were six boats that could have won it today,"
Perini said, "which is a tribute to the depth of this class. We went into today 13 points behind the leader, so we just said we weren't going to give up, that's not an insurmountable lead."
His start in the second race set the tone. Foreign Affair was a boat length ahead of the pack coming off the line and controlled its own destiny from there, as directed by tactician Steve Flam, a 42-year-old real estate manager from Long Beach, Calif.
"We had a nice gap and were going full speed when we hit the line,"
Perini said. "Then Steve did a fantastic job in picking our way up that first beat."
They didn't waste time looking for the other contenders. "We had no idea where they were,"
Perini said. "We just wanted to do our best in that situation."
Flam said, "It was not a tactician's dream out there this week. It's not just the shifts. We're looking for pressure, too. If you're in a little breeze it's better to hang on a bit. But the crew deserves most of the credit."
Flam and Canadian bowman Curtis FLORENCE were the only non-Australians on the crew, which also included Tristan ELDERSHAW, pit; Chris COOK, cockpit; Darren JONES, main sail trimmer, and Jason ROWED, jib and spinnaker trimmer.
"They were flawless all week,"
Flam said. "Sets, trims and takedowns were all perfect."
Principal race officer Mike Milner had hoped to run four races to complete the complement of 11, but by the time enough wind arrived out of a morning fog shortly before 3 p.m. there was time only for two. The first race started in 6 knots of breeze from the east and built to 9 in the second race.
Protest hearings involving Calvi against Pegasus 20 and Steadfast and Dan Cheresh's Team Intermec from Michigan against each other were being heard well into the evening but would not affect Foreign Affair's victory.
Full results are available on the event website at the address below.