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21 January 2004, 10:10 am
MacLaurin and Kahn Show Sailing Has No Bounds
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Key West Race Week
Key West, Florida

It must be the Florida water. Jack MCKEON managed the Marlins to a World Series victory at age 73, and Tuesday's winners at Terra Nova Trading Key West 2004, presented by Nautica, ranged from 14 to 70.
John MACLAURIN, a lifelong sailor from Los Angeles who just became a septagenarian, celebrated his initiation into the international Farr 40 class by sailing his new Pendragon V to City of Key West Boat of the Day honours with first and thirdplace finishes, and guess who took over first place from his father in the Melges 24s.

Samuel (Shark) KAHN of Santa Cruz, Calif. and Hawaii went 4-1 and flew away from the rest of that 58 boat fleet with a 12 point lead after four of nine races. This is the same Shark who stunned the sport last October by winning the Melges 24 Worlds, the youngest sailor ever to win an open major world championship, as far as anyone knows.

Despite MACLAURIN'S success, Steve and John HOWE'S Warpath from San Diego, with John CUTLER as tactician, and James RICHARDSON'S consistently sailed Barking Mad, Newport, R.I., with Terry HUTCHINSON, slipped into a first-place tie among the 23 boats. Warpath won the second race in ideal conditions of 12-15 knots of breeze and relatively smooth seas.

"The key to winning (the regatta) is not necessarily to win any of the individual races," Steve HOWE said. "It's consistently being among the top five or eight boats. The boats are so competitive and everyone is going the same speed, so it's easy to finish 15 or worse."

MacLaurin is fifth, 10.7 points off the lead, after gaining redress for restarting after a mistaken OCS call on Monday.

A few other sailors also tested the emerald waters, although not by choice. Bowman Ken NEVOR went swimming off Tom HILL'S R/P 75 Titan from Newport, R.I. when a line tangled around his foot. The crew recovered Nevor after a minute of surfing alongside but lost their spinnaker in the process.

Three crew members on Stuart TOWNSEND'S Farr 40, Virago, were dumped during a Farr 40 start when a lifeline gave way. All were quickly recovered unharmed and joined MacLaurin and others in the reception tent afterward to enjoy the moment.

"These [Farr 40] guys are really good," MacLaurin said. "You have to work your butt off. But it feels so good when you get it right."

Fellow California Yacht Club member Bob LITTLE and Whitbread/America's Cup veteran Kimo WORTHINGTON were his tacticians, and MacLaurin said he had little trouble conforming to the class's owner-driver rule that says the owner must drive for the start, finish and all mark roundings but can take relief at other times.

"I like to drive," MacLaurin said. "When I get locked in I don't want to change. Monday I [drove] both races the whole time and got too tired. Today I took a 15-minute break in each race."

On the other hand, the younger Kahn isn't nearly old enough to drive a car, but he has an excellent handle on a Melges 24. He took over first place from his dad Philippe, who dropped to second with a 20 after three consecutive seconds.

Rival Kristian NERGAARD of Norway, currently in fourth place, is among the rivals who realize that they'll have to lift their games to stop the Kahns from double-teaming their way into dominance of the class.

"[Shark] has a really good team and he's doing a good job," Nergaard said. "Having the right team is important."

Shark's crew is the same he had for the Worlds: Richard CLARKE, Brian HUTCHINSON, Mark CHRISTENSEN and Brian LEE. Father Philippe has Morgan LARSON, Stu BANNATYNE and Doogie COUVREUX.

"And their coach is Mark Reynolds, who's won two gold and one silver Olympic medals," Nergaard said. "But the young man is doing a good job and he's working hard to get there. You can't take anything away from him."

Shark attends a private school in Santa Cruz but took leave to sail here.

His father said, "He does well in school, too, especially in math and science. He studies every day. That's a condition. He wouldn't sail if he didn't."

Sailing itself can be an education. Other successful competitors talked about playing the shifts in tight fleets.

Leonardo FERRAGAMO, the Nautor's Swan chief competing in the new Swan 45 one-design class, said after a 1-3 day, "It was very shifty, but I find it's a lot of fun when the conditions are like that."

Richard BERGMANN, whose Zuni Bear from San Diego was Boat of the Week last year, said after a 1-2 day that moved him into first place by one point, "It's easier with two of these Southern California kids that know the shifts on the boat."

He referred to Sean BENNETT of UC Berkeley and John HORSCH of USC. Bennett called it "college sailing - really shifty and tactical, rather than all-out racing."

Horsch said, "We can chip away and work our way back up."

Full results from day two are available on the event website at the address below.
Rich Roberts (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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