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8 August 2001, 09:43 am
Leon Guides Cam to Early Lead
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IMS 50 World Championships
Palma de Mallorca

Skipper Fernando Leon (ESP) and his crew on CAM are the early leaders at the IMS 50 World Championship after two races were completed yesterday on the first day of action. Moderate winds dominated, but didn't inhibit the intensity on the racecourse.
CAM, the Farr 51 previously called Esmeralda, finished fourth in the first race and then rebounded to win the afternoon contest. The green-hulled sloop leads H.M. King Harald V of Norway and his Fram XV by 1.25 points. Fram XV, the newest boat in the fleet, placed 2-4. Roberto Bermudez guided Caixa Galicia to a 1-6 and lies third overall with 6.75 points.

"The racing is so close that every minute you lose is someone else's gain," said Leon, a gold medallist in the Tornado class at the Atlanta '96 Olympics. "We lost 30 seconds at the leeward mark in the first race because we didn't have the jib up. It was a costly mistake. It's fantastic racing."

Racing on the Bay of Palma saw winds between 10 and 12 knots from a southerly direction all day. Two windward/leeward courses were held. The first one totalled 10.7 miles and finished downwind, while the second totalled 12 miles and finished upwind.

According to some competitors, the left-hand side of the racecourse seemed to be slightly favored due to geographical influences on the wind. The moderate winds negated any boatspeed differences and the racers often rounded marks overlapped or bows on sterns. The tight racing resulted in a few instances of penalty turns.

Ortwin Kandler's blood red Krazy K-Yote Two led around the windward mark in the opening race, but dropped back into the pack after performing a 360-degree penalty turn for fouling Pasquale Landolfi's Brava Q8 on the run. Krazy K-Yote Two finished seventh in the first race and second in the afternoon contest to lie fifth overall with nine points, one point behind Brava Q8.

Vincenzo Onorato's Mascalzone Latino also fouled Brava in the first race. After passing through the leeward gate for the second time, the competitors had a short reach to the finish line. Brava had reached up to prevent Hans Otto Schumann's Rubin XV from passing to winward. That resulted in the two boats sailing high of layline and having to jibe to starboard to get down to the finish line.

Meanwhile, Onorato was guiding Mascalzone Latino toward the line on port jibe. Confusion mounted as the two starboard-tackers approached the port-tacker. Mascalzone, the burdened boat, took avoiding action at the last minute but couldn't avoid hitting Brava's port stern and causing some damage. Mascalzone exonerated itself by doing a 360-degree turn, but dropped to ninth on corrected time.

Back at the top of the fleet, CAM is showing that it doesn't need a Cruiser/Racer credit to be competitive. The boat was launched in 2000 as a Cruiser/Racer. It featured a scoop transom, non-overlapping headsails, cockpit coamings and also had interior features to comply with the rule and receive and extra rating credit.

The boat still has non-overlapping headsails and cockpit coamings but the scoop has been removed to fit within the maximum length requirement of 15.5 meters (50.8 feet) mandated by the IMS 50 Class Association. Also, it's better for the racing the boat is doing now.

"For the conditions in the Mediterranean we had to get rid of the scoop," Leon said, explaining that there's less drag. "We're happy up to 12 knots. We feel we can defend our rating."

Racing continues tomorrow with the scheduled long distance race. The race committee has three course options ranging in length from 110 to 150 miles. They'll choose one that keeps the competitors out for between 24 and 30 hours.

Top 5, after 2 races:

1 CAM (ESP) 4.75 pts
2 FRAM XV (NOR) 6.00 pts
3 CAIXA GALICIA (ESP) 6.75 pts
4 BRAVA Q8 (ITA) 8.00 pts
5 KRAZY K-YOTE TWO (FRA) 9.00 pts

Full results from event website.
Sean McNeill/News Editor
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