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22 January 2005, 06:21 am
Happy Birthday for Hasso, But No Back Flip By Burnham
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Key West Race Week 2005
Key West, Miami, USA

As dockside victory celebrations go, most were muted after Key West 2005, presented by Nautica, Friday as winners and losers alike hoisted their 295 boats out of the water and hustled home to 14 countries and 36 states.
Hasso PLATTNER was met at the dock by his wife and yellow Lab, Claude, and quietly toasted his 61st birthday, which happened to coincide with his first place in the marquee Farr 40 class.

'This is my first win in a big [Farr 40] regatta,' he said after defeating world champion Jim Richardson's Barking Mad from Newport, R.I., by three points.

Plattner, the software CEO from Kiel, Germany, and tactician Russell COUTTS also were congratulated by Richardson and his tactician, Terry HUTCHINSON.

Meanwhile, a couple of gangways away, there was a more spirited celebration among Deneen DEMOURKAS' victorious Mumm 30 crew highlighted by champagne showers and crew dunkings. Even the skipper went swimming.

The event's talent included 18 Olympic medalists representing 28 medals, including Kevin BURNHAM of Miami Beach, who won gold with Paul FOERSTER on a 470 dinghy at Athens last summer. This time, on a larger boat, Burnham won again as part of the crew for helmsman Bill HARDESTY on Pegasus Racing's Melges 24, entered by another software giant, Philippe KAHN of Santa Cruz, Calif., developer of the cell phone camera.

That team won the last race and three of nine and received the Key West 2005 Boat of the Week Trophy for winning the most competitive class. Pegasus swapped the lead daily with Maspero GIOVANNI'S Joe Fly. The Italians were over early Friday and finished 20th, slipping to fourth in the standings behind Australia's James SPITHILL, the Lunna Rossa America's Cup helmsman, and Neil SULLIVAN'S M-Fatic from Annapolis.

Two other boats won high-profile classes in style by winning their last races: Chris BUSCH'S 1D35, Wild Thing from San Diego, and Demourkas' Groovederci from Santa Barbara, Calif.

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 medalist 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).

Kahn, from Santa Cruz, Calif. and Hawaii. drove his Farr 40 but prefers the Melges. 'That's my new team,' he said. 'I have mixed feelings because Bill [Hardesty] was filling in for me [as helmsman]. Obviously, he did a good job.'

Other crew members were Sweden's Freddy LOOF, an Olympic medalist; Mark IVEY of Newport Beach, Calif., a four-time collegiate all-American, and Midge TANDY of Pensacola, Fla.

Morning Glory won three of nine races and was fourth in the final. Plattner gave his tactician, Russell COUTTS, ample credit.

'The difference with Russell is that he doesn't put me in tough situations,' Plattner said. 'He stays calm in a critical situation. That helps me as a driver and also the crew not to get nervous and excited.'

Coutts said it wasn't easy. 'It was tough [tactically] because three boats were in the game, so we had to play the fleet.'

Morning Glory had a strong start but went to the right side of the course when the wind was favourable on the left. The wind was 8-10 knots from the west and northwest Friday, relatively steady compared to Thursday's fading zephyrs but considerably lighter than the first three days of the week-long regatta.

'We were not winning this regatta until the last 300 meters when we passed three boats [to finish fourth],' Coutts said. 'We got a couple of little shifts and puffs and that was it.'

Barking Mad won the last race, followed by Atalanti, a two-time Key West winner for Greece's George ANDREADIS, who was sixth overall.

Morning Glory won three of the nine races. Dutch rival Peter DE RIDDER, the defending Key West champion sailing Mean Machine, was third one point behind Barking Mad. Most of the 18 competitors were pointing toward their world championship at Sydney in March.
While Busch and Hardesty and their crews were busy packing their boats, Demourkas' husband John, who sailed their Farr 40 to a commendable eight place, greeted her with a spray of champagne as she slid into the slip. She won four of the class's eight races, including the last one in a runaway, and it was special.

Although second in the 2002 Farr 40 Worlds and a contender in most Mumm 30 events, she said, 'We hadn't won a race since our first Farr 40 regatta in Long Beach [Calif.] in 2002. I spent the whole race thinking about all the things that could go wrong, because they usually have.'

For Busch, it had been a longer time between wins as a helmsman. Although he and his wife Kara sailed on the boat when it won at Key West in 2002, he was then a sailmaker by trade and thus ineligible to drive as an industry professional.

'Except for Transpac in 2003 [when Wild Thing won its class], the last time I drove was in an Etchells regatta in 1994,' Busch said. 'It was nice driving our own boat to a win. I progressively got better during the week.'

Wild Thing won three of the last four races to beat Stig Osterberg's Midsummer from Port Townsend, Wash. by three points.

'We were happy that the breeze was up today,' Busch said. 'We made a big gain on the first run and really cranked the boat hard to stay ahead.'

Burnham, 48, who hadn't sailed on a Melges 24 in several years, said, 'I just loved it. To have a team like Philippe put together is so rewarding. This is a campaign to win the Melges 24 Worlds at Miami in December.'

But as they crossed the finish line, Burnham did not do a back flip out of the boat like the one he did at Athens that was shown around the world.

Hardesty said, 'My team gave me all the confidence in the world coming into today. They just said, 'Do your thing and get off the starting line in good shape and we'll do the rest.' We went out with the attitude of winning the race. We knew that the only way to guarantee we would come out on top. Regardless of all the credentials aboard the boat, no one had an ego.'

Andrzrej ROJEK of Brooklyn, N.Y., sailing Better Than, won the Swan 45 class on a tiebreaker with Craig Speck's VIM, Newport, R.I. Next year the Swans will return to Key West in force for their Gold Cup world championship with an international fleet of about 20 boats.

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.

The Farr 40s also awarded their new class Corinthian prize to Tom NEILL'S Nitemare, 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.

Key West 2005 sponsors are Nautica, Mount Gay Rum, B&G, Lewmar, Samson Rope Technologies, and the Florida Keys and Key West Tourist Development Council. The Historic Seaport is the Official Site.

Support also comes from a record number of 29 Industry Partners.

Premiere Racing is also managing the new Acura Miami Race Week 2005 ('the SORC renaissance'). Race dates are March 10-13, 2005, with ocean and Biscayne Bay racing.
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