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29 July 2005, 10:40 am
Leaders Strengthen Position
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Rolex Swan American Regatta 2005
Newport, Rhode Island, USA

A perfect day's racing in the northern stretches of Narragansett Bay with steady twelve to 14 knot northeasterly winds and blazing sunshine provided a welcome contrast to the fog bound long distance race of Wednesday. In three of the four classes competing in this week's Rolex Swan American Regatta, leaders consolidated scores to strengthen their chance of winning the class overall, but in Class B, a new leader emerged.

Vixen, owned by John WAYT (USA) is now winning the battle of the Swan 44s, after winning both races. WAYT has won the last three races and is tied on points with sistership Crescendo, owned by Martin JACOBSON and Leon CHRISTIANAKIS (USA). With both Swan 44s holding identical scores of three firsts, two seconds, and a discard of a third place, the outcome of Class B will be decided in today's race.

'We've been making the mistake of not going where we should and getting distracted, but we were disciplined today,' said WAYT. The owners of these rival boats are great friends off the water, but tomorrow WAYT will be focused on beating JACOBSON and CHRISTIANAKIS. 'Tomorrow we'll be keeping a close eye on Crescendo. It's a really top-notch boat, and when you sail against someone like that you can't have any unforced errors.'

Crescendo's headsail trimmer Jeremy WILMOT said, 'I think all we need to do tomorrow is just get off the line fast. If we get to the top mark first then we can build our lead and try to extend the time on Vixen. Otherwise we just get caught up in the fleet, which is very troubling. Hopefully we won't rip any sails. I've ripped a sail every day so far, so I'm sick of repairing them.'

The non-spinnaker Class D produced one of the most thrilling duels of the day, with Swan 56s Defiance, owned by Peter NOONAN (USA) and Clover III, owned by Neal FINNEGAN (USA), scoring a dead heat on corrected time. Although, Clover III finished eight seconds ahead on the water, a slight difference in the handicap rating resulted in an equal first place finish. Joseph Huber's (USA) Swan 44 Reef Points continues to hold the overall lead in this division.

The conditions certainly suited Jim SWARTZ (USA), who steered his Swan 601 Moneypenny to two easy victories in the big boat division, Class A. Now holding five first places and a discard of fourth, it is hard to see anyone challenging SWARTZ for overall honors in this division tomorrow.

'Dee [SMITH (USA), the tactician] put us in a great spot at the starts and Jim was excellent upwind,' said grinder Mark STRUBE. 'We executed all our maneuvers very well and the boat's performance for the whole week has been great. It is beyond our expectations.' The big race in this division will be for second overall, and after scoring 2,3 today, Filip BALCAEN's (BEL) Swan 56 Aqua Equinox now leads Clay DEUTSCH's (USA) Swan 68 Chippewa by one point.

At the beginning of the week, William DOUGLASS (USA) steered his Swan 45 Goombay Smash to easy victories in this hard-fought one-design division. Today, three different boats - Vixen, Vim and Bellicosa - each won a race. However, DOUGLASS did enough to maintain a healthy overall lead in Class C, and remains the favorite to win the division after tomorrow's yesterday moderate wind. After a lackluster first race finish of fifth, FERRAGAMO bounced back from a disappointing first beat in race two to claim second place, and then followed it up with a stunning 2 minute and 16 second margin to win the day's final race.

'We did things right at the beginning and then we kept to our plan,' said FERRAGAMO. 'We relaxed because we had a nice lead. That generally makes you increase your position rather than losing time, so we did very well.'

Craig SPECK also sailed an impressive day with finishes of 4,1,3 - the perfect way to banish the disappointment of Wednesday's collision with a wayward cruising boat. 'Well at least we're back in the game,' he said. 'The team up at New England Boatworks did a superb job of patching her up and today's the best day's sailing we've had. We really focused, worked harder and had a good time. This week has been a bit of a wake up call for us - the competition's strong and we've got some work to do before the Swan 45 Gold Cup, in Key West.'

Event Media. Image, Vixen and Goombay Smash:© Daniel Forster/Rolex
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