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21 January 2003, 10:09 am
Sailors Become Swimmers
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Breeze © Walter Cooper

Key West Race Week

Terra Nova Trading Key West 2003 promised serious sailing this week, but it wasn't supposed to be a swimming Gala.
That's what happened Monday when 290 boats from 20 countries squared off in a 15-knot breeze to start the competition with a bang---three, actually. There were that many serious collisions in the spirited racing on four inshore courses. Ken Read, recently returned from the America's Cup wars with Team Dennis Conner in New Zealand, found similar intensity in this more bucolic venue.

Read, driving George David's Idler from New York in the IMS class, was knocked into the water a minute and a half before the start of the first race when the Nelson/Marek 50 was tagged in the starboard stern quarter by Larry Bulman's Farr 49, Javelin, from Annapolis.

"I went flipping over the rail," Read said. "I was fully in the water. I had to swim back to the boat."Fortunately, the water was 71 degrees and Read's freestyle form was fine. "We won the race," he said. "That's something to be proud of." The bad news: "Now I've got to make that fun phone call," Read said. " 'Hey, you've got a little hole in your boat.' "

David, the owner, was delayed on business and won't arrive until Wednesday. But he'd be pleased to learn that eight hours after the incident Javelin was disqualified in a protest hearing. Read, on port tack, said he made a couple of moves to avoid Javelin, which was on starboard tack, and Bulman echoed his comments.

"We just didn't know which way they were gonna go," Bulman said. "They went down and then they went up. We were trying to get out of their way." Two years ago Javelin was knocked out of the regatta on opening day in a collision with Highland Fling. "That was my fault," Bulman said. "This one wasn't my fault."

John and Tony Esposito's J/29 Hustler, City Island, N.Y., took a temporarily disabling hit from Paul Anderson's Titillation, Deltaville, Va., while Geoffrey Perini's J/30 Bada Bing, Perth Amboy, N.J., was crunched by Paul Baehr's Fast Company, Montreal. The striking boats were tossed.

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© Tim Wilkes

Elsewhere on the four courses set along Hawk Channel, the Scott Harris/Alexandra Geremia Crocodile Rock from Santa Barbara, Calif. slipped quietly into first place among the Farr 40s with a pair of second-place finishes, while Doug and Dick DeVos' Windquest scored two wins in the 1D35s.

Robert Hughes' Heartbreaker, Holland, Mich., and Dr. Wolfgang Schaefer's Struntje light, Kiel, Germany, won the two Farr 40 races but couldn't match Crocodile Rock's consistency. "Our secret weapon was Vince," Harris said, referring to multi-world champion Vince Brun, his tactician for the week. "He's very good with the shifts, and these light spots late in the day were very tricky."

Struntje light, with Olympic Finn gold medallist and new Star class world champion Iain Percy of Britain calling tactics, beat Crocodile Rock by about three feet when Percy called a slam dunk by Schaefer at the finish line. It was so close that the Crocodile Rock crew momentarily reached out prepared to fend off its foe, but no contact was made.

'"After leading the whole race, we didn't want to lose," Schaefer said.

Percy said, "They were all over us like a rash the last two legs."

Remarkable about Heartbreaker's win was that it was over the line early---a common fault among 15 of the 24 Farr 40s in the two races-despite the "I" flag flying, requiring line-jumpers to round the ends of the line to restart. Fortunately, Hughes was at the pin end on the advice of his tactician, two-time Olympic medallist Jeff Madrigali, and simply spun the boat around without losing the fleet. Then they clawed their way back to win.

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© Jack Hardaway

Ken Legler, principal race officer on that course, said, "The current was a half-knot upwind, but the problem was that the boats were lining up too close to the line, and when a boat ran the line that would sucker them all up. It's easier for us and more fun for them if they start behind the line."

Among the 57 Melges 24s, there were notable performances by Kate Mullin and 14-year-old Samuel (Shark) Kahn. Mullin, driving John Sherlock's boat Frequent Flyer from Toronto, scored a 1-2 day. Kahn, the son of 2001 Transpac winner Philippe Kahn, is driving his own boat this year after crewing in 2002. He finished 22nd and 12th to stand18th overall in a keenly competitive fleet.

Italy's Flavio Favini, who won the delayed 2001 class world championship here a year ago, is stalking Mullin at 2-4. Current world champion Harry Melges and sidekick Jeff Ecklund are crewing for Norway's Kristian Nergaard, who stands eighth with a 4-22.

Racing is scheduled to finish on Friday, January 24, on four courses off the south shore of the island.

Class leaders (after 2 of 9 races):
FARR 40 (24 boats)---Crocodile Rock, Scott Harris/Alexandra Geremia, Santa Barbara, Calif., 2-2, 4 points.
1D35 (8)-Windquest, Doug and Dick DeVos, Holland, Mich., 1-1, 2.
MUMM 30 (15)-Tie between Printel Wind, Pierpaolo Cristofori, Rome, Italy, 1-4, and Foreign Affair, Richard Perini, Sydney, Australia, 2-3, 5.
MELGES 24 (57)---Frequent Flyer, Kate Mullin, Toronto, 1-2, 3.
J/105 (29)---Gigi, David Wagner, Chicago, 4-2, 6.
J/80 (22)---Warrior, Craig and Martha White, Fort Worth, Tex., 1-2, 3.
J/29 (10)---Tie between Patriot, Case Whittemore, Deltaville, Va., 3-2, and Rhumb Punch, John Edwards, Solomons, Md., 2-3, 5.
TARTAN 10 (8)---Liquor Box, Robert and Bill Lehnert, Cutchogue, N.Y., 1-2, 3.
CORSAIR 28R (14)---Tie between Hot Flash, Robert Gleason, Wareham Mass., 1-3, and Whipper Snapper, Donald Wigston, Atlanta, Ga., 2-2, 4.
IMS (4)---Idler (N/M 50), George David, New York, 1-1, 2.
PHRF 1 (5)---Rosebud (Transpac 52), Roger Sturgeon, San Francisco, 1-1, 2.
PHRF 2 (6)---Bandolier (1D48), Charles Burnett III, Seattle, 2-4, 6.
PHRF 3 (12)---Tsunami (Farr 395), Ostberg/Aras/Daily, Annapolis, 1-1, 2.
PHRF 4 (10)---New Wave (Henderson 30), Michael Carroll, Clearwater, Fla., 1-1, 2.
PHRF 5 (13)---Fitikoko (Tripp 38 ML), Andrew Wilson, Annapolis, 3-2, 5.
PHRF 6 (12)---Dr. Evil (Olson 29), Tom Treat/Cliff Davis, Milford, Conn., 3-1, 4.
PHRF 7 (10)---Invincible (N/M 30), Brian Lees/Jeff Gastrau, Annapolis, 1-1, 2.
PHRF 8 (9)---E-Ticket (Moorings 38), Dan Myers, Lighthouse Point, Fla., 1-4, 5.
PHRH 9 (10)---Ruby My Dear (Express 37), Grosse Point Park, Mich., 3-4, 7.
PHRF 10 (12)---Rumblefisch (J/24), Peter Fischel, Savannah, Ga., 1-3, 4.

Rich Roberts/ISAF News EDitor
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