Mike Williamson sported a very satisfied look as he sat in the cockpit of his Summit 40 sipping a Heineken and reflected on capturing IRC 2 class at Key West 2010, presented by Nautica.
"It feels very, very good to win this regatta. Key West is well known around the world so certainly it's a great accomplishment," Williamson said.
Winners of the other 10 classes at Key West 2010 had similar feelings. There were hearty handshakes and slaps on the back among the Joe Fly crew upon return to the dock on Friday after the Italian team topped the Farr 40 class.
Skipper Giovanni Maspero and tactician Francesco Bruni
have brought the Joe Fly programme to North America's largest winter regatta for many years without winning in either the Melges 24 or Farr 40 classes and thus were overjoyed.
"We are very happy to finally win in Key West. We have always been second and third so it feels good to be the champion," Bruni said.
Joe Fly put forth a tremendously consistent effort by finishing fourth or better in 8 of 10 races to total 35 points, six better than runner-up Barking Mad (Jim Richardson). "We are quite pleased with our performance. We were by far the fastest boat in the fleet in all conditions. We had a little luck with catching shifts, but our success was due mostly it was our boat speed and crew work."
Over at Truman Annex, the UKA UKA Racing crew was in tremendous spirits as they dropped the mast of their Melges 24 after winning Key West for the second straight year. Helmsman Lorenzo Bressani spoke excitedly about how close the competition was with Blu Moon, the Swiss entry that finished just three points behind the Italian team.
Blu Moon helmsman Flavio Favini needed to win the last race and have UKA UKA Racing take third or worse in order to snag the overall victory. At one point in the last race, Favini had put Alan Field's WTF between Blu Moon and UKA UKA Racing. However, the Italian team rallied on the last leg to win the last race along with the regatta.
"It was unbelievable racing, very close and tense. It was a tough day because Favini match raced with us. There was a moment when he was winning the regatta, but we were able to maintain our concentration and pull it out," said Bressani, who praised the work of tactician Jonathan McKee
Blu Moon, which had Tiziano Nava aboard as tactician, was runner-up for the second straight year despite winning four races and placing second or third in four others within the 21-boat fleet. "We tried very hard and almost made it, but UKA UKA sailed well all week and deserved to win," Favini said. "They had a little better speed than us upwind and it seemed like every time they made a choice about which side of the course to take it was correct call."
John Kilroy and the Samba Pa Ti team completed an impressive run in the Melges 32 class, largest of the regatta with 22 boats. Stu Bannatyne called tactics while Morgan Reeser and Sam Rogers served as trimmers aboard Samba, which took the lead on Tuesday and never relinquished it - ultimately winning three races en route to an 18-point margin of victory over Red (Joe Woods, Great Britain).
"It's all about the team, which for me starts with Fuzz Foster of North Hawaii and the help he gives us with the sail programme," Kilroy said. "The racing team did a tremendous job all week. We were very fast and very consistent in all conditions."
Kilroy has enjoyed success in the Farr 40 and TP52 classes before moving into the Melges 32 and coming away with a major title in only his fifth event. There was an added bonus for the Malibu, California resident as Samba Pa Ti was named Boat of the Week.
"That is a tremendous honour and a tribute to the class. This fleet is very competitive with a lot of outstanding teams and a lot of great sailors," Kilroy said. "You really have to work hard to win in the Melges 32 class."
Williamson steered White Heat to victory in four of 10 races en route to a final score of 27 points, nine better than IRC 2 runner-up Cool Breeze. The Summit 40 took the lead away from early pacesetter Pugwash (David Murphy, J/122) on Wednesday then held off a late charge by Cool Breeze (John Cooper, Mills 43).
Simon Shaw called tactics while Will Howden (jib, spinnaker) and Tim Dawson (main) trimmed for Williamson, who splits his time between London and New Castle, New Hampshire. "It was a great team effort all around," said Williamson, whose previous best finish at Key West was a third in a PHRF class. "It was a great regatta, excellent competition and very tough sailing."
Bella Mente, a Reichel-Pugh 69-footer owned by Hap Fauth of Newport, R.I., completed a wire-to-wire victory in IRC 1 class. Kelvin Harrup and Eric Doyle teamed to call tactics on Bella Mente, which won eight of 10 races. Fauth was pleased to take the bullet in race 10 after finishing last in race nine after hooking the anchor rope of the committee boat.
Interlodge, owned by Austin Fragomen of New York, captured the TP52 sub-class. Massachusetts-based Bill Lynn called tactics for Fragomen, who was competing in just his second regatta aboard the Judel-Vrolijk design.
"We are very pleased to be the top TP52. It was a very tough class and all the boats were sailed extremely well," Fragomen said. "We learned a lot about our boat this week. It was a nice long regatta with a good mix of conditions."
Le Tigre, co-owned by Glenn Darden and Reese Hilliard of Forth Worth, Texas, placed third or better in seven of 10 starts in capturing the J/80 Midwinter Championship, which was contested as part of Key West 2010. Little Feat, skippered by Jeff Johnstone of J and Boats, won both races on Friday to get within one point of Le Tigre.
"We had a great battle with Jeff and were just able to hold on," said Darden, a past J/80 World Champion who had Ullman pro Max Skelley aboard as tactician.
Bluto, an Evelyn 32 co-owned by Bill Berges and Ben Hall, was chosen PHRF Boat of the Week. Bluto won three of the last four races to edge the J/109 Rush (Bill Sweetser) by one point in a very competitive PHRF 2.
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