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Old 01-18-2000
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Doran Cushing is on a distinguished road
The Power of Light Air

Light air conditions change complexion and standings at Key West Race Week

Oh, what a difference a day makes! After a week of strong winds and punishing waves, the waters around Key West turned into a rippled lake as Day 2 of the GMC/Yukon Yachting Key West Race Week brought new conditions and new challengers to the forefront of many classes. After a one-hour postponement Tuesday morning waiting for the breeze to stabilize and fill in on each of the three courses, the 261-boat fleet was able to complete only one longish race. When the scores were posted, teams with strong light air techniques seemed to move up the leader board.

George Collins' turbo Santa Cruz 70 Chessie Racing used its maxed out waterline length with Chris Larson at the helm to post its second straight bullet and move into a one-point lead among the biggest PHRF boats.


Atalanti XI, skippered by George Andriadis of Greece, pinches up to round the upwind mark to lead the Farr 40 class from start to finish in Tuesday's lone race.

The Greek-based Farr 40 Atalanti XI, with owner George Andreadis at the helm, was forced to the right side of the course early on, found a favorable shift and led the 27-boat fleet from the first mark to the finish with an impressive three-minute margin in perhaps the most competitive one-design fleet at this regatta. The win moved Atalanti XI into second place, one point behind the Day 1 leader Mascalzone Latino from Italy.

The ID35 fleet is just as competitive and the San Diego, CA-based Tabasco of John Wylie moved into a tie for the lead with a fourth-place finish Tuesday, sharing top-of-the-class honors after two days with Kip Meadow's Roxanne from Indian Island, NC. Making the largest move up the leader board was Accumulator, skippered by Laser champion Mark Mendelblatt of St. Petersburg, FL. Sailing a chartered boat sponsored by Equitable Insurance, and with a crew made up of Mendelblatt's small boat racing friends, Accumulator finished second and moved up to ninth overall.


The ID35 Accumulator, skippered by Laser Class champion Mark Mendelblatt of St. Petersburg, FL, moves through the 21-boat one-design fleet at the start of Tuesday's light air race and finish second.

"We had our own little lane up the middle, then took a lane to the left and rounded third at the first mark." Mendelblatt said. "We battled between third and fifth in a LONG light air race before getting into second on the last leg."

Mendelblatt described the wind conditions as "patchy." He added, "Getting the velocity was the key to the race today. You needed to be very patient."

Texas sailmaker Jay Lutz, who became the North Sails representative in his region last week, has had little trouble in the J/80 class regardless of the breeze. He's posted three straight bullets with convincing wins in each race.

Citing the problems of racing on a course mixed with seven different classes, each with its own angles and boat speed, Lutz said it was just as important to follow the other classes as his own.


Crowded mark roundings are the theme at GMC/Yukon Yachting Key West Race Week with 261 boats racing in 16 divisions, including seven one-design classes varying from 24 to 40 feet.

"You have to figure out where your class is. You have to figure out where the wind is and where the favored side is. And you have to figure out what the boats in the other classes are doing."

He added, "It's not necessarily going faster than the other guy that wins, but consistency in your boat speed."

Also undefeated through the first two days of the five-day regatta was the J/29 Hustler from City Island, NY, in PHRF 6, and Jeff Sampson's S2 7.9 Rugger from Detroit, MI, racing in PHRF 8. Jeff Gale of Hope Town, Bahamas used his boat speed advantage to get clean air and take the win in PHRF 4 aboard his B-32 Abbey Normal after struggling on Day 1 in the heavy air conditions.


A closeup of trimmer aboard the Farr 39 MI Fatal Attraction powering up the boat off the starting line.

"We're fast in light air. The boat loves the flat water. We're the scratch boat in our division so we can sail away and get clean air." The win pulled Abbey Normal up to third place in the division, four points behind the leading SR 33 Snake Eyes from Annapolis, MD. The forecast for Day 3 looks to be a repeat of Tuesday with little breeze and flat water. A cold front moving down from the Gulf coast is expected to reach the Florida Keys Thursday and offers to change the complexion of the regatta back to big breeze and big seas. Racing closes Friday, Jan. 21 with the awards bash Friday night in the block long party tent situated close to Key West's historic seaport district.

 

Leaders after two days of racing

IMSHighland Fling/Irving Laidlaw/CM60
PHRF 1Chessie Racing/George Collins/Santa Cruz 70
Farr 40Mascalzone Latino - Vincenzo Onorato
ID35(tie) Tabasco/John Wylie and Roxanne/Kip Meadows
PHRF 2Ceres Group/Peter Nauert/Melges 32
PHRF 3The Wall/Gordon Schiff/Mumm 36
J/105(tie) Flame/Doane Partnership and Plum Crazy/Andrew Skibo
Mumm 30Turbo Duck/Bodo von der Wense
Melges 24(tie) Brian Porter and David Clark
PHRF 4Snake Eyes/Tom Ballard/SR 33
PHRF 5Ultra Violet/Dave & Donna Prucnal/Antrim 27
J/29Titillation/Paul Andersen
J/80Syzyey/Jay Lutz
PHRF 6Hustler/J. Esposito/J-29
PHRF 7MIR III/Ivan Slezic/Beneteau FC 10
PHRF 8Rugger/Jeff Sampson/S2 7.9
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