Huge Gains and Losses under Light Air - SailNet Community
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Huge Gains and Losses under Light Air

A mixed fleet of Farr 40s and IMS boats slide downwind in less than 10 knots.

It's not the conditions they boast about at Key West, but for the second straight day at the GMC/Yukon Yachting Key West Race Week, light and spotty winds prevailed across the three racing circles. It was a day for huge gains and huge losses.

After nailing the start and sailing most of the second race of the day in clean air with the lead, the ID35 Accumulator found itself 100 yards from the finish with little wind and too much company.

Crew Tim Landt of Tierra Verde, FL, said, "The fleet went left all but three boats. The left had paid off all day. We went left but ran out of wind just before the finish. The three boats rode the breeze on the right side into the finish, then our wind came back and we finished."

The Henderson 30s Loveletter and Savannah get together at the windward offset mark.

Accumulator, with Laser Class champion Mark Mendelblatt of St. Petersburg, FL, at the helm, finished fourth in a highly competitive one-design fleet. None of the 21 entries have won more than one race and each of those teams also have finishes in the teens.

The light conditions at the start of race two on the Division 1 big boat course, with the pin end of the starting line favored, saw the 27-boat Farr 40 class slipping down the line towards the favored end. Too many boats, not enough room and steerage brought on slow motion contact between at least three 40-footers and the pin end race committee launch.

Atalanti XI, winner of race one of the day, found itself squeezed out before the start and had to duck the pin end RC boat, spin, then head across the line on port tack. With some clean air and a lane up the course, Atalanti XI came back to finish second and take over the top spot in the Farr 40 class after five races.

The biggest boat at this raceweek is the Santa Cruz 70 Chessie Racing. The Annapolis-based team is skippered by the owner, George Collins, with Chris Larson calling tactics. Four of the crew recently returned from New Zealand having raced aboard John Kolius' Abracadabra in the America's Cup program. Chessie Racing posted their third and fourth consecutive wins in the light air to lead PHRF 1 by four points over their smaller rivals-the Farr 39ML Fatal Attraction.

Farr 40s fend off each other and the race committee pin boat after a light air collision at the start of race 2 on Wednesday.

Larson, whose credentials include Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and world championships in J/22s, J/24s, and Mumm 36s, said, "Today was a tricky day. We have to make sure we get off the starting line really well." Commenting on the vast size and rating differerences between Chessie Racing and the other boats in the PHRF 1 division, Larson said, "We're taking splits on each leg and seeing where we stand with the competition. We know how much time we owe each boat for each leg.we have a sheet for that."

Using the distance of the upwind leg, which is posted on the race committee boat before each race, Larson said they calculate the seconds-per-mile owed under the PHRF rating system so Chessie Racing knows exactly how they're doing against the slower-rated boats throughout each race.

The 46-boat Melges 24 class continues to be a battle, maybe even a war. The top four boats and several more teams are waiting for the leader to miss a step. Brian Porter maintained his lead with a 2-8 record in the light stuff and Harry Melges moved into the second spot with a 3-4 performance, three points behind Porter. Englishman Davis Clark dropped to fourth, ten points behind Porter and three points behind the third-place team led by Argyle Campbell of Newport, CA.

Andrew Skibo of Ocean City, NJ, broke the tie in the J/105 class and moved two points ahead of the James Doane Flame team from Naples, FL, with Geoffrey Pierni's Phantom trailing Flame by four points.

Buddy Melges, driving his new Melges 32, checks the competition during Wednesday's light air racing.

Only two boats among the 261 entries remain undefeated through the third day of racing. The J/29 Hustler, from City Island, NY, and the Detroit, MI S2 7.9 Rugger added two more wins to their perfect records after five races. Texas sailmaker Jay Lutz slipped to sixth in the opening race Wednesday, but came back with another bullet in the closing race in J/80s. Previously unbeaten, Lutz now has Martin Kald's Monster Lady trailing by only one point as the regatta enters the final two days.

A change in the weather is expected in the Florida Keys sometime Thursday with conditions expected to switch from mellow to raucous. No one knows for sure when that change will occur. Weather permitting, two additional races may be run on Thursday and the regatta scheduled to end with one closing race Friday, Jan. 21.

The crew aboard the IMS class 60-footer Highland Fling gather in their huge spinnaker during Wednesday's action in Division 1.








Overall leaders after three days:

IMSHighland Fling/Irving Laidlaw/CM60
PHRF 1Chessie Racing/George Collins/Santa Cruz 70
Farr 40Atalanti XI/George Andreadis
ID35Tabasco/John Wylie
PHRF 2Speed Racer/Liebel Brothers/Henderson 30
PHRF 3White Trash/Greg Smith/Olson 40
J/105Plum Crazy/Andrew Skibo
Mumm 30Turbo Duck/Bodo von der Wense
Melges 24Brian Porter
PHRF 4Snake Eyes/Tom Ballard/SR 33
PHRF 5Ultra Violet/Dave & Donna Prucnal/Antrim 27
J/29Tomahawk/Bruce Lockwood
J/80Syzyey/Jay Lutz
PHRF 6Hustler/J. Esposito/J-29
PHRF 7L'Outrage/Bruce Gardner/Beneteau First 10
PHRF 8Rugger/Jeff Sampson/S2 7.9


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