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Key West Goes Down to the Wire


It’s down to the wire and overall victory is up for grabs in many of the 19 classes competing at Acura Key West 2006, presented by Nautica.

There was a dramatic change in the Swan 45 World Championship while the Farr 40 and Melges 24 classes remain close going into the final day of the week-long regatta.

Bellicosa, a New York entry skippered by Massimo Ferragamo, posted a first and third on Thursday to seize the lead in Swan 45 class. Howie Schiebler is calling tactics for Bellicosa, which vaulted from third to first in the overall standings.

“I would call it a good day any time we can get a first and a third in this kind of fleet,” Ferragamo said. “I think everything is in sync, everyone is doing their job and, starting from me, I have to make sure that I donít make mistakes.”

Things did not go as well for Goombay Smash, which had led the series for the initial three days. Skipper William Douglass (Newport, R.I.) posted a 6-12 line and now trails Bellicosa 29-31.

Tactician Chris Law said Goombay dropped from third to 12th in Race 7 after hitting a mark and having to perform penalty turns.

“We did two penalty turns when perhaps we only needed to do one,” Law said. “I take responsibility for today’s mistakes and the fact we suffered a 10-point loss to Bellicosa on the day.”

Law said Goombay Smash remained in a “winning position” and needed to stop being conservative. Ferragamo said the Bellicosa crew will focus on going fast more than covering Goombay Smash on Friday.

“We are all doing well, we have a great team and everything is coming together,” Ferragamo said. “For tomorrow, we have no hopes, or the same hopes as today – to continue to sail well.”

Mascalzone Latino, skippered by Vincenzo Onorato, took control of the Farr 40 competition with scores of 2-3 on Thursday. Three-time America’s Cup champion Russell Coutts is calling tactics for Mascalzone Latino, which leads fellow Italian entry Fiamma (Alessandro Barnaba) by eight points.

“It was certainly a good day for us. We just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing for one more day,” Coutts said.

Mascalzone entered Thursday tied for first with Warpath (Fred & Steve Howe) and Coutts said the Italians “tacked on” the Californians a couple times. The New Zealand native said Mascalzone will cover the competition again on Friday.

“We’ll see who is close on points and keep an eye on them,” said Coutts, who has enjoyed teaming with Onorato for the first time. “Vinnie drives the boat well and is pretty relaxed. It’s the Italian factor. The whole team is laid back.”

There’s a tie in Melges 24 with Dave Ullman’s Pegasus 505 and Riccardo Simoneschi’s Nautica knotted at 17 points apiece after one throwout is factored. Blu Moon, Franco Rossini’s Swiss entry, dropped from first to third – five points behind Pegasus 505 and Nautica.

Simoneschi, an Italian and former Star sailor making his Key West debut, notched a first and second on Thursday to jump up from fifth in the overall standings. Ullman, a California sailmaker, grabbed a bullet in Race 7 to overtake Blu Moon and Partners & Partners.

“We’ll just go out sailing and see what happens. It’s not a worlds so I’m not going to tack on people,” Ullman said. “We’ll try to beat the other top boats off the line and sail our own race from there.”

A heated battle is also brewing in Transpac 52 class, which is professionally-crewed ala the Swan 45s and Farr 40s. Stay Calm II, a class newcomer owned by Stuart Robinson of London, clings to a two-point lead going into the last day. “This is our first regatta with a new boat in a very competitive fleet so we are quite happy with where we stand,” said Robinson, who took delivery of the TP52 on January 6. “I’ve been very pleased with our teamwork and boat speed.”

Robinson, who also races a Swan 70, has several members of the GBR Challenge America’s Cup team aboard, including tactician Adrian Stead along with trimmers Richard Masson and Lisa McDonald. Stay Calm II must try to hold off Thomas Starkís Rush and Doug DeVos Windquest.

Moneypenny, a Swan 601 owned by Jim Swartz, maintained its one-point lead over Aera (Ker 55, Nick Lykiardopulo) in IRC 1. Those two boats are also contending for the inaugural US-IRC Championship, which combines results from IRC 1 and IRC 2 at this regatta.

“We certainly didn’t expect to be dead even with Aera at this point,” said Swartz, a venture capitalist who lists Newport, R.I. as home port.

Swartz was overall winner of the Swan American Regatta in July, just two weeks after taking delivery of the custom-built boat. “Winning this championship would be huge for the 601 and change the perception that it’s not a good IRC boat,” he said.

Mumm 30 and J/105 class championships are all but final.

Nelson Stephenson and his crew of former collegiate All-Americans aboard TeamBold have won seven of eight starts in the 11-boat Mumm 30 class. Stephenson, seeking his first win in eight appearances at Key West, saw the string of bullets end with a third in Race 8. Heíll also take home the Mumm 30 North American Championship.

Masquerade, owned by Thomas Coates of San Francisco, is running away with the 29-boat J/105 class and Mid-Winter Championship after winning or placing second in every race. Chris Perkins is calling tactics for Coates, who holds a 20-point lead over California rival Rich Bergman (Zuni Bear).

“It’s been very competitive out there and I’m just glad we’ve been on the right side of a few puffs during the week,” said Coates, the defending class champ at Key West.

Storm, a J/109 owned by Rick Lyall of Wilton, Conn., received Industry Partner Boat of the Day honors. Veteran sailmaker Butch Ulmer is calling tactics for Storm, which posted a 1-4 result on Thursday. Racing in J/109 is extremely close with just two points separating the top three boats.

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This entry was posted on Friday, January 20th, 2006 at 8:54 am and is filed under Main Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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