Acura Key West Race 2008:
Day 3 Updates

In contrast to Monday, but just as disappointing, or even moreso, light wind conditions forced abandonment of all racing for Key West sailors today.


From yesterday, here are Acura Key West Race 2008 photos by Tim Wilkes:

Acura Key West Race 2008 - Day 2 Photo


Acura Key West Race 2008 - Day 2 Photo


Acura Key West Race 2008 - Day 2 Photo



Press Release:
Mother Nature Throws Curve at Acura Key West
— Racers Enjoy a Day Off in Conch Republic

It’s been feast or famine at Acura Key West 2008, presented by Nautica.

Organizers and competitors alike have been frustrated by the fact winds have been either too strong or too light on two of the initial three days of the largest winter regatta in North America.

A northeasterly that held steady in the range of 25-30 knots forced cancellation of racing on Monday. Mother Nature delivered the opposite end of the spectrum on Wednesday with a southeasterly providing a mere three knots of pressure and forcing officials with Premiere Racing to abandon again.

“The wind never reached the threshold at which we felt we could have a quality, fair race,” event organizer Peter Craig said. “Our race committee has certain standards and we are not going to sacrifice quality in order to just get in a race.”

Division 4 managed to start a race in what Principal Race Officer (PRO) Wayne Bretsch called “sail-able” conditions. However, the bulk of the fleet had not reached the first weather mark when the wind died to two knots or less and Bretsch pulled the plug.

“In my opinion, it appeared to be an unfair race. The wind was fluky and better on one side of the course than the other,” Bretsch said.

While there is always a concern the wind will improve after the boats are sent back to the harbor, in this instance the reports from Commander’s Weather were spot on.

“Based on the forecast I just received at 2 p.m., the decision we made at noon was the correct one,” Craig said. “I think from the sailor’s standpoint, better to get back to the beach and have the entire afternoon to get out and take advantage of all that Key West has to offer rather than bobbing around on the water waiting for wind.”

Some teams headed to the various bars and restaurants around Historic Seaport, filling the tables at Schooner Wharf, Turtle Kraals, Conch Republic Seafood and the Half Shell for a late lunch and drinks. Crew members from the TP52 Flash Glove were a bit more industrious with tactician Rob Greenhalgh quickly arranging a fishing trip.

“Some guys went fishing, others played golf while some just decided to relax with a few drinks,” skipper Colm Barrington said.

Craig said it was only the second time in the 21-year history of the Key West regatta that two days of racing were cancelled. Forecasts call for light winds again on Thursday with a front moving in to provide heavy air on Friday.

Fortunately, breezes held steady at 15-20 knots on Tuesday and enabled PROs Ken Legler (Division 1), Bruce Golison (Division 2), Dave Brennan (Division 3) and Bretsch to complete three races apiece.

Now that Acura Key West 2008 race days have been reduced, there is tremendous pressure to perform in the remaining races. Vitesse, a Swan 42 skippered by Jon Halbert of Dallas, Texas, stands third in class – four points behind first place Tiburon (Mark Watson) and only one point astern of Bandit (Andy Fisher).

“Tomorrow and Friday now become very important. Because the regatta has been condensed, each race counts more than ever and the whole mindset changes,” said Farley Fontenot, tactician aboard Vitesse. “I think you will see most teams become a bit more conservative because there is little margin for error.”

While all 16 classes remain up for grabs, there are also two major championships to be decided. France has taken the early lead in the 11th International Team Competition for the Nautica Watches Trophy. National pride is at stake as 11 countries field three-boat teams comprised of a Farr 40, Melges 32 and Melges 24.

France, led by the fourth-place standing in Farr 40 class of Twins (Erik Maris), has scored 31 total points thus far. Defending International Team champion Switzerland, led by Melges 24 leader Blu Moon (Franco Rossini) is just one point behind.

With each passing year, the International Team Competition gains traction with more entrants asking to participate. Danilo Salsi, skipper of the Farr 40 DSK Comifin, organized Team Italia.

“We are very excited to be sailing on behalf of our country. We think this side competition is very clever. It gives you a double goal for the week, another trophy to try to win,” said Andrea Casale, crew member aboard DSK Comifin. “You want to do well as an individual entry and you also want to help the team.”

Armando Giulietti’s Melges 32 Hiroshi and Riccardo Simoneschi’s Melges 24 Giacomel Audi Racing are the other members of Team Italia, which got off to a tough start.

“It’s great because it gives you a chance to get close with crews from two other boats. You have to communicated with one another and commit to working together,” Casale said.

Another battle is beginning to develop for the PHRF National Championship, which was introduced at Acura Key West 2007 and proved quite popular. PHRF 4 leader Bad Girl, a J/100 owned by Robert Armstrong of St. Croix, seized the early lead under the scoring system created by rating expert Bruce Bingman. However, PHRF 3 leader Temptress, an SR-33 owned by Robert Hibdon of Charleston, S.C, is just three-tenths of a point behind. However, anything could happen since the championship is based on a combination of best average corrected speed, tightness of class competition as determined by the corrected time spread between first and fifth place finishers along with the number of boats beaten relative to the possible number that could have been beaten. Thus, a single bad race can play topsy-turvy with the results.

PHRF National Championship Standings – 1/23/08
1, Bad Girl, J/100, Robert Armstrong, St. Croix, 19.8 points
2, Temptress, SR-33, Robert Hibdon, Charleston, S.C., 19.5
3, Stark Raving Mad, J/125, James Madden, Newport Beach, Cal., 18.3
4, Britsar, Tartan 10, Ken Schram, Detroit, Mich., 18.3
5, Emocean, J/120, Will Hanckel, Charleston, S.C., 18
6, One Up, Wyliecat 30, Lincoln Schoenberger, Bridgeport, Conn.

23 January 2008 | Key West Race Week (KWRW) | Comments

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