|Key West Day Three
Light, Flat, Weedy Day
(Key West, FL)- January 19th, 2011– If Tuesday was nearly perfect, the prognosis for Wednesday wasn’t the greatest. SSW winds light with little chance of getting above eight knots with a large flat High pressure system sitting over the region. Nevertheless, there is a benefit of being on the edge of the Caribbean trade winds, no matter how “flat” the weather systems look with isobars a million miles apart, Key West always gets a breeze. Sure enough, King Neptune and fellow weather Gods served up a nice day of mild breeze, warm temperatures and crystal clear skies. All PRO’s on all three courses delayed for 15-30 minutes to get their first races off due to an oscillating, building breeze. With the start sequences set to start rolling at 1030 hours for the first classes, it was a good call. The fleets were treated to a breeze that settled into the 200 degree range from the southwest, full of holes, streaks and waters still strewn with an extraordinary amount of weed patches that were often up to two feet thick and could literally stop a boat dead in its tracks.In general, it was clear that Wednesday’s sailing conditions were pretty challenging, especially sailing on starboard tack upwind into a fairly steep chop. Port tack was much easier sailing since the boats were broadside to the swells rolling in from the distant Gulf Stream. The goal was to be on port tack in the lulls “surfing” upwind and on starboard tack in the puffs to punch through a very nasty chop. Furthermore, avoiding the ginormous weed patches was always a good thing and staying in the streaks paid off handsomely for the winning boats– going hard right or hard left were not good “plays” at all. Sailing conservatively for streaks was very fast and those who weren’t in them could see boat speed differences upwards of a knot or more between competitors upwind and downwind.On the Division 1 course, IRC 1 Class saw the light airs and streaky breezes tighten up the top five overall. Jim Bishop’s WHITE GOLD is still in second with a very consistent 3-2-2-2-8 score and is hoping to stay in the top three for the class. Peter Cunningham from Cayman Islands Sailing Club is sailing the J/122 GAMBLER/ POWERPLAY and dropped to sixth overall due to a 6th today in the lighter stuff…but just six points out of second! In this class, time and consistency will tell who ends up on the podium.
The J/105s continue to fight for the top five and the scores are very close, the standings often changing from race to race. At this stage, Brian Keane on SAVASANA is leading with a 1-6-8-1-1 with 17 points. Just behind him is nearly a five way tie for second. Adam Rosen/ Jeff Marks WASABI are in second with a 3-3-9-3-3 for 21 points, a very consistent team. Damian Emery on ECLIPSE has jumped into third overall with a 4-8-1-4-5 tally with 22 points, just one point back from second. Fourth is Gerrit Schulze on MAX POWER with a 10-4-7-2-4, coming on strong in the last two races with a 27 point total. Tom Coates who had been winning quite handily, had two slow races and now has a 2-1-2-10-13 for 28 points to be in 5th. Only one point back is Travis Weisleder on LUCKY DOG.
Tearing up the J/80 class on Course 3 is Texan Glenn Darden. With a 1-1-2-1-2 record for 7 points, Glenn’s EL TIGRE is seemingly unstoppable upwind and downwind. Behind Glenn is a group of five boats that are neck-in-neck for the top five. Sailing well is Ron Buzil’s and Nigel Brownett’s VAYU 2 with a 5-6-1-8-1 for 21 points in second place. Lying third is Jeff Brown on J/WORLD SAN DIEGO with a 6-3-5-6-3 to consistently hang in there in the top five. Chris Bulger’s GOOSE is only one point back with a 2-2-10-4-6 for 24 points, Steve Wyman’s NUHUNU is tied for 5th with Mike Sudofsky’s BOB DYLAN with 28 points.
The PHRF A Class continued to see strong competition from six very well sailed boats. Sitting atop the pack is the J/111 KONTIKI V sailed by Jim Sminchak and crew from Cleveland with a very strong sailed, consistent record of 2-2-3-2-2 for 11 points. It was a tough race to sail well. Rounding the first mark in fourth place, KONTIKI V had to stay in contact and not get too far behind the large Beneteau 44.7 GALILEE sailed by a good Canadian crew, pass the 1D-35 REVOLUTION and the champion J/109 RUSH sailed by Bill Sweetser and not lose contact with the J/124 WICKED sailed by Rod and Alan Johnstone. A strong downwind run enabled KONTIKI V to round 3rd boat-for-boat and, ultimately, catch up to the J/124 WICKED to finish just off their transom by the finish. Bill Sweetser’s J/109 was caught in a dying breeze going into the finish and ended up getting a 5th, to have a tally of 1-1-2-4-5 for 13 points.
The J/95s sailing in PHRF 2 continue to enjoy themselves in the sunny conditions. Veteran Key West sailor, Ed Palm continues to lead the 95 crew on STILL CRAZY with a 4-3-5-4-4 score puts them in first amongst the 95s. After today’s racing, Terry McKenna on FINN is now second with a 7-8-4-3-5 to strongly finish amongst the 95s and earn second. Third is now Trudie Ficks on SEVENTH HEAVEN with a 6-4-7-5-6.
FOR the J/24s, BLAH BLAH BLAH sailed by Mark Milnes continues to be the top J/24 with a string of five thirds in class! Hanging in there is Evalena Worthington on FREYA and third is Matt Mullan on FLYING WASP.
Photo credits- Tim Wilkes- www.timwilkes.com
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