— World Class Competition Continues on Day Four
Key West, Fla — With four days of racing complete, it is not difficult to identify the
stars of Quantum Key West 2013: The sun and the wind!
Even the most veteran sailors have been amazed by the fact every day of the
regatta has brought spectacular conditions with warm temperatures and solid
breezes. Wednesday brought 18-22 knot winds and Thursday’s breeze held steady
between 14-18 knots.
“We’ve had an incredible string of great sailing days. I think that is really the
story,” said Jonathan McKee, tactician aboard the Farr 40 Struntje Light. “We keep
waiting for a crappy day and it just hasn’t happened. We’ve just been really lucky
that each day has been spectacular.”
That good fortune is expected to continue on Friday as George Caras of
Commanders’ Weather is forecasting winds in the 12-18 knot range and more
sunny skies. George Collins was once a regular competitor at Key West, but hasn’t
attended for many years. The 72-year-old skipper of Chessie Racing was equally
amazed by the caliber of sailing throughout the week.
“What another beautiful day of racing,” Collins said upon returning to the dock in
front of the Half Shell Raw Bar. “I can’t remember a week that had such consistently
good breeze. There are usually one or two light days, but not this week. The Key
West Chamber of Commerce gets five stars.”
Event chairman Peter Craig and his Premiere Racing team take pride in giving
sailors a full week of action. Over the past 20 years, the annual regatta off the
Florida Keys has lost just six days of racing. Barring some unforeseen situation, this
will be another year that Premiere Racing has completed the target number of 10
races. More remarkable is that Division 2, under the direction of principal race
officer Dave Brennan, is likely to get in 12 races.
It’s been a knockdown, drag out fight in IRC 2 (52 Class) all week and the winner
probably won’t be decided until the last leg of the last race on the last day. Azzurra
and Ran are tied atop the standings with 21 points apiece while Quantum Racing is
just one point behind.
Helmsman Guillermo Parada and tactician Vasco Vascotto led the Italian entry
Azzurra to victory in Race 7 on Thursday while skipper Doug DeVos and tactician
Ed Baird led the American boat Quantum Racing to victory in Race 8. Ran, the
Swedish program skippered by Niklas Zennstrom, also had a strong day with a
second and third.
“We’re looking forward to a great final day of racing here in Key West. We have
three boats, possibly four, in contention so it is going to be all on,” Ran tactician
Adrian Stead said. “We’ve had fantastic racing all week in the class. Every race has
been hard fought from start to finish.”
It has been a tremendous week of match racing between the 72-footers Bella
Mente and Shockwave with the two trading wins. Skipper George Sakellaris and his
crew aboard Shockwave won both races on Thursday and have clinched the overall
victory. With two races remaining, Shockwave’s lead of four points is
Spectacular Conditions Shine at Quantum Key West 2013 continued
“Great racing and great competition,” Sakellaris said. “Bella Mente is a terrific team and a real pleasure to compete
against. Every race was back and forth. They would lead and then we would lead. It all depends on who picks the shifts
Legendary sailmaker Robbie Doyle called tactics while former Olympian Mark Mendelblatt served as strategist for
Sakellaris, a resident of Framingham, Massachusetts. Andreas Visintini was aboard as navigator. Racing was incredibly
close between the Judel Vrolijk and Reichel-Pugh designs with one race being decided by six seconds and another by
less than 20 seconds.
There’s a tight two-boat duel in the High Performance class between the Carkeek 40 sister ships Spookie (Steve
Benjamin, Norwalk, CT) and Decision (Stephen Murray, New Orleans). Spookie was walking away with the regatta until
blowing out its spinnaker in both races on Wednesday. That opened the door for Decision, which won both races on
Wednesday to take the lead.
Spookie rebounded to win both races on Thursday, but Decision notched two seconds and maintains a narrow onepoint lead. Spookie beat Decision by just one second in Race 7, crossing the line nine seconds behind and getting 10
seconds of time on handicap.
“The boats are very, very even so it’s been neck-and-neck, back-and-forth all week,” said Heidi Benjamin, who calls
tactics for her husband. “We’re really looking forward to tomorrow. It should be very exciting racing. Johnny Lovell is a
very good tactician while Stephen Murray is a very good driver so Decision will be tough to beat.”
Decision and Spookie have left the rest of the High Performance Class in the dust, leading George Collins (Miami
Beach) and Chessie Racing to focus on winning the Farr 400 One Design competition. Chessie has won six of eight races
within that sub class and holds an eight-point lead over Meridian X (Sled Shelhorse, Virginia Beach).
“Our crew work has been phenomenal. We’ve had very few mistakes,” Collins said. “I’m having a ball doing the starts
and driving. The boats have a nice groove to them and are very quick. A little wet, but very fun to sail.”
There was some tremendous competition in Swan 42 class on Thursday between Apparition and Stark Raving Mad VI.
Skipper Ken Colburn and the Apparition crew notched results of third and first to beat James Madden and the Stark
Raving Mad team by one point. That effort earned Apparition The Marlow Trophy Boat of the Day honor.
When Deneen Demourkas arrived back at The Galleon Docks her husband John was waiting to hand her a mudslide.
That’s because Deneen scored her first victory as a Melges 32 skipper, getting the gun in Race 7. Demourkas made her
class debut at the Melges 32 World Championships last September and this is her second regatta.
“Worlds was our first event and none of us really knew the boat. We had a lot to learn so we took a lot of advice and tips
from friends,” Demourkas said. “Today, we finally got off the line in good shape. Our boat speed has been fantastic so it
felt good to finally get a nice start.”
Bombarda, skippered by Andrea Pozzi, posted a second and third on Thursday and remained the overall leader for the
third straight day. Past class world champion Lorenzo Bressani is calling tactics for Pozzi, who holds a somewhat
comfortable nine-point lead over the Japanese entry Swing (Keisuke Suzuki).
Full Throttle and hedgehog are engaged in a heated battle in Melges 24 class, second-largest of the regatta with 23
boats. Skipper Brian Porter and Full Throttle opened the series with a seventh, but have been able to throw that out and
have finished no lower than third ever since. Skipper Alec Cutler and the hedgehog crew had put up a steady string of
firsts and seconds before sailing their throw out on Thursday, an eighth in Race 7.
Cutler was annoyed because hedgehog had come back from dead last at the start to second place by the leeward mark,
but subsequently missed a shift and lost six boats in Race 7. Full Throttle won two races on Thursday and now leads by
“We can still win this thing. We just need to stay positive,” Cutler said. “Our boat speed is there and our crew work is
there. We need to win the first race tomorrow then see where things stand.”
North Sails professional Tim Healy and his team on Helly Hansen seized the lead in J/70 class, largest of the regatta
with 39 boats. Geoff Becker is calling tactics for Healy (Newport, RI), who posted a first and second in three races on
Thursday and leads Savasana (Brian Keane, Weston, MA) by two points.
Ron Buzil and his crew on Vayu 2 have put forth an impressive performance in J/80 class, winning seven of eight starts
with the lone slipup being a second place in Race 4. Andrew Kerr, who holds the distinction of having competed in every
Key West regatta since its inception in 1988, is calling tactics for Buzil (Evanston, ILL). Jahn Tihansky, offshore sailing
coach at the Naval Academy and owner of J/World Annapolis, is also part of the crew.
“It’s been a combination of a lot of things,” Buzil said when asked the reason for his team’s success. “We have good boat
speed, strong boat-handling and Andrew really knows the weather conditions down here.”