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Down To The Wire At Key West
It's down to the wire in most of the grand prix classes at Key West 2011, presented by Nautica. With as many as three races slated for the fifth and final day of the popular regatta, no lead is safe or insurmountable.
Take for instance Jim Richardson and his team aboard Barking Mad, which would appear to hold a comfortable nine-point lead in Farr 30 class. Standing on the dock sipping a mudslide, Richardson swore he wasn't counting his chickens before they are hatched.
Barking Mad posted a solid score line of 2-1 in two races on Thursday and has a cumulative total of 11 points. Turbo Duck, sailed by the father-son team of Bodo and Nick Von der Wense, stands second with 20 points after posting a line of 2-1-2 in the last three starts.
Things are much closer in several of the other professional-laden classes. A mere two points separate Warpath and Goombay Smash in Melges 32 after the discard was factored in following six races. Skipper Steve Howe (Portland, Ore.) and the Warpath team have 24 points, two better than William Douglass (Stamford, Conn.) and the Goombay Smash squad. Leenabarca, skippered by Alex Jackson (Riverside, Conn.) is just three points out of first place.
Things tightened up considerably in the Mini Maxi class on Thursday as Bill Koch (Palm Beach, Fla.) and the Titan team posted two good results to put pressure on Dan Meyers (Boston, Mass.) and Numbers boys. Titan, a Reichel-Pugh 72-footer that Koch is chartering for the week, placed third in Race 6 and second in Race 7. Numbers, a Judel/Vrolijk 66, finished fourth in Race 7 and now is just one point ahead of Titan.
It's a very similar scenario in IRC 1 class, which consists of five 52-footers. Anema & Core, a JV 52 skippered by Ennio Staffini of Annapolis, Md., reeled off four straight bullets to take charge. However, Canadian skipper Richard Oland has kept pace with the Southern Cross 52 Vela Veloce and is just two points astern of the leader.
There was a three-way tie for first place in the RC44 class after Thursday's initial race. Russell Coutts and the Oracle crew got the gun in Race 6 to briefly take the lead. However, the standings shook out a bit after Race 7 with Team Aqua using a second place result to retake the lead by one point over Mascalzone Latino (Vincenzo Onorato, Italy).
Blu Moon, skippered by Franco Rossini of Switzerland, took over the lead in Melges 24 class after dropping a ninth sustained in Race 3. Helmsman Flavio Favini steered Blu Moon to results of fourth and second on Thursday and the two-time Key West champions enter Friday with a seven-point lead over UKA UKA Racing, which was forced to drop a 10th endured in Race 7. --