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Wilson’s parting comments will come as music to designer Rob Shaw’s ears. ‘What stands out after sailing the 650 for 14 years is how easy this boat is to sail,’ Wilson says of the new design. ‘We have always been battling too much sail area and too much lead in the keel from the changes we made to the original 650 design. This time we didn’t cheat, Rob. We just did the boat exactly to your design and we are really happy.’


Sweet vindication, indeed. Even if Rob Shaw had to wait 14 years to hear it.


Huntin’


With just 18 months to go before the next America’s Cup, Emirates Team New Zealand continue to stalk the corporate corridors in search of funds. For much of last year team boss Grant Dalton based himself in Europe to be closer to potential backers, leaving Kevin Shoebridge in charge of day-to-day operations in New Zealand. After the New Zealand government declined to contribute to the coffers in the absence of promised hosting rights for the challenger series, some good news emerged in January with the announcement that some taxpayer assistance would be forthcoming via the Callahan Innovation scheme, which assists New Zealand technology companies with R&D grants.


(There was some controversy last year when it emerged that Core Builders Composites, the Larry Ellison-owned facility north of Auckland, had already received R&D funding from the same source). The assistance for ETNZ would be considerably less than any previous government deal, but in a difficult sponsorship market any financial boost is welcome indeed. Ivor Wilkins


USA Nice debut


When organisers at the Storm Trysail Club considered taking over the management of Key West Race Week a year ago it was not without some careful consideration. The event had its reputation for excellence through the hard work of Peter Craig and Premiere Racing for a good long stretch – over 20 years. While the team at Storm Trysail were often key members of Premiere’s team over the years, and had just finished their 25th biennial running of Block Island Race Week, there was still considerable risk in taking on the organisation of a complex event held on a remote island far away from everywhere and meeting the high expectations of the sailors, sponsors and media.


Yet when event chairman John Fisher confirmed Quantum’s interest in returning as title sponsor, the Florida Keys Tourism Board also confirmed their support. And when Storm Trysail’s core personnel stood ready to put their shoulders to the task there was no looking back.


By nearly all accounts STC succeeded. Before the normal attrition knocked back some 10 entries in the last week, there were over 140 boats on the scratch sheet, an impressive number not seen in recent years. The addition of the Performance Cruising and ORC Club classes may have helped as well, given the already low percentage of entries racing under handicap… this event since the dawn of the 21st century has been dominated by one-designs (73 per cent this year).


It’s interesting to note that despite the oft-quoted figure of tens of thousands of boats racing under handicap (mostly PHRF) in the USA, this country may still be unique in being large enough to accu- mulate solid critical masses in one-design fleets to have them race in major events, such as Key West and Charleston Race Week. It may also be interesting to note that, of these, the vast majority in Key West were in the popular mid-level J/Boat classes. The J/80s also had a class of their own before attrition took its toll and only one made it to Key West to race in ORC 2. In fact, this class ended up being a safety net for the Farr 280s who were also unable to earn a class of their own.


Nonetheless, it was the small white boats with small white upwind sails that were once again the dominant class. A staggering 54 J/70s from all over the planet converged on Key West, and as last year it was a non-US owner – Carlo Alberini and his Calvi Net- work team from Italy – who managed to win… counting nothing


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