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News Around the World 


The ice-cream salesmen still rule: Carlo Alberini’s Italians (above) put on an impressive demonstration of regatta sailing at Key West in a 54-strong J/70 fleet, counting no worse than a 3rd and discarding a 6th. This class started life with a crew weight limit of 280kg, but this has been abandoned. Most sail with four but Luis Bugallo’s Corinthian trophy winners (7th overall) squeezed on five Spanish sailors (it’s a national diet thing). The rationale is that the J/70 is light enough that you can easily be too heavy – especially downwind


worse than a third! It was also once again amazing to see how many of these J/70s were driven by other well-seasoned owners who a decade ago were racing either larger one-designs or custom boats entered on handicap.


One of these veterans, Bob Hughes, is a current local TP52 owner, a past champion in Melges 24s and 1D35s, and the reign- ing Canada’s Cup champion having campaigned a Farr 40 suc- cessfully for a few years in the Lakes. He admitted, ‘I’m not in love with this boat, but having 50 on a startline is just great.’ Seems size does matter after all.


Some who have opted for both one-design intensity with high performance have come to the new C&C30 Class, which posted a respectable turnout of 11. In this class the competition was impressive, with nearly half the boats winning at least one race among the 10 sailed. This may be due to the evenness of the boats as built and inspected, but also due to some hard work put in by sailmakers and pros working hard to get this fleet off the ground.


The class also does something interesting: they require all Group 3 sailors to register and pay a $US200 fee for associate membership for the year. The theory is that this encourages con- tinuity in the pro talent towards being loyal to their chosen team and not having a revolving door of hired guns just transiting through the class on their way to their next gig.


Class winner Walt Thiron and his team on Themis defeated Dan Cheresh by only 2pt, but Thiron’s preference for a ‘substitute’ Group 1 driver while he studies the game (Thiron is brand new to racing) is causing some vexation in a class where there is a strong preference for owner-drivers à la Farr 40.


The fire of one-design intensity was not enough, however, to sway the event judges, who awarded the overall Boat of the Week Trophy to the winner of the largest class at the event, Belle Mente in the Maxi 72s. While only four entries, this class represents a high-stakes game with all the accumulated talent and effort that is attracted here. Hap Fauth’s Belle Mente faced some competition that, according to class manager Rob Weiland, had been tough- ened up considerably through numerous configuration changes since the boats all last met in September in Porto Cervo.


18 SEAHORSE


A somewhat slim turnout on the next big-boat class in IRC 1 did not lessen rivalry between the two frontrunning TP52s: Doug DeVos’s Quantum Racing and Steve and Heidi Benjamin’s Spookie. With DeVos himself taking the helm of the perennial champion in the 52 Super Series and Benj getting used to his rel- atively new steed (ex-Interlodge), the fight was fair but interesting: with a larger bulb fitted for the event to lower Spookie’s IRC rating relative to the faster Quantum, the two were close tactically but with the green team always owing time to Benjy’s entry. A final-day showdown race between the two, separated only by half a point, to determine the winner was not to be when racing was called off for the combination of strong southerlies and an ebb current that had the RC struggling to set the course in big seas.


Interestingly, the heretofore IRC champion in the US, the Botín 44 Interlodge, struggled to keep pace with her larger rivals despite being well-sailed and having clear air throughout the week… Once again maybe size matters; no wonder this team reportedly has another 52 on order.


This size factor was also seen in the ORC 1 Class, where a pair of match-racing J/122s were 1-2 throughout the series despite good sailing by their smaller rivals. The ORC Club rule, with Medium and High ratings used for the week, apparently could no better bridge the 8ft size divide than IRC could in IRC 1. ORC Class 2 was a little better spread, with a handful of sport- boats grouped together, including three Farr 280s and three Donovan-designed GP 26s. They did enjoy better racing among this group but in the end a more experienced but much slower J/80 won the class, prompting questions about ORC’s ability to mix boat types even with Triple Number ratings. A study is now being conducted by the ORC team to examine this situation, with an eye to relative effects of declared and pos- sibly imperfect ORC measurement data, scoring methods, as well as to the rule itself for the smaller boat sizes.


Storm Trysail Club organisers have not yet officially announced their intentions for Key West 2017, but bet on it: this year was too good to not want a repeat. Dobbs Davis


q


MAX RANCHI


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