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Photos of the Day: Key West Race Week

January 19 - Key West, FL

Photo Jack Hardway

Photo Tim Wilkes

Today's Photos of the Day come from Key West 2005, presented by Nautica, which features the hottest winter sailing action in the world, as 295 boats are going at it in 21 classes. And you can't drop a winch handle without it falling on a toe of one of sailing's rock stars. We'd hoped for a report from our Racing Editor Rob Moore, but there was a hard-to-hear phone call mentioning something about a collision, a nasty boat repair job, and being covered in fiberglass. So we'll rely on the official report from the always excellent Rich Roberts:

Walk around the docks at Key West 2005, presented by Nautica, and you'd think you were being bombarded by a battalion of Berlitz instructors. The phenomenon is as much a part of the Conch Republic atmosphere this week as the 20-knot-plus northerly winds sweeping the four race courses this week.

Photo Tim Wilkes

Consider this: The Farr 40 leader after three of nine scheduled races is Dutchman Peter De Ridder's Mean Machine, which swapped wins Tuesday with German runner-up Hasso Plattner, each with a New Zealand tactician, Tom Dotson and Russell Coutts, respectively. The PHRF-1 class's undefeated leader is Japanese industrialist Makoto Uematsu's Transpac 52, Esmeralda, with America's Ken Read calling tactics for Uematsu and alternate helmsman Tom Lihan.

The Melges 24 leader is Philippe Kahn's Santa Cruz-based Pegasus 575, driven by San Diego's Bill Hardesty, with Sweden's Freddy Loof and America's 48-year-old Olympic golden boy, Kevin Burnham, on the crew. At 1-6-1, they're one point ahead of Italy's Maspero Giovanni's Joe Fly, with Gabrio Zandona driving and American Morgan Larson as tactician. Kahn, meanwhile, a native of France long settled in Santa Cruz and Hawaii, is driving his Farr 40 Pegasus 80808 in fourth place, which combined with Peg 575's score puts the USA West team in first place in the International Team Competition for the Nautica Trophy.

Photo Rich Roberts

John Kostecki of San Francisco, who skippered a Volvo Ocean Race victory for Germany's illbruck team in 2001-02, is calling tactics on Michael Brennan's Sjambok from Newport, RI. Mean Machine's floater is Anne Marie Kostecki, his wife since May 22, 2003. "We met during the '97-98 Whitbread," Kostecki said, "in La Rochelle, France."

Is this an international regatta or what?

Photo Jack Hardway

All six Swan 45 owners list U.S. home ports - but the boats are built by Nautor Swan in Finland. Alice Martin's sky blue Painkiller from Chicago, with Great Britain's Chris Law at her side, shares the lead with Andrzej Rojek's Better Than, from Newport, RI, although Painkiller was facing a pair of protest hearings later Tuesday night.

For Plattner, 4-1-4 so far, Key West 2005 is a major step toward the Farr 40 Worlds in Sydney in March. Coutts will continue with the team through that event, then switch to Plattner's maxZ86 for the Centennial Transpacific Yacht Race to Hawaii in July. "We're trying to do all the little things better," Plattner said, smiling. "We're sailing well, but it's only been two days."

Esmeralda is one of five TP52s having their way in PHRF-1 with five big handicap boats, including Daniel Meyers' Farr 60, Numbers, from Newport, RI, with five Kiwi members of Alinghi's America's Cup crew on board. The TP52s are first, second, third, sixth and seventh, with Tom Hill's R/P 75 Titan 12 and Numbers fourth and fifth. Numbers tactician Brad Butterworth noted, "We do pretty well with the 52s upwind, but when they turn downwind they're gone."

Photo Rich Roberts

For complete results, visit www.premiere-racing.com.

Vendée Milestones

January 19 - Atlantic Ocean

Only 3,000 miles to go for the lead boats in the Vendée Globe round-the-world race. Vincent Riou aboard PRB continues to maintain a 116-mile lead over second place Jean Le Cam on Bonduelle. These two French singlehanders have traded the lead back and forth several times since the November 7 start.

The bright orange PRB of leader Vincent Riou is the same boat that won the last Vendée Globe under Michel Desjoyeaux.
Photo Benoit Stichelbaut/DPPI/Vendée Globe

In third, 118 miles behind Bonduelle, is Britain's Mike Golding aboard Ecover. Golding worked his way up from a one-time deficit of 800 miles to briefly lead the race, but two main halyard breakages have hamstrung his efforts. Next 'stop' for the leaders is the Doldrums, after which Golding - whose boat is slightly faster upwind than the two French Open 60s - may still have a shot at the top spot.

Milestones over the last day or so include all three lead boats crossing the Equator, and Alameda's Bruce Schwab - whose Ocean Planet is currently running in 10th position - rounding Cape Horn, some 3,900 miles behind the leaders. In last place of the 14 official entries (of 20 starters) is Karen Liebovici aboard Benefic, who is still in mid-Pacific 6,400 miles behind the first-place PRB.

Go Planet! Bruce Schwab reports cloudy skies and mild winds for his second rounding of Cape Horn. His first rounding was during the Around Alone Race two years ago.
Photo Bruce Schwab

Cruisers Attacked in Puerto Madero

January 19 - Puerto Madero, Mexico

We got a disturbing phone call from Andy Kurtz on Monday. While in Puerto Madero, Mexico, a man boarded his Columbia 57 Angelique and reportedly attempted to rape his female crewmember. The incident occurred on the second night after he had pulled in for alternator repairs. He and crew Stephanie Beaulieu are in the process of delivering Kurtz's new-to-him Angelique from Florida to Hawaii.

Kurtz, who ran Kurtz Yacht Construction in Sausalito before moving to Hawaii about 10 years ago, says Angelique was boarded by a mid-20s to mid-30s Mexican about 12:30 a.m. as the boat lay at anchor about 50 yards offshore in the east basin near the fuel dock. The man, who apparently swam to the boat, entered through the open companionway and assaulted Beaulieu in her cabin. Screams from the 28-year-old woman brought Kurtz running from his cabin aft to confront the attacker. A scuffle ensued, during which Kurtz was slashed and stabbed several times with what he describes as "a super miniature knife." The attacker eventually fled, jumped overboard and swam back into the night.

Beaulieu was unhurt and Kurtz needed only cleaning and bandaging of his mostly superficial wounds. The authorities were contacted and Kurtz says the local police, a security agency for the nearby fishing fleet and the Mexican Navy were all courteous and efficient in offering help. Angelique was moved to the fishing dock for the remainder of the night, and the next day, says Kurtz, several of the local fishermen, "took us under their wing and got our faulty generator fixed in about an hour."

Puerto Madero, the southernmost port in Mexico with facilities (it's only 16 miles from the Guatemalan border), has a reputation of being a 'rough' port. We'll have more in this incident in the February Latitude 38.

Times Are Changing at West Marine Pacific Cup

January 19 - San Francisco

A few years ago we asked the Pacific Yacht Club, which puts on the West Marine Pacific Cup, if we could enter our catamaran Profligate in the race. "Please don't even ask," we were told by one of our friends on the board. "We're not even going to consider letting multihulls enter."

Well, that was then and this is now. The Pacific Cup board has just unanimously approved allowing multihulls to race starting with the July 2006 event. There are still some decisions to be made, however, such as the minimum length, the number of crew, and whether or not they will be scored along with the monohull fleet or separately. Although no decision has been made, it's expected the minimum length will probably be in the low 40s.

We'll let you know as more details become available.

Thinking About Heading across the Pacific this Spring?

January 19 - Papeete, Tahiti

Photo Courtesy Adagio

You'll see vistas such as this. If we're not mistaken, it's of the harbor at Papeete, Tahiti, looking across the Sea of the Moon to Moorea. That's Steve and Dorothy Darden's Morelli & Melvin designed 52-ft cat Adagio in the foreground. Either Steve or Dorothy took the photo during their trip from Tasmania to Alaska last summer. We'll have more on the former Tiburon residents' trip in an upcoming issue of Latitude 38.

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