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It was a demanding second day for Baltimore Sailing Club's Cliodhna Connolly and the rest of the 47 Melges 24 World Championship fleet in Middelfart, Denmark on Wednesday.

1720 sailor, Connolly, who is sailing on Italian entry Altea with Andrea Racchelli, is expected to be the top performer but after three races are lying 11th overall.

The wind was reluctant to put in a proper appearance making conditions throughout the three races generally light but consistent at between 6 and 9 knots.

After three races, reigning Melges 24 World Champion Peter Duncan and his Raza Mixta (USA) crew of Morgan Trubovich, Erik Shampain, Patrick Wilson, Victor Diaz De Leon has a four-point lead over Drew Freides’ Pacific Yankee (USA), with Chris Rast steering Michael Goldfarb's War Canoe (USA) third and Ante Botica and his crew of Mataran 24 (CRO) fourth, being the best Corinthian team in the fleet by now.

More here

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There was a slow start to the opening race of the day for all fleets at Bacardi Winter Series event 2 on January 28, in Miami, Florida with the light fluky breeze ensuring the notorious Biscayne Bay race track lived up to its reputation.

Plenty of leader board shuffles saw teams jostle in the tricky and super shifty conditions, with three races for each of the J/70 and Melges 24 and six for the 69F fleets. Established contenders and new names made their mark on the leader board, which will see plenty of battles ahead over the weekend as Bobby Julien in the J/70, Peter Duncan in the Melges 24 and Jonas Warrer in the 69F attempt to hold onto their opening day glory.

Racing continues on January 29 in what is forecast to be a rough and tumble breeze of around 21 knots with gusts up to 30. Bring it on! Sunday, January 30, will see the breeze ease up. 

J/70

Three J/70 races and three different winners. Consistency from Bobby Julien and team on ‘Dingbat’ advanced them from a double digit opening race finish to score a 2,4 and lead the fleet by 1 point over Richard Witzel on ‘Rowdy’, with David Jannetti’s ‘Very Odd’ 4 points behind in third.

“Today was a challenging day as it was a west wind and very, very shifty and puffy and, for a relatively new sailor, it was a tough day,” commented Bobby Julien.

“Thanks to the crew we took advantage of some of the shifts and we were reasonably strong downwind and it worked out alright.

‘Dingbat’ crew member Alec Anderson continued, “We didn’t have particularly good starts today, but in those conditions sometimes it’s not the end of the world. We were able to get our bow free and clean on all three and get relatively in phase and the boat was going well.”

Choosing the left hand side of the light wind track in race 1 gave a clear advantage, which rewarded Jim Vos on ‘Godzilla’ who read the shifts to hustle through the fleet and take the opening race win.

Race 2 saw the clouds roll in, the temperature drop and the breeze increase, slightly. After a general recall, the fleet navigated their way through a really challenging breeze, where playing the light wind shifts which traced super slow across the course was key.

Fresh from finishing the RORC Transatlantic Race on ‘Powerplay’, Peter Cunningham took the early lead, but couldn’t hold it as the conditions continued to drop to around 5 knots, oscillating 5-10 degrees. Those who read and played the shifts upwind triumphed as the pressure continually changed. Onto the second upwind and the fleet played the right side, with Robert Hughes’ ‘Heartbreaker’ going on to take the win, Bobby Julien in 2nd and Richard Witzel in 3rd.

Onto race 3 and Victor Cribb on ‘Victory’ claimed the early lead, but was overhauled by Witzel’s ‘Rowdy’ who took the bullet, ‘Victory’ in 2nd and ‘Heartbreaker’ finishing 3rd.

J/70 – Top 5 Provisional Results after 3 races
1. Bobby Julien / Thomas Barrows / Alec Anderson / Chris Watters (USA 639) - 17 pts
2. Richard Witzel / Tomas Dietrich / Carlos Robles / Jud Smith (USA 1562) - 18 pts
3. David Jannetti / Travis Odenbach / Andy Horton / Kris Warner (USA 1513) - 22 pts
4. Daniel Goldberg / Tomas Hornos / Lucas Calabrese / Ian Coleman (USA 84) - 22 pts
5. Robert Hughes / Willem Van Way / Paul Goodison / Mark (USA 353) - 24 pts

MELGES 24

Peter Duncan reminded everyone of his versatility whatever the weather, to close the opening three race day in first overall with his crew on ‘Raza Mixta’.

“We had a great day today,” said Peter Duncan. “We had really nice crew work and a good tempo on board the boat.

“What we did right today was that we stayed in phase. We were tacking on shifts, and there were a fair amount of shifts going on out there, and we were lucky. The shifts are actually very interesting out on Biscayne Bay in a breeze like today, because the shifts are more dominated by the puffs and you need to stay in breeze. So we did a good job with that.

“It was a fun day, it was a beautiful day’s sailing and we are happy to be here.”

Race 1 was all about Harry Melges IV, grandson of iconic sailing personality Buddy Melges, and his crew on ‘Zenda Express’ who delivered a horizon job, leading race 1 from start to finish. Second to ‘Raza Mixta’ and third to Sandra Askew’s ‘Flying Jenny’ team.

Winner of last year’s Winter Series event 2 and the 2021 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta, Bora Gulari on ‘New England Ropes’ showcased his credentials in race 2, leading by around 6 boat lengths at the leeward gate. With all top 5 boats packed closely together and pushed hard by Peter Duncan, Gulari struggled to maintain his control in the neck and neck battle. On the final downwind, Duncan drove hard, securing his lane to extend over Gulari and take the win, with Michael Goldfarb on ‘WarCanoe’ in third.

Onto race 3 and the breeze demanded a change of pace and a fully hiked crew, with the race again looking set to belong to Duncan’s ‘Raza Mixta’ who led the first two legs. Heading back upwind, Peter Bergendahl’s ‘Wardance’ optimized their attack to take the advantage, with Megan Ratliff’s ‘Decorum’ close behind. As these two teams locked into their own battle, John Bailey’s Talisman’ claimed a tidy third place.

Melges 24 – Top 5 Provisional Results after 3 races
1. Peter Duncan / Victor Diaz de Leon / Matt Pitsay / Erik Shampain / Morgan Trubovick (USA 829) - 7 pts
2. Bora Gulari / Kyle Navin / Norman Berge / Ian Liberty / Dave Hughes (USA 820) - 13 pts
3. John Bailey / Mike Buckley / John Bowden / Beth Whitener / Bear (USA 720) - 13 pts
4. Michael Goldfarb / Jonny Goldsberry / Morten Henriksen / Matteo Ramian / Emory Williams (USA 825) - 15 pts
5. Harry Melges IV / Finn Rowe / Ripley Shelley / Jeremy Wilmot / Kate O'Donnell (USA 866)

69F

There was huge excitement to witness the debut appearance of the foiling 69F on Biscayne Bay, with its roster of high-profile young talent.

All six competing teams made their mark on the track, but ultimately the battle for glory was a duel between Denmark’s ‘Racing Yachts’ helmed by 2008 Olympic 49er gold medallist Jonas Warrer and Switzerland’s ‘Team Tilt’ helmed by Sebastian Shneiter, with Tokyo 2020 49er gold medallist Stuart Bithell on board. The day’s scorecard ended with 3 wins to ‘Racing Yachts’, 2 to ‘Team Tilt’ and 1 to Matteo Pilati driving ‘Fly Marga’ of Italy.

Despite the low winds, the 69F fleet were up and foiling, blasting their way round the track in short, sharp 9-10 minute races and hitting speeds of over 28 knots.

Racing the 69F is something quite new, as Eric Monez (ARG) crew on ‘The Yugs’, explained, “This is a completely different experience, because it is all about foiling and you have to fly. When you fly you are ok, and when you don’t fly you have a problem because everyone will pass you!

“The teamwork is very, very important. However, the boat is very easy to sail, it is not just for professionals and most people can sail it. It is fast, fun and a great experience.”

69F – Provisional Results after 6 races

Racing Yachts (DEN) – 104 pts
Team Tilt (SUI) – 101.5 pts
Fly Marga (ITA) – 96 pts
Convergence (USA) – 88 pts
The Yugs (ARG) – 84 pts
Main Squeeze (USA) – 82 pts

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Our North Sails Melges 24 "Upwind Sail Trim" webinar will be on tonight, Monday, April at 8 pm. I am really looking forward to re-connecting with this great class and it also gave me a misty-eyed reason to review these epic "Embarr" upwind pics!

Joining me on the webinar will be John Bowden (North Sails USA), Giulio Desiderato (North Sails Italy) and special guest Mike Buckley (Stars & Stripes America's Cup Challenge CEO and "Monsoon" tactician) where we will be discussing all things upwind on this fantastic boat.

Register and webinar details here - all welcome!

Melges_24The winning Embarr crew, including Maurice O'Connell, at the Melges 24 World Championships

Published in North Sails Ireland

Great drama at 2019 Charleston Race Week in the USA when the Mudratz team Melges 24 ran into a spot of bother at high speed downwind. 

Scroll down the page to see what happens next from two different angles: 

and the view from onboard....

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Maurice O'Connell of North Sails Ireland will give a talk in the Royal Irish Yacht Club tomorrow night (Fri 12th Jan) on "The 'Embarr' Journey to winning the Melges 24 World Championship"  that recounts his 2016 victory with RIYC skipper Conor Clarke.

All welcome. Contact RIYC for bookings.

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Six months to go and fifty one teams from fourteen nations are already signed up to compete against Irish world champion Conor Clarke and his Embarr crew. The Royal Irish Yacht Club crew will race at the 2017 Melges 24 World Championship that takes place from 28th July to 4th August in Helsinki, Finland. The Notice of Race has been published, online entry has been open for a while and Melges 24 sailors across the globe are invited to make their entries for this prestigious event organised by the Helsingfors Segelklubb (HSK) in co-operation with the International Melges 24 Class Association (IM24CA) and Finnish Melges 24 Class Association. 

Back in Helsinki after 14 years
It's been a while when the International Melges 24 fleet was racing in this part of the world. The first time for the international Melges 24 fleet of fifty six teams to race this north was in 2003 when Jacob's Creek Melges 24 Europeans were organised by the same hosting club HSK. Sailors might also remember the most recent title championship in this area organised by the Finnish-Estonian Melges 24 Class Association in Tallinn, Estonia in 2010.

IM24CA is happy to work again together with a bunch of people familiar from the past events' organisations to ensure the success of the title event. Perttu Rönkkö, 2017 Melges 24 Worlds Regatta Chair and Vice Commodore for HSK will be excited to host such international fleet of Melges 24s, especially for the Worlds this time: 'HSK is happy to host Melges 24 International fleet for the World title event. At the same venue the Melges 24 Europeans were held fourteen years ago, but the both club and surrounding area has been developing a lot during the last years. To serve our club members and foreign sailors better a new club house was inaugurated in 2010 which makes organizing such a great event even more comfortable here.

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Undisputed leader at the Melges 24 World Championships his week in Florida is Royal Irish Yacht Embarr IRL829 (2-1-2): the entry skippered by Conor Clarke.

The good tactical calls, together with the amazing speed that the crew manages to reach in the downwind legs, is helping the Irish to maintain firmly the top of the ranking, leaving behind of 25 points its first follower, Maidollis 3 ITA822 (13-3-10), that after the good performances of the last two days, couldn't keep the same path also in the races of today.

Sailing with Royal Irish based Clarke is Aoife English, Maurice O'Connell and American Olympic 470 duo David Hughes and Stuart McNay, who finished fourth at the Rio Olympics.   See more details in the Irish Times sailing column here.

Yesterday started with another sparkling day of sailing for the Melges 24 fleet. A day of lighter breeze allowed three more races to the series and brought about major changes to the overall ranking.

The major changes in the ranking, though, happened starting from the following places of the ranking: Air Force 1/West Marine Rigging USA820 (12-10-1) by Bora Gulari climbed to the third position, also thanks to the bullet of race number nine, while New England Ropes USA658 (18-8-15), third after the races of yesterday, was pushed down in sixth position. The fourth place belongs now to Argo USA853 (5-5-13), that yesterday wasn't even inside the top five, while fifth position is occupied by Monsoon USA851 (10-4-5). Full Throttle USA849 (7-6-20) fifth after the races of yesterday, slipped in seventh position after the three latest regattas of the series.

In the Corinthian division, the boats of the top three remained the same, but their order changed completely: Decorum USA805 (16-22-12/4-4-2) of Megan Ratliff abandoned the top of the ranking in favor of the Italian crew Taki 4 ITA778 (3-16-6/2-2-1) of Marco Zammarchi that, after having been daily best in Corinthian also yesterday, eventually reached the leadership of the division, sailing consistently even if the light breeze conditions are not the favorite of this crew: "We are happy for the outcome of the last two days of racing here in Miami. Sailing for the Europeans in Hyeres had been great fun, but here it is totally another story. The fleet is competitive, numerous and fast and for us the attention to be paid is double, because we have to focus both on the overall ranking and on the Corinthian division" declared Niccolò Bertola, helmsman of Taki 4. "Our closest opponent, in this moment, is Tõnu Tõniste's Lenny EST790 (1-14-21/1-1-4), that is chasing for us with just 3 points of margin: we will keep being focused on the races, we know the Estonian crew has the potential to win again a Melges 24 World Championship in our division, so the success of today cannot distract us from our final purpose".

The PRO, Anderson Reggio, couldn't be but happy for the development of this Championship: "We've had three great days of sailing here in Miami: the first two days reflected the reasons why sailors love to come to Miami, that are the strong wind and great waves. Today conditions were trickier and definitely lighter, but I feel I could still say that the fleet had good fun. The crews are fighting hard in each moment of the regattas, as it is also evident from the starts, when it often happens to have OCS boats, but I think it's also good in this way, we're in a World Championship, it is legit they are pushing hard!". About the composition of the fleet, Anderson added: "I think this is one of the most exciting fleets to watch: it doesn't often happen to see boats so spread across the race course, almost occupying all the space we have at our disposal. I can't wait to see the development of the last two days of regatta".

For tomorrow, Race Day Four, an amendment to the sailing instructions has been published: no preparatory signal will be given before 1.00 pm and the intention of the Race Committee is to run just one race. Two races will be left for Saturday, closing day of this 2016 Melges 24 World Championship. Even if the path towards the victory seems in some way already drafted, the three remaining races could bring about unexpected changes in the ranking, especially in the Corinthian division, where the hypothetical composition of the podium is in continuous evolution.

Overall ranking - Top 5 (74 Boats)
1. Embarr, Melges 24, Conor Clarke , Dublin, IRL, 2 -1 -1 -3 -4 -[5] -2 -1 -2 ; 16
2. Maidollis 3, Melges 24, Gian Luca Perego , ARcore, ITA, 3 -5 -3 -9 -6 -2 -[13] -3 -10 ; 41
3. Air Force 1, Melges 24, Bora Gulari , Detroit, MI, USA, 1 -2 -2 -16 -5 -[26] -12 -10 -1 ; 49
4. ARGO, Melges 24, Jason Carroll , New York, NY, USA, 5 -3 -4 -13 -7 -[16] -5 -5 -13 ; 55
5. Monsoon, Melges 24, Bruce Ayres , Newport Beach, CA, USA, 10 -4 -13 -7 -3 -[20] -10 -4 -5 ; 56

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A series long lead held this week by Irish Melges 24 Embarr continues in Miami, Florida today at the 74–boat World Championships. Skipper Conor Clarke has an eight–point lead over Italy's Gian Luca Perego. Third after six races is New England Ropes skippered by Tim Healy.

Sailing with Royal Irish based Clarke is Aoife English, Maurice O'Connell and American Olympic 470 duo David Hughes and Stuart McNay, who finished fourth at the Rio Olympics. Results are here. Racing continues today.

It was clear since the beginning that the 2016 Melges 24 World Championship would have been a tough challenge for the crews, both because of the demanding weather conditions and because of the extremely high level of the sailors and their coaches, among the lasts a couple of Olympic medallists (Morgan Reeser and Kevin Burnham), too - that would have been out on the water. The first two days of racing didn't in any way mismatch the expectations.

The oceanic waves that, differently than expected, didn't decrease during the races of today, put under high pressure the crews that were in the water for the second day of racing of the 2016 Melges 24 World Championship. A breeze blowing from 150°-160°, with intermittent gusts up to 20 knots and well-formed wave, in some moments put in difficulty the crews, causing also a few damages to some boats that were forced to withdraw from today's races.

The day when the discard has come into play, daily best has been Brian Porter's Full Throttle USA849 (6-1-1), former Melges 24 World Champion that scored two bullets in races number 5 and 6 of the series and is currently occupying the fifth place of the overall ranking. The leadership, though, still belongs to Embarr IRL829 ([15]-4-5), that had an amazing performance in the first race of the day: despite being called OCS at the start and being subsequent penalized, the boat of Conor Clarke managed to bring on a stunning recovery over the fleet, closing a race that would have been considered lost by most in a very good position. In a second moment, moreover, the Irish entry had a redress for the OCS that was declared wrongly called, hence scoring three points in the first race of today instead of fifteen (3-4-[5]), bringing up to 8 points the gap of advantage over the first follower, Maidollis 3 ITA822.

It was another good day for Gian Luca Perego's Maidollis 3 ITA822 ([9]-6-2): the couple helmsman-tactician Fracassoli-Fonda, consolidated and successful in the Melges 24 Class, was consistent in today's races, scoring a ninth - eventually discarded - a sixth and a second with the brand new boat that, as it seems, is reacting well also to the most demanding conditions. The Maidollis 3 team is now occupying the second place of the overall ranking: "It was a tough day for most of the teams, starts have all been difficult also due to the big waves, but in the end we somehow managed to recover well. We are halfway now, it is necessary to keep being consistent and concentrated all through the remaining races" declared Perego, once back to the dock.

Third place in the overall ranking now belongs to New England Ropes USA658 (4-2-4) by Tim Healy, while Bora Gulari's West Marine Rigging USA820 (16-5-[25]) slipped in to the fourth position.

The fight was hard also in the Corinthian division, where the best of the day was Marco Zammarchi's Taki 4 ITA778 (18-16-6/2-2-1) with Niccolo Bertola in helm, that found in today's big waves and breeze its favourite conditions for sailing: once back on the dock, the crew expressed all its satisfaction for the good result of the day, but said that half of the Championship still has to come, so they cannot lose concentration, in particular in the next days when the lighter weather conditions will be a great challenge for them.

One of the favourites of the Corinthian group, the Estonian Tõnu Tõniste's Lenny EST790 (26-15-[OCS]/6-1-[OCS]), current Melges 24 Corinthian World Championship, had to leave the top of the Corinthian ranking to Megan Ratliff's Decorum USA805, due to the OCS they did clear themselves in the sixth race of the series, slipping down to the twentieth place in the overall ranking. "It was for sure a good day for us in the water" declared Megan Ratliff from Decorum "We've been able to find good speed, especially downwind with our pink kite! The fact that we've been in Miami for a while, trying to get to know the weather and the environment, probably is helping us to sail well".

Starting from tomorrow, the Race Committee intends to run two races per day, completing in this way a series of twelve regattas. Weather conditions, though, will have to be favourable enough to allow so: in fact, wind is forecasted to decrease sensibly, making the crews race in conditions that may be drastically opposed to those that they have been used to seeing in these days.

Overall ranking - Top 5 (74 Boats)
1. Embarr, Melges 24, Conor Clarke , Dublin, IRL, 2 -1 -1 -3 -4 -[5] ; 11
2. Maidollis 3, Melges 24, Gian Luca Perego , ARcore, ITA, 3 -5 -3 -[9] -6 -2 ; 19
3. New England Ropes, Melges 24, Tim Healy , Jamestown, RI, USA, 7 -6 -[14] -4 -2 -4 ; 23
4. West Marine Rigging, Melges 24, Bora Gulari , Detroit, MI, USA, 1 -2 -2 -16 -5 -[26] ; 26
5. Full Throttle, Melges 24, Brian Porter , Fontana, Wi, USA, 9 -15 -[18] -6 -1 -1 ; 32

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Conor Clarke's Embarr has finished second overall at the Melges 24 US National Championships in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in a fleet of 47 boats.

It is Clarke's second attempt at this event in the same location, last time he lost out narrowly to US Olympic hero Bora Gulari by just one point in a match race finish on the same weeknd exactly 5 years ago in 2011.

On board the Irish boat Stuart McNay helming, David Hughes on tactics, Prof O'Connell trimming, Aoife English on bow and Conor Clarke, owner, in pit. Clarke's crew is in preparation for the World Championships in December. 

A second in the penultimate race yesterday was very welcome but unfortunately it was behind regatta leader, Bora Gulari and he gained another step ahead of the sole Irish contenders before the last race of the regatta.

Clarke told Afloat.ie 'We needed a shocker from Bora to win and guess what? Bora was OCS (over the line at the start) and had to return to restart. We battled away with the rest of the fleet and had only to keep within 2 boats of Monsoon and finish fourth or better to win the regatta overall.

We managed to hang on to Monsoon but placed 6th so we allowed Bora to win by 2 points.

It is agonising to lose again but we have to look at the talent we managed to overcome. The fleet is littered with World Champions, Olympic medallists and names that are household in sailors homes so we should be proud. We also learned a lot this week ahead of the World Championships in Miami next month'.

Results are here.

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#keywestraceweek – Irish skipper Conor Clarke competed in Key West for the first time and came away with an impressive victory in Melges 24 class yesterday, winning eight of 11 races and beating the second place boat by 23 points. Stuart McNay and Dave Hughes, who are mounting a 470 Olympic campaign together, were helmsman and tactician aboard Embarr.

"It's a fantastic feeling to win in Key West," said Clarke, a Dublin sailor who's had the regatta on his bucket list. "Today's sailing was just amazing. We had perfect conditions... just what the brochure said it would be like."

"We said that yesterday was the best day of Key West 2015 but today beat it. 18 knots of breeze; crystal clear luke warm water and 25 degrees with sunshine. What more could any sailor ask for?

We didn't have to race the last two races today, mathematically we had won already but we enthusiastically raced all the races knowing that this was going to be a dream day of sailing.

We actually kept up the pace and delivered a first, a second and a first again so we finished with 12 points from 11 races.

What was probably our worst and best performance of the week came in the last race of the day. We had changed kites between races and after we started we spotted an issue with our pole. The tack line was underneath it so Mirthe had to climb out when we started our downwind to clear it. We had fought hard and were first to the windward mark and we actually dbn't lose much from this. When we hoisted we saw that the kite sheets were fed wrongly meaning we had to a "pit stop"" and untie and then retie them correctly. all good, we lost a couple of places but we coud fight back maybe... We went into a gybe and the kits sheets came off completely forcing us into an even longer pit stop. More places lost but finally we were back on the rad and moving fast.

The attitude changed on baord and we all became determined to get back into it. Prof was brilliant on weight calls and kite and the whole team pushed really hard physically. We clawed our way back to pip the ever improving Norwegians on Team RRH ( this team has really stepped up a few gears this week) to take the race win at the last gybe to the finish line.

The mood on board Embarr has never been better, We have won "Key West" convincingly and in good style. It has been fantastic and a joy to sail, a wonderful reminder of why we all do this"

Most of the marquee classes at Quantum Key West Race Week 2015 came down to the last day of the regatta, which delivered the toughest conditions of the week. Howling winds and rough seas challenging the competitors on Friday, forcing the top contenders to raise their game in order to claim overall victory.

That was certainly the case aboard Bella Mente, the mini maxi skippered by Hap Fauth of Minneapolis. Fauth steered the Judel-Vrolijk 72-footer to first place in both races on Friday to hold off a stiff challenge from skipper Gunther Buerman and his team on Numbers.

"Our plan was to be in position to win going into the last day and that is what happened. The wind Gods cooperated today and gave us great racing. We rose to the occasion and were able to win both races," Fauth said. "I thought the whole crew did an impeccable job. We sailed hard in both races."

Bella Mente wound up winning six of 10 races in posting a low score of 19 points, two better than Numbers, which had four-time America's Cup winner Brad Butterworth aboard as tactician. Fauth captured his fourth victory in Key West despite a grounding incident on Wednesday that caused the team to absorb seven points in two races. Bella Mente was unable to finish Race 5 then limped to third in Race 6 due to a damaged keel bulb.

"We basically tanked two races and that was very hard to overcome, especially against this caliber of competition," Fauth said. "Numbers is very quick and very well sailed. Gunther, Brad and their guys did a terrific job and really pushed us the whole way."

Veteran professional Terry Hutchinson, who was recently named Rolex Yachtsman of the Year for the second time in his career, praised the performance of Fauth and the rest of the crew. Hutchinson, an executive with Quantum Sail Design Group, is a relative newcomer to the Bella Mente program.

"Hap has a lot of experience racing this boat and does an outstanding job on the helm," Hutchinson said. "The one constant we had all week was superb starting and tremendous boat-handling. Every member of the crew really did a great job."

Race committee personnel reported wind gusts of nearly 30 knots during the second race on Friday and that made for some spectacular racing. Sailors aboard the GC32 catamarans were hanging on for dear life all day as the high-tech speedsters were bouncing off waves and coming completely out of the water. Ken Legler, principal race officer on Division 1, said the foiling catamarans completed a downwind leg in just six minutes.

Skipper Flavio Marazzi led the Swiss entry ARMIN STROM Sailing to a one-point victory over ZouLou, the French entry skippered by Erik Maris. Keith Swinton served as tactician while Diego Stefani was headsail trimmer aboard ARMIN STROM, which finished first or second in eight of 10 races. Argo and Leenabarca were unable to compete in the last race after sustaining rudder damage in the rough conditions.

"The last two days were really fun. These are very cool boats and they were absolutely flying," Marazzi said. "Today was a bit tricky because of the swell. It's hard to find the fine line between pushing and backing off. It is very exciting, but also very dangerous."

Alec Cutler and his crew on Hedgehog carried a three-point lead into the final day and decided to cover the second place boat in Race 9. Cutler finished fourth, but forced Dalton DeVos and the Delta team to absorb a fifth. That gave Hedgehog the breathing room it needed and Cutler repeated as class champ by a two-point margin over Argo, skippered College Sailor of the Year Graham Lundy of Yale.

"All five boats were very good so the competition was real tough," Cutler said. "Every boat won a race and we were the only boat that didn't finish last. It was real close racing and you could lose two or three boats in a hurry with the slightest mistake."

Richard Clarke, who has represented Canada in the Olympics several times, called tactics for Cutler. Adrian Stead, a veteran professional from Great Britain, was aboard as strategist.

Quantum Key West Race Week 2015 was the first regatta for Tonnerre 4 under the ownership of Peter Vroon of The Netherlands. It didn't take the crew very long to figure out how to make the Ker 51 go fast as the Dutch entry led IRC 1 class for the final four days.

"We are very pleased to win such a strong class. I have an excellent bunch of sailors on the boat and they do all the work. My contributions are ballast and writing the checks," Vroon joked. "Obviously, the bigger breeze of the last two days was good for our boat."

Kevin George served as tactician for the 84-year-old Vroon, who won Key West for the second time. "It was just a case of putting the building blocks together and gaining momentum. We focused on getting good starts and just tried to sail a clean regatta," George said.

Tonnere also won the High Performance Rule sub-class, which consisted of five of the IRC 1 entries. Tonnere edged the Ker 43 Otra Vez (William Coates) in IRC 1 and the Carkeek 40 Spookie (Steve and Heidi Benjamin) in HPR. Impetuous, skippered by Paul Zabetakis of Stuart, Florida, topped the Swan 42 sub-class.

J/70 was the largest class of the regatta with 54 boats and featured a slew of top professionals. It was a week-long dog fight that saw constant changes at the top end of the standings. Skipper Carlo Alberini and his Italian team on Calvi Network emerged as overall winner thanks to single-digit finishes in nine of 11 races.

Branko Brcin served as tactician while Sergio Blosi and Karlo Hmeljak handled the trimming aboard Calvi Network, which closed the regatta with a second after posting a steady string of fourths and fifths. That remarkable consistency in such a competitive class earned Calvi Network the ultimate prize at Quantum Key West Race Week - Boat of the Week.

"The talent level in this class is very high. We came to Key West because we are very excited about the J/70 fleet and want to race against the best boats," said Alberini, who won the European Championship last year. "To win here is the best feeling. This might be the most important win of my career because we beat the world champion on the water."

Calvi Network totaled 49 points, eight better than the Mexican entry Flojito y Cooperando that is skippered by Julian Fernandez Neckelmann. Italian pro Vasco Vascotto called tactics on Flojito, which closed the regatta strong with a first and second on Friday. Tim Healy, the reigning J/70 World Champion and two-time winner here in Key West, finished third after pushing the line and being ruled on-course side (OCS) in the last race.

Gannon Troutman, the 12-year-old skipper of Pied Piper, was the talk of the regatta after finishing fifth in the talent-laden J/70 class - winning a race while also posting a second and third. San Francisco skipper Jim Cunningham captured the Corinthian Division of J/70 class, which had 20 boats.

J/88 class was decided on Friday with Rob & Sandy Butler sailing Touch2Play Racing to victory in both races. That clutch performance gave the Canadian entry the same amount of points as Deviation, skippered by Iris Vogel of New Rochelle, N.Y. Touch2Play won the tiebreaker by virtue of more first place finishes.

"We kind of put the pressure on (Deviation) by winning the last race on Thursday. We still trailed by two points so we knew we had to come out and win both races today," Rob Butler said. "Our crew was really dialed in and we had very good boat speed. I'm proud of the team for doing what we had to do in order to win the regatta."

J/111 also had a one-design class and Florida skipper George Gamble steered My Sharona to a wire-to-wire victory. Quantum pro Scott Nixon called tactics on My Sharona, which displayed superb boat speed in all conditions in winning five races and placing second or third in four others.

British skipper Joe Woods and his crew on Red set the pace in PHRF 1 from the outset and led at the end of each day's racing. Dave Lenz served as tactician aboard the Farr 280, which won five races and placed second or third in four others.

"Joe has sailed a Melges 24 and a Melges 32 so he's used to being on sport boats," Lenz said. "This entire crew has sailed with Joe on the 32 and that familiarity seemed to give us a slight edge from day one. We just had a little extra click of speed than everybody else."

Red closed the regatta with a pair of bullets and received the Quantum Sail Boat of the Day award. Woods was also the runaway winner of the Farr 280 sub-class, which had four boats.

Gerry Taylor secured his third class victory in Key West, steering Tangent to a wire-to-wire victory in PHRF 2. Veteran sailmaker Chuck O'Malley called tactics while headsail trimmer Jay Corcoran anchored a strong crew aboard the Cape Fear 38, which won every race but one.

Published in Racing
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Great Lighthouses of Ireland

St John's Point, Co Donegal 
Fanad Head, Co Donegal
Rathlin West Light, Co Antrim
Blackhead, Co Antrim
St John’s Point, Co Down
Wicklow Head, Co Wicklow
The Great Light and Titanic Walkway, Belfast
Hook, Co Wexford
Ballycotton, Co Cork
Galley Head, Co Cork
Valentia Island, Co Kerry
Loop Head, Co Clare
Clare Island, Co Mayo
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