The Cadillac Columbus Cup changed tacks yesterday, dropping its fleet-racing program and opening a round-robin series of match races a day earlier than planned.
Susan Taylor, executive director of the Columbus Cup, said the change in format was brought up at a morning meetings of skippers and heartily endorsed.
"These people all came here to match race," Taylor said. "Another day of fleet racing just didn't seem to fit the bill."
Chris Law of Britain won all three races he and his crew sailed yesterday and stands alone in first place entering today's schedule. As many as three races are scheduled, with the first starting gun set for 11 a.m.
At the other end of the standings is American John Kostecki, whose boat lost all three races.
J.J. Isler, the first woman to skipper a J/44 in the Columbus Cup, is tied for second place with Antonio Gorostegui of Spain and Jim Brady of Annapolis at 2-1.
"They were really tough races," said Isler, who matched with Buddy Melges from Wisconsin, Marc Bouet from France and Kostecki. "The race with Buddy could have gone either way. We both had penalties against us at different points in the race."
Infractions in this regatta are judged on the water, and penalized boats may be required to make a 270-degree turn while the opposition sails on.
"Both 270s hurt us a lot," Isler said. "He had to do his in a real lull, and turning these boats when there is less breeze really hurts you more."
Bouet, Isler said, won the start in their race and led throughout.
"In the race with Kostecki," Isler said, "he won the start by a quarter-boat length and we were able to hang in and round the weather mark right behind him."
And then the bottom fell out, Kostecki said.
"We were ahead in that third race and didn't do a gybe [spinnaker] set very properly and J.J. was able to catch up to us," Kostecki said. "J.J. had a perfect set and passed us. We had some problems with our jib sheets afterward. One came off. One got caught under the pole. It was a very long day."
In his race with Kostecki, Gorostegui said through an interpreter, "We managed to get Kostecki penalized at the start. But he came back on the last windward leg and they did at least 30 to 35 tacks. Kostecki did not give in at all."
Gorostegui's one loss of the day came against Law.
"He beat me at the start," Law said, "and I thought I had him nailed. I just was late and he got away with it."
Law also beat Brady and Paul Thomson of Canada.
Thomson, Melges and Bouet are tied with 1-2 records.
"Today we are perfect," said Law. "That doesn't mean that we are way out in front. . . . But we felt good, and the conditions were perfect.
"Out there today you had a commercial harbor being enjoyed by some of the best sailors in the world. And that is what this event is all about, promoting the harbor. . . . We had great crew, great boats, great venue. A good day."