Key West opens big week

SAILING

January 16, 1994|By NANCY NOYES

Yachting Race Week at Key West, Fla., the annual season opener for some of the world's most competitive racing sailors, runs today through Friday. Each year the event attracts plenty of Chesapeake Bay competitors along with star-studded crews from around the world.

International stars included in this year's group of nearly 2,000 will be Team Dennis Conner tactician Tom Whidden, French America's Cup challenger Marc Pajot, British America's Cup hopeful Harold Cudmore, and Rolex Yachtsmen of the Year and Olympic medalists Jim Brady of Annapolis, Ed Adams and John Kostecki.

This year's fleet of 180 boats from 13 nations, 25 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico is the largest ever to take part in this event.

Open to racing/cruising yachts 24 to 70 feet in length, the regatta features separate divisions for IMS and PHRF handicap rating systems and will have four one-design classes and two level classes.

This year, much of the focus is likely to be on the one-design class made up of Bruce Farr-designed Mumm 36s, making its racing debut.

Eleven Mumm 36s all built within the past nine months -- including three top teams from Germany and one each from Japan, Greece and England, and several from the United States -- will race. Included will be Steve Kaminer and the crew on his new Annapolis-based Mumm 36 Predator, co-helmed by area sailmaker Max Skelley.

Bruce Farr & Associates/Farr International staff will help man several others. Jim Schmicker will sail on Radical Departure, owned by Richard Marki of Summit, N.J., and Jim Donovan will sail on Allegro, owned by John Coumantaros of New York City. Geoff Stagg is sailing David Clarke's Pigs in Space out of New Jersey, and Bryan Fishback will sail aboard George Andreadis' Atalanti, in from Greece for the event.

In other one-design racing at Key West, the greatest number of Melges 24s ever assembled on one starting line will compete in that class' Midwinter Championship.

Regatta managers expect 29 boats this time, up from last year's single entry, Zenda Express, in the Melges 24's debut. Among the sailors in this class will be Joseph Matera of West River and his crew on Buddy; Paul Murphy and Jim Geddes of Annapolis and team on Fat Chance; Scott Allan of Annapolis and crew on Good Vibrations; Tom French of Olney and his team on Neato-Torpedo; and Kevin Lawler and Kelly Bickford of Annapolis and crew on Z-Wiz.

In addition, 11 J/80s, another of the modern sport boats known for hull speed, will kick off a three-regatta Midwinter Series at Key West, where a strong contingent of European J/80 sailors will join U.S. owners.

The J/35s also will have their own one-design competition, including Trevor Underwood of Annapolis and his crew on Inside Trader.

A full stable of IMS designs also is expected, including last year's IMS Class A winner Full Cry out of Annapolis, a Farr 50 owned by Robert Crompton of Coatesville, Pa., with Kevin Mahaney as helmsman and Ron Rosenberg as navigator taking a break from their PACT '95 America's Cup defense campaign.

Also expected to be hot in this class will be Annapolitan Peter Gordon's Farr 44 Gaucho, which swept the class in her racing debut in 1992, and Gary Jobson at the helm of Jack King's locally based Frers 62 Merrythought, which took second in class last year.

Facing this awesome lineup will be several new high-tech designs, including Don Smith's Oklahoma-based Falcon, a Tripp just completed by Goetz Custom Boats and making its racing debut along with three new Nelson/Marek 43s built by Carroll Marine, as well as Bob Aron's Farr 44 Tabasco with Annapolitan Tink Chambers as part of the crew.

Even with a record numbers of entries in IMS and one-design classes, the fleet is dominated by PHRF. This group includes Jim Michie of Arnold and his crew on his SR-33 Woftam; Brian Jones of Annapolis and his crew on his custom 27-footer Problem Child; Jervis Dorton of Columbia and the crew on his Pearson Flyer Flying Circus; Chris Groobey and Dan Hronek and team on their Tripp 26 Trippwire; former Annapolitan Paul Andersen and his team from Urbanna, Va., on his J/29 Posse; and Scott Davis of Arlington, Va., and team on his J/30 Night Nurse.

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