(Key West, FL)- Broad smiles and weary bones usually means a successful day on the water for sailors. There was plenty of both on the docks around the Conch Republic on Wednesday after organizers of Quantum Key West 2014 completed three races in strong winds.
Northerly winds that held steady from 12-20 knots provided the best racing conditions yet for the 10 classes on three divisions. After completing three races combined on Monday and Tuesday, the competitors were thankful for the full day's work.
There is a new leader in the J/70 class, the largest of the regatta with 60 boats. Tim Healy steered Helly Hansen to 2-2-3 on Wednesday to take control with a low score of 29. Catapult, skippered by Joel Ronning of Minneapolis, MN, is 12 points behind in second. Third is Brian Keane on Savasana and leaping into the top five was Dave Ullman on US-32 with a 5-4-1 on the second day of sailing. Notably, Ian Atkins's "boats.com" also jumped into the top ten with a great day of sailing.
Geoff Becker is calling tactics upwind on Team Helly Hansen while John Mollicone is doing the honors downwind for Healy (Jamestown, RI), the defending regatta champ. "Going downwind we were in-between planing and displacement mode so you had to decide when to keep the bow up and the jib out," Healy said. "There were big gains and losses to be made downwind." Healy explained that a J/70 begins to plane in around 15 knots of breeze and attempting to do so when the wind is not strong enough causes the boat to really slow down. "It's crucial to know when to soak it low," he said.
Spaceman Spiff and Team Fireball, a pair of J/111s, are duking it out in the eight-boat PHRF 1 class. Spaceman Spiff, sailed by Rob and Ryan Ruhlman of Cleveland, Ohio, pulled ahead by 2.5 points based on the results in Wednesday's last race. Spaceman Spiff tied the J/122 El Ocaso for third place on corrected time while Fireball, skippered by Eddie Fredericks of Annapolis, suffered a sixth place finish.
"We feel good about the way the boat is moving. I think the key for us has been minimizing mistakes and recovering from the few we have made," Rob Ruhlman said. "We have sailed conservatively, especially at the starts."
PHRF 1 was deemed the most competitive class at Quantum Key West on Wednesday and that earned Teamwork the Mount Gay Rum Boat of the Day honor. Skipper Robin Team steered his J/122 to three bullets as Teamwork jumped from sixth to third in the overall standings. "We had a little pep talk this morning at breakfast and reminded everybody what we are capable of when we are focused and determined," Team said. "We had epic conditions today and our team loves that type of breeze. Our tactician, Jonathan Bartlett, was on fire. He hit every shift all day long."
Vayu2, skippered by Ron Buzil of Chicago, is running away with the 14-boat J/80 class. Professionals Jahn Tihansky and Andrew Kerr are helmsman and tactician, respectively, aboard Vayu2, which has won four races and finished second in the other two in building a commanding 12-point lead over Rumor (John Storck Jr., Huntington, NY).
Skipper Bill Sweetser and his team aboard Rush have maintained the lead in PHRF 2 for three straight days. Sweetser has steered the J/109 to first in four races and second in the other two. Gary Weisberg’s Heatwave is lying in third.
Sailing photo credits- Onne Vanderwal
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