Joe Woods Takes Over The Lead In Key West
22 January 2009
Well, one thing is for certain. Most Melges 32 owners buy into the fleet for the highly competitive nature of the boat, the teams and the racing — ACURA Key West 2009, presented by Nautica delivered the proof today with two more races leaving Joe Woods (Torbay, UK) on GBR-700 Red with a one point advantage over Jeff Ecklund (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) on USA-32 STAR now in second place. Dead even in points in third and fourth are Marty Kullman and Mike Carroll (Clearwater, Fla.) on USA-131 New Wave and Jason Carroll (New York, N.Y.) on USA-128 Argo.
Needless to say the conditions today made things quite interesting, especially for those teams that were doing exceptionally well going into race seven and eight in a series of ten total.
Somewhat flat seas, shifty breezes (course bearing of 040) and cool temperatures mixed in with the very best high performance sportboat racing in the world found one of three competing English teams, Stuart Simpson (London, UK) on GBR-84845 Team Barbarians getting a real jump on the fleet as they launched off the starting line and rounded the weather mark in first, then downwind through the gate working the left to stay in time with the shifts. Next in line, also on the left and determined to make this regatta one of their best was Derek Campbell (Seattle, Wash.) on USA-138 Banshee, then Woods pushing the speed factor in third. The last downwind run was full of excitement and loaded with action. At the second mark Campbell rounded in first, followed by Woods, then Carroll, then Bill Faude at the helm for Tom Neill (Chicago, Ill.) on USA-136 Nitemare, Simpson falling back to fifth. It appeared that Campbell, out front had the gig sewn up with Simpson overtaking Woods on the left for second. Looking out to the right, the breeze filled in and sent Faude, with the aide of Jeff Madrogali calling tactics to the front line, Kullman/Carroll following suit. Faude took first, Kullman/Carroll were second and in third was Campbell.
In between races, Woods' Red team drummed up some additional extra curricular activity by requesting the assistance of a physician. Apparently at the start of the race seven, a blast of breeze jolted the boat, causing tactician Morgan Reeser to lose his balance and fall into the cockpit of the boat, dislocating his right shoulder. He toughed it out through the race, however was desperate to have the shoulder reset. Just in time for the start a paramedic somewhat reset the shoulder at least enough for him to carry on sailing in race two.
For the second race, a new course bearing was set to 020 with Faude pulling off another very lucky move port tacking the fleet successfully right at the second start, placing him well out front. As if a poor first race wasn't enough, Ecklund was called over early on the start, the fatal blow that ended his regatta lead. Faude rounded the top in first, chased by Kullman/Carroll and Alex Jackson (Newport, R.I.) on USA-666 Leenabarca having a great day in third, then Carroll, then Peter Rogers (Lymington, UK) onUSA-121 Highlife in fifth. Through the gate Faude was followed by Carroll moving up to second and Jackson in third. The breeze was all over the place, no consistency whatsoever making the racing just that much more difficult. The race committee instituted a course change for the final mark rounding about 10 degrees to the left, breeze building to 13-15 mph. Kullman/Carroll took over the lead, with Faude now in second. Jackson took over third and Carroll held on to fourth. The top four put some distance between themselves and the rest of the fleet. Kullman/Carroll have demonstrated their ability to win before and they did so again today by taking the first place position to the line, then Faude, then Jackson.
For some, today was outstanding. Woods and crew were troopers; Faude, Jackson and Simpson demonstrated their potential with top ten finishes. Overnight leader Ecklund experienced just the opposite. It was a disappointing day, and as a result he will have to fight to survive for an overall win on Friday. His 11-12 score for the day has put his win on the line.
Looking to the final day of racing in the Melges 32, the teams — especially for the top four will require nerves of steel. Woods is officially seated in first and Ecklund is one point out in second, and tied with equal points are Kullman/Carroll and Jason Carroll. Jackson's fantastic day has pushed him ahead to fifth overall.
A very special thank you to Melges Performance Sailboats as the Melges 32 class ROCKED Key West last night! Melges organized a party just like last year at the Island Dogs Bar where Jeff Ecklund accepted the title of 2008 Melges 32 World Ranking Champion. This party was a giant celebration of the success surrounding the Melges 32 in Key West and around the world! Special thanks to all who were able to make it and THANK YOU to Melges!
TOP TEN RESULTS (After eight races)
1. Joe Woods, Red; 2--3-5-3-1-8-7 = 29
2. Jeff Ecklund, STAR; 1-1-10-1-1-5-11- = 30
3. Marty Kullman/Mike Carroll, New Wave; 13-10-2-9--2-2-1 =39
4. Jason Carroll, Argo; 3--5-4-8-11-4-4 = 39
5. Alex Jackson, Leenabarca; 6-9--7-2-4-10-3 = 41
6. Derek Campbell, Banshee; 4-2-1-15--3-3-15 = 43
7. Savino Formentini, Bitipi; -3-8-2-10-15-9-8 = 55
8. Carlo Alberini, CALVI Network; 8-5--6-5-7-13-13 =57
9. Stuart Simpson, Team Barbarians; 9-7-9--12-8-7-6 = 58
10. John Taylor, Ninkasi; 10 RDG-4-7-16-9-10-5-[21 DSQ] = 61