Russell Coutts and James Spithill enter 2005 Corum Melges 24 World Championship

Three-time America’s Cup winning skipper Russell Coutts and Australian America’s Cup skipper James Spithill have joined a distinguished roster of past class world champions and America’s Cup sailors who have entered the 2005 Corum
Melges 24 World Championship to be sailed off Key Largo, florida in December.

The Swiss watch company Montres Corum Sàrl, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is the title sponsor of the event at Ocean Reef Club to be held between 11-16 December. The closing date for entries is 8 November, but already 61 skippers have signed up. The list includes the winners of all past Melges 24 world championships but two.

Coutts, who has had a successful year skippering the TP 52 ocean racer Lexus in Europe, will sail in Key Largo as tactician for San Francisco software developer Philippe Kahn aboard Pegasus 575.

Spithill, the youthful skipper of the America’s Cup challenger Young Australia in 2000, is now a helmsman for Italy’s Luna Rossa challenge for the next Cup. Spithill, who finished second in the highly competitive Melges 24 class at Key West Race Week this year, will skipper his boat Luna Rossa.

San Diego sailmaker Vince Brun, who won back-to-back world championships in 1998 and 1999, has said he will enter. He is an accomplished small boat sailor with numerous championships to his credit. He is also an America’s Cup sailor, most recently sailing on Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes as mainsail trimmer.

Italian skipper Flavio Favini, 2001’s world champion, (helming for Switzerland’s Franco Rossini) is returning for another tilt at the title. With several victories to his credit in the Melges 24 Class, Favini is also building a record in America’s Cup competition. Although he has never skippered a Cup boat he was tactician for Italy’s Mascalzone Latino in 2003 and is the helmsman for Mascalzone Latino – Team Capitola’s 2007 Cup bid.

Harry Melges III from Zenda, won the worlds in 2002 steering Star entered by Jeff Ecklund. Melges, the president of Melges Performance Sailboats, builders of the Melges 24, will not take the helm at Key Largo but is expected to crew for Ecklund. Sailing together on Star, the pair finished second in the worlds in 2001 and 2003.

Sixteen-year-old Samuel ‘Shark’ Kahn, who pulled off the unprecedented feat of winning the 2003 worlds at the age of 14, is a strong contender for the title this year. The son of Philippe Kahn, his is the other boat from the Pegasus Racing Team entered in the event. His skills in the 49er dinghy class have earned him a place in this year’s US sailing team training for the next Olympics. Last year, he finished third in the highly competitive Mumm 30 Class championships. This year he finished second in the Etchells worlds.