Some participants at GMC Yukon Yachting Key West Race Week ’99 forgot to offer their weekly sacrifice to Huey, sailing’s legendary wind God, before coming to the 12th anniversary regatta. That can be the only explanation for the light and shifty winds that have dominated the first two days of action at the international keelboat regatta sailed on the Straits of Florida off Key West.

“It was another tricky day in paradise,” said two-time America’s Cup winning navigator Peter Isler (San Diego), who’s helming Tom Neill’s (Chicago, Ill.) Nitemare, in Class B IMS 2. Isler echoed a sentiment shared by many other helmsmen, tacticians and crewmembers. “There are so many boats on the racecourse that you have to get out to one side.”

Sailboat racing is an individualistic sport, however, and not everyone concurred with Isler. “We found the middle the place to be,” said Eddie Collins, co-owner with Barry Allardice of today’s victorious Mumm 30, USA-48. “You gave up too much living at the edges. Live by the sword, die by the sword.”

Now that Day 2 is concluded, every class has completed at least three races and divisional battles are forming. In IMS 1, a three-way tie for first exists between Irvine Laidlaw’s (Isle of Man, England) Hi Fling, Bache Renshaw’s (Portsmouth, R.I.) Virago and Karl Kwok’s (Hong Kong, China) Beau Geste.

Considered a contender for the Yachting Magazine Trophy, awarded to the regatta’s Boat of the Week, IMS 1 also features a tie for fourth between European rivals Hans-Otto Schumann’s (Hamburg, Germany) Rubin XV and Paolo Gaia’s (Milan, Italy) Breeze.

Breeze and Rubin, which were placed first and third in the class, respectively, after Day 1, fell afoul of the shifty and puffy winds today. Rubin finished 4-5, slightly better than Breeze’s 7-4.

The close racing earned Beau Geste the Boat of the Day honors, and a Casio MR G Tactician watch. The award is determined using a time and distance formula. A smaller ratio indicates a more competitive class. The combined delta for first through fifth in both of today’s IMS 1 races was 2 minutes, 13 seconds.

The runner-up contender for the award was IMS 2, but its delta was a gaping 3 minutes, 30 seconds. That’s due in part to Pasquale Landolfi’s (Porto Cervo, Italy) Brava Q8’s dominant performance in the division. Brava Q8 has placed 1-2-1 in its three races to lead Craig Speck’s (Grand Rapids, Mich.) Vim III by 3 points.

The Farr 40 One-Design class also features tight racing. John Thomson’s (Port Washington, N.Y.) defending class champion Solution had an up and down, 2-8 day, but still leads Bill Jayson and Bob Burgess (Newport, R.I.) class-newcomer Passage by 1 point. Tied for third are John Kilroy’s (San Francisco, Calif.) Samba Pa Ti and Jack Woodhull’s (Newport Beach, Calif.) Persephone. Each has 17 points.

Another fierce battle is brewing in PHRF 2, where Wayne Colahan and Doug Halstead’s (Marblehead, Mass.) Letter of Marque is tied for the 30-foot sportboat class lead with Chris Bouzaid’s (Jamestown, R.I.) Wai Rere. Each boat has 6 points, but Letter of Marque earned that low score on straight second-place finishes while Wai Rere has a 1-1-4.

“Wai Rere is fast, it’s got breakaway speed,” said Letter of Marque crewmember Josh Adams. “They’ve got a big asymmetric spinnaker with broad shoulders. They’re very fast downwind. But they’ve also had boathandling mistakes and we’ve been able to take advantage of them.”

While divisional battles took shape today, the battle for the Yukon Cup started to become a runaway for Team Italy. Awarded by title sponsor GMC Yukon, the Yukon Cup is presented to the top international three-boat team comprised of entries from the IMS, Mumm 30 and Melges 24 classes.

Team Italy’s Breeze, Malinda/Invicta and Planet Loaf have posted the low score of 24 points and lead Team Far East — Beau Geste, Esmeralda and White Loaf — by 13 points.

In order to generate broad interest, team composition may be