Flavio Favini, helming for Franco Rossini, continued his outstandingly consistent performance scoring a first and third to give him an 11-point lead in the Melges fleet at Key West Week

Races six and seven of the Melges 24 series at Key West Week were completed in near perfect conditions with the fleet enjoying some spectacular sailing. Flavio Favini, helming for Franco Rossini, continued his outstandingly consistent performance scoring a first and third to give him an 11-point lead over Brian Porter.

The wind had swung overnight into the south-west and was up to 12-14 knots with a slowly building chop. With a strong current against them the boats had problems making the line and the fleet got away cleanly at the first attempt with the centre right seeming favoured. Favini made the best of the beat to lead round the weather mark ahead of Luca Santella, one of Italy’s top sailors and a new face in the Melges class helming for Maspero Giovanni. Porter followed in third with Argyle Campbell fourth and Jeff Jones fifth. Going into the weather mark Art Brereton had looked set for the fourth slot but a slightly misjudged approach resulted in a last minute tack during which he fouled Campbell and by the time he’d done his turns he was back in 13th.

Down the run Favini opened up his lead while Santella held off Porter and Jones overtook Campbell. At the top of the second beat Porter was just able to sneak through Santella while Jones held fourth. Campbell had dropped back to eighth behind Alec Cutler, helming for John Sherlock, Kristian Nergaard and Jamie Lea, helming for Richard Thompson.

On the final run Favini just kept on extending his lead to the finish ahead of Porter and Santella. Behind them the pack was fighting for fourth with Cutler eventually coming out on top ahead of Jones, Nergaard and Lea.

By the start of race seven the wind was up to 16-18 knots with a commensurate increase in the chop. Again the current was holding the boats back making it difficult to cross the line. Several boats, including Cutler, Nergaard and Favini, found themselves so well buried that the only solution was to tack, take some transoms and come out on port at the right-hand end. “Everyone just had such a hard time getting to the line. We started in the middle but to weather of the centre line boat and Santella started with us right there and the two of us were really pushing one another right up to the line.” commented John Porter, crewing for brother Brian, “No one was close to the line, I think we were closest and we were like a boat length and a half off.”

Santella rounded the weather mark first ahead of Jones, Larson, Porter and Lea. Down the first run Larson managed to get past Santella and Jones to take the lead while Porter and Lea held fourth and fifth. The strengthening breeze and increasing chop gave the crews plenty to get their teeth into up the second beat and at the second weather mark it was Santella back in the lead with Porter second, Larson third, Lea fourth and Favini fifth. Down the second run the lead pair held their places but behind them Lea managed to squeeze past Larson and Doug Clark, helming for Paula Zubrzycki, snuck into fifth ahead of Favini, Jones and Nergaard.

Although the lead pair were fairly secure up the final beat third place was by no means a dead cert and the tacks were fast and furious as the pack scrabbled for an advantage. Favini showed that he sure has the ability to turn it on when necessary by coming from sixth to third up the last leg ahead of Clark, Larson, Lea, Jones and Nergaard.

Overall Favini now leads with 21 points from Porter (32), Nergaard and Campbell are tied on 41 with Cutler fifth on 48.