Flavio Favini, helming for Franco Rossini, has taken his second consecutive Melges 24 Key West title
Second place in the final race of the Terra Nova Key West Week series was enough to give Flavio Favini, helming for Franco Rossini, his second consecutive Melges 24 Key West title ahead of Brian Porter.
Record 90-year low temperatures and strong winds made for unexpected conditions on the final day of racing on Friday. The start of the last race was postponed for 90 minutes while the wind dropped and the crews bundled up against the cold. “It’s more like winter series racing in the Solent than Key West out there.” said Olympic Silver Medallist Keith Musto.
Once underway the crews were in for some outstanding racing and one of the closest finishes of the week. With 18-22 knots from the north-north-east the committee wisely moved the course in under the lee of the island where the chop was a little less severe.
When an individual recall was signalled it was overnight fourth place Argyle Campbell who was forced to turn back. Up the beat left was definitely favoured and at the first mark Kristian Nergaard popped out just ahead of the pack with Jamie Lea, helming for Richard Thompson, and Morgan Larson right on his heels. Stuart Rix, helming for Quentin Struass, also had a good beat and rounded fourth but a problem during their host resulted in a serious broach put them back down in the teens. Among the boats who overtook them were Flavio Favini, Luca Santella, Shark Kahn and Brian Porter.
Nergaard held his lead down the first run with Lea still right behind him at the leeward mark and Santella now in third, Favini fourth, Porter fifth and Shark Kahn sixth. The second beat brought constant place changing. Nergaard determinedly hung onto his lead whilst Favini crept up to second ahead of Larsen and Santella. Shark Kahn made up two places to round fifth whilst Lea dropped back into sixth ahead of Porter.
Down the second run Lea was both smart and incredibly fast overtaking all but Nergaard by the penultimate mark. Larson tenaciously hung onto third with Favini now back in fourth, Porter fifth, Santella sixth and Shark Kahn seventh.
The last beat was an absolute hum dinger and had spectators on the edge of their seats despite the biting cold. Nergaard was forced to defend every inch of the way as places changed with each tack behind him. On the very last tack it was Favini who got the second slot from Lea with Santella fourth, Porter fifth and thirteen year old Shark Kahn sixth. After a disasterous regatta Lea was delighted to go out on a better note, “Despite the cold it was a fantastic finish to the event. We’ve had a really bad regatta so it was great to go out on a high.” said Lea after racing.
Overall Favini took his second successive Key West Melges 24 title by an impressive 14 points. Not a bad result for a man who earlier in the week had commented that he felt his starting could do with a bit of improvement after a year out of the boat due to commitments with the Mescal Latino America’s Cup team. Porter was disappointed to be the bridesmaid yet again but was as enthusiastic as ever about both Terra Nova Key West and Melges 24s commenting that “Despite the cold there’s still no where better to be in January!” Third place went to Kristian Nergaard whilst fourth slot was taken by Maspero Giovanni’s new team from Italy, helmed by Luca Santella. Having been forced to recross the line Campbell was only able to score a 23 in the final race pushing him down to fifth overall ahead of Bruce Ayres in sixth, Jeff Jones seventh, Alec Cutler eigth, Morgan Larson ninth and Stuart Rix tenth.
Overall a fantastic week for the 56 strong Melges 24 fleet with competitors from nine nations including the first ever Russian entrants in a Melges regatta. Full results are available from www.premiere-racing.com.