Winds gusting 30kts led to much fun and games on the Key West racecourse yesterday

Howling 20-25 knot winds and heavy seas yesterday challenged the fleet of 286 boats competing in Acura Key West 2006, presented by Nautica.

There were spectacular wipeouts and equipment breakdowns aplenty as a south-easterly that gusted to 30 knots produced a slew of DNF and DNS designations on the results sheet. Rough seas also were a problem and helped bring down the masts on at least two big boats – Lloyd Griffin’s Hadley 40 Cash Flow and Pete Hunter’s Thompson 30 Wairere, and a Melges 24.

Michael Brennan, owner of the Transpac 52 Sjambok, saw 21 knots of speed while screaming downwind under asymmetrical spinnaker. Boats in other high-performance classes such as Farr 40 and Melges 24 were also going incredibly fast. Goombay Smash, owned by William Douglass of Newport, RI, had another strong day with a 1-2 line to increase its lead in Swan 45 class. Danilo Salsi’s Italian entry DSK-Comifin held second, but now trails Goombay Smash by seven points instead of two.

Barking Mad, owned by Jim Richardson of Newport, RI, had the most impressive performance on the Farr 40 course – posting a pair of bullets. California professional Vince Brun is tactician aboard Barking Mad, which moved from 16th to sixth. Skipper Massimo Mezzaroma teamed with tactician Lorenzo Bressani to sail Nerone to a third and fourth. That effort vaulted the Italian entry from sixth to first in the overall Farr 40 standings.

Mascalzone Latino, another Italian boat, is four points behind in second. Three-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts is calling tactics for owner Vincenzo Onorato, who placed second in Race 4.

Switzerland skipper Franco Rossini and his team aboard Blu Moon put up a pair of Top 5 finishes to hold first in Melges 24 class. Swiss Olympian Chris Rast is steering Blu Moon, which has yet to finish lower than fifth yet leads Partners & Partners (Philippe Ligot) by just one point in the overall standings.

It was an extremely productive day for Pegasus Racing, which has three teams in Melges 24 and posted single-digit finishes across the board. California sailmaker Dave Ullman posted a second and a first in the big breeze to jump from seventh to third in the overall standings. In addition to class honors, his Team Pegasus 505 entry won The City of Key West Boat of the Day.