Canadian Kate Mullin, helming for John Sherlock, leads the 57-strong Melges 24 class at Terra Nova Key West

Canadian Kate Mullin, helming for John Sherlock, leads the 57-strong Melges 24 class at Terra Nova Key West after two races with a 1, 2 scoreline, ahead of 2001 Melges 24 World Champion Flavio Favini, helming for Switzerland’s Franco Rossini.

The first day’s racing took place in a testing light to moderate shifty northerly breeze making for lots of place changes and one or two upsets. Race one got underway in 8-10 knots at the first attempt with only a couple of individual recalls. Mullin and Faini commenced battle early on and fought for the lead all the way round the course with Mullin eventually getting the better of Favini on the final leg to take the race. Behind them Californian Bruce Ayres and Norway’s Kristian Nergaard, sailing with a crew which includes reigning Melges 24 World Champions Harry Melges and Jeff Ecklund, had an equally tought battle for third place with Ayres just managing to hold off Nergaard. After an average first lap Wisconsin’s Art Brereton found his form and battled back from the mid teens to take fifth ahead of Britain’s Jamie Lea, helming for Richard Thompson. Hawaii’s Philippe Kahn had good pace early on, rounding the first leeward mark fifth, but by the finish had dropped back behind Brereton and Lea into seventh.

By the start of race two the wind was down to a patchy 6-8 knots. Although the fleet got away at the first attempt there were a large number of individual recalls including Lea, Nergaard, Brereton and Kahn. Kahn failed to recross the line along with Argyle Campbell from California and Britain’s John Pollard. At the first mark it was Scott Nixon, helming for Jeff Jones from Michigan, who led the fleet ahead of Chris Doubek of event sponsor Terra Nova Trading racing in his first major Melges 24 regatta. Mullin rounded third in front of Englishman Joe Woods with Favini in fifth. By the leeward mark Nixon had managed to take the lead and successfully defended his position up the final beat. Mullin overtook Doubek for second and despite numerous challenges Doubek fought off Favini to keep third. Having lost his battle for third Favini then faced and defeated a last minute challenge from Brian Porter who eventually settled for fifth ahead of Sean Scarborough from New Jersey.

One of the most hard fought battles on the Melges 24 course today was between Philippe Kahn and his 14 year old son Shark, helming in his first international Melges 24 event. Although father got the upper hand in the first race it was Shark who took the honours in race two with a very creditable twelfth place. Overall Shark is now lying in 18th whilst Philippe languishes down at 32nd after is OCS in race two. We’ll be watching this family battle with interest!

In the overall standings Bruce Ayres’ 3, 8 score line puts him in third behind Kate Mullin (1, 2) and Favio Favini (2, 4) and five points ahead of Brian Porter (11, 5) with Joe Woods in fifth (17, 7).