Eamon Conneely's team, led by British double Olympic medallist Ian Walker, wins Global Champs
Philippe Kahn’s Pegasus 52 and Irishman Eamon Conneely’s Patches entered the final day and two windward/leeward races of the Rolex TP52 Global Championship, sailed in conjunction with Acura Miami Race Week, with Kahn’s boat ahead by just 0.75 points. At the end of the first race today Patches had regained first place, though leading Pegasus 52 by just 0.25 points. The outcome would come down to the final race.
Patches and Pegasus 52 tackled the pre-start of this last line-up like an America’s Cup match race, the two boats aggressively circling one another beyond the committee boat. Their progress up the first beat was relatively even until the approach to the weather mark where Patches was approaching on starboard with rights while Pegasus was on port attempting to barge its way in between the starboard tack boats.
“It was going to be close to cross with them as they had Glory right above them, but we had them, had them, had them – no problem – and kept going fast, but they did a nice job,” said Pegasus’ Ken Read on what transpired just prior to the mark rounding. “All of a sudden I think they got a flat spot and were hunting a bit. In about 15 seconds it went from a cross to a no cross. But by that time we were committed in there and there was no bailing out.” Patches was forced into a crash tack to avoid colliding with Pegasus’ transom, its crew protesting loudly. Pegasus immediately carried out a 360-degree penalty turn relegating it to last position. Finally, after rounding the mark the team had to perform another turn for having fouled within two boat lengths of the mark. “If you live by the sword you die by the sword,” said Read.
This weather mark incident was clearly the deciding moment of the race, but while most teams might have taken it as a final knockout blow, Pegasus did not. Kahn’s team admittedly brought up the rear for the next legs, but by the time the race finished they had done an admirable job climbing back to third place, immediately behind Patches. The finish wasn’t enough to beat them overall. Eamon Conneely’s team, led by British double Olympic medallist Ian Walker, won the regatta by just 32.25 points to Pegasus’ total of 33.5.
“I was very nervous last night and yesterday after winning,” admitted Eamon Conneely. “We had to beat Pegasus in both races today. It was incredibly close, so close you couldn’t have engineered it. And it all came down to the last race…” Patches won this regatta in a particularly dramatic ‘come-back’ style after it had been forced to retire from the high scoring distance race on Thursday night with severe breakage to the deck, scoring maximum points in the process.
“I am thrilled for Eamon,” said Walker. “He has put a lot of time and money into the boat. We only just made this regatta with the guys working for a month to fix the keel after Key West and then to break the boat here and fix it over night… It is quite a big team – not just all the guys on the boat who sailed well, but all the guys who have been fixing it and designing it and making it happen.”
Despite finishing second, Ken Read was pleased with how their all-star team on Philippe Kahn’s Pegasus 52 had performed. “We don’t feel bad at all about how we did,” he said. “We got beat by a boat that had a little more time under their belt and were more prepared. We didn’t even make Key West and we’ve worked really hard to get to here. Quite frankly Philippe and whole team were all pretty proud to come second. And it was fun. Hats off to Patches – quite frankly the best boat won.”
The final race today was won by Bambakou. “We always peak on the last day, by that time we are warmed up we know what we are doing and it is time to come home,” joked owner John Coumantaros, who attributed the success in this last race to his team picking the shifts well.
Bambakou also earned the Offshore Trophy for best performance in the two offshore races this week, Thursday’s 200-mile overnight race and Saturday’s 35-mile coastal race.
At an on-shore ceremony following racing, Eamon Conneely, with the crew of Patches, received a Rolex Yacht-master timepiece in Rolesium. He also received the TP52 Global Championship perpetual trophy.
1. Patches, Eamon Conneely, Galway, IRL 32.25 points
2. Pegasus 52, Philippe Kahn, Honolulu, HI, USA, 33.5 points
3. Beau Geste, Kark Kwok, Hong Kong, CHN, 44.5 points
4. Bambakou, John Coumantaros, Newport, RI, USA, 46.75 points
5. Rush, Thomas Stark, Newport, RI, USA, 51.75 points
6. Stay Calm, Stuart Robinson, Royal Thames YC, UK, 55.25 points
7. Sjambok, Michael Brennan, Annapolis, MD, USA, 60.5 points
8. Glory, John Buchan, Hunts Point, WA, USA, 69 points
9. Braveheart, Charles Burnett, Seattle, WA, USA, 94.25 points