Shark Kahn, the young Melges 24 sailor still leads the fleet at Terra Nova Trading Key West despite a couple of poor results yesterday

It was a day of ups and downs at Terra Nova Trading Key West yesterday. The breeze was much shiftier and lighter than on the first two days and the change in conditions really put the sailors to the test.

Shark Kahn, overnight leader in the Melges 24 fleet, was among those called back and in the 58-boat fleet many thought that would be the last they’d see of him. But by the first windward mark he was up into the 40s and he just kept grinding away picking them off leg by leg ultimately finishing 14th – his worst result of the regatta to date.

As if that wasn’t enough he then went and did the same thing in race six. Again he rounded the first mark in the 40s but some smart crew work saw them in 12th place at the second weather mark and eventually took 10th place in that race.

Yesterday’s big story was the battle between the 14-year-old Shark and his father Philippe, who was lying overall second overnight. However, Philippe he had something of a disastrous day scoring 30, 20 which drops him down to ninth overall.

Away from the saga of the Kahn family the rest of the fleet was also enjoying two fantastic races. Race five started in 6-7 knots from 030 degrees with a large number of boats being called over in individual recall. Up the first beat those who picked the right found themselves on the loosing wicket and at the first mark it was Norway’s Kristian Nergaard who headed the fleet from Karen Gottwald. Following them were Sheldon Ecklund, Mike Dow, Sebastian Col, helming P&P Racing for Philppe Ligot from France and Paul Brotherton, helming for Ian Cleaver from Scotland.

Down the run the wind started to back a little and although Nergaard hung onto his lead Col pulled up into second ahead of Ecklund whilst Gottwald dropped to fourth and Dow to fifth. Silvio Santoni, helming for Italian Melges 24 Class president Franco Maria Rao, came from ninth to six.

Up the second beat Col got through Nergaard rounding three boat lengths ahead. From there on in he extended his lead whilst Nergaard also pulled out from the pursuing pack. Behind them John Jennings, helming for Bob Dockery got the shifting breeze just right and came from nowhere to round the second windward mark third. Having got a top three position in his sights he wasn’t letting go and despite various pushes from the pack he defended successfully all the way to the finish. Behind him Brotherton eventually took fourth from Santoni. Ireland’s Maurice ‘Prof’ O’Connell, helming his first Melges 24 regatta for owner Enda O’Coineen, was another who took full advantage of the shifting wind moving from the mid teens on the first beat up into sixth place just ahead of Sheldon Ecklund, Germany’s Dietrich Scheder and Gottwald.

By the start of race six the wind had gone all the way round to 350 degrees and had increased to 10-12 knots. Peter Stoneberg made the best job of judging the shifts up the first beat and was followed round the windward mark by Col, Ross Griffiths, Santoni, O’Connell, Sheldon Ecklund, Brotherton and Flavio Favini, helming for Switzerland’s Franco Rossini. Overnight sixth placed Bruce Ayres rounded in tenth just behind Scott Gregory, helming for Michael Schultz.

Down the first run Col got past Stoneberg, Santoni pulled up to third and Sheldon Ecklund moved into fourth just ahead of Griffith and O’Connell who were having a great toussle as they rounded. Favini had managed to overtake Brotherton for seventh and opened up some space by the leeward mark. Although Col took the right hand gate he tacked left relatively early in what proved to be a less than successful move dropping him back to seventh by the second weather mark. Stoneberg now led from Favini, Sheldon Ecklund, Brotherton, O’Connell and Ayres.

On the final lap it was Ayres who spotted another big backing shift first and proving that not only can he spot a shift but that he also knows what to do with it he promptly sailed himself into first place. On the dock after racing Ayres was typically understated commenting: “It went right a little bit and worked down to the right and that was it!” As they battled with the shifts, the rest of the fleet was changing places with every tack and gybe. In the end it was Brotherton who took second from Sheldon Ecklund with Britain’s Stuart Simpson coming from 11th to fourth ahead of Sean Scarborough, Col and Favini. However, Stoneberg found himself on the wrong side of the shift and dropped into eighth in front of Santoni and Shark Kahn.

In the other fleets, only the Division 1 boats – Farr 40s, Swan 45s and Mumm 30s – must count all of their races of the nine scheduled through Friday, so the Farr 40s especially seem destined to continue as a dogfight. Crocodile Rock, Alexandra Geremia and Scott Harris’ defending champion from Santa Barbara, is the third leader in three days, without winning a race.

Fred and Steve Howe’s Warpath, the co-leader from San Diego a day earlier, has a clear handle on the situation after finishing first and 19th in Wednesday’s fluky, moderate winds.

Warpath shares third place with Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad, Newport, RI, five points off the pace, with a reborn John MacLaurin, the 70-year-old phenom from LA, holding Pendragon V on a role only 1.8 points out of first place.

A similar scrap is going on among the biggest boats in PHRF 1, where three rivals are within five points of Clay Deutsch’s Swan 68, Chippewa, sailing their handicaps for all they’re worth against the fastest rated pair – Tom Hill’s R/P 75 Titan and Bill Alcott’s Andrews 68 Equation – who are running an easy 1-2 boat-for-boat consistently but finding it difficult to cover from so far ahead.

With the clock calculations, Roger Sturgeon’s San Francisco-based Transpac 52, Rosebud, scored a first and fourth Wednesday to win Mount Gay Rum Boat of the Day honors – extending a sweep this week for West Coast boats.

Other significant performances came from American multihull icon Randy Smyth, who drove Ken Winters’ Corsair 28R trimaran Rocketeer II past Bob and Doug Harkrider’s Bad Boys into first place by two points, and Rich Bergmann’s Zuni Bear, the 2003 Boat of the Week from San Diego that scored two firsts and will toss an opening day 19th Thursday. That will all but wrap up the J/105 title again.

Then there is the Mumm 30 affair between John and Deneen Demourkas, husband and wife, from Santa Barbara. After a few years of Deneen driving the family Farr 40, they now have separate boats – both winners yesterday.

CLASS LEADERS (6 of 9 races)

Swan 45 (8 boats) RUSH (Reloaded), Thomas Stark, Newport, R.I. (4-2-2-4-1-2), 15 points

Farr 40 (23) Crocodile Rock, Alexandra Geremia/Scott Harris, Santa Barbara, Calif. (9-2-8-9-3-8), 39

Mumm 30 (13) Turbo Duck, Bodo Von Der Wense, Annapolis (1-2-2-1-2-4), 12

Melges 24 (58) Pegasus 492, Samuel (Shark) Kahn, Waikiki, H.I. (4-5-4-1-14-10), 38

J/105 (29) Zuni Bear, Richard Bergmann, San Diego (1-19-1-2-1-1), 25

J/80 (20) Sooner Magic, Mac Kilpatrick, Ft. Worth, Tex. (1-5-1-2-5-5), 19

Corsair 28R (10) Rocketeer II, Ken Winters/Randy Smyth, Miami Beach (2-2-1-3-2-1), 11

Corsair 24 (9) I-Fly, Steve Marsh, Miami, Fla. (1-2-2-2-2-2), 11

C&C 99 (11) Trumpeter, Wally Hogan, Toronto (1-4-3-1-2-2), 13

T-10 (8) Liquor Box, Chuck Simon/Bill Buckles, Key West (1-2-3-1-1-3), 11

PHRF 1 (9) Chippewa (Swan 68), Clay Deutsch, Road Harbour, BVI (7-1-1-1-8-1), 10

PHRF 2 /IMS (8) Storm (R/P 43), Les Crouch, San Diego (1-2-1-1-4-5), 14

PHRF 3 (8) Raincloud (J/133), Mike Rose, Kemah, Tex. (1-1-2-1-1-1), 7

PHRF 4 (10) Tiburon (Melges 30), Michael Gray, New Orleans (1-5-1-1-2-1), 11

PHRF 5 (12) K2 (J/120), Luis Gonzalez, Mallets Bay, Vt. (10-2-1-2-4-1), 20

PHRF 6 (14) Bounder (Sydney 36), David Hudgel, Detroit (1-5-1-2-2-1) 12

PHRF 7 (12) Phaedra (Evelyn 32-2), Robert Patroni, Pensacola, Fla. (7-1-3-2-2-1), 16

PHRF 8 (9) Hot Ticket (Farr 37), Jim Hightower, Houston, Tex. (1-1-3-1-4-3), 13

PHRF 9 (11) Rhumb Punch (J/29), John Edwards, Solomons, Md. (4-5-5-1-3-3), 21

PHRF 10 (7) Ego Tripp (Tripp 26), Rich Harrison, Annapolis, Md. (2-1-2-1-2-6), 14

PHRF 11 (12) Circus (J/30), Team Circus, Chicago (3-2-3-2-3-3), 16