Swan 45 fleet enjoy first day's racing at Swan Gold Cup in Key West 17/1/06

Swan 45 Goombay Smash (William Douglass, USA) was top of the class today, coming first overall on the first day of racing at the Swan 45 Gold Cup 2006. Held as part of Acura Key West, the Swan 45 fleet has a truly international presence at the regatta, with 16 boats from four countries competing for the Swan 45 Class World Champion title.

After a delayed start due to lack of wind, the fleet saw a light north-easterly breeze of eight to nine knots build throughout the day, along with the heat in the quintessential Key West sunshine. In the first race, Bellicosa (Massimo Ferragamo, USA) led the pack from the off, and comfortably held her place while the rest of the fleet changed positions right up until the last. A split in tactics up the first beat allowed Bellicosa and Atlantica Racing (Carlo Perrone, ITA) to charge ahead on the left, rounding the windward mark in first and second place respectively.

A spilt up the second beat saw Bellicosa initially go left, then return to the middle, with Fever (Gordon/Diederichs, GBR) reaping the benefits of tacking right and gaining on the fleet to finish in third place. Vim, owned by Swan 45 Eastern American fleet captain Craig Speck came in a strong second, with Goombay Smash and Mintaka (Stafano Polti, ITA) finishing fourth and fifth respectively.

The second race of the day saw a dramatic change in the leaderboard, as well as a significant shift in wind speed, with DSK Comifin (Danilo Salsi, ITA) seeing an increase on her eighth place in race one, to first in race two, a second place finish for Murka 2 (Mikhail Mouratov, GBR) and third for Goombay Smash. Consistency and steady sailing were the order of the day for Douglass’ crew, with tactics being called by British Match Racing champion Chris Law.

Douglass commented: “We’re happy about today’s racing, obviously. The team’s fitting in really well together and we didn’t want to push too hard on the first day. The weather was good, and that shift we’d been hoping for appeared about half way through the second race. We didn’t tack too far right, so played it quite conservatively. For the rest of the week we’ll be looking to keep consistent, which is important for a no discard series.”

CuordiLeone (Leonardo Ferragamo, ITA) saw her fortunes rise in the second race, with an increase on ninth place to fifth, positioning her sixth on the overall leaderboard after day one. GBR America’s Cup sailor and CuordiLeone’s tactician, Andy Beadsworth commented: “The first part of race two was okay – we were keen to get out to the right and made a good start – we built a very, very good speed and went all the way to the right had side, tacked two minutes short of the starboard lay line and then worked our way across. I think we were third round the windward mark – it was all very close between first and eighth at this point, and fifth place was a respectable finish for us.”

Stefano Polti, owner of Mintaka and current holder of the Gold Cup was pleased with his third place after two races, commenting: “Overall, I’m happy because today’s conditions were quite difficult for us – in the first race we made a 360 and came fifth. For the second race we were very good also, finishing fourth – for me it’s important to remain in the first five boats because we have nine races without discard at Key West, so it’s important to be consistent.”

All 16 crews are hoping for good weather and strong winds tomorrow, as racing continues off the coast of Key West. Anything can happen to the leaderboard at this stage of the game, but all eyes will be fixed on the Swan 45 Gold Cup’s early emerging stars.

Results (provisional)

1. GOOMBAY SMASH – Willam DOUGLAS (USA) 4,3 – 7 points

2. DSK COMIFIN – Danilo SALSI (ITA) 8,1 – 9

3. MINTAKA – Stefano POLTI (GBR) 5,4 – 9

4. MURKA 2 – Mikhail MOURATOV (GBR) 10,2 – 12