20 January 2004 – Day two at Terra Nova Trading Key West provided the Melges 24 fleet with two more beautiful races. The battle between father and son Philippe and Shark Kahn cranked up a notch today and with four races completed the fourteen year old Shark now leads his father by 8 points.
After yesterday’s showers the sun was back in all it’s glory today and with the breeze blowing offshore from 20 degrees at between 10 and 14 knots the Melges fleet had two more great races. Conditions were nicely loaded upwind and marginal planing downwind and with 58 boats on the line it was no place for the faint hearted. “It was fantastic sailing, but in this fleet finding and keeping a lane is so hard and if you get it wrong you really know it!” commented US Melges 24 Class President Jeff Jones after racing.
Race three started on time and at the first attempt although with a large number of individual recalls. Philippe Kahn and Sebastian Col, helming P&P Racing for Philippe Ligot of France, both got excellent starts along with Bruce Ayres and at the top mark they filled the top three slots in that order followed by John Hyatt and Hubert Guy. Sean Scarborough rounded sixth but had in fact been called OCS and failed to return, at the time of writing Scarborough is lodging a protest against his disqualification. Jeff Ecklund was seventh just ahead of Norway’s Kristian Nergaard, Deitrich Scheder from Germany and Britain’s Stuart Simpson.
At the leeward mark Col held his lead whilst Jeff Ecklund had caught right up on Philippe Kahn with the two boats rounding overlapped. Hyatt droped to fourth in front of Nergaard and Guy with Ayres down to seventh as Shark Kahn pulled up from the teens to eighth.
On the final lap Col and Philippe Kahn held their positions but the battle for fourth was a good one. At the second weather mark Hyatt had pulled up into third from Nergaard and Jeff Ecklund with Scheder now in fourth from Ayres and Shark Kahn. The fun continued on the run into the finish with Nergaard and Shark Kann both sailing smart and fast to bring them up to third and fourth with Hyatt fifth, Jeff Ecklund sixth Ayres seventh and Scheder eighth. After a mediocre first beat Sheldon Ecklund got his head down and steadily worked his way back up to ninth with John Pollard tenth.
Race four also got away first time out with a small number of individual recalls. This time it was Shark Kahn who led into the first mark from Jeff Ecklund, Nergaard, Paul Brotherton, helming for Scotland’s Ian Cleaver, Britain’s Joe Woods, Mike Dow and Col. Shark tacked a fraction too early on his final approach to the mark and only just managed to squeeze round allowing Jeff Ecklund and the fleet to grab back a few valuable seconds.
Down the first run the breeze began to build a little with Shark and his team having to work hard to hold off Jeff Ecklund with the two boats rounding virtually together. Nergaard slotted into third with Col pulling up to fourth only a second or two ahead of Brotherton. Woods had dropped to sixth rounding neck and neck with Flavio Favini, helming for Franco Rossini of Switzerland. Shark, Brotherton and Joe took off from the left whilst the others went right.
On the second beat Shark opened up some distance and was able to hold his lead right into the finish. The race committee elected to include a final third beat and with an outstanding dog fight going on for second place the spectator boats, of which there are many, were delighted. At the second leeward mark Jeff Ecklund had managed to hang onto second whilst Col just slipped through in front of Nergaard. Brotherton rounded fifth from Ayres, Favini and Woods.
Jeff Ecklund and Col virtually match raced their way round the final two legs. Coming into the last leeward mark Col crossed Jeff Ecklund’s transom by millimeters and they had the spectators on the edge of their seats all the way up the final beat. On the final approach Col finally got the better of the deal and took second by a boat length. Nergaard hung onto his fourth whilst Ayres and Favini slugged it out for fifth with Favini getting it on the final beat. Brotherton kept his seventh slot holding off a last minute charge from Scarborough who pulled up from the teens with Woods in ninth.
In the overall standings Shark Kahn is on fourteen points, eight ahead of his father Philippe. Flavio Favini with Franco Rossini’s Swiss Blu Moon team are equal third on 33 points with Norway’s Kristian Nergaard, whilst Jeff Ecklund and Bruce Ayres are equal fifth with 38 points. Overnight second placed John Pollard from England scored 10, 23 taking him down to seventh on 52 points, ten clear of Silvio Santoni, helming for Italy’s Franco Maria Rao. Despite today’s 1, 2 scoreline the French P&P team of Philippe Ligot with Sebastian Col helming are currently counting an OCS so are lying in joint tenth place on 63 points with Britain’s Martin Wedge. TNTKW will include a discard for the first time this year, which kicks in at 7 races, so this regatta is still wide open.