by Joy Dunigan
The last day of racing at Quantum Key West 2012 brought total championship victory to John Kilroy aboard Samba Pa Ti, along with tactician and multi-Melges 24 World Champion Lorenzo Bressani, Harry Melges, Federico Michetti, Martino Tortarolo, Justin Smart, Luca Faravelli and T. Max Bulger.
John Kilroy, Samba Pa Ti (left) and Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino (right) race to the finish of the final race. - Key West 2012 - Melges 32
Until that last downwind run of the ten race series, nothing seemed absolutely certain for Kilroy.
Kilroy and team also took home Quantum Key West's highest honor — Boat of the Week. Samba Pa Ti was also named Division Champion.
Battling the likes of event runners-up Benjamin Schwartz on Pisces and Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino, Kilroy won Key West in the Melges 32 for the first time two years ago and his 2012 victory surely is as sweet as the first. No stranger to the intense competition of the Melges 32 Class, this is clearly a step toward furthering his campaign to win the next World Championship slated for September 25-29 in Newport, R.I. hosted by the New York Yacht Club.
For second place finisher Schwartz, who joined the fleet less than a year ago, he thoroughly enjoys the Melges 32 style of racing in Key West. 'The caliber of sailors in this class are amazing. And, for us to be this consistent and in the top third of this fleet is great. I can't say enough about my crew,' said Schwartz. 'I'm excited. This is really fun. To be competing at this level is just so cool. These boats are really exciting and present a real test with what you are doing as a sailor.'
'If you are not doing something right, this boat will let you know right away. When you are performing well, it lets you know that too and it feels really, really good.' continued Schwartz. 'It's especially exciting when everyone in the class is so good. You can really learn so much. The Melges 32 takes sailing to a whole new level.'
Benjamin Schwartz, Pisces - Key West 2012 - Melges 32
The final day of racing was very intense as only four points separated Kilroy and Schwartz going into the final two races. Both camps were quiet on the docks this morning as they prepared for a focused yet relaxed approach to the day.
For the start of Race One, the sun was out and the breeze was on at a perfectly tuned 13-15 knots. Kilroy and Schwartz went head-to-head immediately, aggressively match racing up the right side. With the best pressure on the left, the field was virtually turned inside out at the top mark with Mark Plaxton's INTAC taking command of the fleet, Brazilian Dario Galvo on roXanne charged around in second, Keisuke Suzuki on Swing was third and Onorato found his way to fourth. Downwind, Suzuki moved up to take second, Onorato passed Galvo to take third with Plaxton extending his lead back upwind and down for the win. The top tier of the fleet got shuffled to mid-fleet on the first upwind beat, leaving them play a tough game of catch-up, all struggling for best position. Plaxton took the gun, while Onorato won out over Suzuki right at the finish line for second. Suzuki settled for third.
In Race Two of the day and the final heat of the event, Schwartz was dealt a heavy blow at the start being called OCS, setting him back in his quest to chase down Kilroy, who at this point was ahead by seven points. Alec Cutler's Hedgehog delivered a carbon copy performance of Thursday's Race Seven, launching off the starting line with great speed. Cutler's tactician Richard Clarke put them in all the right places enabling them to acquire a massive lead to win. Onorato and Kilroy battled back-and-forth from start to finish with Onorato eventually getting the advantage, racing it to the line to capture second, just ahead of Kilroy in third.
'Today was thrilling. I can't wait to do Miami. It's going to be real fun.' said Cutler post racing. 'My crew is great fun to sail with. I love reaching in this boat, in any Melges boat for that fact. Downwind is sweet.'
Alec Cutler, Hedgehog - Key West 2012 - Melges 32
The International Melges 32 Class would like to, first and foremost, thank every team that traveled to be with the fleet in Key West. It has been a phenomenal week of racing.
A very special thanks to Principal Race Officer Peter 'Luigi' Reggio and team who delivered the best, world-class racing to the Melges fleets this week. The race management was absolutely flawless, simply perfect. Most special thanks to Peter Craig and staff at Premiere Racing for yet another incredible Race Week!
John Kilroy, Samba Pa Ti - 2012 Melges 32 Key West Champion, 2012 Boat of the Week - Key West 2012 - Melges 32
TOP TEN RESULTS (After 10 Races, FINAL)
1.) John Kilroy/Lorenzo Bressani, Samba Pa Ti; 1-1-5-3-4-2-4-3--3 = 26
2.) Benjamin Schwartz/Ed Baird, Pisces; 3-3-1-1-6-6-8-2- = 38
3.) Vincenzo Onorato/Gabriele Benussi, Mascalzone Latino; 2-4-2--9-11-2-9-2-2 = 43
4.) Alec Cutler/Richard Clarke, Hedgehog; 4-2-8-4-7--1-13-12-1 = 52
5.) Steve Howe/Morgan Larson, Warpath; 12-5--5-3-4-6-1-5-14 = 55
6.) Bob Hughes/Tovar Mirsky, Heartbreaker; 10-13-6-8-2-1-3-4--10 = 57
7.) Keisuke Suzuki/Jesper Radich, Swing; 11-9-4-12-5-10-7--3-8 = 69
8.) Joel Ronning/Chris Larson, Catapult; 5-6-13--13-12-5-7-4-6 = 71
9.) Steve Rhyne/Johnny Lovell, Mojo; 6-12-10-6-8-9-14-6--9 = 80
10.) Geoff Pierini/Morgan Reeser, Sicktrix 32; 9-8-3-19-10-15-[20/RAF]-5-17-7 = 93
Full results here
Melges 32 website
Thanks to Melges USA and Melges Europe, and all their representatives that have been here on the ground in Key West keeping every team running smooth.
And lastly, but certainly not least, many thanks to Alec and Laura Cutler for enabling on-the-water reporting from their Hedgehog tender. Your generosity is greatly appreciated, as without your support, the race reports, photos, blogging and Facebook updates would not have been possible. We could not have done it without you!
The next event for the Melges 32 Class is the Miami Championship on March 2-4 in fantastic, South Beach Miami.
Stay close to the Official Class Website for all the details.