It could hardly be closer. After eight races Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad and Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino were tied on points. Each had scored 29 points, but the final race win, his second victory in the 25-strong Farr 40 class, gave the overall victory to the class President, Richardson, over the reigning world champion, Onorato.
It may well have been the instruction Richardson’s tactician gave him before the eighth and final race that inspired the Barking Mad skipper to complete his first-ever Acura Key West Race Week victory. “If you win this one, we will win,” said Hutchinson, who had obviously properly completed his unofficial points score as Mascalzone Latino led Barking Mad by a single point!
Racing started an hour earlier than scheduled in order that three races could be completed and the awards ceremony take place ashore at 1800. It is only the second time that three races have been sailed in the day in the Conch Republic’s annual regatta – the first time was on Tuesday! It was a masterstroke by Event Director Peter Craig and his team of race officials and with near-perfect conditions – 15-20 knots of north-easterly breeze – to give the competitors as much racing as possible.
It began with a race over 2.0-mile legs, twice to windward and return in 20-23 knots of north-easterly and Onorato appeared hell bent on self-destruction, breaking the line early and having to return to start properly. Massimo Mezzaroma’s Nerone, Peter de Ridder’s Mean Machine, and Erik Maris’ Twins were well placed soon after the start. By the windward mark, Twins led from Alessandro Barnaba’s Fiamma and Mean Machine. Remarkably, Mascalzone was ninth around this mark.
The second time up, Twins had stretched her lead to 51 seconds over Mean Machine and Fred & Steve Howe’s Warpath. Barking Mad and Mascalzone Latino were sixth and seventh. At the finish, Twins held on to win from Mean Machine and Warpath but Mascalzone had worked through to fifth and Barking Mad dropped to seventh.
Race 7 was held over a similar four-leg course but in slightly less breeze; this time it was Twins’ Erik Maris who was trigger happy and started too soon, thereby reducing his chances of an overall win despite being the points leader at this stage. Mean Machine spearheaded the group at the pin end while Mascalzone made an early tack out to the right hand side of the course.
A right-hand shift halfway up the course favoured those who had gone that way and must have brought a smile to Onorato’s face. As he tacked for the windward mark, Mascalzone appeared well ahead but with four minutes left to go the wind shifted back and Mean Machine came back into the reckoning together with William Douglass’ Goombay Smash. The second time up, Mean Machine had faded and Mascalzone Latino led Goombay Smash by ten seconds with Barking Mad third.
Onorato held on to his lead down the run to win from Douglass, while Nerone overtook Barking Mad to take third place. In the overall series points, Mascalzone was one ahead of Barking Mad with Twins four points further off, leaving all to play for in the final race, a five-leg affair in 15-16 knots from 035 degrees.
A clean start saw Mean Machine, Mascalzone Latino and Nerone contesting the pin while Barking Mad went right from the mid-line before coming back to keep a loose cover on her close rivals. There was a slight right-hand shift but 13 minutes into the first beat, the left-hander kicked in. Mean Machine was best placed to take advantage of it and led around the first mark, hotly pursued by Barking Mad and Mascalzone Latino.
Had those positions held Mascalzone would have won the week’s trophy on count back, but the second beat was the Italian’s undoing and the Latin Rascals dropped to sixth as Barking Mad rounded overlapped with Mean Machine. At the finish, Mascalzone had recovered to second but the first-place finish also gave Jim Richardson another “first” - the overall trophy for the week.
“I have twice won the world championship and most of the other trophies in this class,” said an elated Richardson, “and I have always wanted to win this one. Now I have, and it’s wonderful!” Results:
1. Twins Erik Maris (FRA)
2. Mean Machine Peter de Ridder (MON)
3. Warpath Fred & Steve Howe (USA)
4. Fiamma Alessandro Barnaba (ITA)
5. Mascalzone Latino Vincenzo Onorato (ITA)
6. Nerone Massimo Mezzaroma (ITA) Race 7:
1. Mascalzone Latino
2. Goombay Smash William Douglass (USA)
4. Barking Mad James Richardson (USA)
6. Fiamma Race 8:
1. Barking Mad
2. Mascalzone Latino
3. Mean Machine
6. Alinghi Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI) Ovrrall:
1. Barking Mad 29 points
2. Mascalzone Latino 29 points
3. Twins 37 points
4. Nerone 42 points
5. Fiamma 57 points
6. Mean Machine 61 points