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1998 Key West Race Week ------ red rule ------
Nelson Scores "Double" Victory

KEY WEST, Florida (Jan. 26, 1998) — AmericaOne's principal designer Bruce Nelson continued to demonstrate his deserved reputation as a first-rate yacht designer and sailor when the Nelson/Marek-43 Vim |I, owned by Craig Speck of Grand Rapids, Mich., was seven for seven to win IMS Class 2 with a perfect score and place fourth overall at Key West Race Week, Jan. 19-23.

Here is Bruce's report:

I sailed as helmsman on board our latest IMS design, Craig Speck's new N/M-43 Vim |I. As this was the first major race for the boat and crew, we arrived in Key West early for four days of practice and tuning prior to the first race. This time proved very valuable and enabled us to tune the rig, photo-analyze and re-cut some sails, and refine our target speeds and angles. We spent the last two days sailing short windward-leeward courses with Richard Breeden's N/M-46 Bright Star, honing our teamwork and developing confidence in our boatspeed — we felt like we were cramming for a test.

This early work paid off immediately, and at the end of the first day of racing, Vim |I led IMS in both Class and Overall Fleet — while tuning partner Bright Star was second in her Class and third Overall. The IMS fleet was split into two classes, IMS Class 1, which included the Farr 49s Flash Gordon 3 (helmed by Ken Read) and Breeze (with Tommaso Chieffi and Francisco DeAngelis of the Italian Prada America’s Cup Challenge), and the Taylor 49 Numbers (Russell Coutts and Team New Zealand), as well as Bright Star, with Terry Hutchinson driving.

IMS Class 2 consisted of Vim |I plus several Farr 39s, a Taylor 40 and an IMX 38. For the purposes of Overall IMS Fleet scoring, the Corel 45 and Farr 40 class boats were included, bringing the total IMS Fleet up to 35 boats.

Following the two races in 8 to 10 knots of wind from the south on Day 1, the fleet was becalmed for no racing on Day 2 — a Key West Race Week first! The breeze returned on Day 3 for two more races in 10 to 12 knots of wind from the east, and increased further to 15 to 20 knots from the southeast for two more typical Key West-condition races in choppy seas on Day 4.

In these conditions, Vim |I easily out-distanced her class in each race and continued to challenge the bigger boats with a first overall in race four and third overall in race five. However, a starting error and subsequent eleventh in race six dropped Vim |I out of first and into third overall, while Bright Star continued her steady performance and assumed the IMS Overall Fleet lead.

The one long final seventh race was sailed on Day 5 in a hot and humid 10 to 14 knot wind from the south which was much stronger aloft than near the water. This favored the bigger boats and Breeze made the most of it to win the race, just ahead of the consistent Bright Star in second.

Vim |I won Class 2 again for a clean sweep for the week, but fell back to fourth in the Overall Fleet scores behind Bright Star in first with 24 points, followed by Flash Gordon 3 with 36, Breeze with 41, then Vim |I with 43 ahead of Numbers, 52, Idler, 55 and Virago, 75.

Overall, it was a good week for the Nelson/Marek IMS designs at Key West, with all four finishing in the top seven Overall Fleet and winning both IMS Classes 1 and 2. Clearly, the extra effort put in by the Bright Star and Vim |I teams before the regatta paid off handsomely.

The next test takes place in Miami at the SORC beginning Feb 25.

For complete results, visit the Key West Race Week Web site.


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