Bella Mente wins championship at Key West regatta

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) Minneapolis skipper Hap Fauth won an IRC 1-class championship at the Quantum Key West sailing regatta off the Florida Keys on Friday.

With two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Terry Hutchinson of Annapolis, Maryland, calling tactics, Bella Mente won the final two races.

Numbers, with Gunter Buerman of Highland Beach, Florida, at the helm, finished two points behind Bella Mente for second place in IRC 1 during the 10-heat, five-day regatta. Shockwave, skippered by George Sakellaris of Framingham, Massachusetts, was third.

Italian-flagged Calvi Network, skippered by Carlo Alberini, won the 54-boat J/70 class, the largest contingent of the 114-boat fleet.

Swiss boat Armin Strom, steered by Flavio Marazzi, won the Great Cup 32 class featuring foiling catamarans, small replicas of America's Cup racing boats.

Bella Mente, began Friday's race with only a slight edge over Numbers. On Wednesday, Bella Mente hit a shipwreck, and Hutchinson successfully argued to the race jury the wreck was not on their chart and avoided a penalty.

But early Thursday, the other two crews had the decision reversed, proving the wreck was charted and pointing out an official had cited the obstacle at a pre-race meeting before Monday's first race day. Bella Mente relinquished a sizeable lead.

''We basically tanked two races and that was hard to overcome, especially against this caliber of competition,'' Fauth said. ''Our plan was to be in a position to win going into the last day and that is what happened.''

Despite Wednesday's poor performance, Bella Mente won six of 10 races staged during the regatta.

''The one constant we had all week was superb starting and tremendous boat-handling,'' Hutchinson said. ''Every member of the crew did a great job.''

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Online: Quantum Key West, http://www.premiere-racing.com

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