Bella Mente Clinches Maxi 72-Class Title in Key West

Bella Mente, skippered by Hap Fauth of Minneapolis, clinched the Maxi 72-class title Thursday, one day before the conclusion of the Quantum Key West Race Week sailing regatta off the Florida Keys.

Fauth, with tactician Terry Hutchinson of Harwood, Maryland, won all three races Thursday and built an insurmountable lead over other boats in the class.

"Our strategy has been the same all week,'' Fauth said. "Get good starts, get out front and let Bella do the rest.''

Bella Mente is the regatta's defending Maxi 72 champion and also the class' 2015 world champion.

"Winning Key West in 2016 is way more satisfying than winning in 2015 because of the closeness of the fleet,'' Hutchinson said. "The scorecard doesn't reflect how close the racing was here this week.''

Malta skipper Alex Schaerer and his crew onboard Caol Ila Rare in second in Maxi 72, and Proteus, captained by George Sakellaris of Framingham, Massachusetts, is in third.

In the IRC 1 class, Quantum Racing, owned by Doug DeVos of Ada, Michigan, is just a half-point ahead of Spookie, skippered by Steve Benjamin of Norwalk, Connecticut, the 2015 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year.

DeVos and his crew placed first in all three races Thursday. Friday's scheduled final IRC 1 race is to decide the winner. Third place in IRC 1 will go to Gladiator, helmed by British skipper Tony Langley.

Calvi Network, skippered by Italy's Carlo Alberini, has a solid lead in the 54-boat J/70 class, the largest of 11 classes that make up the 138-boat fleet.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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