In the hotly contested Melges 24 class Harry Melges took both races on the opening day of Yachting Key West Race Week. With a northerly 10 knot breeze and glorious sunshine the 60 boat fleet had excellent racing with both races seeing plenty of place changing and some very close sailing.

In race one Karen Gottwald broke away from the pack early on, with Morgan Resser, helming for Neil Sullivan, Harry Melges and Bruce Ayres all hard on her heels. Gottwald, whose performance has improved markedly in the last year, managed to hold them off until the final moments of the race when Melges was just able to gybe inside her on the line and snatch first place.Resser took third with Ayres in fourth.

In race two Canadian Jim Pearson took the first leg but down the first run both Dave Ullman and Melges got through him. Ullman was in the lead at the end of the first run but Melges got by him up the second beat and determinedly defended all the way to the finish. Ullman held second and Peter Stoneberg came through to take third. The next 6 boats to finish were all overlapped making life hard for the race management team who had their work cut out to separate them.

The top performance by a European crew came from Mike Budd, helming for Roger Peacock, who took 9th and 7th,, whilst current holder of the Key West Melges title Brian Porter had a disappointing day ending up with an 11th and 10th. Please note final results were not yet available at time of going to press.

Comment from overall leader Harry Melges dockside after the first day's racing:

"The key to our day was that we got out there as soon as we could and sailed up wind a bit and got tuned up for the conditions. It was a light to medium breeze but relatively flat water so not too difficult to keep the boat moving. We just tried to be conservative as the courses were relatively long and I think it was key not to get hung out on one side or the other and to fight for your lanes in the middle, play the compass and watch our positioning on other boats around us.

In the first race we had a really bad start but we managed a really good beat to round out about 7th at the first mark. We seemed to have good boat speed up wind and down and just slowly worked our way up and rounded the final weather mark in second then just got by Karen Gottwald at that finish line. She sailed an awesome race.

Just before the start of race two there was a substantial right hand shift which I think a lot of the fleet didn't pick up on. The windward end of the line was favoured and the boats up at the top got punched out away from the boats a the leward end pretty quickly. There was more pressure and a bit of a shift to the right so the fleet got spread out on the first beat. We had a real good race with Dave Ullman and we were able to get by him on the last beat, then we just covered him the rest of the time. Overall a good day!"