World champions set to compete at Acura Key West sailing regatta

Published: Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 5:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 5:10 p.m.

KEY WEST, Fla. - Ernesto Bertarelli, syndicate president of America's Cup champion Alinghi, is set to defend his Farr 40-class title at the Acura Key West sailing regatta on Monday off the Florida Keys.

Alinghi captured the Farr 40-class in last year's competition, clinching victory even before the final of nine races that comprise the regatta. That feat will be tough to duplicate during the five-day regatta as part of a fleet of 25 boats that includes two-time defending world champion Mascalzone Latino, skippered by Italy's Vincenzo Onorato.

Adrian Stead, British-born tactician for Mascalzone, said he believed no less than a dozen teams are capable of winning this week. Among other favorites are Barking Mad, skippered by Jim Richardson and Nerone, piloted by Massimo Mezzaroma, are past world champions.

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark will be skippering Nanoq in the Farr 40 class. This will be the second consecutive time he has competed in the regatta. Last year he finished in 13th place.

In July, Bertarelli and tactician Brad Butterworth won the America's Cup in Valencia, Spain, and then announced significant changes to the protocol for the historic competition.

Since then, Bertarelli has been embroiled in legal battles with Larry Ellison's Oracle BMW Racing that objected to the new procedures. A New York judge invalidated a Spanish yacht club as challenger of record for the 2009 America's Cup, but the matter has yet to be resolved.

The Key West race is the largest winter keelboat regatta in North America and has attracted 262 boats in 16 classes, said Peter Craig, an organizer.

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