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Cutler seals Miami win

Sailing clear: Hedgehog in action at the Quantum Key West Race Week 2015 in Miami

Alec Cutler has defended his title in the one design Melges 32 at the Quantum Key West Race Week 2015 in Miami.

The local sailor and his crew on Hedgehog left it late before ultimately clinching the championship with a race to spare in strong winds and rough seas.

Cutler carried a three-point lead into the final day and needed to finish ahead of fellow title contender Delta, helmed by United States national Melges 32 champion Dalton DeVos, in one of the final two races in order to retain his title.

It was a task the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club sailor was more than equal to.

“We were fortunate to repeat at Key West Race Week,” Cutler said.

“As was the case last year, we had work to do on the last day, needing to beat Delta in either race nine or ten to win the event.

“We had our best start of the week in race nine in a steady 18 to 20 knots, managed to work ahead of Delta for good on the last upwind, and keep that status quo through the finish, winning [the regatta] with a race to spare.”

Cutler finished the regatta on Friday two-points clear of Argo, skippered by Graham Lundy, who is a student at Yale.

Richard Clarke, who has represented Canada multiple times at the Olympics, called tactics for Cutler while experienced professional Adrian Stead, who hails from Britain, was the team’s strategist.

“Ado [Stead] meshed well with the team and called great tactics all week,” Cutler said. “And the crew provided good boat speed and solid manoeuvres in all conditions.

“The competition was real tough. Every boat won a race and we were the only boat that didn’t finish last.

“It was really close racing and you could lose two or three boats in a hurry with the slightest mistake.”

DeVos rounded off the podium finishers, finishing six-points ahead of his son, Doug, who was at the helm of Volpe.

Chuck Millican, the only other local skipper competing at the regatta, placed 36th with Elusive among the 54 entries in the one design J 70 class.

Also competing at last week’s Quantum Key West Race Week were mini maxis, Bella Mente and Shockwave, that also participated in last year’s Newport to Bermuda Race.

Bella Mente, with Hap Fauth at the helm, took top honours in the Maxi 72 division while Shockwave, helmed by owner George Sakellaris, finished third in the three-boat fleet.

Shockwave held off Belle Mente in last year’s Newport to Bermuda Race to win the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Trophy for the second consecutive race, crossing the finish line off of St David’s Lighthouse seven minutes ahead of her nearest rival.