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Steady Horowitz cements his advantage

Zeke Horowitz (Photograph by Beau Outteridge)

Zeke Horowitz stretched his overall lead on the penultimate day of the Aspen Viper 640 International Championship presented by EFG in the Great Sound yesterday.

The American’s conservative approach in the shifty 18 to 24-knot breezes that kept teams on their toes paid off, as he put more distance between himself and the chasing pack.

Horowitz, who is competing in Bermuda for the first time in more than a decade, along with crew Brendan Healy and Ian Coleman, chalked up a third victory of the regatta in the fifth race. After one discarded result, he has a 14-point advantage over Justin Scott, of Britain.

“Things are going well so far,” said Horowitz, who sails out of the Eastport Yacht Club, in Annapolis, Maryland. “The regatta was still young so we just tried to be consistent, conservative and let the boat speed do its thing.

“The conditions have been extremely challenging. They say it [wind] never comes out of these directions here, so it’s been really hard. The breeze has been all over the place: big puffs, big lulls, huge shifts and rain squalls coming through, which has been really difficult.”

Horowitz is competing here for the first time since 2002 when Bermuda hosted the North American Optimist Championships, which was won by local sailor and future Olympian Jessie Kirkland.

“Bermuda has been gorgeous,” he added. “We haven’t done a ton of sailing here, so we are super excited.

“Every time we sail out, we are just blown away by how beautiful it is — even though it has rained a lot.”

The American, who is making only his second appearance at this regatta, is now bracing himself for the final day of racing today in heavier winds.

“We have a big day tomorrow and it looks like it’s supposed to be really breezy, so we’re just going to try and hang on, keep being conservative and bang out top-five races and hopefully it will all work out,” Horowitz said.

“We will approach it just the same way as we have been going so far; just try to stay out of traffic at the starting line, get off the line well and try and hit the first shift — keep it simple and go fast.”

Somers Kempe, the Bermuda Viper Class executive and race chairman, still leads the local entries in the field.

The former Royal Bermuda Yacht Club commodore, who is competing with husband-and-wife crew Adam and Debbie Barboza, managed two top-ten finishes, which lifted the experienced sailor from tenth to seventh.

“We are happy with our day today, with some solid races moving us up the leaderboard,” Kempe said.

Alec Cutler is the next highest local entry and eleventh overall in the 41-boat fleet.

Yesterday also featured the start of the Autumn Bacardi Keelboat Regatta, hosting the J105, IOD and Etchells classes.

Provisional results showed Peter Bromby, the famously fourth for Bermuda in the Star class at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, leading the J105 fleet. Overseas skipper Dirk Kneulman heads the Etchells and local skipper Craig Davis is tops in the IODs. Racing concludes today.