KEY WEST, FL — The Storm Trysail Club has flip flops on the ground in Key West, the southernmost point of the continental U.S., and advance preparations are underway for the 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week, scheduled January 15-20, 2017.
The entry list for the must-attend regatta of the winter is fast approaching 90 boats, the nightly parties are being planned and the sponsor list is well-tuned with six companies – Quantum Sails, City of Key West/Key West Tourism, Lewmar, B&G, Marlow and Mount Gay Rum – returning from last year as Platinum Level sponsors. They’re joined on the list by first-time sponsor Gill North America.
“In less than three months we’ll be racing off Key West and there’s a lot to do,” said regatta chairman John Fisher. “We’re very grateful to our Platinum Level sponsors and all of the companies that comprise our Gold and Silver level sponsorships. Many of these companies have been involved for a long time and we’re thankful for their continued support. We’re expecting more entries through November and want to remind everyone that the next entry fee increase occurs on December 1st”
Race Week event director Bill Canfield is on the ground in Key West, designing the layout for the morning and evening briefings and nightly parties at the Waterfront Brewery, in the Historic Seaport. Similar to last year, title sponsor Quantum Sails will host a daily evening seminar with guest speakers who focus on a particular class. On the other side of the island, the Truman Annex is being readied for a mass influx of trailers and containers. Many one-designs will launch from the ramp at Truman Annex.
“Our preparations have stalled a bit because the island celebrated Fantasy Fest last weekend, but things are under control,” said Canfield. “We’ll be ready when the racing starts in January.”
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The fleet features 11 TP52’s, which will be sailing the first leg of the 2017 52 Super Series in Key West. The lineup includes Doug DeVos’s (Ada, Michigan) 2016 series and world champion Quantum Racing as well as longtime class members Alberto and Pablo Roemmers’s (Buenos Aires, Argentina) Azzurra and Niklas Zenstromm’s (Bursledon, UK) Rán, the 2016 Owner/Driver Champion. In all, seven of the 11 entries hail from foreign countries.
“Key West is a known quantity to most, it’s a boatspeed venue,” said Quantum Racing’s Ed Reynolds.
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J/70’s will likely be the largest class in Key West 2017 – photo Sara Proctor
The J/70 Class, with 23 entries and counting, is another class that looks strong. “We have many class members who are fond of Key West Race Week, who’ve done it many years in the past,” said the class executive director, Chris Howell. “I expect there’ll be upwards of 50 entries, similar to last year.”
The 30th anniversary regatta is attracting many entries with long ties to Quantum Key West Race Week, such as Nigel Brownett, an Australian living in Long Beach, California, who’ll be racing one of the 10 Flying Tiger 7.5m available for charter. He’s raced Key West Race Week every year since 2006 and revels in the convivial atmosphere of the regatta.
“I think Key West Race Week is the best event of the year,” said the 45-year-old Brownett. “Every year you get to reconnect with people you talk to on the phone but don’t see on a regular basis. The evening parties are always good for that. I also think it’s a good family event. I bring my wife and two boys. It’s just a great, fun regatta.”
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The Flying Tiger 7m – one of several one-design classes competing in Key West
Brownett chartered the Flying Tiger at the behest of good friends Andrew Kerr (Seattle, Washington) and Jahn Tihansky (Annapolis, Maryland). The three have sailed Key West together for the past decade and in January they’ll be joined by Paul Molenda (Chicago, Illinois). The Flying Tiger fit their desire to spend a week racing with friends in a low cost environment.
“It’s the only time during the year that Andrew, Jahn and I get to sail together,” said Brownett. “The Flying Tiger has some performance characteristics and it was an inexpensive way to get everyone together. We’re really looking forward to it.”
“It’s a long story on how we all know each other and have raced together on and off different boats over the years,” says Tihansky, who is the Director of the Offshore Sailing Team at the US Naval Academy, “but Key West has been a constant throughout our long relationships. We have sailed here in a variety of different boats over the years, and when our usual options were not available this year the choice of the Flying Tigers presented itself as a perfect match.”
More than 25 companies have signed up for the sponsorship program, which includes Platinum, Gold and Silver levels. All are associated either with the marine industry or Key West and many of them have been aligned with Race Week in past years.
Mount Gay Rum is a loyal Platinum sponsor, renewing a long-standing association with Quantum Key West Race Week that marks the famed spirit as the official rum of race week and also a day sponsor. Mount Gay Rum, the rum that invented rum, is the world’s oldest refined rum dating back to 1703. Made from the finest sugar cane molasses and pure coral filtered Barbadian water, Mount Gay is double distilled, matured in toasted bourbon oak barrels and harmoniously blended by Master Blender Allen Smith to produce handcrafted rum with distinct character.
“Mount Gay Rum is excited to celebrate its 30th year of partnership with Key West Race Week,” said Gene Song, Vice President of Marketing, Mount Gay Rum. “The brand is grateful to the sailing community for its continued loyalty throughout the years.”