November 30, 2013

Key West Fleet Taking Shape — Sea Stories in the Making

Strong programs from across the U.S. and around
the world have already submitted their entries to Quantum Key West 2014.
The first entry deadline is a month away and the scratch sheet grows daily as
people make their January plans for Key West and the Florida Keys.
Justin Smith shared his enthusiasm after submitting the entry for Marc
Ewing's McConaghy 38 Riot. "The team is very excited to be returning to Key
West. It is without question the owner's favorite sailing event. The choice of
boat was secondary - it all revolved around getting to Key West Race Week.
Having sailed a Farr 40 and Melges 24 in the regatta, we know we'll get
excellent conditions, phenomenal event management and great
racing. Whether its one design or handicap racing, Key West never
First off the line on Division 1 will be three mini-maxis - Hap Fauth's Bella
Mente and George Sakellaris' Shockwave will pick up where they left off last
year, with Alex Schaerar's Caol Ila R joining the IRC 1 fray.
The 52 Class (IRC 2) once again kicks off their US Super Series in Key West
before their March World Championship in Miami. Alberto Roemmers and
team Azzurra will be back to defend the 2013 title against returning programs
and some new faces. This class always produces close racing with top tier
crews and afterguards that will include long time Key West players Terry
Hutchinson, Adrian Stead, and Marty Kullman.
The TP52 Class Manager, Rob Weiland, remarked "Certainly the 2014 return
to Key West is the direct result of the very positive experience of 2013 - from
the excellent sailing conditions, the relaxed atmosphere onshore and the
smooth operation that Quantum Key West Race Week is."
A noteworthy IRC 3 class is shaping up with 11 experienced teams from
seven different U.S. states and the Netherlands already entered. A variety of
different designs, four Swan 42s and Peter Vroon's Ker 46 Tonnerre de
Breskens 3 will make for a very competitive week.
"You never know year to year which handicap classes will produce the best
racing," says Event Director and Race Chairman Peter Craig. "Our scratch
sheet already points to IRC3 as a class that bears watching. This class has
great numbers and quality working in its favor."
J/70s made a spectacular Key West debut last January and they will be
making noise again in 2014. Many of last year's top finishers are returning to
battle it out for Midwinter Championship honors in both the Open and
Corinthian classes. Recent North American Champion Heather Gregg-Earl
and her crew on Muse will face tough competition from entrants such as Brian
Keane, Dave Franzel, and Bruno Pasquinelli.
"With 40+ J/70s planing into the leeward gate in under 2 minutes, that's a boat
rounding either gate every 3 seconds on average... I know what we have to
work on!" commented sailmaker and 2006 Rolex yachtsman of the year Jud
Key West Fleet Taking Shape -- Sea Stories in the Making continued
The J/80 class has come back strong and other one-design action will include the Melges 24 and
Melges 32 classes making their usual high-powered impact. With teams from Bermuda, Denmark,
Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and the USA, these fleets will exhibit the international competition that
is a true hallmark of Key West Race Week.
Add in the High Performance Class and some very talented PHRF programs to the mix and there will be
no shortage of stories and worthy champions emerging in January.
Well known program manager and professional sailor Tony Rey knows what he'll be doing on the third
week of January. "I've been to nearly every Key West Race Week since the early 90s. That place rocks! It
is one of the greatest race tracks in the U.S., the sailing is just phenomenal" said Rey. "We manage
multiple international teams here every year, and the Premiere Racing team has it so well organized that
it makes our logistics much easier. Whether you're staying in a killer rental house with a pool and eating
at Louie's Backyard, or sleeping on a couch and having a liquid dinner at the tent, you'll be making
memories on and off the water. Don't miss it."
For those who can't be out on the race course, there will be plenty of ways to follow the racing. Last year
was a first for "Key West Live" coverage (#QKeyWest) and there will be more real time bloggers and
video coverage to keep everyone connected this year.