A staple of the racing season since its inception in 1976, the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race kicks off the new year of offshore racing in South Florida on January 23, 2020. What began in 1976 as a “Feeder Race” to get boats around the southern end of the state and over to St. Petersburg for the beginning of the SORC has evolved over the years, to meet changing demand and schedules. As interest in offshore racing waned, the race became known as the “Feeder Race” for the growing Key West Race Week. As interest in offshore racing rebounded, the race was included in the SORC’s “Islands in the Stream Series”.
Thanks to increased interest in shorthanded offshore racing, 2020 will bring change to the Key West Race once again. A double-handed class has been added to the eligible classes, to offer an event for those interested in training for the inclusion of double-handed offshore racing in the 2024 Olympics. The first entry is Ken Read, sailing with Suzy Leech on a new Jenneau SunFast 3300. Ken is of course no stranger to the race, having been aboard Joe Dockery’s R/P 80 Carrera for its record-setting performance (despite losing its rudder during the race) in 2005. Come test your skill against Ken and Suzy on a course that is fun and challenging for full crews.
Of course, some things never change. Lauderdale Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club are hosting the race for the 45th time. The course offers those confined by winter weather up north to break free for a day or two of warm water sailing, down the coast and around the curve of the Florida Keys to the place where if you don’t have fun, you didn’t want to have fun, Key West. Along the way you can watch the lighthouses on the reef go zooming past, silhouetted by the lights ashore as you work your way to the Key West Sea Buoy. The Conch Grinder Race will keep crews occupied and entertained on Saturday January 25, followed by the Awards Party that evening.
Due to the late addition of the Double-Handed class, the early entry deadline has been extended to January 3, 2020. Get in the race before then and get all the action and fun for a few bucks less. Find links to official race documents on the race website, keywestrace.org and get unofficial information from the SORC Sailing Facebook page. Want to go to Key West? The SORC will race you there.