--- More than a Thousand Sailors Prepared for 26th Anniversary Regatta
Key West, Fla - All the docks around the Conch Republic were alive with activity
and anticipation on Sunday as more than a thousand sailors aboard 121 boats
prepared for the start of Quantum Key West 2013.
At the marina basin in front of the Westin and Hyatt hotels, crews were busily
loading sails and rigging sheets aboard the two largest entries in the 26th annual
midwinter regatta. It will be an America's Cup style match race when Bella Mente
and Shockwave cross tacks on the beautiful azure waters off the Florida Keys and
That is what happened when the two 72-footers met at the Palm Beach Regatta
hosted by the Sailfish Yacht Club. Shockwave, a Reichel-Pugh design skippered by
George Sakellaris of Framingham, Mass., won that encounter. However, Bella
Mente, a Judel Vrolijk design owned by Hap Fauth of Minneapolis, Minn., raced that
regatta with old sails that have since been replaced.
"We will approach it just like a match race because that is essentially what it is,"
Fauth said. Obviously, the starts are going to be very important and then it's about
all the little details to generate boat speed."
Both owners have a gentlemen's agreement to not get into high-risk pre-starting
maneuvers in hopes of getting off the line safely and letting the race be decided out
on the course. "The last thing we want to do is get tangled up during the start and
have a crash that causes major damage and ruins the regatta," Fauth said.
Way at the end of the maze of piers in front of the Galleon, Steve Benjamin sat in
the salon of his 66-foot motor yacht and went over computer charts for the new High
Performance Rule. That handicap rating system will make its Key West debut this
year and Benjamin, a North Sails professional, was going over final calculations for
Decision, a Carkeek 40 owned by Stephen Murray of New Orleans, is the highestrated entry. Spookie, Benjamin's entry that is an early version of the Carkeek 40,
stands second. Both boats are hoping heavy air predominates during the week.
"We won't have our advantage of being a bigger, more powerful boat unless it's
windy. Anything less than 10 knots will not be good for us," said Benjamin, who
created and developed HPR along with Annapolis-based professional Dobbs Davis.
On the other side of Historic Seaport on the dock in front of the Half Shell Raw
Bar, the close-knit crew on Teamwork was busily preparing their J/122 that has
enjoyed much success in Key West. Teamwork won PHRF Boat of the Week in
2003 and captured PHRF 1 class in 2012.
"Our crew truly is family," said Team, who has two sons and a brother aboard
along with several longtime friends. "We come here for the great competition, but
also for the camaraderie we have with each other. We sail hard and have a lot of
Over at Truman Annex, a bunch of J/70 sport boats were being put into the water
via trailer or crane. The latest creation of J/Boats has taken the sailing world by
storm and overnight become the largest class at Key West with a whopping 39
World Class Talent Heading to Key West Race Week continued
Annapolis skipper Tate Russack won the only J/70 regatta held so far, the Fall Brawl in Annapolis. He has North Sails pro
Allan Terhune aboard as tactician and figures to be in the thick of things again. However, top-notch professionals such as
Tim Healy (Newport, R.I.) and Kerry Klingler (Wilton, Conn.) have joined the class as owner-drivers while another
sailmaker with a lengthy resume, Dave Ullman (Newport Beach, Cal.) is tactician for Ohio owner Joseph Colling.
There were figures to be some bare knuckle battling in the 52 Class, which features many of the world's top
professionals. Quantum, representing the title sponsor, dominated the class last year, placing first or second in all 10
races to win going away. Skipper Doug DeVos does not expect a repeat as the six-boat fleet features Azzurra, champion
of the 52 Super Series in 2012.
"Sometimes it all comes together and you get on a roll. I doubt that's going to happen two years in a row," DeVos said.
"I would say Azzurra has to be the favorite based on how it performed on the circuit last season. There's certainly not
going to take a step backward so we all need to raise our game in order to reach their level."
After seeing declining numbers the previous couple years, the Melges 24 class has seen a resurgence and is secondlargest of the regatta with 23 boats. Detroit pro Bora Gulari and his West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes team will try
to defend its title against such stiff competition as Rock N Roll (Argyle Campbell), Full Throttle (Brian Porter) and
hedgehog (Alec Cutler).
"I think there are seven or eight boats that can win races and win the regatta," Gulari said. "There are some other strong
teams behind that group that could contend. This is definitely a turnaround year for the class in Key West, which is good
to see. This is one of the best places to race a Melges 24. I've had some great experiences down here."
The Melges 32 class is smaller, but no less competitive with an international fleet of 11 boats representing six different
countries. Key West marks the continuation of the 2013 Melges 32 Midwinter Series and will provide five days of exciting
Among the elite field of competitors is former America's Cup challenger Vincenzo Onorato, who will be helming
Mascalzone Latino with the aid of up-and-coming tactician Gabriele Benussi. Another highly acclaimed Italian team is
Robertissima 1 with skipper Roberto Tomasini Grinover and tactician Flavio Favini joining forces. Lorenzo Bressani and
Federico Michetti have captured multiple world championships together and are now the afterguard aboard Andrea
Trey Sheehan and Terry McSweeney, amateur sailors from Cleveland, Ohio, are 21-year veterans of the race week held
off Key West and look forward to matching wits with mostly professional teams.
"Traditionally, Key West has the highest level of international grand prix competition in the U.S. and allows us amateurs
the opportunity to mix it up with the best in the world on- and off- the- water," said "Trey and I always look forward to the
warm tropical weather with great sailing conditions. Key West never fails to provide great racing and incredible nightlife
throughout the week."
There was a time when Farr 40 attracted as many as 37 boats. Competition among the professional-laden teams was
always intense and often the regatta came down to the last leg of the last race. There are fewer Farr 40s these days, but
the talent level aboard the boats is still extremely high as all six entries have big-name tacticians aboard.
Owner Jim Richardson has welcomed the return of Terry Hutchinson to the program as Barking Mad seeks to repeat as
Key West champion. Hutchinson has spent the past two years as skipper and sailing manager of Artemis Racing, the
Swedish challenger for the America's Cup. After being released by Artemis in early December, Hutchinson jumped at
rejoining close friend Richardson, with whom he has captured three Farr 40 world championships.
"I really enjoy sailing with Jim and I've always loved coming to Key West so it was kind of a no-brainer," Hutchinson
said. "It's good to be back in Key West and I'm looking forward to catching up with old friends and meeting new ones."
Barking Mad rallied to win the 2012 North American circuit, but will certainly be challenged in Key West by reigning world
champion Flash Gordon 6, skippered by Helmut Jahn of Chicago with British pro Ian Williams aboard as tactician.
--- More than a Thousand Sailors Prepared for 26th Anniversary Regatta