January 15, 2013

World Class Talent Heading to Key West Race Week — New Designs and Familiar Names on the Scratch Sheet

Key West, Fla. – Quantum Key West 2013 has many intriguing plotlines
and some of the classes that will be most closely watched are the
popular, new J/70, professional-laden IRC/TP 52 and rapidly developing
Many of the world’s top sailors will duke it out in the 52 class with Key
West serving as opening stop on an ambitious 2013 series. Organizers of
the recently introduced High Performance Rule are eager to showcase
Version 4 of the rating system at the renowned winter regatta held off
the southernmost tip of Florida. The J/70 class will make its Key West
debut in dramatic fashion as it is the regatta’s largest with an impressive
39 boats.
The J/70 has taken the sailing world by storm with J/Boats having
already sold 350 of the small one-design racers. Many top-notch skippers
who have competed in Key West in other designs will do so this year in
the latest J/Boats design, including successful pros Tim Healy and Kerry
Klingler. Klingler noted that most owners are still learning the boat,
particularly how to handle the oversized spinnaker, which will be critical
to success next week.

“Key West has always been a tremendous showcase for any new
design and we are looking forward to launching the J/70 to a wider
audience with great competition at one of the world’s most renowned
regattas,” Rod Johnstone, the founder of J/Boats said.
A strong fleet of six boats – three from Europe, three from the U.S. –
will do battle as the curtain rises on the new 2013 “52 Super Series.”
Defending series champion Azzurra (Italy) and past MedCup champion
Quantum Racing (USA) headline the fleet of exciting speed machines.
“Overall, we are pretty happy with the entries. Given the reputation and
popularity of Key West we can be sure that we are looking forward to a
good week of racing,” said Rob Weiland, class manager for the IRC/TP 52
and co-organizer of the Super Series. “It will be interesting to see how
the American boats fare against the Mediterranean boats. My feeling is
that it might be quite even.”
While the 52-footers are crewed entirely by professionals, an ownerdriver rule is in place for Quantum Key West 2013. Michigan owner Doug
DeVos will try to repeat as regatta champ after dominating the
competition with six bullets in 10 races a year ago.
Tactician Ed Baird, a past Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and veteran
of numerous America’s Cup campaigns, is the only newcomer to a crew
that captured the Audi MedCup and the IRC/TP 52 World Championship
in 2011. Andy Horton (strategist), Juan Vila (navigator) and Warrick
Fleury (trimmer) are other key members of the Quantum afterguard.
Argentina owner Guillermo Parada will steer Azzura with Italian pros Vasco Vascotto and Francesco
Bruni aboard as tactician and strategist, respectively. The newest generation 52-footer, off the boards of
designer Botin Partners, performed quite impressively while winning the 2012 Super Series under the flag
of Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.
Class president Niklas Zennstrom (Sweden) is no stranger to success in Key West, having won the MiniMaxi class last year. Zennstrom will helm Ran, which finished third overall in the 2012 52 Super Series
behind Azzurra and Quantum. Volvo Ocean Race winning navigator Jules Salter will handle tactics for
Zennstrom aboard the United Kingdom-flagged Ran.
Gladiator, led by British owner-driver Tony Langley, posted two podium finishes in the 2012 Super
Series and will be seeking to improve its consistency with American professional Chris Larson calling
Newcomers to the 52 Super Series, but not to Quantum Key West, are Interlodge (Austin and Gwen
Fragomen, Newport, R.I.) and Rio (Manouch Moshayedi, Corona del Mar, Cal.), both of which sail with
largely amateur crews. Moshayedi just took delivery of a brand new boat in November.
Veteran North Sails professional Steve Benjamin has been the driving force behind the HPR class,
which was created to better suit the new wave of high-performance designs. Benjamin and fellow pro
Dobbs Davis introduced the HPR at last year’s Key West and the rule authority has spent the past year
developing and further refining the formula.
HPR racing made its debut at the Storm Trysail Club IRC East Coast Championship and One-Design
Regatta this past October with a diverse fleet of eight boats. Benjamin said getting its own start at Key
West marks a major milestone for the rule.
Benjamin believes so strongly in HPR that he commissioned a new boat designed to fit the formula.
Spookie, an HPR Carkeek 40, made its debut at the Storm Trysail Club regatta and placed third. Now
Benjamin is eager to gauge Spookie’s performance against Decision (Stephen Murray, New Orleans), a
sister ship that was launched later.
Competition off the Conch Republic figures to be interesting as the nine-boat fleet features such diverse
designs as a Ker 40, GP 42 and Farr 400. This marks the second Key West appearance for the Farr 400,
which will feature 5 boats and thus have a one design sub class competition within the HPR class.
No team is traveling further than Santa, a Farr 400 owned by Claus Landmark of Norway and skippered
by America’s Cup veteran Jesper Bank. The crew features several sailors with Olympic and Volvo Ocean
Race experience and has been dubbed the “Scandinavian Vikings.”
Another foreign Farr 400 entry is Team Premier, which is skippered by the managing director of the boat
builder. Dubai-based Hannes Waimer is taking a brief vacation from his busy schedule with Premier
Composite Technologies and will have Volvo veteran Gordan Maguire aboard as tactician.
“From a personal point of view I am just looking forward to getting back on the water and going racing
with the Farr 400. Most of the time I am in the factory seeing the boats being built so it will be great to be
on the water in Key West, and to meet again with our Farr 400 owners from both sides of the Atlantic and
share the enjoyment of racing at one of the must-do regattas,” Waimer said.
The Melges 24 and 32 classes have their customary competitive, international showing. The Melges 32
class has seven foreign entries and the Melges 24s have rebounded with 23 strong programs.
There’s more grand prix excitement on tap with the Farr 40s, Swan 42s and Mini-Maxis. PHRF racing, a
long time mainstay at race week, will continue to have a presence with two classes racing on Division 3.
Quantum Sail Design Group is back as title sponsor after coming away pleased with its initial
collaboration with Premiere Racing a year ago.
“We had such a great event last year, we felt pretty confident by the end of the regatta that we’d be
back. The Premiere Racing crew is tops when it comes to race management and it’s a pleasure to work
with them on this event,” said Ed Reynolds, managing director of Quantum. “We have more boats coming
this year, which is an indication that the sailing community still loves Key West. We’ve been working hard
to build on the success of last year and from all indications it’s going to be another great week.”