Please select your home edition
Edition
SailX 728x90

Key West 2013 - All ready for swashbuckling opener

by Bill Wagner on 21 Jan 2013
Melges 32 are ready for Monday’s opener of the Quantum Key West 2013 ©JOY | IM32CA http://melges32.com/
The Quantum Key West 2013 is all set to begin the competition on Monday as thousand of sailors aboard 121 participating sailboats are already gearing up for tomorrow’s opener.

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 Key West.

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 Version 4.

Decision, a Carkeek 40 owned by Stephen Murray of New Orleans, is the highest-rated 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 fun.'

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 boats.

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 second-largest 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 action.


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 Pozzi's Bombarda.

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 Quantum Key West website [Sorry, this link had a problem]

Bakewell-White Yacht DesignNorth Technology - Southern Sparsupffront 660x82

Related Articles

Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup - France Blue blasts back
The Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup race course took on a different complexion today. The Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup race course took on a different complexion today. A front passed through early morning leaving behind it a lumpy sea, further kicked up by a strong eastbound tide.
Posted today at 6:09 am
52 Super Series - Double bullet Quantum jump clear
Two hard earned wins for Quantum Racing elevates the team which is steered by owner Doug DeVos Two hard earned wins for Quantum Racing elevates the team which is steered by owner Doug DeVos to a lead of four points ahead of Azzurra at the 52 Super Series’ Puerto Portals Sailing Week on the Bay of Palma.
Posted today at 5:19 am
Transat Québec Saint-Malo - Sailing into the big leagues
The long nautical journey from La Belle Province proved to be one long show of bravery from start to finish “It’s the finest event of the offshore racing calendar.” That’s what all the skippers are saying—albeit a little subjectively—following this ninth edition of the Transat Québec Saint-Malo. The long nautical journey from La Belle Province proved to be one long show of bravery from start to finish, with the Multi50s grappling alongside one another all the way
Posted today at 3:51 am
Jim Hunt and Jørgen Svendsen pull ahead at OK Dinghy Worlds
Jim Hunt (GBR) has maintained his lead after a very tricky day at the OK Dinghy World Championships in Quiberon Jim Hunt (GBR) has maintained his lead after a very tricky day at the OK Dinghy World Championships in Quiberon, France, with the shifty, offshore winds mixing up the fleet on more than one occasion and leaving Hunt and Jørgen Svendsen (DEN) with a clear lead over the rest of the 105 boat fleet. Charlie Cumbley (GBR) drops one to third overall, with just four races left to sail.
Posted today at 2:53 am
Supermaxi, Wild Oats XI, returns to racing in Sydney-Gold Coast Race
Supermaxi Wild Oats XI, will make her return to ocean racing this weekend after a six month break. The Oatley family’s Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race record holder, the 30-metre long Supermaxi Wild Oats XI, will make her return to ocean racing this weekend after a six month break.
Posted today at 2:38 am
Tour de France à la voile – Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne back in the game
Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne snatched a clear victory in the bay of Hyères, although result doesn’t change the leaderboard After a tough few days in the Med as they arrived from their home land of Brittany, Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne snatched a clear victory today in the bay of Hyères, and although today’s result doesn’t change the leaderboard, it gives the team a much welcome gain of confidence, as Damien Iehl explained after racing.
Posted on 27 Jul
52 Super Series- Puerto Portals Sailing Week – Day 3 action shots
Photographer Max Ranchi has provided this gallery of images from day three Photographer Max Ranchi has provided this gallery of images from day three
Posted on 27 Jul
Oman Airports gears up for the final push at Tour de France a la Voile
Oman Airports by Oman Sail will be pulling out all the stops in the closing stages in a bid to finish in the top five. Lying sixth, following an impressive fourth place in the Coastal Race in Marseilles earlier this week, co-skipper Stevie Morrison is hopeful of going at least one better in Hyeres especially since they will be welcoming back co-skipper Thierry Douillard to the Oman Airports by Oman Sail Diam 24 team following a back injury that forced him to miss the recent racing.
Posted on 27 Jul
RS Feva Worlds – Qualification phase is complete at the end of Day 2
Heavy metal day. Gold, Silver or Bronze. It was going to going to be tight at the cut off points. PA Consulting and Allen RS Feva Worlds 2016 - Heavy metal day. Gold, Silver or Bronze. It was going to going to be tight at the cut off points. A number of boats went into the day in much lower positions than expected for a variety of reasons. Could they make it up?
Posted on 27 Jul
52 Super Series – Puerto Portals Sailing Week – Azzurra strikes back
Azzurra delivered their best day of the season so far on the Bay of Palma waters where they won the World Champion title The team of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda scored two second places from the pair of windward-leeward races which were sailed in relatively steady sea breeze conditions. Super sharp starting was the launch pad for race victories today. Prime position on the pin mark of the start line at the gun was key to the wins of Bronenosec and Provezza.
Posted on 26 Jul