Please select your home edition
Edition
SailX 728x90

Quantum Key West Race Week - Action aplenty in the Florida Keys

by Bill Wagner on 25 Jan 2014
Quantum Key West Race Week - 52 Super Series Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
Quantum Key West Race Week, Key West, Florida. It's been said the only certain things in life are death and taxes. Oh, and a full week's worth of racing in Key West. Time has proven the latter is almost as guaranteed as the two more ominous events, and a heck of a lot more fun!

Quantum Key West 2014 got off to an atypically slow start due to difficult conditions the first couple days, but reliably strong winds off the Conch Republic certainly delivered on Wednesday and Thursday. Organizers with Premiere Racing have crammed six races into the last two days and just like that all three divisions are on the threshold of reaching the regatta goal of 10 for the week.

'Over the course of five days down here, you are going to get your money's worth,' said event director Peter Craig, who has been overseeing the annual race week off Key West for 21 years now.

Northerly winds ranging from 12 to 16 knots allowed for another three-race day on all courses. Hap Fauth, skipper of the 72-foot racing machine Bella Mente, felt exhilarated as he stepped onto the dock following Thursday's action.

'We had absolutely fabulous conditions out there today,' Fauth declared. 'Anybody who complains about any aspect of this regatta has a screw loose. This is just fantastic sailing.'

Fauth had another reason to be jubilant as Bella Mente has pretty much secured overall victory in IRC 1 class on Thursday. The Minneapolis resident has steered his Judel-Vrolijk to first place in five of nine races in totaling 15 points, three better than runner-up Caol Ila R, a 69-footer owned by Alex Schaerer. With only one race scheduled on Division 1 for Friday, Bella Mente needs only to complete the course in order to win the regatta.

'It's been really close racing and we've had a lot of fun. It's always nice to come out on top and I give all the credit to the crew. We have a bunch of outstanding sailors and they do a terrific job,' said Fauth, reserving particular praise for tactician John Cutler and strategist Mike Sanderson.


It's down to the wire in the 52 Class with Quantum Racing and Ran both capable of winning. Skipper Doug DeVos and the Quantum team posted a superb line of 1-2-1 to take the lead away from Ran, which suffered a fifth in Thursday's last race. Azzurra, the Italian entry owned by Pablo Roemmers, is 9 ½ points out of the lead and thus will not defend its Key West title.

'You always want to be in the hunt going into the last day. We have put ourselves in good position and now we have to finish,' said Terry Hutchinson, tactician aboard Quantum.

Quantum, the U.S. program backed by the sailmaking company that is title sponsor of the regatta, is the reigning 52 Super Series champion. Ran, a British boat owned by Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom, captured the TP52 World Championship in 2013.

'We just need to go out and sail the best we can. Quantum had a day today and we did not so now we have our work cut out for us,' Zennstrom said. 'There's going to be quite a lot on tomorrow. We need to sail really well and hope Quantum has a bad result in order to win.'

Spookie, the Carkeek 40 skippered by North Sails pro Steve Benjamin, has clinched victory in the High Performance Class. Heidi Benjamin is calling tactics for her husband, who has won five races and placed second or third in the other four in totaling 15 points.

'It's been terrific racing, very close the entire week. We've really battled it out with Decision with most of the finishes just seconds apart. Riot has sailed really well and corrected over both of us today,' Benjamin said. 'We're really happy to win a tough class. The crew did a superb job and Heidi has hit so many shifts the last couple days.'

IRC 3, an extremely competitive 10-boat class with a diverse group of designs, is still up for grabs. Arethusa, a Swan 42 skippered by Phil Lotz, maintained the lead for a second straight day by placing second in the last two races on Thursday. Catapult, a Ker 40 owned by Marc Glimcher of New York, is seven points behind in second. Tonnere de Breskens 3, a Ker 46 campaigned by Peter Vroon of The Netherlands, is just one point behind Catapult.

'It's really, really close racing, which is what we came here for. We're having a heck of a lot of fun,' Glimcher said. 'Arethusa is very fast and very well-sailed. It's going to be all-on tomorrow and we're going out there with the intention of winning.'


After holding first place at the end of racing Monday through Wednesday, skipper Alec Cutler and the Hedgehog team have given up the lead in Melges 32 class. Dalton DeVos, a 22-year-old college student, got the gun in two races on Thursday and is now one point up on Hedgehog. Two-time Olympic medalist Jonathan McKee is calling tactics aboard Delta, which has four wins and two seconds over the last two days.

'It feels really good to be winning the regatta going into the last day. The Hedgehog guys are really good so we know it's going to be a real fight to stay on top,' DeVos said. 'We've had great upwind speed the whole regatta and our downwind pace is getting better every day. My crew is just tremendous and Jonathan is doing a great job of keeping us in phase.'

Dave Brennan, principal race officer on Division 2, is hoping to complete two races on Friday. That may not be possible with afternoon winds expected to exceed 20 knots, which might be too much for the J/70s and Melges 24s on the course.


North Sails professional Tim Healy has put forth an impressive performance in J/70 class, largest of the regatta with 60 boats. Healy, the defending class champ in Key West, has placed first or second in five races and counts no lower than a fourth in accumulating 15 points. Savasana, the second place entry skippered by Brian Keane, is a whopping 27 points astern.

Healy won two races on Thursday and finished fourth in the other to earn the Industry Partner Boat of the Day honor. He received the beautiful handcrafted Ship's Bell Clock trophy from Chelsea Clock. Geoff Becker and John Mollicone are teaming to call tactics while Gordon Borges works the bow aboard Helly Hansen.

'The big takeaway today was that you can't get too focused on one side of the course. We saw big shifts both ways and there was plenty of pressure on both sides,' Healy said. 'Our strategy has been to choose a side, but not be the furthest boat out there. You don't want to get pushed all the way to the edge.'

Little Wing, the Italian entry owned by Nicola Ardito, has wrapped up the six-boat Melges 24 class - having won every single race so far. Hugo Rocha, a three-time Olympian and 1996 bronze medalist in 470 class for Portugal, is calling tactics on Little Wing.

There figures to be some fireworks in PHRF 1 as four boats are still in contention. Spaceman Spiff, sailed by Rob and Ryan Ruhlman of Cleveland, Ohio, held onto the lead for a second straight day, but is just 1 ½ points ahead of fellow J/111 Team Fireball (Eddie Fredericks, Annapolis). Teamwork, the J/122 skippered by Robin Team, is coming on strong - having won five of the last six races to get within 2 ½ points of the lead. Stark Raving Mad, a J/125 owned by James Madden, also has a shot to win.

'It's a strong class with a lot of good boats and it's not surprising the regatta has come down to the last race,' said Team, who was regretting a seventh place suffered in Race 8. 'We've got to go out tomorrow and win the race. That's all there is to it.'

Skipper Bill Sweetser and the crew on Rush have clinched victory in PHRF 2, posting a steady stream of firsts, seconds and thirds in the seven-boat fleet. Veteran pro Tom Babel called tactics on Rush, which has built an insurmountable lead over fellow J/109 Heat Wave (Gary Weisberg, Gloucester, Mass.). Sweetser, an Annapolis resident who has been class runner-up in Key West four times, announced he will not race on Friday to avoid a breakdown in the big breeze or fouling another competitor.

Vayu2, a J/80 chartered by Ron Buzil of Chicago, is the runaway winner of the 12-boat J/80 class. Professionals Jahn Tihansky and Andrew Kerr are helmsman and tactician, respectively, aboard Vayu2, which has won six races and placed second in three others in totaling 12 points. Event website

Barz Optics - FloatersInSunSport - NZNorth Technology - Southern Spars

Related Articles

America's Cup - Arbitration Panel Hearing over Kiwi Qualifier for July
ACEA CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. In a yet to be published interview in Sail-World, America’s Cup Events Authority CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. This is the first official indication that the three person Arbitration Panel had even been formed, however Sail-World’s sources indicated that it had been empanelled since last January, possibly earlier.
Posted on 27 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 2
Yachting NZ's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is unprecedented Yachting New Zealand's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is without precedent. Subject to Appeal, the Kiwis have signaled that they will reject 30% of the positions gained in the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Santander in 2014.
Posted on 22 May
Gladwell's Line - World Sailing changes tack after IOC windshift
Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick. Every blow well earned over issues such as the pollution at Rio, the Israeli exclusion abomination plus a few more. But now World Sailing is getting it right.
Posted on 21 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 1
Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving its goals Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving goals set in the Olympic Commission report of 2010. Around 64 countries are expected to be represented in Rio de Janeiro in August. That is a slight increase on Qingdao and Weymouth, but more importantly a full regional qualification system is now in place
Posted on 19 May
Taming the beast-a conversation with Stuart Meurer of Parker Hannifin
While AC72 cats were fast, they difficult to control, so Oracle partnered with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way. If you watched videos of the AC72s racing in the 34th America’s Cup (2013), you’re familiar with the mind-boggling speeds that are possible when wingsail-powered catamarans switch from displacement sailing to foiling mode. While foiling is fast, there’s no disguising the platform’s inherent instability. Now, Oracle Team USA has teamed up with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way.
Posted on 18 May
From foiling Moths to Olympic starting lines-a Q&A with Bora Gulari
Bora Gulari’s is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class, along with teammate Louisa Chafee. Bora Gulari (USA) has made a strong name for himself within high-performance sailing circles, with wins at the 2009 and 2013 Moth Worlds. In between, he broke the 30-knort barrier and was the 2009 US SAILING Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. His latest challenge is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class as skipper, along with his teammate Louisa Chafee.
Posted on 12 May
Concern for Zika at Rio Olympics is now deadly serious
Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, or the Rio Olympics. Many others have, and they were apt, but things have changed. So here now we have a situation where one man, Associate Professor Amir Attaran, who does have a more than decent string of letters after his name, is bringing nearly as many facts to bear as references at the article's end
Posted on 12 May
The importance of being Alive
Since buying the stunningly pretty Reichel-Pugh canting keel 66-footer, and re-naming her Alive, Since buying the stunningly pretty Reichel-Pugh canting keel 66-footer, and re-naming her Alive, the team have lined up for a lot of things, won plenty and nabbed a record, as well. She’s presently in a yard in the Philippines having a minor refit in readiness for the Australian season. It will commence with the upcoming Brisbane to Keppel and then head sharply into this year’s Hobart.
Posted on 10 May
Zhik - The brand born of a notion, not its history
here is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline is officially marketed as Made For Water There is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline has been officially marketed as Made For Water, and this is precisely what the company has done for the last eight years before the succinct and apt strapline came from out of R&D and into mainstream visibility.
Posted on 8 May
Shape of next Volvo Ocean Race revealed at Southern Spars - Part 1
Southern Spars has been confirmed as the supplier of spars for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. In mid-April, Race Director, Jack Lloyd and Stopover Manager Richard Mason outlined the changes expected for the 40,000nm Race during a tour of Southern Spars 10,000sq metre specialist spar construction facility. A total of up to seven boats is expected to enter, but time is running out for the construction of any new boats.
Posted on 3 May