Please select your home edition
Edition
Marine Resource 2016

Key West 2012 preview

by Bill Wagner on 16 Jan 2012
Melges 32 Fleet Action, Start of race 1 - Key West Race Week 2011 - Day 5 ©2011 JOY
As boats and crews prepare for 25th anniversary Quantum Key West 2012, there has been a flurry of activity at the various marinas around the Conch Republic .

Tourists disembarking from the cruise ships have been gawking at the high-tech big boats berthed at the docks in front of the Westin Hotel while crews tune rigs and load sails. Vacationers renting jet skis in front of The Galleon have dodged the many Melges 32s heading out of Government Cut to go practice. Couples having lunch at the Half Shell Raw Bar have watched Farr 30 teams return to docks of Historic Seaport after a day on the water.

Quantum Key West 2012 officially begins on Monday and the forecast is for robust 15-20 knot winds. Big-name professionals sailing state-of-the-art racing machines makes the 52 class the one to watch at the regatta.

Challenging to sail and powerfully-built, the 52-footers require highly-experienced crews to get around the course and thereby have attracted a who's who of professional sailing. America's Cup veterans Terry Hutchinson and Gavin Brady headline a list of top-notch tacticians.

Hutchinson will be calling the wind shifts and course decisions for Quantum Racing, which captured the Audi Med Cup Series championship two of the last three years. Doug DeVos, the primary stockholder for regatta sponsor Quantum Sail Design Group, will be steering the boat.

'I definitely think we are capable of winning the regatta. We have a good boat and a strong crew,' said Hutchinson, currently working as helmsman for Swedish America's Cup challenger Artemis Racing.

Bella Mente, a team led by skipper Hap Fauth of Minneapolis, is racing another boat from the Audi Med Cup - the premier TP52 circuit in the world. Fauth has chartered Team Origin 1851, which is owned by a British syndicate that had been mounting an America's Cup campaign.

'We have an old team that has been together for a while sailing a variety of designs,' Bella Mente strategist Dee Smith said. 'We're comfortably optimistic, but we don't really know. We're new to this particular boat so we'll see how things go. We just have to keep it together and minimize the mistakes.'

Smith tabbed Quantum Racing as the team to beat because 'the team has been together and the boat's had a lot of success and they have Terry Hutchinson.'

Two brand new 52-foot designs will be debuting at Quantum Key West 2012. Highland Fling XII, owned by Irvine Laidlaw of Monaco, is a high-tech Reichel-Pugh design and will be scratch entry in the class. Peter Holmberg, another America's Cup veteran, will be calling tactics on Highland Fling, which features such new developments as twin rudders, retractable propeller and electronic winches.

'This boat has all the latest design innovations so in theory it should be faster than the other boats in the class,' Laidlaw said. 'On the other hand, this is the first time any of us have stepped foot on the boat. It's going to take time to learn how to sail her to maximum performance.'

Interlodge, owned by Austin and Gwen Fragomen of Newport, R.I., is a Botin Partners design built to the TP52 rule. Veteran Newport-based pro Brad Read, whose brother Kenny is skipper of the Volvo Ocean Race entry Puma, is tactician on Interlodge.

Some of the world's finest professionals can also be found in the Melges 32 class, largest of the regatta with 19 entries. A pair of California-based boats - Samba Pa Ti (John Kilroy, Los Angeles) and Warpath (Steve Howe, San Diego) - are the consensus choices as pre-regatta favorites.

Samba Pa Ti was named Boat of the Week after winning the Melges 32 class at Key West 2010. Warpath finished second in Key West last year and just captured the Melges 32 Gold Cup off Fort Lauderdale.

'That's flattering to hear, but the truth is there are a number of tremendous teams with fantastic sailors in this fleet,' Kilroy said. 'Warpath was fantastic in the Gold Cup, very fast and well-sailed. But there are many other boats that are very capable. It's always wise to have a healthy respect for all of the competition. It's one of those deals where you can't take anything for granted.'

A dark-horse candidate in the owner-driver Melges 32 class is Hedgehog, which has a very talented helmsman in skipper Alec Cutler (Bermuda) and a superstar tactician in Richard Clarke. Cutler was a three-time All-American collegiate sailor at the Naval Academy and mounted an Olympic campaign in Finn class. Clarke is a multi-time Olympian who has done America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race campaigns.

'Alec certainly has the pedigree to be one of the top drivers in the class and we have a strong team,' Clarke said. 'That being said, it's important to be realistic. This is our first regatta with the boat and we have to climb the learning curve. It's going to take time to get up to speed.'

Competition should be just as stiff in the 18-boat J/80 class, which features more amateur crews. Glenn Darden and the Le Tigre team from Forth Worth, Texas will be seeking to three-peat at Key West against a deep, talented fleet.

Darden, who has a J/80 world title to his credit, expects stiff competition from past North American champion Bruno Pasquinelli (Dallas, Texas) aboard Tiamo and thinks class newcomer Brian Keane (Weston, Mass.) could make some noise. Keane was Key West champion in J/105 class the previous three years, but will sail the J/80 in 2012 after jumping into that design in time to compete in the 2010 worlds.

A strong fleet of seven boats from California to New York, not to mention one from Sweden, will duke it out in the Farr 30 class. Fellow skippers expect class president Deneen Demourkas and the Groovederci crew to set the pace after capturing the class world championship in September off San Francisco.

'As always, Groovederci is the standard we all have to meet. Gotcha has been practicing hard all Fall so their crew work should be pretty solid,' said Mummbles skipper Brad Kauffman, who finished third in Farr 30 class at Key West 2009. 'I think we have a chance. We've got a good boat and a good crew. We just have to find a way to reach out our full potential speed-wise.'

There is a Groovederci entered in the Farr 40 class as well as John Demourkas is the other half of a husband-wife sailing team. The Santa Barbara-based boat is part of an old guard of a class that once attracted 37 entries to Key West. Barking Mad (Jim Richardson, Newport), Flash Gordon (Helmut Jahn, Chicago) and Struntje Light (Wolfgang Schaefer, Germany) are other Farr 40s that have competed in this regatta 10 times or more.

'We have a smaller fleet than years past, but it will still be great racing. We've got some very strong teams here so it will be just as intense out on the course as it always has been,' Demourkas said.

Regatta dates are January 15 - 20, 2012.

www.Premiere-Racing.com
Protector - 660 x 82Wildwind 2016 660x82Zhik Isotak Ocean 660x82

Related Articles

Bella Mente Racing starts 2017 season with major victory at RORC C600
Bella Mente Racing starts 2017 season off with major victory at RORC Caribbean 600 Bella Mente Racing, led by owner/driver Hap Fauth, launched its 2017 campaign season with a major victory this week, winning IRC Overall, CSA Overall and CSA 1 at the RORC Caribbean 600 in Antigua; The team took home coveted RORC Caribbean 600 Trophy for the IRC win as well as the Bella Mente Trophy, the team’s namesake award, for being first IRC yacht to finish that is wholly manually powered.
Posted today at 4:54 am
Cool drone footage of Dongfeng Race Team on the water
Dongfeng is back in the water and training is well underway for the returning Chinese campaign. Dongfeng is back in the water and training is well underway for the returning Chinese campaign. Stunning drone footage of the re-fitted Volvo Ocean 65 has been released as the team hit the water off the coast of Lisbon.
Posted today at 3:52 am
49th Transpac early entry deadline approaches on March 1st
Planning for the 49th edition of the Los Angeles-Honolulu Transpacific Yacht Race is well underway Planning for the 49th edition of the Los Angeles-Honolulu Transpacific Yacht Race presented by the Los Angeles Times and organized by the Transpacific Yacht Club is well underway, with 52 monohull and multihull entries from nine nations already signed up for this biennial 2225-mile ocean race, one of the world's oldest having first been sailed in 1905.
Posted today at 3:36 am
18ft Skiffs - JJ Giltinan Trophy - Replay coverage - Race 1
Live coverage of Race 1 of the JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiffs from Sydney harbour - sailing in the wind and rain Replay of Race 1 of the JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiffs from Sydney harbour - sailing in the wind and rain
Posted today at 3:25 am
Hat-trick all around for Phaedo^3 in this year Caribbean 600
Lloyd Thornburg and crew of Phaedo^3 have gained not only line honours each time but also three wins in their class. Lloyd Thornburg and the crew of his MOD70 Phaedo^3 for the last three editions of the RORC Caribbean 600 have gained not only line honours each time but also three wins in their class.
Posted today at 3:16 am
Vendee Globe - Conrad Colman's thoughts on his incredible performance
Colman was the first boat in the history of the race to finish using only natural energy, no fossil fuels After finishing 16th in the Vendee Globe, crossing the finish line under the jury rig which had carried him the final 720 miles of his race since he was dismasted, Conrad Colman was greeted by a hero's welcome into Les Sables d'Olone. The first New Zealander to complete the race he was also the first boat in the history of the race to finish using only natural energy, no fossil fuels.
Posted on 24 Feb
More winners announced in RORC Caribbean 600
As dawn broke on day five, crews who had finished the race were beginning to arrive back in Antigua. At Dawn on the fifth day, the leading Class40s were approaching the finish. Throughout the race, the battle in the class had been intense, with three yachts taking the lead at various points along the course.
Posted on 24 Feb
Vendee Globe - Conrad Colman finishes under jury rig
Colman constructed and stepped a remarkable jury rig which has allowed him to sail the final 740 miles of 27,440nm race New Zealander Conrad Colman wrote a new chapter in the storied history of the Vendée Globe when he crossed the finish line of the eighth edition of the non stop solo round the world race under a makeshift jury rig.
Posted on 24 Feb
Vendée Globe – Romain Attanasio takes fifteenth place
French skipper Romain Attanasio, sailing Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys, took 15th place in the solo race around the world French skipper Romain Attanasio, sailing Famille Mary-Etamine du Lys, took 15th place in the non stop solo race around the world this morning (Friday 24th February) when he crossed the finish line at 1006hrs UTC.
Posted on 24 Feb
Vendee Globe - Conrad Colman finishes under jury rig - First images
New Zealand solo sailor Conrad Colman has finished the Vendee Globe race under Jury rig. New Zealand solo sailor Conrad Colman has finished the Vendee Globe race under Jury rig. Here are the first images from the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne
Posted on 24 Feb