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Key West Race Week and Sir Ben—Sailing news from the U.S. and beyond

by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 24 Jan 2014
Quantum Key West Race Week 52 Super Series Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
Key West Race Week continues to drive international sailing headlines as the sailors approach the event’s final days. According to reports, the event’s first few days featured everything from light airs, rain and some dark clouds to passing storm bands, but this certainly didn’t stop the event organizers from delivering high-quality racing across all classes. Yesterday, however, delivered the best conditions of the week thus far, with 12-16 knot northerly winds and clear skies.

The 52 Super Series class is proving to be fiercely competitive, with some great racing taking place amongst these purpose-built steeds. Despite having amassed a fine lead at the beginning of the regatta, 'Quantum Racing' has now fallen astern of both 'Rán Racing', who is now sitting in first place in this six-boat fleet, and 'Azzura', leaving the American-flagged boat in third place.



'The breeze was a little shiftier than we expected it to be, especially in the later races,' said Tom Burnham, 'Quantum’s' stratagist. 'It was really up and down with big shifts. And we made a couple of mistakes, which cost us. But the biggest disappointment was catching the lobster pot in the first race when we had to do a back down and we had to go from second in the race to last… But the rest of the time it was just shifty and some of the others just had a better day.'

As for the rest of the regatta, Burnham was both realistic and optimistic about the team’s best course forward. 'We will just keep chipping away,' Burnham continued. 'There are four more races in the series left and we won the first three races of the regatta we just need to go out and win a couple more, the objective being to be in the hunt in the last race.'



While racing has also been extremely tight across all classes, the Melges 32 class is reporting a strong rivalry between the frontrunners for the podium’s top step. Currently, Alec Cutler’s 'Hedgehog' is sitting in first place, followed by Dalton DeVos’ 'Delta' and Richard Goransson’s 'Helly Hanson Inga From Sweden'. According to reports, Cutler and DeVos spent the majority of yesterday’s racing exchanging tactical blows and vying for bullets, which the two boats commanded.

Inside, get the full Key West Race Week report, and be sure to stay tuned to the website over the next few days as final results becomes known.



Meanwhile, in America’s Cup news, former Cup winner and respected writer Gary Jobson recently sat down with Sir Ben Ainslie, the winning tactician aboard 'Oracle Team USA' during last year’s 34th America’s Cup and the most-decorated Olympic sailor of all time, to get his pulse on how AC34 was won, as well as the kind of pressures that Ainslie has had to stare down on his road to becoming one of sailing’s all-time greats.



'What an awesome venue and great hosts and all the rest of it,' said Ainslie about San Francisco’s racing conditions. 'It's no secret that we would like to have a British team involved with the [next] Cup. Having said that, as we all know it's a big boy's game. You can't go into it without the right level of funds. You know this… You've got to have the team with the wherewithal to win [the Cup], otherwise there's no point-you're wasting everyone's time. Within the next couple of weeks we've got to decide if we can get that together [for a British-flagged challenge]. So things are moving quickly and hopefully that can be the case.'

Get the all three parts of Jobson’s interview with Sir Ben, inside this issue.



Also inside, get the full scoop from the Round Barbados Race, where the Volvo Open 70 'Monster Project' just set a new course record, don’t miss the full ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami regatta preview, and be sure to check-in with the Clipper Round the World Race fleet.



And finally, for anyone who could use a shot of Vitamin D on this fine January morning, the racing previews from this year’s St. Maarten Heineken Regatta could be your elixir.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

PredictWind.comNaiadBakewell-White Yacht Design

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