Strong programs from across the United States and around the world have already submitted their entries to Quantum Key West 2014. The first entry deadline is a month away and the scratch sheet grows daily as people make their January plans for Key West and the Florida Keys.
Justin Smith shared his enthusiasm after submitting the entry for Marc Ewing's McConaghy 38 Riot. 'The team is very excited to be returning to Key West. It is without question the owner's favorite sailing event. The choice of boat was secondary - it all revolved around getting to Key West Race Week. Having sailed a Farr 40 and Melges 24 in the regatta, we know we'll get excellent conditions, phenomenal event management and great racing. Whether it’s one design or handicap racing, Key West never disappoints.'
First off the line on Division 1 will be three mini-maxis - Hap Fauth's Bella Mente and George Sakellaris' Shockwave will pick up where they left off last year, with Alex Schaerar's Caol Ila R joining the IRC 1 fray.
The 52 Class (IRC 2) once again kicks off their US Super Series in Key West before their March World Championship in Miami. Alberto Roemmers and team Azzurra will be back to defend the 2013 title against returning programs and some new faces. This class always produces close racing with top tier crews and afterguards that will include long time Key West players Terry Hutchinson, Adrian Stead, and Marty Kullman.
The TP52 Class Manager, Rob Weiland, remarked 'Certainly the 2014 return to Key West is the direct result of the very positive experience of 2013 - from the excellent sailing conditions, the relaxed atmosphere onshore and the smooth operation that Quantum Key West Race Week is.'
A noteworthy IRC 3 class is shaping up with 11 experienced teams from seven different U.S. states and the Netherlands already entered. A variety of different designs, four Swan 42s and Peter Vroon's Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens 3 will make for a very competitive week.
'You never know year to year which handicap classes will produce the best racing,' says Event Director and Race Chairman Peter Craig. 'Our scratch sheet already points to IRC3 as a class that bears watching. This class has great numbers and quality working in its favor.'
J/70s made a spectacular Key West debut last January and they will be making noise again in 2014. Many of last year's top finishers are returning to battle it out for Midwinter Championship honors in both the Open and Corinthian classes. Recent North American Champion Heather Gregg-Earl and her crew on Muse will face tough competition from entrants such as Brian Keane, Dave Franzel, and Bruno Pasquinelli.
'With 40+ J/70s planing into the leeward gate in under two minutes, that's a boat rounding either gate every three seconds on average... I know what we have to work on!' commented sailmaker and 2006 Rolex yachtsman of the year Jud Smith.
The J/80 class has come back strong and other one-design action will include the Melges 24 and Melges 32 classes making their usual high-powered impact. With teams from Bermuda, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and the USA, these fleets will exhibit the international competition that is a true hallmark of Key West Race Week.
Add in the High Performance Class and some very talented PHRF programs to the mix and there will be no shortage of stories and worthy champions emerging in January.
Well known program manager and professional sailor Tony Rey knows what he'll be doing on the third week of January. 'I've been to nearly every Key West Race Week since the early 90s. That place rocks! It is one of the greatest race tracks in the U.S., the sailing is just phenomenal' said Rey. 'We manage multiple international teams here every year, and the Premiere Racing team has it so well organized that it makes our logistics much easier. Whether you're staying in a killer rental house with a pool and eating at Louie's Backyard, or sleeping on a couch and having a liquid dinner at the tent, you'll be making memories on and off the water. Don't miss it.'
Regatta dates are January 19 - 24, 2014. Quantum Key West 2014 is a US Sailing sanctioned event.
The racing will be conducted under permit in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of critical marine habitat, including coral reef, hard bottom, seagrass meadow, mangrove communities and sand flats.
by J Kleene, Premiere Racing
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9:49 PM Tue 19 Nov 2013GMT
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