When the 24th edition of Key West 2011, presented by Nautica begins next Monday (January 17th) Olympic medalists, world champions and America's Cup veterans will be on the starting line.
America's Cup legend Russell Coutts will be on hand for the southernmost debut of the RC 44 class, while the 'big boat class' will feature four mini maxis including Titan, chartered by former America's Cup skipper Bill Koch.
Willem Wester, owner and skipper of Antilope (Breskens, NED and the UK) and a newcomer to Key West, leads a talent laden crew in the IRC 2 class. He's a two-time winner of The Round the Island Race in Wight and Cowes Week. His helmsman-tactician, Philippe Bergmans, is a three-time Olympian in the Laser class and has a Gold medal for the European Championship.
Fellow countryman, Peter Vroon brings his Tonnerre de Breskens 3. The Kerr46 has the distinction of being named the 2010 RORC Yacht of the Year. Piet has been racing with the RORC for 50 years and has achieved many notable successes, not the least of which is winning the Rolex Fastnet Race.
The Melges 32 class has become Key West's competitive standard in recent years. The list of tacticians tells that story and includes 2010 Beijing Olympic Gold medalist Paul Goodison. Paul, racing on Joe Wood's Red, is currently the #1 ranked Laser sailor in the world.
Competitive teams from no less than 15 countries and 24 American states are excited about the competition and the great weather forecast. Warm temperatures and bright blue skies are greeting the early arrivals and the long term forecasts call for more sunshine and temperature in the 70s right through the weekend.
The 136 boats will compete in 13 separate classes. One-designs include the high powered Melges 32, a talent-laden international Melges 24 class, a revitalized Farr 30 and J/Boat's always competitive J/105 and J/80 classes. IRC,Multihull and PHRF classes complete the mix.
The event kicks off Sunday afternoon with the annual pre-regatta 'All Star Tune Up' panel discussion just prior to the Skipper's meeting. Ed Baird, Russell Coutts, Cam Lewis and other champions will share their secrets of past Key West successes.
Event Website - click here