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Grand Key West Finale at the Southernmost Regatta

by Hannah Noll 23 Jan 2022 08:02 PST 17-22 January 2022
Melges 24 fleet blasts downwind during the Southernmost Regatta 2022 at Key West, Florida © Sharon Green /

Dive down a few hours south of Miami, and you'll find yourself among the palm trees, blue waters, and colorful foliage of Key West. Forget port/starboard: On this island, the roosters roaming the streets have the right of way. Here at the southernmost point of the United States, the first-ever Southernmost Regatta presented by Sailing Inc. just came to a close in dramatic fashion.

The event saw five classes complete 10 or 12 races as scheduled. The week started with three days of non-stop sunshine, perfect wind, and waves that faded over the next two days before a light wind finale. Dock talk will tell you the conditions were primetime Key West.

We can't go this far without mentioning the shoreside vibe. There's something magical about the island lifestyle. Each day after racing, sailors gathered for daily awards at the Sunset Tiki Bar at the Galleon Resort, which was a gracious host. It goes without saying that were plenty of mudslides and Mount Gay cocktails to go around.

The Melges 24 fleet was the largest of the five classes. Today's finale was a who-beats-who between Peter Duncan's Raza Mixta and Laura Grondin's Dark Energy. The Raza Mixta team grabbed the lead from Laura Grondin's Dark Energy on the second day and never looked back. Onboard with Duncan were Victor Diaz de Leon, Erik Shampain, Matty Pistay, and Greiner Hobbs. Taking the Corinthian trophy was Alex Shafer's Sweaty Betty from Clermont Sailing Club, Florida.

The beasts in the Great Lakes 52 fleet were certainly a spectacle on the blue waters off Key West. On the fleet's own separate race course, David Team's TP52 Vesper took charge, finishing with 24 points over the 12-race series, six points ahead of Austin Fragomen's Interlodge VII. Rounding out the podium was Doug DeVos's Windquest.

Tight competition characterized the J/111 racing, especially between Andrew & Sedgwick Ward's Bravo and Ian Hill's Sitella. The Bravo team came out on top, winning the tie-breaker. On the Wards' team was Bill Hardesty, Joshua & Matthew Kapell, Ian Fraser, Sebastian Bliss, Kelly McKeown, and River Paquin, narrowly edging out the Sitella team with Terry Hutchinson onboard.

Gwen Fragomen's Botin 44 Interlodge IV put on an impressive show in the ORC division. The team put up a near-perfect scorecard throughout five days of racing, only taking one second place finish behind Eric Lopez del Valle's Farr 395 Wasabi. If there was an award for team spirit, the Wasabi team might just have taken the crown — With tunes pumping through the speakers and plenty of smiles & greetings on the docks every day, this team made friends with everyone at the event.

Bobby Julien's Dingbat team put on a show in the J/70 fleet with six bullets and no need to sail the final race. James Gary's Ayacucho from Severn Sailing Association had an excellent showing and took home the J/70 Corinthian trophy.

The race committee team of nine led by PRO Mark Foster completed 40 races throughout the week, rolling out the red carpet for the sailors. The Southernmost Regatta extends its deep gratitude to the vision of the Ruhlman family, Sailing Inc., Regatta Chair Martin Kullman, Evolution Sails, Harken Inc., Mount Gay Rum, J/Boats, EWE Spirit Foundation, Sail22, AA Dive Services, Pirates Lair, the Sunset Tiki Bar at the Galleon Resort, and the City of Key West. Media coverage was provided by Harken, Walter Cooper Photography, and Sharon Green's Ultimate Sailing.

The Mount Gay was flowing, the breeze was blowing, and the Southernmost Regatta is cementing itself as the place to be in January. Plan on joining the fun next year — onward & upward!

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