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The Southernmost Regatta, AC37 news, and SailGP updates

by David Schmidt 1 Feb 11:00 PST February 1, 2022
GL52 Vesper during the Southernmost Regatta 2022 at Key West, Florida © Sharon Green /

Winter might be languishing in the air and - if you live on the Eastern seaboard - on the ground, however that certainly doesn't stop international sailing from generating headlines. And, if you're like me and are fully ready to see winter morph into a spring and summer this year, these headlines can be a small way to live vicariously.

Let's start close to home, with the first edition of The Southernmost Regatta, which unfurled on the waters off of Key West, Florida, from January 17-21, and which is doing its best to fill the gap in the winter racing calendar that the once mighty Key West Race Week once occupied.

To say that we hope this winter regatta thrives is a serious understatement. As a veteran of Key West Race Week, I can say with confidence that it's almost impossible to find better racing in January in the US of A than on the waters off of The Conch Republic, and we sincerely tip our hats at the great efforts of all involved who helped (re)launch this regatta.

Racing was reportedly tight across all classes, but (with 18 boats) the Melges 24 class was the biggest in terms of numbers at The Southernmost Regatta. Peter Duncan's Rasta Mixta took top honors, followed by Drew Freides and his Pacific Yankee crew, and Laura Grondin and her Dark Energy squad.

The nine-strong J/70 class were the next biggest at The Southernmost Regatta. Bobby Julien and his Dingbat team took home the top trophy. They were joined on the winner's podium by Dick Kalow and his Superior 1 crew and Daniel Goldberg and his Bazinga! team.

The eight-strong J/111 class was the regatta's largest one design keelboat class, and Andrew and Sedgwick Ward's Bravo team earned the podium's top step, followed by Ian Hill's Sitella and Rob Ruhlman's Spaceman Spiff.

Sail-World congratulates all teams that got to enjoy this fun-sounding regatta, and we look forward to hopefully seeing future editions of this event flourish.

Jumping from the warm waters off of Key West to the wilds of the America's Cup, we learned last week that the New York Yacht Club and American Magic's challenge for the 37th America's Cup was accepted by The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. While there has been some whiplash action happening between the NYYC and American Magic over the past several months (to put it gently), Terry Hutchinson, American Magic's president of sailing operations, was clear that the club and the team are now focused on the challenges ahead.

"It is great to be back in the America's Cup for AC37, and our pursuit of bringing the Trophy home remains the same," said Hutchinson in an official team press release. "We've been preparing for AC37 from the moment our time came to an end at AC36 and are a deeply motivated group (all hands-on deck) ready to compete and ready to win."

While team principals Doug DeVos and Hap Fauth have returned to help fund American Magic's second campaign, the team's third major financier from their last effort, Roger Penske, has reportedly opted out. Still, Fauth and DeVos, both of whom know a thing or two about running big-boat campaigns, remain undeterred. (Case in point: DeVos' TP52 Windquest took third place out of five boats in the highly competitive GL52 class at The Southernmost Regatta.)

"Doug and I are thrilled that our challenge was accepted," noted team Fauth in a NYYC communication. "We have unfinished business and a hunger to get back on the water and compete. Our dedicated team partners, supporters, and fans have become invested in our mission, and we are excited to represent them and the U.S.A. once again."

Sail-World wishes the team the best of luck as they prepare for AC37.

And while it's fair to say that the majority of sailing headlines are being made by warm-water events right now, SailGP is less than two months away from Season 2's Grand Final, which will take place on the waters of San Francisco Bay from March 26-27, and they recently announced that the Mubadala Investment Company is joining the series as a title partner.

"SailGP and Mubadala share like-minded goals for a better future, so we are excited that they have joined as title partner for the Grand Final in San Francisco," said Russell Coutts, SailGP's CEO, in an official communication. "Mubadala's commitment to making a positive impact on communities around the world aligns with our SailGP Inspire program - driving toward a better sport and a better planet. Together we look forward to making a positive impact on the local community in San Francisco around our season finale."

[N.B. SailGP's Inspire program aims to make sailing a more inclusive sport and instill younger sailors with an understanding of the deep ecological challenges that our lovely but lonely planet is facing.]

And finally, because who couldn't use a dose of future foiling on this deep winter's day, the first images have emerged of the new AC40 class of smaller foiling monohulls, which will be used in racing leading up to AC37 (including two of the three preliminary races ahead of AC37, as well as the Women's and Youth racing). Perhaps not so unsurprisingly, given what happened on the racecourse last year, AC40s appear to resemble a 2.0 version of Te Rehutai, the second-generation AC75 that Emirates Team New Zealand used to defend AC36.

It will be very interesting to see this new class take flight and to also see what kind of technology trickle-down it could inspire.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt North American Editor

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