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Thread: 2017 Key West Race Week

  1. #1
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    2017 Key West Race Week


    Bevy of talent lined up to help celebrate
    30th anniversary regatta

    KEY WEST, Fla. -- Just 11 days remain until the start of the 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week and the fleet of more than 100 boats shows great strength throughout its ranks.

    In fashion befitting a 30th anniversary, the celebratory regatta bristles with a plethora of racing stars from the U.S. and 10 countries, some of the most technically developed racing boats afloat and one of the largest growing classes in the world.

    "The fleet is solid from top to bottom. There's great talent and some very successful race teams. It should be a fantastic week of racing," said event chairman John Fisher, a past commodore of the host Storm Trysail Club. "Quantum Key West Race Week always attracts the top level of the sport, because they know Key West offers great sailing conditions at a time of year where most in the U.S. have shut down their hometown sailing for the winter. There'll be first-rate competition from all over the sailing world, great race conditions coupled with our extremely capable veteran race committee and willing volunteers."

    The daily schedule calls for up to three races per day. Registration is set for Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 14-15, and the warning signal for Race 1 is scheduled for 1100 hours on Monday, Jan. 16.

    The fleet includes glamour classes like the 52 Super Series, featuring top professional sailors such as Ed Baird, John Kostecki, Terry Hutchinson, all past winners of the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award, and past Italian America's Cup helmsman Vasco Vascotto.

    The wildly popular J/70 Class is the largest at the event with 40 of the 23-footers entered this year. The design's larger sibling, the 36-foot J/111, begins a season long march towards the class's world championship in September.

    ORC is the featured rating rule with nine boats entered, and classes such as the C&C 30 One-Design, Melges 24 and J/88 enhance the competitive nature of the race week fleet. ORC is also being used to rate boats in the Performance Cruising Class that is competing for its second consecutive year, and there are two entries in the Multihull Class.

    While the racing at the 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week will look and feel very similar to the past 29 editions, the shoreside venue will be much different. The Waterfront Brewery in the Key West Historic Seaport and Bight will host all shoreside activities related to Race Week, including daily morning weather briefings, post-race seminars, and the nightly awards party.

    Post-race debriefs and seminars being organized by Quantum Sails will feature luminaries such Baird, Hutchinson and Kostecki, as well as Ed Adams, Bora Gulari and others offering insights.

    "The coaching and education, along with overnight sail repairs, are key deliverables of our sponsorship," said Quantum President Ed Reynolds. "With Ed Adams and Ed Baird heading up the daily debriefs, competitors are guaranteed insights and tips they can put to immediate use on the racecourse."

    Doug DeVos will return to steer his Quantum Racing in the 52 Super Series class - photo

    On the water, competitors will be spread across three racing circles. The 52 Super Series returns to Key West Race Week for the first time since 2014. The class bristles with talent from the America's Cup, Olympic Games, Volvo Ocean Race and innumerable world championships and represents the highest caliber racing in the game where every second counts.

    The lineup includes Doug DeVos' (Ada, MI) 2016 series and world champion Quantum Racing as well as longtime class members Alberto and Pablo Roemmers's (Buenos Aires, ARG) Azzurra and Niklas Zenstromm's Rán of Sweden, the 2016 Owner/Driver Champion. In all, eight of the 11 entries hail from foreign countries. The newest rocket among them will be Gwen and Austin Fragomen's (Newport, RI) Interlodge, launched in the fall and making its debut at Key West with Volvo Ocean Race winner Ian Walker driving and past America's Cup sailor Andy Horton calling tactics.

    "The sailing conditions are fantastic," says John Kostecki (Reno, NV), who'll call tactics on the TP 52 Platoon. "Normally you get the chance of good breeze for a part of the regatta, and each day is a new challenge. It's great winter sailing in the U.S."

    Can Carlo Alberini make it a 3-peat in the J/70's? - photo Max Ranchi
    For the fifth consecutive year the J/70 is the largest class in the regatta. Among the entrants are Carlo Alberini's Calvi Network from Italy, the two-time defending class champion and 2015 Boat of the Week.

    A third consecutive title will be hard to come by because other entrants include Tim Healy's USA-2 from Rhode Island, the 2014 Boat of the Week, Joel Ronning's Catapult, of Minnesota, the reigning J/70 World Champion with America's Cup veteran Eric Doyle calling tactics, and Peter Duncan's Relative Obscurity from New York, which placed second in the class last year.

    The 2003 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Hannah Swett (New York, NY) will lead Sparkle, with 1999 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Dawn Riley (Oyster Bay, NY) counted among her crew and longtime friends Melissa Purdy and Tom Purdy, the sister and brother from Tiburon, Calif. Swett purchased a J/70 last year because of the class's large size and this will be her first major regatta.

    "Yeah, I'm a little scared at a 40-boat starting line," said the skipper who's won the Yngling one-design world championship and the Fastnet Race in a diverse and varied career. "I really just wanted an opportunity to go sailing with my friends, so I'm totally looking forward to it. I used to teach sailing in Key West so I have some great memories from the island. It should be fun."

    Another strong one-design presence comes from the J/111 Class, which will have 10 boats on the start line. The class includes last year's top three finishers - Peter Wagner's (Atherton, CA) Skeleton Key, which posted a 14.5-point victory in 2016, Rob Ruhlman's Spaceman Spiff (Cleveland, OH) and Bradley Faber's (Owosso, MI) Utah.

    J/88's return as a class for 2017 - photo Sara Proctor

    The C&C 30 One-Design, new to Race Week in 2016, has six boats in the cue, led by Dan Cheresh's (Saugatuck, MI) dominant Extreme2, with recent Star Sailors League champion Mark Mendelblatt serving as tactician. The J/88 class returns with seven boats, including last year's first and second-place finishers, Mike Bruno's (Armonk, NY) Wings and Iris Vogel's (New Rochelle, NY) Deviation, respectively. The Melges 24 class also has three entries with Vasyl Gureyev's Barmaley, from the Ukraine, among the farthest traveling crews in the regatta.

    High Noise sistership Low Noise II in action at the 2015 ORC World Championship - photo Maria Munoz

    ORC has replaced IRC as the rating rule of choice and nine boats of diverse design are entered. Hank Caldwell's (Dowell, MD) Henderson 30 Short Bus is the smallest boat in the class and Ian Hill's (Chesapeake, VA) XP44 Sitella the largest. Another boat to watch is Alex Sastre's (Coconut Grove, FL) Italia Yachts 9.98 High Noise, a sistership to reigning ORC Class C World Champion Bachyachting and 2015 World Champion Low Noise II. Sastre has brought together some sailing all-stars from Italy to compete on High Noise, including reigning ORC European Sportboat Champion Enrico Zennaro.

    "We're excited to make our debut with this boat at Race Week," said Sastre. "She has proven to be very competitive in ORC racing in Europe, and even though we will have competitors who are much larger and faster than us, we trust the rating system to be fair and for us to have good racing all week."

    Grateful Red enjoys the distance races in the Performance Cruisers - photo Sara Proctor
    The Performance Cruising Class is also using ORC handicaps and has four boats entered, including Ken Johnson's (Stoughton, WI) C&C 121 Grateful Red, a return entry from the debut this class made in last year's event.

    Tom Reese's (Youngstown, OH) Flight Simulator II, a Corsair 970, and Phil Lotz' (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) Arethusa, a Gunboat 60, are the two multihulls in the fleet. A new addition to the fleet this year is the Flying Tiger 7.5m. The 24-foot long sportboat has been made available for charter by the National One Design Sailing Academy of Canada and is led by Nigel Brownett, who's raced Key West Race Week every year since 2006.

    Gill NA, the official apparel company of Quantum Key West Race Week, has launched its signature line for the 30th anniversary regatta. The line features a range of clothing for men and women including technical t-shirts, polos, soft shell jackets and smocks and foul weather gear. Gill will customize any clothing for crews wishing to have their boat name embroidered in time for race week.

    For more information and to enter, please visit the Quantum Key West Race Week web site.
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  2. #2
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    Looking Good For Key West Race Week

    30th anniversary regatta looks to live up to reputation of fantastic sailing conditions

    KEY WEST, Fla. – A scant three days remain to the start of the 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week and the long range weather forecast looks juicy. Key West Race Week’s reputation is built on close racing amid great sailing conditions, and this year looks to live up to that billing.

    According to Commanders’ Weather, the weather forecast supplier for race week, the first three days of the regatta look to offer moderate to strong winds of 10 to 20 knots from the east/east-southeast. A cold front predicted for the second half of the week could lighten the conditions, but Commanders’ Weather forecaster Chris Wasserback called the forecast for the first half of the week classic for Key West.

    “There’s high pressure to the north and it looks like good breeze for Sunday (practice day) and Monday (first race day),” said Commanders’ Weather forecaster Chris Wasserback. “The direction stays more easterly thru Tuesday and Wednesday with a fair amount of wind, around 20 knots. The high pressure off the East Coast is the dominant feature and should keep conditions there mostly settled.”

    Returning competitors from last year’s regatta might remember chilly air temperatures. Even that feature looks to be turned around this year with forecast highs in the mid-to-upper 70s.

    “Nothing else competes with Key West Race Week and it looks windy this year,” said Andy Horton, the tactician for Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s (Newport, RI) new TP52 Interlodge. “It’s the perfect time of year to go there. The holidays are all done and everyone’s ready to get back on the circuit. Everyone still talks about going to Key West Race Week.”

    Interlodge, from the design board of Botin Partners, will make its racing debut next week in the highly competitive 52 Super Series, the professional circuit that begins its 2017 season in Key West. Launched last fall, Horton said the crew has sailed it a limited amount. “It’s a brand new machine. We’ve sailed only two days, but all things show it should be a nice piece of equipment,” said Horton.

    While Interlodge continues Key West Race Week’s tradition of debuting the newest designs six other entrants are on hand to defend class titles won last year. Leading the charge is Carlo Alberini’s Calvi Network of Italy, which posted a 12-point win in the J/70 Class. Alberini and crew also won the J/70 Class and Boat of the Week honors in 2015, and they’ll be a marked entry in this very competitive class.

    Doug DeVos (Ada, MI), one of the top owner/drivers in the world, returns with his TP52 Quantum Racing, which won IRC 1 last year. This year Quantum Racing leads the 11-boat 52 Super Series Class, looking to get a start on defending its 2016 season championship.

    “Key West Race Week is truly one of the greatest regattas in the world and to me it’s the perfect winter break,” said Quantum Racing tactician Terry Hutchinson, who has won Boat of the Week honors twice as a tactician, including last year with Bella Mente. “It has steadily evolved over the years into an extremely high-level event in all respects.”

    Other returning class winners include Peter Wagner’s (Atherton, CA) Skeleton Key in the J/111 Class, Mike Bruno’s (Armonk, NY) Wings in the J/88 Class and Tom Reese’s (Youngstown, NY) Corsair 28R Flight Simulator in the Multihull Class.
    All shoreside activities will be held at the Waterfront Brewery in the historic Key West Bight. The daily schedule calls for up to three races per day. Registration is set for Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 14-15, and the warning signal for Race 1 is scheduled for 1100 hours on Monday, Jan. 16. Evening debriefs, panel discussions and prize-giving ceremonies are also planned.
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  3. #3
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    Forecast Calls For Fun

    Old acquaintances and new friendships will be joined at the venerable regatta

    KEY WEST, Fla. – The 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week begins tomorrow with a weather forecast calling for winds of 15 to 20 knots with gusts possibly as high as 25 knots and air temperatures in the mid-70s – conditions welcomed by every sailor in this idyllic setting celebrating a milestone anniversary.

    “We really couldn’t ask for a better forecast to begin the week,” said regatta chairman John Fisher, a past commodore of host Storm Trysail Club. “We’re happy to welcome a very competitive fleet in this anniversary regatta. Key West has been a very welcoming host through the years and we couldn’t imagine doing this regatta anywhere else. I’d also like to extend thanks to our valued sponsors and exception team of volunteers who help make this regatta a success. Without their support we wouldn’t be able to pull this off.”

    The celebratory regatta includes many sailors who’ve done a lifetime of racing in Key West. Among them are brothers Shawn and Steve Burke from Atlanta. This year they’re racing with longtime friends Andy and Melissa Fisher on the J/70 Button Fly, but they estimate they’ve done Key West Race Week no fewer than 25 times.

    “Our dad introduced us to this in 1984 when we did our first offshore race, so it’s a special place for us to come,” said Shawn Burke. “Our dad’s been coming here since early 1970s when he did the SORC.”

    “We’ve raced everything from Melges 32s to 24s, Farr 36, Swan 70, RC44s, Swan 42… and recently the J/70,” added Steve Burke. “A long time ago we raced a Lindenberg 28. Key West is a great place to come. There are lots of characters and great music and the competition is absolutely awesome.”

    Steve added that his memorable moment was winning the Swan 42 Class aboard the Fisher’s boat, Bandit. “It was a lot of fun, great competition and blew like crazy,” said Steve Burke. “It was good fun being with friends and sailing.”

    Old acquaintances and new friendships will be joined at the 30th anniversary regatta this week as a fleet of 100 boats will be racing in nine classes on three racing circles. The fleet includes two of the past three Boat of the Week winners – Carlo Alberini’s Calvi Network of Italy (2015) and Tim Healy’s New England Ropes of Rhode Island (2014). Both boats are entrants in the J/70 Class, the largest class in the fleet with 42 boats entered.

    “When we won in 2014 it was a windy regatta, exceptionally windy the last few days,” said Healy. “The key is consistency; get good starts and if you don’t get a good start kick back and work hard to get a solid finish. We’re not allowed any discards in this regatta, so a bad finish could really set you back. Our boat’s going well. We just need to execute and get good starts.”

    The nine boats in the J/111 Class also stand to be very competitive. Peter Wagner’s Skeleton Key of California pulled out the class win last year and also finished runner-up in the World Championship. They figure to be the class marker, but Wagner downplayed the label.

    “Last year we had consistency and good boatspeed and managed to put it to work and limit mistakes that would undermine us,” said Wagner, who was a two-time All American sailor at Harvard University in the late 1980s. “The fleet has continued to raise its game and I think that some of the boats that were here last year have come back faster. Virtually anybody in the fleet could pull out a good race and several could pull out the regatta.”

    Dan Cheresh of Michigan, owner of the C&C 30 One-Design Extreme2, is someone who knows the “consistency is king” adage all too well. Cheresh finished runner-up last year in the class by 2 points because he had to carry finishes of 6, 7 and 8 in his scoreline.

    “One of the keys to winning is not having a bad day,” said Cheresh, who won nearly every other class regatta last year and is one to watch this year. “We had a really bad day last year. If you have a bad race you have to pull your head up and fight back one point at a time. The boats are so close that it all comes down to crew work and maneuvers. We got beat in a couple of those areas last year.”

    The class with the most professional sailors, however, is the TP52, which kicks off the 2017 52 Super Series here in Key West. The fleet is led by 2016 series champion Quantum Racing, featuring owner/driver Doug DeVos on the helm. Quantum Racing was the dominant boat in the class last year, but this year figures to be much more difficult.

    “This is a tough field. If you’re not aggressive and really going for it, you’re not going to have a chance to podium,” said Morgan Larson, the tactician on Russian entry Bronenosec. “I think that’s the goal for most of the teams, stay in the top three at each event and have a shot at the end. Quantum was a level above everybody last year, and I’m sure a lot of teams have worked hard to bridge that gap. They’re still strong. But I think you’re going to see some mixed results.”

    All shoreside activities for this event will be held at the Waterfront Brewery in the historic Key West Bight. The daily schedule calls for up to three races per day for some classes, with the warning signal for Race 1 scheduled for 1100 hours tomorrow Monday, Jan. 16. Evening debriefs, panel discussions and prize-giving ceremonies are also planned throughout the week.
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