School of hard-hikes. Abby Freeman riding the rail of Bora Gulari's Melges 24.
College sailor Abby Freeman earned a spot at the front of past Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Bora Gulari's talent-laden Melges 24 West Marine Rigging/New England Ropes, and as first-timer to Key West she's getting some proper schooling.
Saturday, January 26
Sitting on my plane heading back to school, I find myself making extensive to do lists and mentally preparing myself for the inevitable all-nighter I will need to catch up on the course work I missed. At this point, any sane person would start questioning whether taking a week off school was all worth it. Before I started to get too negative about this particular life decision, I decided to think back on all the experiences, big and small, that made Key West Race Week 2013 worth it:
Tim and Don Finkle (right). A dynamic father-son duo.
Getting to Key West from upstate New York is half the battle of race week. The other half is keeping it fun. For Don Finkle and his young charges, that shouldn't be a problem.
Saturday, January 26
Now that the boat is packed up and the crew has flown out, Heather and I are enjoying a few moments of quiet on the balcony of our rented condo here in Key West, with some time to also reflect on a few final thoughts and suggestions as we look back on the experience, in no particular order.
Johnathan McKee says it's good to be back in town. Oh how he missed a little Key West, and how lucky he is to be here.
It is so great to be back in Key West. I missed it last year and somehow my whole year was not the same. The combination of sunny warm weather, beautiful emerald water, great racing, and a unique colorful town is unmatched by any other regatta.
Sailing World editor Dave Reed is embedded with Tim Healy's J/70 Helly Hansen for an insider's look into the class's first major event.
Friday, January 25
The Final Four
A week ago, as you may recall (if not, see below), I joined The Starting Three in Key West, full of uncertainties. A new boat, a new team, zero practice days, and a lot to figure out: who does what, who sits where, what’s the right headstay length, and on and on.
Steve Hunt, tactician with Joel Ronning's Catapult, checks in from the Melges 32 circle where victory or hard defeat is always only one tack away.
Friday, January 25
Our final day of Quantum Key West was a bit of an average day. We could only move up one place if we sailed well and had the option of moving down, if we sailed poorly. We did our best to have a good day but ended up with middle of the road scores finishing sixth and seventh. We held our eight place overall.
Steve Hunt, tactician with Joel Ronning's Catapult, checks in with a little pre-race insight on working on light-air speed, and getting sorted before the first race.
It's the night before the first day of racing at Key West Race Week and team Catapult is feeling ready. We arrived Thursday and have had three great days of practice. Since we have three new team members on board, our goal was to sort out our boathandling first, and then work on starting and light-air speed.
Gabart has a few more sunrises to experience alone at sea.
Francois Gabart on Macif discusses the highs and lows of his epic Vendée Globe journey as he fights to keep his lead ahead of Armel Le Cléac’h on Banque Populaire.
It is hard to know just how much Francois Gabart (Macif) thinks about the possibility that he could be the youngest sailor in history to win the fabled Vendée Globe race in just a few days at the age of 29. When I spoke with him by phone as he approached the doldrums in the Atlantic, he seem more concerned about maintaining his lead of a hundred miles or so ahead of the more experienced and very, very capable Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) than the not-so-lofty chance that he could be the victor.
SCA, the VOR's first official entry, snatched up PUMA Ocean Racing's mar mostro, and turned the Kraken and shoe into a pink field of grass and dandelions. The boat will be used for selection of the all-women's team.
With the calendar officially turning one year closer to the start of the next Volvo Ocean Race, it seems a fitting time to check in and see what teams are making New Year’s resolutions and which teams are moving on.
For both the Groupama Sailing Team and Puma Ocean Racing, official announcements have been made confirming the end of their Volvo ambitions. While a setback for the Volvo Ocean Race, both sponsors are still keenly committed to sailing. Puma is a technical sponsor to Oracle Racing’s bid to defend the America's Cup, while Groupama will continue to support Franck Cammas in the Little Americas Cup and France’s Tour de France à la Voile. For the other teams from the past race, no official announcements have been made regarding their futures.