2009 Acura Key West Race Week
2009 Acura Key West Race Week
Welcome to Sailing World's coverage of 2009 Acura Key West Race Week. While the numbers of entrants are down from previous years, our commitment to covering the biggest mid-winter regatta in North America remains as strong as ever. We'll have two writers and a photographer on site to cover the event and bring all the action back to you, whether you're trying to survive another bitter cold week in the Northeast or simply want to know what happened on the other circles. This page will serve as your hub for our coverage of the regatta. From here you'll be able to link to results and photos, read reports, watch Gary Jobson's videos, and listen to daily podcasts.
Jan. 29, 2009
Video: Gary Jobson wraps up the 2009 event
Feb. 9, 2009
Last But Not Least, A Primal Scream
With just two editors on site, and three major awards handed out on the final night-boat of the day, one-design boat of the week, and PHRF boat of the week-the Sailing World team found itself caught out. I grabbed Melges 32 winner Jeff Ecklund and Herb McCormick corraled J/105 skipper Pat Eudy. And no one was able to get to Steven Stollman, who drove the C&C 115 Primal Scream to a win in PHRF-1 and PHRF BOTW honors.
In prepping our story for the April issue, I realized our omission and emailed Steven for some background on his team and some thoughts on his win. He was more than happy to oblige. As you can infer from his responses, Steven is a hands-on owner who takes his sailing seriously and this program is clearly the result of a lot of forethought and hard work. But before you think he takes it too seriously, I encourage you to visit the team's website, complete with its own custom theme song.
How long have you owned Primal Scream, give us a short history of the boat?
I took delivery of Primal Scream, a C&C model 115, in November 2005, so I've owned her for a bit over three years now. Several weeks after commissioning we entered our first point-to-point, the Wirth Munroe from Ft Lauderdale to Palm Beach. The 8-foot head sea gave her a good shake down but nothing like the following month's Key West Race Week. KWRW 2006 was hell. The boat was "fresh out of the box" and everything blew up in this heavy air regatta. We worked every night jury-rigging fixes so we could race each day. Credit to us, we did not miss a race, but finished the week in 13th place. Next we went to Charleston Race Week and won our Class and the Palmetto Cup. Then to Annapolis, where we suffered a steering system failure during race 2 of the NOOD. Again, working all night put us back on the racecourse the following day. Needless to say, this first year of teething was a mixture of triumphant, humbling, and frustrating experiences. In 2007 it all started to come together with a 4th place at KWRW, another 1st place win at Charleston Race Week and a 1st place win at the Annapolis NOOD. The momentum continued into 2008 with a 2nd at KWRW and 1st place wins at the Annapolis NOOD, the SE Florida PHRF Championship and the Wirth Munroe.
Tell us a little bit about your crew. How did it come together?
It was interesting fortunately Primal Scream came to Biscayne Bay at a time when there were a number of ambitious South Florida sailors in search of a serious racing program, one that would challenge them more than most of the club racing programs offered locally. Our sailmaker and tactician, Anson Mulder of North Sails-Fort Lauderdale and I vetted the initial crew (bar-room interviews) and most of them remain today. We've had no attrition other than perhaps someone moving out of the region. The crew is awesome. They all take franchise in The Scream by their commitment to the campaign, boat preparation and practice.
Tell us a little bit about your week. Was there any one moment that really seemed, in hindsight, to be the key moment of the week?
Finishing Tuesday with two bullets set us up for the week to defend a potential first-place position. The problem of course is that in addition to being the "target" of the fleet, being the "slow boat" in the Class, we were easy prey. As a result, it often meant going in the wrong direction to avoid being camped on. On Thursday afternoon (Race 8), our focus was strictly on improving our point spread with the J/120 El Ocaso, the second place boat. We sailed off the earth with them, El Ocaso taking a 7 and Primal Scream taking a 6. This was probably the pivotal or key moment of the week for us since we now entered Friday with a 10-point lead. Barring any catastrophe, we knew we were not going to be dislodged from our pole position. Don't take me wrong, we take nothing for granted and sailed Races 9 and 10 as hard as we sailed Race 1.
If you had to pick one crew member to be your MVP, who would it be? Which crewmember performance above and beyond the expectations for their job?
It isn't possible to single out an MVP. Every crew member put in 150 percent and every crew member's performance is contingent on the performance of others, i.e., a good set or douse could be attributed to good foredeck work but in reality, the foredecks performance is only as good as the string-pulling in the cockpit.
Key West is a unique regatta and the winning teams seem to all have key routines that help them succeed? What part of your Key West routine contributed most to your success in 2009?
We hail from Key Biscayne, Fla., so we don't go to KWRW for the weather or the nightlife, just the racing. We take a condo and keep the boat at Kings Point Marina on Stock Island, away from the hubbub of downtown. We eat well, get a good night's sleep and start our day's preparation early. By the start of the first race, we've already sailed up and down the course, studied current and pressure, warmed up, tested sails and tuned the rig. Every morning, we hit the start line fresh and "race ready."
Finally, if a boat owner with a boat similar to yours were to ask you for some advice on how to succeed in Key West, what would be at the top of your list?
Primal Scream represents a grass roots, low-budget, racer-cruiser program whose success rests solely on the will and talent of its crew (all unpaid, I may add). You must assemble a consistent and dedicated crew passionate about yacht racing and winning who are willing to commit to the whole program, from practice to maintaining and improving the boat's condition. To quote our bowman Joe Goulet: "There is practice and everything else is bulls#$t." Last year Primal Scream placed second in class, but we knew we could've done better. We spent the year practicing and improving with the goal of claiming victory at Key West 2009. We can proudly say: "The results speak for themselves."
Jan. 23, 2009
A Knot and a Shot
|The crew of the Swan 42 Tiburon closes out Key West Race Week with one last competition, the Schooner Wharf Bar's Knot and a Shot contest. Results were varied.
Boat of the Week, Jeff Ecklund's Melges 32 Star
Tell us a little about this boat?
This hull I bought four years ago, the year after I sailed the prototype [winning PHRF Boat of the Week at Key West Race Week]. So I've had this for four years, been racing pretty hard for about four years in this boat.
|Jeff Ecklund, skipper of the Melges 32 Star, the Boat of the Week for 2009 Acura Key West Race Week.|
The Melges 32 bow numbers for this regatta ranged from 70 to 88, with one exception. Your bow number was 32, matching your sail number? Why is that?
I just think it's lucky. Our sail number is 32. In the Melges 32 and the 20 class you have a chance to own a number, so no matter what hull number I've got, I own that number. Since I won the first one, Harry [Melges] gave me sail number 32. Peter Craig's always nice to accommodate use. Every time we have 32, we win.
You said the core team has been together for four years, yourself, the bow person, Scott trimming and Harry on the tactics and mainsheet. What does it mean to have had that core team together for so long?
Having our core people is critical on these 32s, it's all about teamwork. We have a number of amateurs on boat, people who can devote the time to get away from work and family. You can't always get the rest of the crew, but getting the core people allows us to grow and get better. As the class bar keeps raising, so do we. Having Soctt Norris on board, he's a great trimmer, world-class trimmer. Love having him onboard, great personality. He's been there, done that, he's a great addition to the team. Harry and I have sailed together for a long time. Lindsey [Bartels] has been with us on our bow for three years now. She's awesome, I can't imagine a better woman on the boat.
You went into the last two races down by a point to Red. Tell us about the final day and what turned the regatta in your favor?
Today we went back to basics, get a clean start, get off the line very clean, find a whole and just let the boat do its work. We have a fast boat, we wanted to make sure we didn't get involved with ping ponging around on the first beat. We wanted to make sure we had clear lines, going fast, and could pick our own destiny. We were very fortunate to have good starts in both races. That was it, let the boat do the work.
After the first race, where did the results stand?
We put two points on them going in [the second to last race] and would've won the tiebreaker, so they had to put one boat between us to win the event.
So you had a little bit of cushion?
A very little bit of cushion. We knew where they were all the time. They had a tough day, but we still had to be aware because Morgan Reeser [tactician on Red], he can pull rabbits out of his hat.
The 32 is a fairly strict one-design class, but is there any piece of equipment that was particularly valuable today?
For me, it's very obvious. North Sails is the equipment to have for us. Harry's a North One-Design rep and that is one of the key pieces of equipment that you're allowed to change. The other piece of equipment, I don't know if crew is equipment, but crew is everything. It's a very crew-intensive boat. It's one-design, we all weight the same. It's very important to have teamwork, and synergy and, chemistry and intensive. Crew work is tops on all counts.
OK, of your crew, who would be the MVP of the day?
It's got to be Harry. He's always on top of his game. He's a treat to sail with. He's fun, we laugh, we have a great time around the racecourse, but boy he is so switched on. He's got a pretty good gene pool he's drawing from and he's fun to sail with. He's the MVP for sure.
He does double duty on your boat, trimming main and calling tactics. That's a big load.
That's how good he is. He can do it all. The guys on the rail, they're very talented sailors. They have very good eyes, they're able to see the racecourse and paint a nice picture. If there's a grey area for the team they call Harry in to look around. The key is having a great team, great crew to look around and paint a picture.
Any part of your Key West routine that has proven particularly vital to your success?
We've been coming here for about 15 years, we've won 4 or 5 or 6 Key Wests in class. For us, my philosophy is keeping a routine. Sailing is hard enough. There are enough variables on the water, it's very difficult on the water. So for us organizing up front, eliminating variables , everybody knows where to go, what to do, before we even come to Key West, I think is the most critical part. Eliminate the variables [on shore] and deal with the variables out on the racecourse.
To what extent do you do this? Are dinners, boat call, etc. all scheduled beforehand?
Yes. All of it. Everybody's got their schedule weeks ahead of time. So nobody has to think, they can turn their brains off and use their brainpower out on the water. I think that's critical for a long week of sailing.
What secret would you share with your competitiors?
Organization and teamwork. Getting good people on the boat, spending time in the boat practicing before Key West and organizing months before you get here. That's key.
Day 5 Boat of the Day, Pat Eudy's J/105 Big Booty
Tell us about your day?
Here's my view. I translate the whole thing into three letters. The three letters for success in sailing, F-U-N. We're just here to have fun.
Do you sail with the same regular crew? Where are you from?
Yes. I'm from Charlotte, the boat is from Charleston. We're just here to have fun. If we win, that's good. If we're last, we can drink ourselves out of it.
|After struggling to start the regatta, Pat Eudy's Big Booty finished with four top-two finishes in the last five races, and Boat of the Day honors on the final day of Key West Race Week.|
Do you sail together all the time
Four of us are on the boat a lot, for Wednesday night stuff or Charleston Race Week. Two were new. It took us a while to get into the groove.
Tell us about today?
We just kind of hit our stride. We had a different spinnaker today. We'd been slow downwind and today we just hit it alright. Our teamwork was good and we caught some good windshifts and we had the right rig tune, the right sails.
Have you been to Key West Race Week before?
This is my first. Almost everyone on the boat has been here before. But this is my first time at Key West coming to sail. I've been here to get drunk a lot.
What are your impressions of the regatta?
It's fantastic. What could be wrong?
When you came down, did you have any expectations have achieving this kind of success?
I'm not big on having expectations. Like I said, my goal is to have fun. I told the guys at the beginning of the week that I didn't really care if we were doing great, winning or losing. But I didn't really mean that. They're hard enough on themselves without me kicking them in the balls.
Can you single out any crew member for MVP honors?
You know who's the short end of the stick on the crew? It's me. I'm the novice. The guys I sail with, they all sailed in college. I'd never been in a sailboat race myself until about three years ago. I'm learning the positions on the boat and getting up to speed. I don't drive, I was trimming jib, which was the first time I ever trimmed jib, was this week.
Tell us a little bit about your crew?
Carl's the guy who does the bow, Karl Schutte, and he's been doing bow on the boat since I bought the boat, Charleston Race Week, nationals. Does a fantastic job. Marcus Eagan, skipper, he drives the boat, fantastic sail, really good feel for the boat. Joe Pitcavage is the other guy who's been on the boat for a long time. He was trimming main.
Did you have boats before this?
I kind of taught myself to sail. I'd never known anybody in my life that sailed. I taught myself to sail. I bought a catamaran when I was a kid, then I went to some schools to learn how to sail bigger boats. But this is the first boat Ive had that I couldn't push off the beach.
You've been happy with the J/105
Yeah. It's a great boat. I can race it, then I can go sail with my family on it. So it's good.
What has been your routine here at Key West?
We wake up as last a possible, get some really greasy food, stumble to the boat, moan all the way out, race as hard as we can, come back and start drinking as hard as possible.
End of the Road
When it comes to US Route 1, which winds it's way down the East Coast, Key West, Florida, is quite literally the end of the road. If you've never been here, you've missed a glimpse of Mile Marker 0, just around the corner from the southernmost point in the United States. I was reminded of this on Friday, the last day of competition in the 2009 edition of Key West Race Week. It was the end of the road at the end of the road.
|The sun shone brightly for the final day of Key West Race Week, but it didn't illuminate too many answers for the afterguard of Santa Cruz One.
If you look at the results, you'll see that the new Santa Cruz 37 I was aboard, Santa Cruz One, was deep in the standings in the IRC-2 fleet. The two 37s in Key West were fighting an uphill battle, ratings-wise, in the IRC division, and being fresh out of the box didn't help matters. The odd thing is, and I think I speak for the rest of the crew, despite the end result, the entire experience was endlessly fun and interesting. And we all, I believe, learned a ton and sailed a pretty solid regatta.
"I can't think of too many places we left time on the racecourse," said skipper Scott Dickson.
I'd never sailed with Dickson-or anyone else on the team, for that matter-but he was a positive, upbeat presence from start to finish, a true pro in the best sense of the word. So, too, were tactician Larry Leonard and fellow sailmakers Chad Hough and Tim Dawson; it was an education watching them experiment with tuning and trimming as they became familiar with a boat they'd never sailed before. Designer Tim Kernan and his partner, Fred Courouble, provided plenty of insight into the boat and were fine sailors, as well (though Tim was sidelined for much of the week after a mishap early on). Boatbuilder Rod Gill did yeoman duty filling in for Tim for a couple of days. On bow, Art Vasenius was flawless, as was trimmer Steve Burke in the cockpit. And Santa Cruz owner Tom Slade and his family looked after us like we were kings. It was just a tremendous bunch of folks to sail and hang with.
I haven't done a ton of round-the-cans IRC racing, and I'm still trying to sort out how I feel about it. I guess these days, at least in handicap fleets, I prefer point-to-point distance contests. I reckon the Santa Cruz 37 would be a fantastic boat to sail offshore.
In fact, as we cleaned up the boat on Friday, there was a bit of talk about taking a 37 on the upcoming race to Jamaica. That one got my attention. So if Tom and Tim are reading this, I'll end this week's blog with just two words.
Photo Gallery: Day 5
Video: Gary Jobson Interviews SW's Stuart Streuli
Video: Key West Sights and Sounds
Jan. 22, 2009
Video: Day 4 Report
Day 4 Boat of the Day, J/80 Rumor
Interview with Kaity Storck
What's your job on the boat?
We actually have a really cool thing. I sail with my dad, and usually my two older brothers. We all sort of rotate through positions. This week I am the second most forward person and I'm pulling the spinnaker up, taking the spinnaker down, and helping call tactics. I'm also calling waves and puffs as we go upwind.
Give us this history of this team?
|Kaity Storck and John Storck II (aka Dad) helped their family-focused team on the J/80 Rumor to Day 4 Boat of the Day honors at Key West Race Week.|
My dad has sailed Key West I think probably six times in the J/80, maybe seven times. This is my fourth year in the J/80. We basically started sailing as a family together four years ago. We were actually gearing up to sail the worlds in Corpus Christi, Texas. We were all busy with junior sailors, and, my dad, he sailed a PHRF boat, and then he realized that if he got a one-design boat, we would actually sail with him. So he did, and then we did. I actually have a younger brother and we've sailed with all five of us once, and that was at Block Island Race Week two years ago and that was cool because I got to drive for that.
The boat has an interesting history. Didn't it fall off a trailer at one point?
That was actually five years ago. We were driving back-it was my first time doing Key West on the boat-it was the year there was a big winter storm on the way back from Key West and we hit some ice in Virginia and went over a bridge and it spun around and flipped over. We went to Bob Muller in Annapolis. Our boat is No. 19, which is the oldest boat in the class here. When we first started using the boat, he repaired the bottom and redid it, and he did it again. It seems to work.
Tell us a little about your day?
It was definitely a really difficult day. The breeze-I'm not sure if it was this way on all the courses-but on our course it was really streaky and localized. You could easily be going upwind next to a boat that you're pretty close to and suddenly you're pointing 20 to 30 degrees different. Sometimes something would last for a while, sometimes it would only last for a second. You'd get a big header and tack, and then get a big header again. It was definitely really difficult, which made for really tight competitive racing. The first race we finished forth and I think there was something like 15 seconds between the first six boats [Ed's note: first five boats finished in 35 seconds according to the Premiere Racing website]. The second race we won by less than a second. It was the same thing on the downwind. People sometimes don't realize that in an asymmetrical boat, as shifty as it is on the upwinds, you've got to be just as game on for the downwinds.
The J/80 is a tight one-design boat, but is there any one piece of equipment that was particularly valuable today?
Our personnel is our key tool. We have a new jib that seems to be working pretty well. We've had UK Halsey sails since we've gotten into the boat and they've always done really well. This one seems to have a little more shape at the bottom than our older jibs. This is our first time sailing with it, so we're just figuring it out.
Who would be the MVP of the team today?
The one thing our team has always done really well, is that everyone focuses on doing their own job and just their job. I think that's a problem that a lot of boats have difficulty with, especially when you have a lot of really good sailors together. It's hard for everyone to focus on doing just their job. More often than not, it's not that you run into problems with people messing up their job, but people sort of overstepping boundaries. So everyone always does a really good job on our boat. But probably with the conditions being so shifty and up and down breeze wise, we were seeing easily 10 knot ranges and the really big shifts, I think John, my brother, who was driving the boat, probably gets the MVP for keeping the boat moving.
Is there any particular part of your routine that helps you succeed in Key West?
Maybe the fact that we have to take a taxi home to get to our condo, so therefore we don't go out at night. That could be it. We stay at a condo that's over on the south side of the island. We don't go out that much, we go to the tent, then go to dinner, then go to bed usually.
We definitely have an order of things to do when we get out to the racecourse. We're taking wind shots on they way out to the course just so as soon as were out there before we even go out my dad tries to get the rig to where he thinks the breeze will be for the day. We're just out of the harbor, we're checking the wind, we check it again. We check it a lot, just to be in tune with what we think is happening.
What sort of advice would you give to another J/80 sailor looking to sail at Key West Race Week for the first time?
Trying to put together a team that has sailed together before so you can be really focused on going fast for the regatta, and everybody knows what they're doing. I will not hesitate to say our strongest point is our speed. If you have a good mix of all-stars and people who have sailed the boat before that's definitely better than all all-stars that maybe have never sailed before because things can get done a lot better. Like I said before, the most important thing on a boat is everybody doing their job. They've got to be good at their job, so they've got to be an all-star at that. But, yeah, speed is really important down here.
Move of the Day
|Whether it was intentional or not, a big shift seemed to roll in right before the star, Amy Neill's pin-end start in the second race for the Melges 32 class was a thing of beauty. They crossed the whole fleet on port and led around the first mark before finishing second. Nitemare had an outstanding day with a first in the first race as well. This after not scoring better than seventh in any of the first six races. Unfortunately, it wasn't good enough for top honors in the class and Mike Carroll's New Wave equaled that performance and wins the tiebreaker by beating Nitemare in the last race. Still, the crew on Nitemare has to be tickled with those results, which moved them from 15th to 12th, and from 25 points out of 10th to 4 points out of 10th.
IRC-2: The Mark Mills Invitational
I've been filing reports this week from onboard the new Santa Cruz 37, Santa Cruz One, and for the most part I've been focusing on our small triumphs and travails. But with eight races now completed after Day 4 of Key West Race Week, it's time to give credit where due. And there's no dismissing the fact that the 13-boat IRC-2 class in which we're competing has become nothing less than the Mark Mills Invitational.
|Daniel Woolery's King 40 Soozal, a Mark Mills design, is currently leading IRC 2. Two other Mills designs look likely to join it on the podium.|
Mills, of course, is the California yacht designer who has been based in Ireland for over a decade now, and thus far his boats have a lock on the top three positions with just the final day of racing on the docket. Daniel Woolery's King 40, Soozal, registered a pair of bullets on Thursday and now holds a five-point lead over Tony Buckingham's Mills 40, Ngoni, which scored a pair of seconds for the day. In third is the Mills 43, Cool Breeze, skippered by John Cooper. It's all Mills, all the time.
Well, almost. In fourth place, and within striking distance of a podium finish, is Jim Bishop's well-traveled J/44, Gold Digger, which was going to weather like a freight train in the week's heavier, choppier air. Those of a certain age can remember when Jim sailed every race puffing on a gigantic cigar-the old spinnakers featured a striking profile of the skipper and his stogie-but those days are long gone. But Jim's still out there, steering from leeward, and he's a familiar and even reassuring presence on the racecourse. And also, a respected one: Gold Digger won the first race on Tuesday and when Jim went up to get his award at that evening's prize-giving ceremony, he clearly earned the biggest round of applause.
On Santa Cruz One, the calmer seas and mid-teen breezes were indeed welcome today, and as far as the boat for boat competition went, we're now squarely in the hunt. Not that it's done us any favors once the handicap was applied. But we're earning some moral victories as the week goes on, and today we had at least one of the other King 40s (there are three in the class) in our rear-view mirror as we crossed the finish line.
"Well look at that," said one of our crew, with just a trace of sarcasm, "now I know what the front of a King 40 looks like."
Photo Gallery: Day 4
Video: Day 3 Report by Gary Jobson
Video: Peter Craig Interview by Gary Jobson
Movers and Shakers
How cold was it on the water on moving day? I wish I knew. I spent the day holed up in the condo trying to catch up on my worklist. But I was cold indoors, so I can't imagine what it was like out on the water, where the stiff 15- to 20-knot northerly made sure every sailor felt the 50-degree air temperatures.
However, as much as Mother Nature hasn't delivered the expected amount of sun, the wind is what really counts and there's been plenty of that. With six races down, four to go, it's a good time to scroll through the results and see who's in the hunt, who's not, and what other interesting story lines can be picked from a grid of names and numbers.
Yesterday's star, Mascalzone Latino, had an awful day in the Farr 40 division. A ninth and a 10th dropped the Latin Rascals from first to third, 10 points off the lead. That margin will be tough to overcome in this fleet. But its certainly not impossible.
Gerrit Schulze won both J/105 races to jump from third to first. He's currently tied on points with Damian Emery, with Briane Keane just a point back.
Riccardo Simoneschi's chances of winning another Melges 24 title look to have ended with an 18th in Race 6. He dropped from third to fifth, but more importantly, he's now 27 points behind the impressive pace set by UKA UKA Racing, which has won four of six races.
Alex Jackson's Melges 32 Leenabarca, with Dave Ullman calling tactics, went from 10th to sixth with a second and a fourth. And they're only two points out of third. Jeff Ecklund's Star and Joe Woods Red, 24 and 21 points ahead of third respectively, look to be the only two boats with a chance at first.
The new Mills 43 Cool Breeze fell off the pace in IRC 2, a fourth and a seventh dropping it from first by two points to third. The six point margin is surmountable, but points are hard to come by at the top end of this class. A little less breeze today might help shake things up.
After winning three of the first four races, the Swan 42 Celeritas lost the plot on Day, scoring two sixths in a six-boat class. Their five-point lead has turned into a 3-point deficit.
The J/80 class looks to be a two-boat race, with Rumor out in front with just 8 points in six races. Kicks is second with 13, third has 25.
Robert Armstrong is once again dominating his PHRF class. His modified J/100 Good Girl has won five straight and has a 9-point lead in PHRF-2. Third is a point behind second, but fourth is 14 points behind third.
L'Outrage cut Tangent's lead from four to one in PHRF 3 by winning both races. Third is well back, so this looks to be another two-boat race.
Want to know more? Quotes and notes from all 13 classes can be found in the daily Key West Race Week newspaper, which for the first time you can read even if you're not in Key West. Find all the issues here.
Jan. 21, 2009
Key West Cold Play
My daughter's a big fan of the band Coldplay. (I'm not.) She's 11, which I think is worth noting. I don't know, their whole thing just seems so overwrought. But I couldn't get their name out of mind as I pulled on layers of long underwear and fleece on Wednesday morning for Day 3 of Key West Race Week. It was a day of cold play all right.
There was a minor bit of news unfolding in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, so you know it's cold in South Florida when the inauguration was actually the second item on that evening's Miami newscast. The weather, of course, was first. The forecast was for 20-knots of northerly breeze and temperatures soaring into the fifties after a much more frigid overnight low, and while the wind was never that staunch, it was a bloody cool day on the water, to say the very least.
Aboard the new Santa Cruz 37, Santa Cruz One, we're continuing our ascent up the learning curve, and each passing day brings a bit more insight into the boat's capabilities as well as a broader bank of experience: There's nothing to beat time on a boat. With regards to tuning and trimming, particularly, there's been no small degree of testing and experimentation, and after our fourth day of sailing together (counting Sunday's practice session) the effort seems to be paying off.
|Blue water, sunshine, but the photo doesn't show the unseasonably cold temps. Hats were mandatory.
The day's first race was an up and down affair-a good first beat and run, a not-so-hot second lap-but on the afternoon's contest things truly started to come together. The breeze was in the mid-teens but the choppy seas were down for the first time this week, and with a slightly larger medium jib, slightly pushing the advertised wind range, the boat, as designer Tim Kernan put it, "had more grunt in the waves." Moreover, tactician Larry Leonard was one with the shifts, of which there were many, and when we crossed the finish line there were a half-dozen boats astern, including the two J-boats in our IRC-2 class, a Mills 40, and the Archambault 40RC, all of which enjoy a reasonable size advantage. It was both a confidence boost and something to build upon.
On a cold day in Key West, you might even say it was a warm ray of sunshine.
Photo Gallery: Day 3
Day 3 Boat of the Day, from IRC 2, the King 40 Soozal
Interview with Daniel Woolery, from Point Richmond, Calif.
Tell us a little bit about your boat?
It is a new boat, a King 40. It started actually about a year ago. I have another boat, a Sydney 36 CR, which we race in the Bay. We wanted something a little bit bigger, that was a little more with that [IRC 2] division split. So we looked around and Pete McCormick is the one who probably arm-wrestled me, said, you should really look at this King 40. I'd seen the adds for a couple of months. We started getting into it and next thing you know we put an order in thinking that would be a good boat for [San Francisco] Bay, good stiff boat for some breeze.
And yet you find yourself here?
Today was kind of a San Francisco Bay. It was 18 knots. Yesterday was breezy. It was a good test to see how would that boat fit with our keel weight, bulb weight, sail plan and all that, how would it be for the Bay. And I think we're going to be OK.
How much time did you spend racing this boat before the regatta?
Well, we had no racing. We put the boat together, Scott Easom and I, put the boat together at a do-it-yourself boatyard up in West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, Cracker Boy Boatworks, everyone stops there on their way down. We worked hard there until 10 o'clock, 12 o'clock every night and up early in the morning. Put it together. And the idea, and why the deadline, was we had the crew coming out Dec. 4 for the Fort Lauderdale Palm Beach Race, the Wirth Monroe Race. That was the idea to get the crew, all 10 guys together, at least get to see the boat a little bit, do that race, which was an uneventful race, it was a close reach race, so there wasn't a whole lot of tactics in that race. But the following two days, Saturday and Sunday, we spent 5 to 6 hours a day just practicing the boat drills, just tired at the end of the day from just trying to get to know the boat. And that was it until Monday?
That's saying something for the boat, and for yourself, to put the boat together and sail in 15 to 20 knots with no hiccups.
Well we had a few hiccups yesterday. We rounded down once or twice with a silly mistake. There have been a few hiccups. Maybe you guys haven't seen them, but there have been a few hiccups. But the crew is good enough to where we can recover from those.
Tell us a little bit about the crew?
I popped out of sailing about 20 years ago. I raced hard for about 18 to 20 years and then dropped out to raise kids, family, and ended up coaching youth sports for about 15 years. Then when all the kids were off to college and everybody was off the payroll I thought, "Well, am I going to get back into sailing or not?" So I did and about two years ago I jumped back into it with the Sydney and now into this boat. With that, a friend of mine for over 30 years was Scott Easom. He's my buddy, he's my guru, he's everything to rigging. He and I raced together for quite a while, a cute little special one-off boat we did for about six years way back when. With Scott and Pete, we put together and formulated the crew we've got, and it's a stellar crew.
Give us a brief recap of your day?
|Daniel Woolery's King 40 Soozal rode a first and a second in IRC 2 to Boat of the Day honors on Day 3 of 2009 Acura Key West Race Week.|
We were expecting about the 14- to 18-knot wind range. The first decision was what headsail we were going to use. So we made that choice. We didn't want to mix it up too much with anybody. We felt our competition was the British boat and the Mills 43 boat, they had some good results yesterday, they jumped right into the fray. Those were the three that we've been focusing on a little bit. So we just wanted to get out and get a good consistent finish if we could in the first race. Second race, we could see then, as a result, Cool Breeze, the Mills 43, dropped down a few places and we could definitely see the competition was the British boat Ngoni. So we just tried to stay with them, stay within our times. We mixed it up at the starting line at the second start, Ngoni was above us a little bit and we saw that had a little too much momentum and we didn't let them back down and unfortunately, they were forced over early. So that put us into a little bit of an advantage starting the second race.
Was there any piece of equipment that performed exceptionally well today?
Oh, I can't put it to any one piece of equipment. The boat has electric winches and we used them in a racing way, not just to keep your arms from having to crank but there are some tactical advantages and just some racing crew advantages, that we use those electric winches. Those have come into play every day.
The reason for the electric winches goes back really on my first boat the Sydney boat. We wanted a boat that we could use personally with my wife and I. On a high-powered boat, the concept is to have electric winches so when you take other guests sailing that don't really know how to sail, and the Bay in a challenging place to sail, current and high winds, you don't want it to be a white-knuckle affair and you don't want to feel you have to invite 4 to 6 people just to go sailing. It was paramount that we rig the boat and get it set up so that my wife and I sail this boat and take guests out without them realizing that maybe there's a high-powered boat at their disposal. But just have a nice sail on the Bay. Electric winches make that possible. Where buttons are located, near the steering area. You can reach down pop a button and trim the main in very easily. It's very easy to throw the main off accordingly.
Is that how you use them, to enable you to keep more people on the rail when you trim the sails?
We do, by using the certain buttons that we have throughout the boat we're able to stay on the high side of the boat for instance and trim a jib. Since all six winches are powered we're able to trim our jib from the high side, which means when you make a turn we're able to keep everybody on the high side of the about. We're just pushing a button, the jib comes in, the main comes in and off we go.
Was there any one crewmember that performed exceptionally well today?
I'm going to have to say playing the shifts is what kept us in the race and that was Robbie Haines our tactician. There's no two ways about it.
Have you been to Key West before?
Is there anything about your routine that has been especially vital to your success?
Making sure we got a good night's sleep before hand. All the crew has been really good about not going out until 3 in the morning and falling down. They've all been committed to do that and we've stayed close together, we've gotten condos that are close together, we're cooking for everybody. So we're just trying to keep the team as a unit and just keep that bonding going. It's been working out really well.
What sort of advice would you pass along to a first-timer coming to Key West Race Week?
I think just preparation. Everybody sure prepared me for this. Not ever having had done it, I had enough input to make sure that we had all the puzzle pieces in place to try to at least put us in a position to have a successful regatta. So far it's been working out.
If you sail J/24s or Lasers in Newport, R.I., then you're a beneficiary of the legacy of the late Pete Milnes. A local contractor, Milnes worked tirelessly to build the local fleets, both have trophies named after him. However, Milnes legacy stretches well beyond Narragansett Bay. In fact it stretches all the way to Key West, where his nephew Mark has lived for the past quarter century. Uncle Pete got Mark into sailing many years ago, and he's kept at it. While hundreds of boats and thousands of sailors trek south to Key West, Milnes and his crew on the J/24 Blah Blah Blah just wake up and walk out the door of their houses. This year, as in past years, he's the only local entry in his hometown's biggest regatta.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I'm a building contractor, originally from Staten Island. That's where I learned to sail with my Uncle Pete, Peter Milnes, got me into sailing there, Thistles and Lightnings. I actually came to Key West in 1966 in the Navy and moved back here full-time in 1983
How long have you owned a J/24
Since the mid-'80s. I used to go up to Miami and do the Midwinters when there were up there at Coral Reef YC. Pete Milnes and his family used to bring a new J/World boat down every year. I would drive up, meet them in Miami, we would race that boat, and then I would bring it down here and they'd go back to Newport. We did that for quite a number of years, then I bought an old boat. This is actually my second J/24.
|Local Mark Milnes has sailed in so many Key West Race Weeks, he has lost track. More than 16, he says, but he has missed a few.|
Where did the name Blah Blah Blah come from? Is it on the side of the boat?
It's on the boat in great big bold letters. That's what the crew hears when the skipper speaks.
You've been in Key West 25 years. How would you describe how the island has changed over that time?
Well it's changed a lot. Key West the end of the road. It's been described at the largest outdoor insane asylum. There are a lot of interesting characters here, that's for sure.
What's kept you here?
Sailing year round's not bad. When I came here in the early 80s, the building business was booming here and we've got a good niche building high-end custom homes. That's worked out really well for us. Between being able to make a good living and sailing year round, it's not a bad place to live.
What's the sailing scene like here the other 51 weeks?
Key West Sailing Club has a pretty active dinghy program. It goes through phases. We've had a number of J/24s at times. It's off right now. We're actually racing in Miami right now. We go up there twice a month. It's quite a big fleet, we get 15 boats out on average. Quite an international fleet and some really good sailors.
The sailing club has dinghy racing every Wednesday night during daylight savings time, so that's six months of the year. Then every Saturday in the winter they have small boat racing. The dinghy scene has really picked up here, which is a lot of fun too: Lasers, Sunfish, JY 15s, 420s.
How many times have you done Key West Race Week?
I know we've missed a few in the beginning. It's over 16, somewhere between 16 and 20.
What's the best finish for you?
We've been in the top three I think five times. We've won our subclass the last two times they had at least five J/24s and they had a subclass, we've won that.
Everyone loves to come to Key West to get away. But it must be a different feeling when the regatta's in your backyard?
The only reason we really do it is because it's in our own backyard. Normally we don't race PHRF, it's a lot more fun to race one design. But since it's here and it's such a big event and a fun event-the social scene here at the tent every night and great sailors from all over the world come here-it's fun for us to do this. And we live here so it doesn't cost us anything basically, other than entry.
Can you give us a few local's tips? Favorite bar, restaurant?
Well, Schooner Wharf is the sailor's bar in town. Virgilio's, off Duval Street, is a fun place. Green Parrot. As far as restauarants: Abundanza, on Simonton Street, great Italain food, reasonably price. La Trattoria, right in front of Virgilio's, on Duval Street, another good Italian place for a crew dinner.
Key West can get a bad rap. What's your perspective on this island?
It's a lot different in the summer. This regatta coincides with high tourist season so there's a lot of traffic a lot of people around, the restaurants are all crowded, the streets are crowded. What I would recommend is people try coming down in the summer time and go diving. It's a great place for diving and fishing. World class fishing out here. Any day of the year almost you can go offshore and catch big fish. Diving in the summer when it's not windy, out at the reef, is spectacular. So there's a lot more to do down here out on the water besides sailing.
What is moving day? Well if you're sailing in 2009 Acura Key West Race Week, it's today. Traditionally, Wednesday is the day when teams looking to go home with some hardware have to make a move toward the top. Some are already there of course. But for those who maybe haven't had the start they wanted, today is when they have to start their push. After today, just four races remain, and with six in the bag, it's going to be hard to make any significant position changes over the final two days.
Some Straight Talk from the Latin Rascal
Yesterday afternoon, we caught up with Mascalzone Latino skipper, and two-time America's Cup challenger, Vincenzo Onorato. The Italian syndicate is officially entered in the 33rd America's Cup, the one Alinghi hopes to put on with the Spanish Club Náutico Español de Vela as the challenge of record. Despite this fact, however, Onorato hopes that he never gets a chance to sail for the 33rd Cup. He has firmly backed BMW Oracle Racing in its dispute with the Swiss defender. While winding down after another successful day sailing his Farr 40 at Key West, we has Onorato for his thoughts on the current state of the America's Cup. You can listen to that audio report by clicking here.
Jan. 20, 2009
Day 2 Boat of the Day, Franco Rossini's Melges 24 Blu Moon Interview with skipper Chris Rast
How did you get involved with this program?
Has the team been fairly static since then?
So you have an American on the bow, you're from the German-speaking part of Switzerland, and the owner is Swiss-Italian, and the tactician and trimmer are Italian. What language do you speak on the boat?
How is your Italian?
You had a pair of seconds today, good enough to win the day by two points. Tell us about your day.
What was your winning moment of the day?
Any one person who would be the MVP of the day?
Is there anything about your routine that particularly contributes to your success on the water?
Let's say a Melges 24 team from Switzerland wanted some advice for their first trip to Key West. What would be the first thing you would tell them?
Nice Day for a Swim?
Aboard the Santa Cruz 37, Santa Cruz One, Day 2 of Key West Race Week was, for the large part, a marked improvement over the inaugural session. Though the standings may not necessarily reflect that statement, for a lot of reasons the vibe onboard is loose and positive. In the first of the day's two races, the new 37-footer felt frisky downwind in the 16-18 knot breezes and cracked into double-digit boat speeds-topping off at 13.9-and the fast, fun sailing allowed us to pick off several boats on the runs. Good times.
But that may not the predominant memory for at least one of our crew.
For just minutes before the start of race 2, our Aussie mate, boatbuilder Rod Gill, found himself doing the Australian crawl after a slip and slide into the drink. Rod had been pressed into service after Tim Kernan was concussed on Monday-see yesterday's entry for details-but if anybody had to go for a swim, it turns out, Rod was probably the most qualified candidate.
Back in Sydney, in preparation for a Hobart Race, he'd undergone safety and survival-at-sea training in a Qantas test pool, a mandatory exercise since the disastrous race in 1998. It sounds like a lot of fun: they submerge you in the pool in full foul-weather gear, and make you and your mates right an upturned life raft and climb in. In pitch-black darkness. With a fire hose trained on you.
"If you don't learn something useful, you're not paying attention," he said.
His training kicked in immediately once he hit the water, and he quickly gave the thumb's up signal that let our crew know he was okay and not in distress. The Mills 40, Ngoni, was power reaching near the starting line and as they swept past Rod they tossed him a life buoy and sailed clear: big kudos and a job well done to those lads (and if you're thirsty, boys, there's an Aussie on the next dock who is ready and eager to shout you a few drinks).
Anyway, we had the jib down and Rod back on board in no time flat, and other than being pretty damp, he was no worse for wear. "At least the water's warm," he later said, of the 72-degree seas off Key West. "Or maybe that was the embarrassment."
"S*** happens, mate," said skipper Scott Dickson, in perhaps the greatest leap forward in Australian-New Zealand relations in some time. "I think everyone did a great job on the recovery."
As it turns out, Rod had borrowed Tim Kernan's crew gear for the day, which is now two for two when it comes to casting ill will upon its wearer.
I might be wrong, but I'm not sure that clothing will be coming back on board.
Photo Gallery: Day 2
The Good and the Bad from Day 2
|These two photos from the first beat of Race 3, were taken less than two minutes apart. Mascalzone Latino destroyed a spinnaker on a set, and had a new one drawing in less than 90 seconds. This is one tight team, no question about it. That was the good.
|Doug Fisher's Robertson 41 XS had an early end to its day as it lost its rig in the first race. The beamy boat was winning PHRF 1 after two races. That, obviously, was the bad.
Podcast: Stuart Streuli catches up with Jonathan McKee, tactician for Uka Uka Racing, which won two races in the Melges 24 class on Monday.
Jan. 19, 2009
Photo Gallery: Day 1
Blood, Sweat, and Tears
|Bloodied, but unbowed, designer Tim Kernan trims the chute aboard Santa Cruz One after taking a lick to the head during a Race 1 jibe.|
I once had a football coach who referred to two-a-day practices or rough outcomes as "character-building" experiences and that probably is a good summation of our first day of racing at Key West on one of the two new Santa Cruz 37s in attendance, Santa Cruz One. The forecast had been for 15-knot westerlies, with intermittent squalls, and while the squalls (and shifts) certainly materialized, the mid-teen breezes did not. Sporty downwind legs are what's required of the 37-footer for success in our 13-boat IRC 2 division, and without them, at least on Monday, it was rough sledding.
On top of that, Santa Cruz designer Tim Kernan's noggin had a brief rendezvous with the carbon boom on a jibe, just as the day's first squall, at the top mark of the first leg, descended on the fleet. Kernan soldiered on in a soaked, bloodied crew shirt, trimming the chute and working the cockpit, though he was clearly proof that sailing is sometimes a contact sport.
It's always interesting sailing a brand-new design, especially when many of the crew hadn't sailed together before. So, clearly, there's a learning curve that must be ascended. The week has just begun.
The consensus on the Tuesday forecast is for small-craft warnings and staunch winds out of the north in the 20-25 knot range. Temperatures by Wednesday aren't supposed to be much higher than 60 degrees. I'm not very excited by the latter but the former may be just what's required to get back in the hunt. Fingers are crossed.
All in a Day's Work at Key West
Stuart Streuli & Herb McCormick
|Believe it or not, these two photos were taken within a few hours of each other on Day 1 of 2009 Acura Key West Race Week. Aside from the rain, it was a perfectly good start to the regatta, with good wind, but not too much. That may come tomorrow. For more photos from Day 1, go here.
Day 1 Boat of the Day, Vincenzo Onorato's Farr 40 Macalzone Latino
Interview with Davide Scarpa, bowman and boat captain
SW: Tell us a little bit about your day?
DS: We worked well because first of all, in the last two days, we missed three of our original crewmembers because they're sick, in bed with a fever. The last one [fell ill] just this morning so we find a girl, and Italian girl who is a cook for another Italian boat and she was very kind to come and sail with us. Fortunately were are almos the same crew since five years, so we know each other so [well] we can figure out how to do it without [the other crew members].
SW: So you had three new crew on the boat for the first day of racing?
DS: One arrived yesterday straight from Italy, who was a crew member last season. So he knows the boat already. The other one is our sail designer. He worked out. The last one was this early morning. I didn't know it, I was diving and I see one guy is missing and this new girl coming out. We hope tomorrow that everybody will be fine.
SW: Tell us about your day. How did you win the two races?
DS: I think we won the first race when the squall arrived and the wind turned a bit. The first downwind was a reach at the end. I think our winning move was to hold the spinnaker longer than the others. We turned the first mark in third. We get one boat on that downwind leg holding the spinnaker more than the others. When we turned upwind again we passed Barking Mad that was leading only by taking a puff more than him. The second race was completely different because there was the sunshine and it was completely regular. We were leading from the start to the finish.
SW: Was there any piece of equipment that really worked for you today?
DS: Our force is that we are mostly the same group for a long time. We sail the Farr 40 a lot, because we sail in the in the Mediterranean, the U.S., and in Australia. So we know the boat very well. We have good confidence in the mast; we have our own sail designer who is a kind of genius. I would like to always have his sails on board. We have always been really fast downwind, so I will put all my money on the spinnaker. And on my helmsman too. He's a guy that concentrates a lot when he steer the boat?
SW: Was the one crewmember that was your MVP for the day?
DS: For today I will pick the tactician, because it was a tough day and he made all the good choices. And even the guy who arrived today, the girl who arrived today, they were very good. The guy who arrived straight from Italy didn't have any jetlag problems. Daniele and Elena.
SW: Is there anything about your routine that has prove successful?
DS: I think we use the same routine every time. We spend the time together, we don't [stay] in hotels; we stay in houses. SO we bring our own cook because we are Italian so we are a little difficult with the food. We are a big group that does enjoy the time they spend together.
SW: Imagine an Italian sailing team comes to you and say, "We want to go to Key West next year. It'll be our first visit to Key West. What do you suggest?"
DS: Key West is a nice place. I would say to bring the shirts and the shorts because in Italy it's generally freezing. So bring the sun cream and have a beautiful time. You have to come here and practice. It's much different here to sail, than it is in the Mediterranean. Here you have current; you have shallow water. You have to pay attention to shallow water, and to the reef.
As we followed Jeff Ecklund's Melges 32 around the track for a semi-horizon job in Race 2 on Day 1 of KWRW, I thought that the Boat of the Day selection would be fairly simple. Ecklund and his team had won a crazy Race 1 that featured a 40-degree right shift and a torential, albeit passing, shower, and Race 2 looked to be in the bag.
Ecklund won it handily, but BOTD honors migh be harder to come by. All told, just more than half of the 13 class leaders won both races today. Niklas Zennstrom's TP 52 Ran won both IRC 1 races, with Vincenzo Onorato's Farr 40 Mascalzone Latino and Malcom Gefter's Swan 42 Celeritas following suit on Circle 1. On Circle 2 it was Ecklund's Star dominating the Melges 32 class, and Lorenzo Bressani's UKA UKA Racing taking the gun in both races in the Melges 24 class, the largest of the regatta. On Circle 3, John Storck's J/80 Rumor and Gerry Taylor's Cape Fear 38 Tangent, which is sailing in PHRF 3, also won both races.
We'll have an interview with Jonathan McKee, the tactician on UKA UKA later. And we'll also check in at the tent to find out who wins the BOTD. I'd put my money on the Melges 24, though Star did have a very healthy lead in its second win, which could be a factor.
Jan. 18, 2009
Are We Fast? Are We Slow? We Don't Know
"We have some chinks in our armor," laughed skipper Scott Dickson, and he had a point.
We'd just returned to the dock after the first attempt at a practice sail on Sunday morning aboard the Santa Cruz 37, Santa Cruz 1, to address a hardware issue. There'd been a bit of drama on the delivery down from San Augustine: the mainsheet had wrapped around one of the twin pedestals on a windy jibe, and you can guess the rest.
When the repair was done and we finally got out to practice after lunch, we had a useful session. It was the first time most of us had sailed together so it was good to get on the water.
It'll be an interesting week. We're sailing in IRC-2, and it's the first time the SC 37 will line up with a sistership called Tiburon; with three King 40s, an Archambault 40RC; a DK 46; another pair of Mills boats, a 40 called Ngoni and a 43 called Cool Breeze; and Jim Bishop's old war horse, Gold Digger.
Where do we stand in this bunch? We'll soon find out.
We missed the best breeze today, but even so had enough wind to have a good look at much of the inventory while getting plenty of upwind and downwind repetitions. There seems to be plenty of potential, and like everyone else we'll be sailing against, we're eager to get lined up. The forecast sounds sporty.
We hammered out some of the chinks on Sunday. What that will mean on Monday remains to be seen.
The Daily Rag, KWRW Style
If you've ever attended Key West Race Week, you know all about the daily newspaper. It's full of results, stories, and photos from the day before. Of course, the only way to read this paper is to pick it up on the docks on your way to the boat. If you happened to be watching from afar, or missed picking up a copy in the morning, you were out of luck. Until this year. The media team is making the newspaper available online. You can find the preview issue here.
A Panel of Experts
|The Kattack Seminar kicked off Key West Race Week with a look at the tactical options during a Melges 32 race. The experts were (from left to right): Adrian Stead, Tony Rey, Terry Hutchinson, Dave Ullman, Bill Hardesty, and Robbie Haines. To hear a Sailing World podcast from the discussion, click here.|
Same ole Key West, But Different Regatta Vibe?
|An early leader in the clubhouse for best paint job is Doug Fisher's XS, from Sarasota, Fla. With a PHRF rating of -6, this 10-year-old Robertson 41 is the scratch boat by a bit in PHRF 1.
One place in Key West that doesn't seem to be feeling the depression in any way shape or form is the Green Parrot Bar. This quirky watering hole was hopping last night with the crowd outside the open-air building going five deep in places when I passed by just before midnight. The same, however, couldn't not be said of every bar on or near Duval St.
Last year, I made the fatal mistake of staying out late my first night in town, after getting up at the crack of dawn to leave Rhode Island.
|The crew of the Santa Cruz 37 Tiburon readies for practice.
I was getting sick, sick, or recovering for the rest of the regatta. So as much as I wanted to push through the crowd for a "quiet little drink," I kept the autopilot pointed toward home.
Without any practice duties tying me down, I had a leisurely morning returning the rental car and renting a bike. I ran into a fellow sailor/scribe on the dock and we talked about the vibe this year. With just 12 hours under my belt, I didn't feel like I was in a position to comment. He felt it was different from past years, through he couldn't quite nail down why. I'll keep searching to define this new vibe. Do people feel fortunate to be here, given how numbers are down? Are professional sailors and industry folks sweating the recessions ongoing impact on their livelihood? Most likely, there are only two of the many emotions running through the crowd here. How it plays out in terms of the feel, energy, and character of the regatta remains to be seen.
Jan. 16, 2009
Pick a Winner?
How well do you know the players in the Melges 24 and 32 classes? The official class blogs are challenging sailing fans to pick the place winners in those classes at Key West Race Week. While it might not cure the frostbite you got shoveling snow in 17 below without gloves, it will give anyone not able to make to Key West a way to feel a part of the action. And if you are racing in either of those classes, I hope you put yourself in first.
Oh, who do I think will win? Well, I'll go five deep in each class. Once you get beyond that it's a real crapshoot, plus I think Premiere Racing only hands out hardware to the top five no matter how big the class is. And as we all know, it's all about the pickle dish. At least until it isn't.
Melges 24: 1. Bailout, Vince Brun; 2. Giacomel Audi, Riccardo Simoneschi; 3. Full Throttle, Brian Porter; 4. Joe Fly, Maspero/Zandona; 5. Blu Moon; Rossini/Rast.
Melges 32: 1. War Canoe, John Dane; 2. Star, Jeff Ecklund; 3. New Wave, Carrol/Kullmlan; 4. Red, Joe Woods; 5. Leenabarca, Alex Jackson.
Jan. 15, 2009
Rosebud Takes the Double
The results aren't complete, many boats still to finish, but it looks like Rosebud has taken line and overall IRC honors in the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race. Here's a snippet from the website. Nice effort by Kevin Lawrie's Sydney 36 SpiderGlide and Stuart Hebb's Thin Ice, the smallest boats in IRC, to take second and third, repsectively.
"Key West, Fla. - Roger Sturgeon's Rosebud takes the Line Honors in the Lauderdale Key West Race. Rosebud crossed the line at 3:01:05 with an elapsed time of 13:56:05 averaging 11.4 kts. Race committee reports strong breeze in Key West. 20-25 kts out of the North."
For results and more, click here.
What to Watch For
Covering Key West Race Week is always a challenging assignment. It's the one event that Sailing World covers on an annual basis and as much as each year is its own regatta, there are plenty of similarities year to year. Finding a unique storyline on which to anchor the magazine feature in our April issue isn't as easy as it is at events we only cover once in a while.
Nonetheless, getting out of Rhode Island in January, which always seems to be the coldest month, is more than enough reward for the extra work. (I know, I know, I'm not generating a lot of sympathy). And the event always has a few surprises. Here's a look at a few potential storylines we'll be keeping our eye on this year.
1. IRC 2 could be the most interesting class of the regatta, with three designs new to North American slugging it out among the 14 entries. The Santa Cruz 37, the King 40, and the Archambault A40 RC are all vying for control of the same mid-sized racer/cruiser niche.
|The King 40, Sailing World's 2009 overall Boat of the Year, will be going for more honors at Key West Race Week.|
Since the critical mass required for one-design racing is a long shot for any of these designs, handicap performance, especially under IRC, will be an important selling point. The Mark Mills-designed King 40 took top honors in our 2009 Boat of the Year contest. Who will come out on top on the racecourse? On the whole the class is quite interesting with a mix of sprit boats and pole boats ranging from the DK 46 First Light, which is the scratch boat by a good bit, to the 20-year-old J/44 Gold Digger. If First Light can get off the starting line, it might be tough to catch. Having a speed edge over the pack will allow it to separate while the others fight amongst themselves for clear air. Watch out for the Archambault as well. Symmetric spinnakers allow for a little more flexibility on the runs and being one of the slower boats in the class could work to its favor.
2.Another new design is the Flying Tiger 7.5, which will be debuting on the East Coast at Key West Race Week. This 24-footer has been slapped with a 78 PHRF rating by the PHRF consortium. It will be hard pressed to live up to that rating in PHRF 2, especially in a class where it's the smallest boat by 9 feet and 16 feet smaller than the biggest, a C&C 121. Though being driving by America's Cup veteran Moose McClintock won't hurt its chances.
|The Flying Tiger 7.5 will make its East Coast debut at Key West Race Week.|
For comparison's sake the FT 7.5 weighs in a 2,150 lbs, with an upwind sail area of 405 sq. ft. and a downwind sail area of 1,085 sq. ft. The Melges 24, the PHRF rating of which varies from 81 to 105 with an average around 90, weights 1,783 lbs, with an upwind sail area of 390 sq. ft. and a downwind sail area of 934 sq. ft. Robert Armstrong, who swept the PHRF honors last year in his modified J/100 Bad Girl is back with a J/100 called Good Girl. The sail number is the same, but we're not sure whether the boat is. With former Sunfish and J/24 world champ Jens Hookanson on the helm, their result in this tight division-just 9 seconds per mile separate the fastest from the slowest-may look quick similar to last year.
3. With 20 boats, the Melges 32 class maybe the most watched of the week, wresting that honor from the Farr 40s who have held it for the last decade. Can anyone catch Mike Carroll and Marty Kullman on New Wave, which has ridden its early start in this class, and a ton of sportboat experience to a number of big wins, the last coming in December at the class' Gold Cup in Fort Lauderdale? Star Olympian John Dane, sailing War Canoe will be one to watch. A number of years ago Dane and Carroll battled tooth-and-nail for top honors in one of the PHRF divisions. Dane was sailing a Melges 30, Carroll a Henderson 30. The competition-and the off-the-water banter-got so heated that on the last day the two teams switched boats. Here's a link to a story filed by Tony Bessinger for our April 2001 issue.
4. Dave Ullman isn't back to defend his title in the Melges 24. He'll be sailing with Alex Jackson, of Speedboat fame, in the Melges 32s. So who takes the 32-boat Melges 24 class? Who knows, this class is nearly impossible to call. The favorites have to include Vince Brun (former world champ), Riccardo Simoneschi, who won in 2007, Brian Porter, and the Italian Joe Fly team. With 32 boats in the class, no throwouts, and Key West's legendary aversion to general recalls-it's not usual to see Melges 24s setting their spinnaker to get back to the line to restart-consistency is what wins. The first mistake could be the last in terms of the overall title.
|Vincenzo Onorato's world champion Farr 40 team on Mascalzone Latino will once again take on all comers at KWRW.|
5. With only 12 boats, the Farr 40 class is experiencing a bit of a downturn this year. With the worlds in Porto Cervo in the spring and the economy in the tank, this is hardly surprising. But the quality is still very high. Barking Mad, Mascalzone Latino, Nanoq, Flash Gordon, and Joe Fly each have a tremendous amount of experience in the class. Beware the Goombay Smash, with Doug Douglass on the helm and Morgan Larson calling tactics. It will also be interesting to watch the performance of Rob Ruhlman's Spaceman Spiff, a brand new team to the class. How will they fare against the grizzled veterans?
Jan. 14, 2009
Hungry for a KWRW Appetizer? Feed on this Race
Acura Key West Race Week doesn't officially start until Monday at 10:30 a.m. But one could consider 1 p.m. today the unofficial start to the race week. That's when the warning gun will sound for the annual feeder race. It's probably a little unfair to call the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race a feeder race. This will be 34th running of this 160-mile race along the Florida Keys, which makes it at least a dozen years older than the event it is supposedly feeding.
|South Florida wind readings as of 11 a.m., Jan. 14, two hours before the start of the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race.|
The fleet for this year's edition stands at 46, two down from last year, and 12 down from the five-year high of 58 in 2006, but a very strong fleet given how the main event is fairing in this difficult economic climate.
Every year I tell myself that I want to do this race. But getting away from family and work for 12 days, which is what it would take to do both this race and race week, is always a lot more easily said than done. Maybe next year.
In the meantime, I'll be watching the results, which can be found here, along with the scratch sheet, and the weather. Right now it's looking like a pretty cozy downwind run. Probably a touch light and a little too far from behind for any records to break, thought I wouldn't count out Roger Sturgeon's STP 65 Rosebud. The monohull record, set by the 81-foot Carrera in 2005 is 10h:24m:2s. The multihull record is 8h:31m:4s, set by the 60-foot Stars & Stripes in 2007. That boat is sailing again this year, under the name Patriot.
Jan. 12, 2009
What better way to get ready for Key West, whether you're going or not, than by reviewing everything that happened last year. Here's a link to all of Sailing World's coverage from 2008. You can also read Premiere Racing's pre-regatta press release here. We'll check in later in the week with a few of our own thoughts on the regatta.