Quantum Key West Race Week: The Hutch Files

Coming off a big year in 2015, Hap Fauth's Bella Mente Racing has a plan to repeat and then some, and it alls starts right here in Key West.

Wednesday, Jan. 20

We were back at it today on Division 1 and the Bella Mente. As it happens, when you have a lay day like we did yesterday, we spent the morning and early afternoon figuring out how to make our gear better and locking in our plan for the rest of 2016. The afternoon was spent in a “tranquilo” mode, re-charging for big three-race days today and tomorrow.

Today was a solid effort on board Bella Mente. I know we were all feeling a bit let down after Day 1, and we were determined to at least race better today regardless of our result. I can say that Hap put his best foot forward, both in the pre-start and in the open course. Twenty pounds lighter in 2016, Hap is feeling the benefits of his training program and inevitably that turns into solid concentration and better all around performance for Bella Mente. Our highlights on the day were our starting and boat handling. Funny the difference a day can make.

I have not checked the results as of this writing so I’m not sure where we sit other than I know we’ve moved into the lead. Needless to say, it was a good day and yet only over half way, so as is always discussed, it’s the second half of the event that matters. We have held, served, and battled through a bit of adversity, and on deck tomorrow is going to be champagne yachting. We need to continue to bring our best because the other three teams are very good, very good.

So right now I’m looking forward to a visit to the regatta village down at Kelly’s, then a Bella Mente reunion dinner, and then straight to bed.

Monday, Jan. 18 Today was a great day of yachting at Quantum Key West Race Week, with champagne conditions on Division 1 racecourse. Bella Mente's results were up and down, but we did have some shining moments. Our leader Hap Fauth nailed some absolute glamour starts and the best part of the day came in the last race with a wire-to-wire win. This was a great sign of resilience for the Bella team as this one was preceded with a last-place finish.

The interesting thing about the day though is Hap’s mentality. As a finalist for the 2016 Rolex Yachtsman Of the Year, Hap leaves it all on the racecourse every day. I learn a lot hanging out with Hap, not only about life, but how to compete at our high level. He encourages pushing the envelope in design and development, which we see in our gear. And, while incredibly competitive, he also wants Bella to be the standard on and off the water.

Before the start of the regatta, for example, Hap hosted a party for the 72 Maxi owners and the event sponsors. There is never a doubt he wants all of us to work and compete hard, but he also sees the importance of having fun with the other owners, supporting the sport, and in a fashion that can only be defined by Bella Mente. For sure, the Bella Mente family is a lucky group and yet the sport of sailing is lucky to have Hap.

Sunday, Jan. 17 On the eve of Quantum Key West Race Week the vibe at Kelly's was awesome. This is my 23rd Race Week and I can sense the event is gaining momentum. Storm Trysail Club has taken over from Premier Racing and the industry partners, led by Quantum Sails, has reinvigorated the event.

For this event I’m racing onboard Hap Fauth’s J/V 72 Bella Mente again. Bella is the reigning Maxi 72 world champion, and while 2015 started with a win at Key West, we know this is a different year. Four Maxi 72s will compete on our Division 1 racecourse, and if the training is anything like the racing, the racing it is going to be incredibly tight.

Our training has been condensed because of weather and yet the week is looking to be fresh all week. Managing the asset and making sure we get to the business end of the event with a chance is the order of the day. Not a lot to report other than the nervous energy is in full flow and we’re looking forward to getting into it.