A Bumpy Road to the Warpath

After a breakdown curbed his ride in the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race, the author is prepping for Race Week aboard Steve Howe's Melges 32 Warpath.

Sailing World
Towill368
Courtesy Mark Towill

I feel like everyone who has ever taken sailboat racing seriously has been to Key West Race Week. It’s simply a staple event on the calendar. With world-class sailing conditions and an always-entertaining social venue, it’s no surprise why people travel across the globe for this regatta. Hats off to Quantum for their support in keeping the event alive.

The past few years, I've flown into Key West. This year, I was excited to actually race down, competing in my first Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race on the Reichel/Pugh 74 Wizard, the former Bella Mente. Wednesday morning, we left West Palm Beach at 5:30 a.m. for the five-hour delivery to the starting line—upwind in 25 knots, none the less. Upon nearing the starting line, the normal progression began—main up, reef in, No. 3 jib up. Everything seemed to be going according to plan. Then, BANG. Our day ended as quickly as it began. While the exact chain of events is still uncertain, the outboard reef strop broke, along with the headfoil, leaving us with a ripped jib and broken headfoil in the water. Everyone onboard worked hard to contain the situation, and nobody was injured. Ralf Steitz was quick to remind everyone that "This is just a part of the sport," and there's a lot of truth to that statement. With our heads high, but disappointed to not be racing, we turned around and went back to West Palm. Hopefully next year will bring better luck.

Today was a productive practice for us on Steve Howe's Melges 32 Warpath. Our primary focus was on getting our boathandling sharp for racing. Onboard, Morgan Larson always does a nice job keeping the mood calm and focused, and Steve relishes the windy conditions. The boat is going well, and we're all looking forward to a great week of racing.

_ Access SW's complete coverage of Quantum Key West 2012. _