Quantum Key West 2012

Sailing World's exclusive coverage takes you behind the scenes in Key West, Fla.

Join Sailing World to kick off the U.S. racing season with Quantum Key West 2012. We have bloggers throughout the fleet, editors on the ground, exclusive photos from Ingrid Abery, Boat of the Day interviews, and more. Whether you're racing with a team or just following along, we'll keep you up to speed as Race Week unfolds.

Vital Links

SW's past Key West coverage: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2001- 2008

Monday, January 23

Jeremy Wilmot takes a look back at the outstanding first event for the team aboard the Melges 24 West Marine Rigging: "Our brief sailing experience together didn't make up for the fact that we had a completely new team, and were about to throw ourselves into one of the most competitive fleets at Key West."

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Key West Race Week served up highs and lows for Mark Towill and his crewmates aboard the Melges 32 Warpath. "Two great days of practice and a strong sense of confidence from our regatta win at the Gold Cup were soon forgotten by bad luck and a dramatic collision on Day 1," says Towill. "Great speed and good tactics later in the week were coupled with late starts and tough lanes."

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Friday, January 20

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Ingrid Abery shares photos from a chamber-of-commerce finale to Quantum Key West 2012.

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Terry Hutchinson of the TP52 Quantum Racing appreciates a spectacular week of racing and camaraderie, thank to the event's title sponsor. "It is not a mystery to anybody that without Quantum's support, the event would not have taken place," he says. "I know I speak for all competitors, amateurs, and professionals when I say THANK YOU! The week was one of the best of recent memory!"

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Team Spaceman Spiff's hard work in the Farr 400 pays off on the final day of racing in Key West. "Lesson learned here: no matter how bad your scores seem, or how poor your boathandling and tactics are, never quit, and always try to improve," says tactician Nick Turney. "Each day we all made a list of what our weaknesses were, and focused on improving them."

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Shockwave navigator Peter Isler shares his final thoughts on Race Week. "Everybody scatters pretty quickly at the end of an event like Key West. I'm a good example—on an airplane heading homewards only a few hours after the last finish," says Isler. "But if you could get everybody on the crew to write down a short regatta report/critique, it could be invaluable."

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Read the full story.

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Yesterday at Quantum Key West 2012, the team on Glenn Darden and Reese Hillard's J/80 Le Tigre won Boat of the Day honors after posting three bullets in an elusive breeze. "What was the most fun today is that the conditions were up and down," says tactician John Gluek. "It was all about staying calm and not panicking, deciding a side that's favorable and digging through the fleet to get there, and shifting gears."

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Thursday, January 19

Ingrid Abery shares photos from an up-and-down day on the water.

View the gallery.

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Quantum Racing _takes a big risk leaving the fleet to go to the left in the second race of the day. A little luck and persistance brings the reward. "As we crossed the line, we all knew that the wind gods were shining on _Quantum Racing, and for the rest of the day it would be a matter of holding serve," says Hutchinson.

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Kaity Storck's team moves within striking distance for the final day of racing, despite a few minor mishaps. "I swung the boat when suddenly my brother John was yelling for more heat," says Kaity. "Seeing the chute pop nicely, I figured this was unnecessary until I saw the reason for the call. There was a boat approaching the windward mark to leeward of us. So we dropped the spinnaker, and started spinning."

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Team Spaceman Spiff makes the most of a challenging, shifty day of racing. "I think we made leaps and bounds towards what needs to happen to really make this boat go fast," says tactician Nick Turney.

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_Warpath _puts up several good scores on the fourth day of racing, which Mark Towill attributes to battling hard, and a little bit of luck. "It feels really good to have found our rhythm, and hopefully we can keep things going for tomorrow's final two races," says Towill.

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Jeremy Wilmot takes the lay day to look back at the stellar performance of Air Force Racing in the Melges 24 class: "After a nervous start and some uncertainties, we finally locked the boat into a groove for the windy conditions we love."

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Aboard Shockwave at Quantum Key West 2012, the countdown begins more than an hour and 40 minutes before the start. "Sailing a 72-footer with 21 crew in the multi-race, short-course format of Key West is challenging," says navigator Peter Isler. "There's no way you could do it without a great crew and some significant discipline and organization before the start. On SHOCKWAVE, we have a timeline that we try to keep strictly to leading up to the first start so that we're ready to go."

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Wednesday, January 18

With racing cancelled for the day, Kaity Storck headed to the beach and played tourist. "I think this was the first time I've ever partaken in traditional daytime tourist activities here in Key West," she says. "That is the one bummer about sailing sometimes. We travel to amazing places around the world but often are unable to fully experience them."

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With no breeze for racing, Team _Spaceman Spiff _went to a free hot-sauce tasting. "Now, after burning my lips off after sampling the hottest sauce in the world, made from the ghost pepper, I find myself back at the team house, trying to tame the flames," says tactician Nick Turney.

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Looking back on Tuesday's performance, Terry Hutchinson of the TP52 Quantum Racing concludes that his team still needs to work on consistency. "There's still a lot of meat on the bone for us to chew on in order to sail consistently," he says. "While we've had our moments, we've also had not-so-good moments. It's continually a matter of working towards more consistent performances in all areas—tactics, boathandling, and smoothness."

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Ingrid Abery shares more photos from Days 1 and 2.

View the gallery.

Tuesday, January 17

Bill Sweetser, whose J/109 Rush won Boat of the Day today, is committed to seeing Key West Race Week overcome the recent downturn. "We've got to get more boats," he says. "It's about getting your peers to come down, and having a good time racing against your peers. That's what makes this regatta so much fun."

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Nick Turney's team wasn't quite able to capitalize on the close racing in the Farr 400 class during Day 2, but there's always tomorrow. "The team is in good spirits, and we are looking forward to tomorrow's racing," says Turney. "The forecast is not looking good; it will be a very light and shifty day. Perfect conditions to make a move on the leaders!"

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Ingrid Abery shares more shots of the close racing during Day 2.

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Great racing draws sailors to Key West, but Kaity Storck keeps coming back for the little things, like great dinners, too. "Rumor saw some major improvements as we finished up with a first and third in the second two races," says Storck. "Heading back down to party central now to keep the good times rolling."

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Monday, January 16

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The Farr 40 Groovederci won Boat of the Day on Monday, and skipper John Demourkas is happy to be back in the boat after a two-year break from the class. "Two years ago, I lost my knee here in Key West," he says. "I like to think of it as a barroom brawl, but really it was just a man hug after midnight."

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Ingrid Abery contributes photos from a picture-perfect Day 1.

View the gallery.

Despite some embarrassing moments, Kaity Storck and the crew of the J/80 Rumor managed to minimize the damage on Day 1. "I believe what distinguishes those who lose the regatta on Day 1 and those who do not is that the latter know the most important aspect of teamwork—to move on," says Storck. "The best teams are always the ones who can minimize the damage of their mistakes."

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The first day of Quantum Key West 2012 served up big breeze and put the crew of the Farr 400 Spaceman Spiff to the test. "We learned a lot about sailing the boat in big breeze," says tactician Nick Turney. "The biggest lesson we learned today was about preparation going into the corners. Both races today, we found ourselves in the top three but lost a lot at the leeward-mark roundings due to delays getting the spinnaker down."

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Terry Hutchinson reports back from a successful day for Quantum Racing: "It was absolutely fantastic sailing, and dare I say one of the better days that I have experienced in the last 17 Key West Race Weeks that I have participated."

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The Mini Maxi fleet may only have three boats, but Peter Isler finds the racing to be tight nonetheless: "We're coming in on port gybe, flying along at 18 knots of boatspeed, aiming to thread the needle through a finish line that is about five-boatlengths wide, and then I notice that the leeward gate for the other classes is almost directly between us and finish line… and a class is coming in for their rounding. Luckily, we just squeaked to leeward of the right-hand gate buoy, but I'll have nightmares tonight thinking about that situation."

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Mark Towill's team aboard Warpath _may not have had the best start to the week, but tomorrow's another day: "The conditions in Key West could not have been better for racing—18-22 knots of breeze, big waves, blue skies, and warm water. Onboard _Warpath, a mix of bad luck and unforced errors forced us to play catch up more than we would have preferred."

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Sunday, January 15

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Nick Turney's team wraps up their boatwork and gets ready for the racing: "All new boats have their issues, and we have been spending the past three days sailing for a few hours, and then spending the rest of the day going through our work list. This is always the case with new boats, but I have to say that the Farr 400 is a very cool and very fast boat!"

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Peter Isler's looking forward to the competition in the three-boat Mini Maxi division tomorrow, but the camaraderie of Key West has as much of draw for him as the racing: "Sailing is more fun when you can hang out with family, good friends, and interesting new acquaintances on shore before and after the racing. The competitive side of it is not the main draw."

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Saturday, January 14

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After a breakdown curbed his ride in the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race, Mark Towill is prepping for Race Week aboard Steve Howe's Melges 32 Warpath. "Today was a productive practice for us," he says. "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."

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After a slow trip down in the Fort Lauderdale-Key West Race, a morning run with the chickens has Peter Isler in the mood for Race Week. "I went for a dawn run through the back streets—I love the back streets of KW—and enjoyed all the wild chicken sightings. Even saw a flock of few-day-old chicks being paraded across the street by a proud mother hen. The canopy shade trees, the old wooden houses, that tropical Caribbean/Central American feel really resonates with me in this town."

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Friday, January 13

Jeremy Wilmot shares Air Force Racing's unconventional preparation for Key West: high-speed moth sailing: "Bora (our helm) has a nice scar under his eye, from a previous foiling session, and I am still very dazed after I got ejected from the boat earlier today." Will it pay off?

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Making the trek down I-95 with the J/80 in tow has become an annual adventure for Kaity Storck and family. "In 2005, an epic storm hit the East Coast as we were driving north after racing. As we entered Virginia, we crossed a frozen bridge, and the boat began fishtailing. Suddenly, we were facing the wrong way on 95 with the boat crashed on its side."

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SW_ senior editor filed blow-by-blow reports from aboard Robin Team's J/122 Teamwork during the 160-mile Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race. They almost made it, too... Read about the hard-fought journey on _SW_'s Facebook page.

Thursday, January 12

SW senior editor Stuart Streuli had a soggy wake-up call in the Ft. Lauderdale-Key West Race. He's posting updates to _SW_'s Facebook page.

Wednesday, January 11

SW senior editor Stuart Streuli in the Ft. Lauderdale-Key West Race. He'll be posting periodic updates to _SW_'s Facebook page.

Tuesday, January 10

"It's a good idea to arrive early to any major event, but arriving early to Key West can be dangerous. The bars have been preparing for Race Week, too, and they're ready for us. I made sure the past couple nights. I may double-check tonight, as well."

**Nick Turney, Farr 400 Spaceman Spiff
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Read the full blog entry.

To give us a flavor of what's in store for next week, Ingrid Abery shares her favorite photos from Key West 2011.