The Road Leads to Key West

Making the trek down I-95 with the J/80 in tow has become an annual adventure for the Storck family.

Sailing World

KStorck368c

--Kaitlin Storck

Some things never change. For me, many aspects of Key West Race Week are a given.

First is the anticipation of the week to come. There's the excitement of seeing your sailing buddies who you haven't seen since the summer, along with the guarantee of high-quality racing and competition. The mood sets in right after the New Year. For those of us traveling from colder climates, the potential of warm sailing conditions is another source of happiness to get you through the lead up.

These happy thoughts are often overshadowed by one very grim prospect that many sailors face at the beginning of the week—weigh in. Given the potential for huge breeze that has often become a reality in past years, it's crucial for the team to be at—and hopefully above—the class's legal weight limit during Race Week. This leads to the inevitable decision of owners and program managers to force people to get down to a less-than-pleasant number on the scale, especially considering the regatta comes on the heels of the largest season of eating. In the past, the week before KWRW has been filled with light meals followed by no meals. This year, I'm not suffering from this scenario quite as much as I have in the past. It's been almost four years since college graduation, and it seems I've finally shed the five pounds of beer weight! Hopefully this confession doesn't lead to a lower target weight for me in the future...

The travel to the Southernmost point in the United States will always be a source of excitement, especially on an empty stomach. For my family, it's the annual winter trip down I-95. Hopefully, this years’ travel will be uneventful. My first trip to Key West proved otherwise. 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.

This brings me to the final aspect that never seems to change for me—the boat and crew. Even though our family's J/80, Rumor, was technically totaled in the '05 crash, my Dad doesn't give up on boats. (My brothers and I actually did our first small keelboat sailing on a Tempest he salvaged from a dump!) After some serious bottom repairs, Rumor, USA 19, was back on the water. The boat has seen some great and disappointing moments, all with the crew largely unchanged. I guess that's easier to do with my family, as we compose a minimum of 3/5s of a J/80 team. We have some very faithful friends to fill in the remaining two spots. Mom helps transport the boat and acts as our crucial shore support.

So here we are again, gearing up for the awesome week to come. Though many aspects remain the same year after year, the racing and camaraderie are always worth it.

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