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Running Down My Key West Checklist

Key West is not your average event. When preparing for it, it helps to take some different approaches.

January 11, 2011

It’s that time of the year again—Key West Race Week. I have the pleasure of sailing with some good friends of mine this year on the Cleveland-based J/111 Kontiki V. Jim Smincheck will be helming the boat.

Key West is not your average event. When preparing for it, it helps to take some different approaches. I have my normal event preparation process, but for Key West I have to adjust this process. The biggest adjustments are the size of your wallet and your physical endurance. With a crazy nightlife and early dock times, Key West is a monster. Here’s my pre-regatta checklist:

1. Physical Preparation: The sport of sailing is about endurance, both mentally and physically. If you can outlast and outsmart your competition, at the end of the week, you’ll be on the podium. Running, weight training, healthy diet—all these things are critical to success.

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2. Homework: Research and print out tide charts, weather maps, forecasts, who your competition is, local knowledge, and trends.

3. Boat Preparation: Make sure your boat’s bottom and foils are perfect! I always like to put a good coat of Teflon on the hull before events, as this helps to keep the scum line off and your ride looking good. I am a huge proponent of spare parts, and I like to make sure my tool kit is well equipped with spare blocks, battens, shackles, etc. Verify that all your halyards and sheets are in good condition and always have a spare ready. Inspect all the blocks and rigging for fatigue and replace anything that looks suspect. If you’re using older sails, get them checked over by professional sailmakers. If you’re debuting new sails, try to get a few hours on them before the big event. Nothing can ruin your week like a silly breakdown that could have been prevented.

Follow this checklist and you’re ready for success!

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