What’s Key West Race Week About?

While the competition in Key West is top-notch, Peter Isler is drawn to this event by the camaraderie.

No question about it, this regatta has a lot going for it. Scheduled in “mainland” US’s most tropical clime, about a month after things really start getting cold up north it has the “thawing out” attraction going for it. It’s an “everyman’s” regatta that really works to cater to classes and fleets – its got the “you bring ‘em – we’ll fit you in mentality”. And the regatta organizers have a history (count them – all 25 years) of delivering the goods – with excellent – really cutting edge race management and an instant yacht club in the form of the race village.

I just returned home (to watch the second half of the game) from the skippers meeting where I saw more “old friends” than I’ve seen in a long, long time. I’m not talking about my peers in the world of pro-sailing, I see them pretty frequently, I’m talking about junior sailing and college sailing buddies. Folks who disappeared from my scene many years ago--but Key West brings all of us together again.

The other day we were talking about the health of the sport and what can be done to grow it. Well for me, I’ve been convinced for many years that sailboat racing’s greatest asset (after the beautiful experience of getting out on the water on a wind powered craft) is the social side of the sport. And my experience this afternoon reiterated that point for me. 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.

But that's what the focus will be for me and my team mates on Shockwave tomorrow as we go up against a couple of really great teams in our tiny (we are, after all, the mini maxis ) class of three boats. We owe Dan Meyer's Numbers about 2 minutes an hour, and rate virtually even with Niklas Zennstrom's Ran. I expect races will be about that length--it takes about 30 minutes to sail a lap in the confines between the outside reef to the south and the shallow banks to the north. So it will be a bit like a three-boat match race and after three days of practice all alone, we are ready to do some racing!