Monday, January 30, 2017

Epic Quantum Key West Race Week!

J/70 sailing Key West J/Sailors Revel in Spectacular Sailing Conditions
(Key West, FL)- The 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week will go down in history as one of the most beautiful weeks of sailing in recent memory.  For once, the weather forecasters staring into their crystal ball were nearly correct.  It was an epic week of sailing, with postcard sailing conditions for all five days- sunny, good breezes from the east, and gorgeous moon-lit evenings ashore.

The 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week saw the seven racing classes complete 10 or 12 races, all as scheduled. The Performance Cruising Class also completed five races, as scheduled. The week started with a windy and wavy northeasterly that faded over the course of four days before swinging J/88 sailing Key Westaround to a light southeasterly for Friday’s conclusion. Many sailors felt the conditions were “typical of Key West Race Week” and they complemented the race committee’s judgment.

“The race committee work this week was very good,” said Peter Colby (North Kingstown, RI), the North American Service Manager for North Sails and mainsail trimmer on the J/111 Velocity. “Yesterday we had the harbor delay and as a racer you get it in your head that racing’s going to be blown off. Then, when they took us out there I wasn’t sure it’d be good racing, but it was. We had two good races yesterday that were part of a great week of sailing. The race committee got it right this week.”

J/70 Tim Healy Key WestTim Healy’s (Jamestown, RI) NEW ENGLAND ROPES won the J/70 Class, the largest class at race week. New England Ropes finished 11 points ahead of Marty Kullman’s (St. Petersburg, FL) second-placed NEW WAVE, which won a tiebreaker for second over Carlo Alberini’s CALVI NETWORK from Italy. CALVI NETWORK, the series leader through 10 races in the stronger breezes, stumbled in the final two light air races, placing 22-12.  The rest of the top five included Brian Keane’s SAVASANA in 4th place and Joel Ronning’s CATAPULT in 5th (the reigning 2016 World Champion).

The Corinthian Boat of the Week was awarded to Rob Britts’ (Tierra Verde, FL) HOT MESS, which finished 15th in the J/70 Class.  Behind them in Corinthians was Henry Filter’s WILD CHILD in second place and in third was Andrew & Melissa Fisher’s BUTTON FLY.

J/70 time lapse sailing videoWatch this cool J/70 time-lapse YouTube sailing video!

Phil Haegler’s CLOUD NINE of Brazil, the winner of the final race in the J/70 Class, won the Quantum Sails Boat of the Day trophy on Friday.  The Sailing World Youth Trophy, for the crew with the youngest average age, was presented to Gannon Troutman’s (Gloucester, VA) PIED PIPER, which placed 12th in the J/70 Class (Troutman is current 2016 Mexican National Champion).

Peter Wagner’s (Atherton, CA) SKELETON KEY won the J/111 Class for a second consecutive year with the low score of 25 points. SKELETON KEY won Friday’s race to score a 6-point victory over Rob Ruhlman’s (Cleveland, OH) SPACEMAN SPIFF. The rest of the podium was filled out by Marty Roesch’s VELOCITY from Annapolis, MD.  Fourth place was a new team sailing at Key West, Jeff Davis’ SHAMROCK and fifth position was taken by Brad Faber’s UTAH.

Marine Partners’ Day (Thursday) was won by Peter Wagner’s J/111 SKELETON KEY. After posting finishes of 2-1, SKELETON KEY was named Boat of the Day and they also took over the lead in the J/111 Class with the low score of 24 points.

J/111 Skeleton Key at Key WestSkeleton Key won the class last year but got its defense off to a slow start with an 8th in Race 1. Since then, the crew from Northern California steadily climbed the leaderboard while the early series leader, Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF, continued to slowly fall back. In races 6-7-8-9, SKELETON KEY finished 1-3-2-1 while SPACEMAN SPIFF finished 3-9-3-5.

“Today was all about being flexible. It was a very challenging day,” said Wagner, a two-time All-American sailor in the late 1980’s. “We’re always very confident in our boatspeed, the trick is to put ourselves in position to use it. We didn’t see a bias on the racecourse to one side or the other, so we tried to maintain tactical flexibility. That allowed us to benefit from boatspeed.  I have a lot of respect for the Spaceman Spiff guys. They sail their boat very well.  The conditions were so challenging today that it was easy to come out on the wrong side of events. We were fortunate to be able to improve our position today and that’s all that we could hope for.”

J/88 Hijinks sailing Key WestThe J/88’s saw tight fleet racing over the course of ten races and, in fact, each boat’s performance changed depending on the weather.  How close??  5 of 7 boats won races in the 10 race series!  In the first two days, it was breezy out of the northeast at 14-20 kts.  The third day the breeze backed off to 9-15 kts from the east.  Then, Thursday/Friday the wind shifted into a “classic” southeast direction and considerably lighter- 5-9 kts, full of streaks and holes.  Weyler’s HIJINKS posted 5 bullets in 6 races in the first 3 days, then dropped off that pace in the lighter breezes.  Other race winners included Rob Butler’s TOUCH 2 PLAY, Ryan Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF, Gary Panariello’s COURAGEOUS, and Iris Vogel’s DEVIATION.

In the end, Laura Weyler’s (Williamsville, NY) HIJINKS won the J/88 class and also earned a coveted “Boat of the Day” on Lewmar Day (Tuesday).  After that win on Tuesday, Kris Werner, tactician for HIJINKS, commented that “It was another challenging, windy day, but these are the conditions you expect down here. We’ve had two perfect days of sailing and couldn’t ask for more. It’s been great.”  HIJINKS is Weyler’s first boat. She has never competed at race week before and Tuesday was a day that will live in her memory forever. “This is very exciting,” said Weyler. “I have an outstanding crew.”

Mike Bruno’s WINGS team from American YC in New York, started the regatta off slowly and steadily improved as the week unfolded to take the silver.  Sailing a solid series all week was Ryan Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF, taking the bronze to close out the podium.  Rounding out the top five were Gary Panariello’s COURAGEOUS from San Francisco, CA and Iris Vogel’s DEVIATION from Long Island Sound, finishing 4th and 5th, respectively.

J/122 sailing Key WestIn the ORC Class, J.D. Hill’s (Houston, TX) J/122 SECOND STAR took the class victory. Earlier in the week, it was Chris & Karen Lewis’ J/44 KENAI that was leading the class after the first two days with a 2-1-1-3 tally, with Hill’s SECOND STAR in second place.  However, KENAI faltered a bit in the final races while Hill’s SECOND STAR collected two more firsts along the way to winning class by 2 pts.  Ultimately, KENAI finished tied for third and settling for 4th on the tie-breaker. Having fun all week long was Jon Weglarz’s J/105 THE ASYLUM from Chicago, Illinois.

Race week was more than just the action on the water. All shoreside activities were held at the Waterfront Brewery, which was a gracious host. The nightly debriefs and panel discussions covered a host of topics pertinent to the sport. Morning weather briefings with Ed Adams (presented by Quantum Sails and Gowrie Group) got everyone ready for the day’s racing. The daily prize-giving ceremonies gave all winners a chance to celebrate their day on the water.

The next major event for the Storm Trysail Club is Block Island Race Week, scheduled June 18-23 off the coast of Rhode Island. For more information, visit the event website.

Sailing photo credits- Max Ranchi, Sarah Proctor, Sharon Green/, Alan Clark/   For more Quantum Key West Race Week sailing information