Sunday, January 15, 2017

Quantum Key West Regatta Preview

J/70s sailing Key West Race Week (Key West, FL)- In a fashion befitting a 30th anniversary, the famous Quantum Key West Regatta bristles with a plethora of racing stars from American and ten countries, some of the most technically developed racing boats afloat and one of the largest growing classes in the world- the J/70 speedster!

According to Commanders' Weather, the weather forecast supplier for race week, the first three days of the regatta will offer moderate to strong winds of 10 to 20 knots from the east/east-southeast. A cold front predicted for the second half of the week could lighten the conditions, but Commanders' Weather forecaster Chris Wasserback called the forecast for the first half of the week classic for Key West.

"There's high pressure to the north and it looks like good breeze for Sunday (practice day) and Monday (first race day)," said Commanders' Weather forecaster Chris Wasserback. "The direction stays more easterly thru Tuesday and Wednesday with a fair amount of wind, around 20 knots. The high pressure off the East Coast is the dominant feature and should keep conditions there mostly settled."

Returning competitors from last year's regatta might remember chilly air temperatures. Even that feature will be turned around this year with forecast highs in the mid-to-upper 70s.

J/70 fleet starting off Key West Race Week"The fleet is solid from top to bottom. There's great talent and some very successful race teams. It should be a fantastic week of racing," said event chairman John Fisher, a past commodore of the host Storm Trysail Club. "Quantum Key West Race Week always attracts the top level of the sport, because they know Key West offers great sailing conditions at a time of year where most in the U.S. have shut down their hometown sailing for the winter. There'll be first-rate competition from all over the sailing world, great race conditions coupled with our extremely capable veteran race committee and willing volunteers."

The daily schedule calls for up to three races per day from January 16th to 20th. Registration is set for Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 14-15, and the warning signal for Race 1 is scheduled for 1100 hours on Monday, Jan. 16.

The fleet includes glamour classes like the 52 Super Series, featuring top professional sailors such as Ed Baird, John Kostecki, Terry Hutchinson, all past winners of the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award, and past Italian America's Cup helmsman Vasco Vascotto.  Even more interesting, most “all-star” tacticians in the TP52 fleet are former J/24 World Champions and, most recently, John Kostecki was 2016 J/70 World Champion as tactician on Joel Ronning’s CATAPULT!

"The sailing conditions are fantastic," says John Kostecki (Reno, NV), who'll call tactics on the TP 52 Platoon. "Normally you get the chance of good breeze for a part of the regatta, and each day is a new challenge. It's great winter sailing in the U.S."

"Key West Race Week is truly one of the greatest regattas in the world and to me it's the perfect winter break," said Quantum Racing tactician Terry Hutchinson, who has won Boat of the Week honors twice as a tactician, including last year with Bella Mente. "It has steadily evolved over the years into an extremely high-level event in all respects."

The wildly popular J/70 Class is the largest at the event with 40 of the 23-footers entered this year.  Can Carlo Alberini make it a 3-peat in the J/70's?  For the fifth consecutive year the J/70 is the largest class in the regatta. Among the entrants are Carlo Alberini's CALVI NETWORK from Italy, the two-time defending class champion and 2015 Boat of the Week.

J/70s sailing off start in Key WestA third consecutive title will be hard to come by because other entrants include Tim Healy's USA-2 from Rhode Island, the 2014 Boat of the Week, Joel Ronning's CATAPULT, of Minnesota, the reigning J/70 World Champion with America's Cup veteran Eric Doyle calling tactics, and Peter Duncan's RELATIVE OBSCURITY from New York, which placed second in the class last year (and has rock-star “Moose” McClintock from Newport, RI as tactician!).

The 2003 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Hannah Swett (New York, NY) will lead Sparkle, with 1999 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Dawn Riley (Oyster Bay, NY) counted among her crew and longtime friends Melissa Purdy and Tom Purdy, the sister and brother from Tiburon, Calif. Swett purchased a J/70 last year because of the class's large size and this will be her first major regatta.

"Yeah, I'm a little scared at a 40-boat starting line," said Hannah, who's won the Yngling World Championship and the Fastnet Race in a diverse and varied career. "I really just wanted an opportunity to go sailing with my friends, so I'm totally looking forward to it. I used to teach sailing at J/World in Key West, so I have some great memories from the island. It should be fun."
J/70s sailing Key WestJoining Hannah, Carlo and Joel are several leading crews that are also National, North American and World Champions.  Leading that group is Julian Fernandez’s FLOJITO Y COOPERANDO crew from Mexico, the 2015 J/70 World Champion in La Rochelle, France.  A past M32 World Champion from Bermuda, Alec Cutler, will be sailing his latest HEDGEHOG with his crew from Royal Bermuda YC.  From way out West, Chris Snow and Mary Brigden, past J/24 North American champions, will be sailing COOL STORY BRO with a St Francis YC team.  Great Lakes champion Trey Sheehan from Put-in-Bay, OH will be racing his HOOLIGAN- FLAT-STANLEY RACING.  Hailing from the famous Forth Worth Boat Club is Glenn Darden’s crew on his latest HOSS; he is a past J/70 Midwinter Champion (with World Champion Jonathan McKee as tactician) and also J/105 North American Champion.  The 2016 J/111 World Champion, Martin Dent, will be racing JELVIS VII with his crew from Cowes, England.  Farr 40 World Champion, America’s Cup sailor, and YC Monaco’s Sailor of the Year, Vincenzo Onorato will be racing with his Italian crew on MASCALZONE LATINO.  Recent Quantum J/70 Winter Series winner, Marty Kullman from St Petersburg YC, is sailing fast on NEW WAVE.  Mexican J/70 National Champion, Gannon Troutman, will be racing with his Dad and Fishing Bay YC crew on PIED PIPER.  Another Quantum J/70 Winter Series winner, Tom Bowen, is sailing REACH AROUND with his Annapolis YC team.  Past J/105 Key West Champion and J/80 World Champion, Brian Keane from Beverly YC, is steering SAVASANA with Olympic 470 sailor Stu McNay as his tactician.  Finally, the world’s top two Masters skippers, John Brim’s RIMETTE from Fishers Island YC and Peter Cunningham’s POWERPLAY RACING from Cayman Islands Sailing Club will be doing battle again at the top of the fleet!

J/111 Utah sailing Key West Race WeekThe J/70’s larger sibling, the 36-foot J/111, begins a season long march towards the class's J/111 World Championship in September at St Francis YC. Their strong one-design presence will have 10 boats on the start line. The class includes last year's top three finishers - Peter Wagner's (Atherton, CA) SKELETON KEY, which posted a 14.5-point victory in 2016, Rob Ruhlman's SPACEMAN SPIFF (Cleveland, OH) and Bradley Faber's (Owosso, MI) UTAH. Joining the Key West fleet this year is Marty Roesch’s VELOCITY crew from Annapolis YC; they are a perennial top three boat and past Chesapeake Bay champions.  Sailing faster this past summer have been Sedgwick Ward’s BRAVO from Shelter Island YC in New York and also Bennet Greenwald’s PERSEVERANCE from San Diego YC in California.

J/88 sailing Key West Race WeekWhat is notable is that three large J/classes are sailing on three separate racing areas!  J/111’s with the TP52’s on Division 1 area WSW of the island, J/70’s on Division 2 area just south of the island next to the shipping channel, and J/88’s on Division 3 area east of the J/70’s on the SE end of the island.  The J/88’s have a great turnout for their 2nd Midwinter Championship at Key West!  Seven teams will be vying for class honors with teams from all across America.  From the West, Gary Panariello’s crew from Sausalito, CA will be sailing COURAGEOUS.  From the Midwest is Ryan Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF from Lakeside YC.  Then, a cadre of top teams that include Key West, Block Island, and New York YC Race Week winners all hail from the Northeast, including the 2016 winner- Mike Bruno’s WINGS.  Also from New York are Iris Vogel’s DEVIATION, Joe & Jeff Pawlowski’s EASY EIGHTS, Laura Weyler’s HIJINKS.  Finally, the top Canadian team, Rob Butler’s TOUCH2PLAY RACING from Lake Ontario, will be giving the fleet a big run-for-the-money!

J/122 sailing Key West Race WeekIn addition to the J/88s, two other handicap classes will be participating on the same course.  In Performance Cruising class, Jon Weglarz’s J/105 THE ASYLUM will be up against a smorgasbord of racer/cruisers.  In ORC Class, three J/teams will be taking on their fleet of nine boats.  Chris & Karen Lewis’ J/44 KENAI, class winner in this year’s Lauderdale to Key West Race, hope to repeat that performance with their crew from Lakewood YC in Houston, TX.  Joining them are twin J/122s, including NYYC Race Week and Annapolis-Newport Race winner ORION, skippered by Paul Milo’s crew from New York YC and also JD Hill’s SECOND STAR from Lakewood YC in Texas.

While the racing at the 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week will look and feel very similar to the past 29 editions, the shoreside venue will be much different. The Waterfront Brewery in the Key West Historic Seaport and Bight will host all shoreside activities related to Race Week, including daily morning weather briefings, post-race seminars, and the nightly awards party.
Post-race debriefs and seminars being organized by Quantum Sails will feature luminaries such Baird, Hutchinson and Kostecki, as well as Ed Adams, Bora Gulari and others offering insights.

"The coaching and education, along with overnight sail repairs, are key deliverables of our sponsorship," said Quantum President Ed Reynolds. "With Ed Adams and Ed Baird heading up the daily debriefs, competitors are guaranteed insights and tips they can put to immediate use on the racecourse."  Sailing photo credits- Max Ranchi, Sarah Proctor, Sharon Green/ Ultimate Sailing.    For more Quantum Key West Race Week sailing information