A scant three days remain to the start of the 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week and the long range weather forecast looks juicy. Key West Race Week’s reputation is built on close racing amid great sailing conditions, and this year looks to live up to that billing.
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.
“Nothing else competes with Key West Race Week and it looks windy this year,” said Andy Horton, the tactician for Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s (Newport, RI) new TP52 Interlodge. “It’s the perfect time of year to go there. The holidays are all done and everyone’s ready to get back on the circuit. Everyone still talks about going to Key West Race Week.”
Interlodge, from the design board of Botin Partners, will make its racing debut next week in the highly competitive 52 Super Series, the professional circuit that begins its 2017 season in Key West. Launched last fall, Horton said the crew is still learning their boat. “It’s a brand new machine. We’ve sailed only two days, but all things show it should be a nice piece of equipment,” said Horton.
While Interlodge continues Key West Race Week’s tradition of debuting the newest designs six other entrants are on hand to defend class titles won last year. Leading the charge is Carlo Alberini’s Calvi Network of Italy, which posted a 12-point win in the J/70 Class. Alberini and crew also won the J/70 Class and Boat of the Week honors in 2015, and they’ll be a marked entry in this very competitive class.
Doug DeVos (Ada, MI), one of the top owner/drivers in the world, returns with his TP52 Quantum Racing, which won IRC 1 last year. This year Quantum Racing leads the 11-boat 52 Super Series Class, looking to get a start on defending its 2016 season championship title.
“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.”
Other returning class winners include Peter Wagner’s (Atherton, CA) Skeleton Key in the J/111 Class, Mike Bruno’s (Armonk, NY) Wings in the J/88 Class and Tom Reese’s (Youngstown, NY) Corsair 28R Flight Simulator in the Multihull Class.
All shoreside activities will be held at the Waterfront Brewery in the historic Key West Bight. The daily schedule calls for up to three races per day. 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. Evening debriefs, panel discussions and prize-giving ceremonies are also planned.
For more information, please visit the Quantum Key West Race Week web site.
Image: Dobbs Davis