Yachting Key West Race Week 2001 began on Monday, Jan. 15, and will continue until the 19th. The official hand count is complete, and the regatta has a record number of 327 entries. The fleet totals 66 more boats than last year's millennium regatta and is well clear of the 271-boat record fleet from 1999. "To say that we were overwhelmed by the number of entries would be an understatement," said Premiere Racing's Peter Craig. "We've never really come close to the 300-boat limit in past years, which is why we were reluctant to turn boats away. We haven't slammed the door on anybody. The owners were probably as surprised as we were."
PROs (Principle Race Officers) and race committee members will be interested to know that Key West Race Week is providing four racing circles to accommodate all entrants. According to Craig, "By adding a fourth race circle we're able to be inclusive while providing the quality racing that owners have come to expect in Key West." Think of the logistics of managing this many boats - keeping track of entrants and setting starting lines alone could be a challenge. There are 50 foreign entries from 20 countries, and 32 states are represented, led by New York, Maryland and California. The fleet breakdown includes a record turnout in most one-design classes: Farr 40 (37), J/105 (25), Mumm 30 (31), Melges 24 (59), J/80 (25), ID35 (20), J/29 (17), PHRF (103), IMS (10). Skippers and afterguards include the biggest names in sailing, such as Russell Coutts, Ken Read, John Kostecki, Dean Barker, Buddy Melges, Mark Reynolds, Ian Walker, Dave Ullman, Vince Brun, Robbie Haines, John Kolius, John Cutler and Gavin Brady. The preliminary scratch sheet includes four boats from our bay. They are: John Thomson, Solution (Farr 40, #4040); Martin Kald, Monster Lady (J80, #63); Bob Limoggio, Spank Me (C & C 44, #41944); and Mario Fichers, Kamikaze (Melges 30 #104). Readers can stay updated on the race results at http://wwww.Premiere-Racing.com. Final results will be reported here when they become available.
For those readers who may have missed Herb McCormick's Sunday, Jan. 14, New York Times article because they were busy watching our Giants pulverize the Minnesota Vikings: Craig McCaw, the Seattle telecommunications entrepreneur, commented on Dennis Conner's contribution to the America's Cup. "I've occassionally found his antics and resourcefulness quite amusing ... I did not, however, admire the way he pandered for every last dollar." Interesting that while billionaire McCaw is quick to comment on the budget of past America's Cup challenges, he did not discuss the budget for his campaign, One World Challenge. Time will tell if Stars and Stripes, with about half the budget of either One World Challenge or Larry Ellison's challenge will beat out the "bees." One thing for certain is that Dennis Conner will have the only All-American crew in the cup. Peter Gilmour, an Australian, will drive for McCaw and Chris Dickson, a New Zealander, will skipper for Larry Ellison.
On Sunday, Jan. 14, at 14.01.01 GMT, skipper Steve Fossett of the 125foot maxi-catamaran PlayStation advised the race officials that he has had to withdraw from the 23,000 mile race around the world. The decision was made after the port daggerboard was shattered late on Saturday evening, Jan. 13. While this alone would not force the skipper and crew to withdraw, combined with the problems the team has had with their sails, the team made the decision not to continue on to the Southern Ocean and is returning to Miami, with an ETA about Jan. 28.
More about The Race: Club Med skipper Grant Dalton has re-taken the lead from Team Adventure. "We are ahead ... but, significantly, we are further south than Team Adventure. Yesterday, we got the wind just right. We are just punching through the South Atlantic high," he continued. "Being further south is really important. You are the first to get picked up and just dragged along with the weather when it comes." These two boats are so close that Dalton remains concerned by Team Adventure's superior straight-line speed. "In moderate airs, he [Team Adventure] is faster than us." Standings: Monday, Jan. 15, 04:31 GMT - 15:00 GMT: 1. Club Med, 2. Team Adventure, 39 miles behind leader, 3. Innovation Explorer, 169 mbl, 4. Warta Polpharma, 1606 mbl, 5. Team Legato, 2479 mbl. With Team Adventure only 39 miles behind Club Med (out of a total of 23,000 miles), and the stress put on these boats by the high average speeds maintained over time, anything could happen. This will continue to be an exciting race right up to the finish line.
To the disappointment of many, frostbiting was canceled for yet another Sunday. In addition to a covering of ice on the bay, there was no wind. Let's hope for better conditions in the weeks to come.