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On The Bay: January 25, 2012

Quantum Key West Race Week took place last week, while we up north had a snow storm, high winds and all the weather that winter brings to the northeast United States. So, for readers who happen to be sailor/racers, don’t get too bummed out looking at the dreary rainy day, I thought it would brighten everyone’s spirits to take a look at this perennial favorite regatta down south.  

According to press releases, the regatta was a huge success, with a frantic finish as several boats snatched victory with strong performances on the fifth and final day.

Barking Mad, who has sailed in Western Long Island Sound at the Manhasset Bay Fall Series in years past, pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in the 25-year history of the regatta, winning the Farr 40 class despite suffering a dreaded DNF. Barking Mad, skippered by Jim Richardson of Newport, R.I., did not finish Race 2 after a scary man overboard incident. That type of result usually proves fatal in a no-throwout series, but the Barking Mad team kept plugging away - winning three of the final five races to pull out an improbable one-point victory.  “I wasn’t too optimistic that we could win the regatta after what happened in that second race, but we just had to keep sailing with the understanding that every point was crucial,” Richardson said. “We got better as the week went along and everything just sort of fell into place at the end.” Local sailor/racer John Thomson, Jr. was the motivation behind the launch of the Farr 40 class back when racers were looking for the great racing boat.  One has to believe that he is quite proud of the accomplishments of the class and the individuals who have made the fleet a force in any regatta they attend.

But all was not perfect, even in that paradise called Key West.  Light, fickle winds promoted organizers with Premiere Racing to cancel competition on Wednesday with hope that better breezes would allow for three starts on Thursday when winds are forecast to be 7 to 12 knots.  Event director Peter Craig, after consulting with the principal race officers from all three courses, called for a postponement and held the 112-boat fleet at the dock in the morning. Craig postponed again at noon for an hour before deciding to call off racing entirely.  “While forecasts would suggest an early abandonment was the right move, there was a chance the northerly would develop in time to get in a fair race around mid to late afternoon,” Craig said. “However, it became apparent from looking at updated weather models and actual wind observation out on the water that the best course of action was to not go out today and try our best to get in three races on Thursday.”  So, folks, when the summer finally arrives here on Manhasset Bay, remember, even the best of racing venues has some difficulty with Mother Nature.

A quick view of the results of Key West shows that John Storck Jr, Rumor, Storm Trysail Club, who lives in Huntington, came in 3rd in the J/80 class.  James Bishop, Sr, American YC, came in 4th in IRC 3 in White Gold, Jim Richardson won the Farr 40 class in Barking Mad.  These are familiar names in Western Long Island Sound.  

At one point in time, the 25th running of Key West was in doubt, but Quantum Sail Design Group became the title sponsor back in May, 2011 and thus, North America’s premiere annual big-boat regatta was a go.  “We recognize that Key West Race Week is the flagship regatta in this country and has been for well over two decades,” said Quantum President Ed Reynolds. “This has been reinforced by many people we’ve spoken with both here and abroad. Even with the smaller fleet sizes of recent years, this midwinter, big-boat regatta is very important to North American and international sailboat racing. We would like to see it continue and are committed to supporting the regatta during this transition period.”  For readers who don’t know about Quantum, and have need of new sails for your boat, or repairs to your sails, may want to check out our local Quantum Sail Loft at 40 Matinicock Avenue on Manhasset Isle.  Ask for Peter Sherman, the new owner.  

For a full report on Key West, visit Results:  

All photos are courtesy of Sharon Green (, where you can find a terrific sailing calendar!), via Scuttlebutt Photo Gallery, since yours truly was stuck up in the Northeast winter weather.  Eat your heart out, racers, and dream of summer sailing that isn’t too far off. Other Key West photos can be viewed at Blogs and Video:

Quantum Sails:

Sailing World:

T2P daily videos:

Keeping with the theme of mollifying frustrated sailors during the dark days of winter, remember The Proving Ground,  G. Bruce Knecht’s bestselling book about the disastrous 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race? The New York Times called it “harrowing.” The Washington Post said it was “a page-turner.” Esquire magazine declared: “What a fantastic adventure story this is.” A tenth anniversary edition of the book was recently published, and it is also available as an e-book - which just hit the Wall Street Journal’s Top 10 list! This edition also includes a new afterword that catches up with all of The Proving Ground’s remarkable characters - and it describes how Larry Ellison’s experience in the Hobart led to his decision to pursue the America’s Cup. This book might be just the ticket for making the winter blues go away, and a reason to avoid those “honey do” lists.  That is, if watching the Giants in the Super Bowl isn’t enough to avoid those annoying indoor tasks.  You can even have instant gratification by downloading this book as an e-book.  Enjoy!