The southernmost city in the continental United States hosted one of the most prestigious regattas on the international sailing circuit. It began Sunday and concludes Friday, Jan. 25, and Wednesday was one of the windiest days of competition.
There were some sail and gear failures in the heavy air, which held steady between 18 and 22 knots, according to organizers. Several teams made major moves on Wednesday, none more dramatic than that pulled by Decision in the High Performance Class.
Quantum Key West 2013 features five days of competitive racing and surrounding activities. Yachting teams from more than 12 countries and 20 American states are registered.
The regattas primary attractions for race teams are the warm-water January sailing, reliable breezes, high level of competition and unique Key West atmosphere. Unlike other challenges, the regatta also allows amateur sailors to test their skills against professionals.
Presented by Quantum Sail Design Group, races are slated to begin at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 21-25 on courses set over an 8-mile stretch of the Atlantic Ocean just off Key West's shore and inside the continental United States only living coral barrier reef.
The 2013 regatta lineup features top international racing professionals including world and European champion Riccardo Simoneschi of Italy in the Melges 24 Class. Current world champion John Kilroy of California leads the Melges 32 Class, competing against entrants from Japan, Italy, Russia, Switzerland and more.
IRC registrants include defending champion Doug DeVos in Quantum Racing, challenged by sailors from as far away as Argentina and the United Kingdom.
Among the other notables participating are four-time Americas Cup champion Dennis Conner, Olympian Tommaso Chieffi and 2011 Rolex yachtsman of the year Bill Hardesty.
One-design entries are strongly represented in classes such as the Swan 42s and J/80s, while J/70s are to make their Key West debut with a field of more than 25 boats. A High Performance Class and PHRF competitors are featured as well.
Regatta headquarters, where sailors and sailing aficionados can mingle, is to be on Caroline Street between Duval and Whitehead streets.
To view the racing action, fans can book seats on spectator boats ranging from excursion catamarans to historic tall ships. Prime land-based viewing spots include Key Wests Atlantic-front restaurants, resorts and beaches.
Event information: www.premiere-racing.com or 781-639-9545
Key West visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY
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