#News: Sailors breeze into Key West

#News: Sailors breeze into Key West

Sailing fans can watch leading yacht racing teams from around the world compete for titles in Quantum Key West Race Week 2015, one of the most prestigious regattas on the international sailing circuit, Sunday through Friday, Jan. 18-23.

Boats ranging in size from 23 to 72 feet are to compete in the waters off America’s southernmost city during the 28th annual race week. Spectators can expect five days of competitive racing as well as surrounding activities where they can interact with the participating teams in a casual island setting.

Kathy Parks, owner of Sundog, shares the enthusiasm of many other J/70 owners.

“I love the five days of racing, which we rarely see anywhere else, and we love the energy at the panels, party and awards.”

The regatta’s 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 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. 19-23 on Atlantic Ocean courses just off Key West’s shore and inside the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef. Plans call for 10 races on three separate courses, with boats competing in as many as 12 classes.

The 2015 regatta lineup features top international racing professionals including Olympic champion Jonathan McKee and 2006 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and world champion sailor Jud Smith.

Among the Melges 32 registrants is Doug DeVos on Volpe, challenged by sailors including his son Dalton DeVos on Delta, Italy’s Alessandro Rombelli on STIG and Bermuda’s Alex Cutler on Hedgehog. Cutler will defend his 2014 Key West championship.

A healthy fleet also is anticipated in the popular Melges 24 class.

America loves a comeback story and the comeback class for 2015 is expected to be the Melges 24s. The iconic sportboat is on the move and South Florida will play a major role over the next two years as evidenced by the recent announcement about their 2016 World Championship at Quantum Key West.

“The Melges 24 class and Key West have a rich history together including an epic 2001 World Championship,” said U.S. Class President Rob Britts. “We are projecting a healthy fleet next year in the lead up to our 2016 Worlds.”

Heated competition is expected in the Mini-Maxi class as returning champion Hap Fauth on Bella Mente, paired with legendary tactician Terry Hutchinson, battles challengers including George Sakellaris’ Shockwave and Gunther Burman with tactician Brad Butterworth on Numbers.

J/70s are to continue their strong class presence in Key West with early entrants from around the U.S. as well as Sweden, Italy and Brazil. Regatta organizers project a J/70 field of 40 to 50 boats.

Making their Key West debut will be an exciting GC 32 class featuring foiling catamarans with speeds that approach 40 knots. These multihulls are designed along the lines of the most recent America’s Cup boats that raced off San Francisco in 2013.

Regatta headquarters, where sailors and sailing aficionados can mingle, is to be on Caroline Street between Duval and Whitehead streets.

This will be the fourth straight year that Quantum will serve as title sponsor. Quantum President Ed Reynolds said the Michigan-based sail-making company has enjoyed its partnership with Premiere Racing. “It’s been a great relationship because we both have the same interests in mind, which is to keep an iconic regatta moving forward. Quantum’s goal is to perpetuate our sport by supporting one of the finest events in the country.”

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 West’s Atlantic-front restaurants, resorts and beaches.

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