Key West news
Where do they all come from? From across North America and a couple of oceans---entrants already represent 20 states and 15 countries. How do they get to this charming outpost at the southernmost point of the continental United States? Any way they can.
The boat that won the Terra Nova Trading Trophy as Boat of the Week last January, Richard Bergmann's J/105, Zuni Bear, will again be towed coast to coast from California. It will be making its annual pilgrimage to the Mecca of winter sailing hooked to the back of a three-quarter-ton truck, and distance is no deterrent. California has the most entries at the moment with nine, and Bergmann plans to sail a Southeastern tour of events after Key West.
"The reason we travel is we have so much fun going to the different venues and racing against different people," he said. "When you stay in your own pond you don't get that exposure. Key West is a blast, but it's also the group we get to sail against."
There are many commercial boat movers available for delivery to Key West, including Peters & May that ships boats from Europe and elsewhere. Joule Yacht Transport and FT Yacht Services are active in the U.S. Many sailors take advantage of these professional services, but Bergmann prefers to manage his own long hauls. He'll drive I-10 across the South all the way to Florida. He has modified his Triad trailer to cushion road shock, added numerous extras to protect the boat and carries three spare tires.
Defending champions, Key West veterans and first-timers from all points are lining up their travel plans.
Examples abound: The Melges fleet includes Joe Woods from Torquay, UK, making his fifth trip, and 14-year-old Samuel (Shark) Kahn, from Soquel, Calif. and Hawaii, returning to where he first drove a Melges 24 a year earlier - and now wearing the 2003 Melges Worlds crown.
PHRF racer Pete Hunter of Kill Devil Hills, N.C., is a 10-year veteran, while Frank Kern is bringing his J/120 from Detroit, Mich. for the first time.
The Farr 40s feature returning champions Alex Geremia and Scott Harris, defending against Key West newcomers Erik Maris from Porquerolles, France, and Arien van Verndl from Willenstad, The Netherlands.
To recognize the significance of all long distance efforts, the Key West Trophy will be awarded this year to the boat owner who has traveled farthest from his or her hometown. Besides the fast-growing J/105 group, invited classes include Corsair 24 and 28R, Farr 40, IMS, J/29, J/80, Melges 24, MORC, Mumm 30, PHRF, Swan 45, Open Swan and T-10.
The unofficial "PHRF National Championship" will again feature a fleet of more than 100 boats with entrants from as many as 30 states.
The competition will expand when the Swan 45 class makes its Key West debut. The renowned yacht manufacturer, based in Pietersaari, Finland, has produced a high-performance boat with a standard carbon fiber rig. Six are already entered with 10 expected.
There is still plenty of time. The first entry deadline is Dec. 10. All entry documents, planning information and past results are available on the event web site: http://www.Premiere-Racing.com