“We wouldn’t miss it for the world!” sums up the feelings of Alan Field’s Melges 24 WTF California team.
Stephen Stroub, another Californian, is most enthusiastic about bringing his brand new Santa Cruz 37 Tiburon to Key West. “We are very excited about returning to Key West in 2009. Our last visit was in 2005 and we knew we had to return”, he stated. He believes that the new Tim Kernan-designed boat with its light displacement, carbon construction, keel to weight ratio, and asymmetrical pole, all add up to a fun, fast, boat, that will go around the buoys and be great for ocean racing.
Melges 24 World Champion UKA UKA Racing, with owner Lorenzo Santini and helmsman Lorenzo Bressani, will be the boat to beat in what is always the largest fleet in Key West. Melges representative Andy Burdick anticipates strong numbers in both the Melges 24 and Melges 32 classes.
Early IRC entries include Charles Dunstone’s TP52 Rio hailing from Great Britain. This Judel Vrolik design recently was second at Skandia Cowes Week, winning two of the last three races. Ennio Staffini’s JV/52 Amena & Core is another early entry which bodes well for a tough IRC competition and sufficient boats for a TP52 sub-class. A Key West regular since 1999, Staffini took a few years off, but is back with what he describes as a challenging but very rewarding boat to sail. He and his Annapolis -based crew have been training hard for the November IRC regatta and for Key West after that.
The PHRF National Championship will again be a highlight in Key West. Robert Armstrong (USVI) will be defending the title won by his J/100 Bad Girl, in his 'twin' boat Good Girl.
One design classes predicting good turnouts include the Swan 42s, J/105s, J/80s, Farr 40s, and M30s.
PHRF, IRC and One Design classes will be shaping up in the coming months. With entries typically coming from over 30 states and as many as 20 different countries, the final composition is different from year to year and unknown until the entry deadline.
“It is early, but entries are coming in at a good clip, and we are optimistic about January’s fleet” said Event Director Peter Craig. “Given the current economic uncertainties, it’s too early to make projections, but one thing is certain is that the high caliber of competition that has always defined Key West racing will be intact”, he added.
Title Sponsor Acura is the Official Vehicle. Nautica is the Presenting Sponsor and Nautica Watches is the Official Timekeeper. Day Sponsors are Mount Gay® Rum (Official Rum), Lewmar (Official Marine Hardware) and Sperry Top-Sider (Official Footwear). Supporting sponsors are B&G (Official Marine Electronics) and SLAM (Official Technical Gear).