Key West preview

Grand turn out for the first US regatta of the season in the sunny southern tip of Florida
With 47 of the 287 entries from a record-matching 20 foreign countries, Peter Craig event director of Terra Nova Trading Key West 2003 has been able to organise a powerful fleet of 10 international teams to compete for the Key West Trophy. Each of a team's three designated boats will race in its own one-design class as well as participating in cumulative scoring for the trophy during the regatta which runs from 20-24 January. The three types of boats are Farr 40, Mumm 30 and Melges 24. The format, now in its seventh year, is similar to what the Admiral's Cup was when it was recognised as the "unofficial championship of offshore sailing." Key West is inshore, but each of the three types of boats, some with partly professional crews, is deeply international and highly competitive in its own right. "Each year the international team competition generates more excitement," Craig said. "It unites teams and competitors in the week-long contest. What was loosely modeled after the Admiral's Cup in Cowes, England has become a Key West tradition." Bob Hughes' Farr 40, Heartbreaker, is returning to lead the USA Great Lakes team in defense of the title it wrested from the three-year grip of Italy. Teammates will be Jeff Dieman's Mumm 30, X-Press Cartel and Brian Porter's Melges 24, Full Throttle. Competition will include the new Farr 40 world champion, Steve Phillips sailing Le Renard for the USA Chesapeake team, and Italy's Flavio Favini, who won the delayed 2001 Melges 24 world title at Key West last year, driving Franco Rossini's Blu Moon as a member of the German team. That trio also features Wolfgang Schaefer, with his Farr 40, Struntje light, and Bent Dietrich's Mumm 30, Rainbow. The Mumm 30 Worlds runner-up, Cristofori Pierpaolo's Printel-Wind, will be part of an Italian team