Five RC44s for Key West
One of the unique aspects of Key West Race Week over the past two plus decades is that it attracts a mix of some of the best known names in international sailing along with names known only to their local fleets.
America's Cup legend Russell Coutts will be there next January as the RC 44 class makes its southernmost debut with five programs already committed. But then so will Jim Sminchak - an accomplished local PHRF sailor along with his dedicated crew out of Cleveland, Ohio.
No less than five RC44s, including BMW Oracle Racing, Mascalzone Latino and Synergy, are expected to headline the racing in Division 1. The newest RC44 owner, David Murphy (Westport, CT), was third in IRC 2 last year with his J/122, but the stakes go up this time around. "We're really excited about the boat and the class," said Murphy. "To have a one design start at one of our very favorite regattas with this incredible boat will really be something."
With racing just two months away, the competition is shaping up to be world-class with entries now topping 12 foreign countries and 24 states. The current scratch sheet is already loaded with talent and exciting designs.
The racing on Division 1 will garner plenty of attention with high powered Mini Maxis joined by IRC modified TP52s, the RC 44s and a competitive IRC 2 class.
Piet Vroon's Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens 3, recently announced RORC Yacht of the Year, will make his first Key West trip from the Netherlands. Fellow countryman Willem Wester has entered his Grand Soleil 43 Antilope.
The Melges 32s will race on the strictly one design Division 2 with the Melges 24s and J/105s. Lorenzo Bressani's UKA UKA Racing has two years of championships to defend in what will be a very competitive Melges 24 class. The first event on the official 'Road to Corpus', Key West will launch the series that will culminate in the May 2011 Melges 24 World Championship in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Midwinter championships are in play for the Melges 24, Melges 32, J/80, J/105, Farr 30 classes, as well as overall IRC and PHRF Midwinter trophies. The J/95s, racing as a subclass in PHRF, have also designated Key West their Midwinters.
Five days of racing begins January 17, 2011. The first entry deadline is December 17.
The 24th edition of this mid winter classic will feature an exciting new shoreside venue change. Kelly's Caribbean Bar, Grill & Brewery will anchor the new site and headquarters, with an expansive section of Caroline Street closed to traffic and open to partying. Adjacent to Duval Street and convenient to many favorite watering holes, the carnival atmosphere will be better than ever.