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Quantum Key West Race Week 2016

Quantum Key West Race Week 2016Quantum Key West Race Week started Monday, January 18, 2016.

Storm Trysail Club welcomed 133 boats in 12 classes. We'll post updates here (most recent first) as the week progresses...

 

 

 

 

Friday, January 22, 2016 - A Wet and Wild Wrap to Quantum Key West 2016

Key West, FL, USA -- Lightning, thunder and torrential rain opened the final day today at Quantum Key West 2016, with organizers debating if the conditions were safe to proceed with two races to finish the J/70’s, Melges 24’s and C&C 30’s in Division 2 and one for all other classes. With several titles at stake, but bad weather threatening, this was not an easy call.

Quantum Key West Race Week 2016

© Max Ranchi,

Forecaster George Carras from Commander’s Weather described the moist tropical conditions in the atmosphere as “juicy and unstable,” with a chance for more cells, but with nothing on the radar the fleet headed out of one more day of battle.

When they got out the harbor and headed into the southerly, the forecasted 8-15 knots turned out to be 20+ and building, with monstrous seas enhanced by the south-flowing ebb tide, especially in the Division 4 and Division 1 pre-start course areas. These seas hampered the Race Committees in their efforts to set marks and establish their race courses, so the PRO’s pulled the plug for these classes for the day.

But racing proceeded on the Division 2 and 3 areas where the ebb tide was not as strong and produced nothing more serious than some OCS calls for some teams.

“It was wild out there. For the last couple legs the wind was north of 30 knots and the waves were real big. We hit 16 knots surfing downwind with the kite,” said Robin Team, skipper of the ORC 1 class champion Teamwork. A win in this final race gave the North Carolina boat a total of seven bullets for the week with a low score of 13 points, five better than fellow J/122 Orion (Paul Milo, Leesburg, VA).

“It was a great week with incredible conditions and we’re thrilled with the result,” said Team, who has now captured class honors at Key West Race Week four times. “Our entire crew worked really well all week. Jonathan is a master tactician and consistently put us in the right position.”

Elsewhere on Division 3, skipper Henry DeGroot and his crew on Wired completed an impressive victory in ORC 2 class by winning Race 10. Simona Pasqua served as tactician on Wired, which won five races and finished second in four others in totaling 16 points – 10 less than runner-up Rattle N Rum, a GP 26 sportboat skippered by Mike Beasley (Annapolis, MD).

“We are surprised and delighted. We have to thank the people who put together ORC for the great number they gave us. We were very happy with how our rating worked out,” said DeGroot, a resident of Newton, MA. “This is our third straight Key West with the same crew. It’s always a fantastic regatta and we love coming here, but winning certainly puts a golden tinge on things.”

Four of the ORC 2 entries elected not to compete on Friday and DeGroot admitted his crew had never raced in such severe conditions. “Today was about surviving. There were a lot of gear breakages and other issues on our course and we just had to find a way to get the boat across the finish line,” he said.

Quantum Key West Race Week 2016

Defiant, a New York 40 owned by John Streicker of New York City, won all three-distance races in the Performance Cruising class, a new feature at this year’s event. © Photo-boat.com 

Mike Bruno and the Wings team led at the end of each day’s racing en route to topping J/88 class. Bruno, from Armonk, NY, won Race 3 then finished second in five of the last six starts. This was Bruno’s first trip to Key West as skipper of his own boat. It was only his fourth event since taking delivery of the J/88.

“This is one of the world’s great regattas so I’m pretty excited,” Bruno said. “We had real good boat speed and I think the key was we were real consistent.”

Skipper Carlo Alberini and the crew of Calvi Network also led from start to finish in capturing the J/70 overall class win for the second straight year in Key West. Branko Brcin called tactics for Alberini, who got the gun in five races and finished second or third in four others to finish with an impressive 15 points.

“I come back every year to Key West because the regatta is so good – always great wind and excellent race management,” said Alberini, who previously raced a Farr 40 and Melges 32 here. “I have no words to describe how happy I am. This is just fantastic.”

Alberini (Pesaro, Italy) praised the performance of his crew, which also included Sergio Blosi (jib trimmer) and Karlo Hmeljak (main trimmer).

“My crew is amazing. I am so lucky to have three very talented sailors. Sailing is a team sport and the best helmsman in the world cannot without a strong crew,” said Alberini, who earned the Quantum Sails Boat of the Day honor today.   Skipper Peter Duncan (Rye, NY) and the Relative Obscurity team were runner-up in J/70 class with 27 points, four ahead of Tim Healy (Newport, RI) and the Helly Hansen crew. Skipper Luis Bugallo and the Spanish sailors on Marnatura were the top Corinthian entry, finishing seventh.

Quantum Key West Race Week 2016

Skipper Peter Duncan (Rye, NY) and the Relative Obscurity team finished second in the J/70 fleet. © Photo-boat.com 

Fernando Campos Marquez (spinnaker trimmer), Enrique Freire Faria (jib trimmer), Jose Luis Freire Freire (tactician) and Gerardo Prego Menor (bow) crewed aboard Marnatura, which earned the Quantum Corinthian Boat of the Week award.

It was a wild ride for all the boats on Division 2 with the J/70s, Melges 24s and C&C 30’s not enjoying the slamming upwind but reveling in the planing downwind conditions. British skipper Richard Thompson steered Black Seal to overall victory in the 12-boat Melges 24 class, overtaking Blind Squirrel by winning Race 10. Jamie Lea called tactics for Thompson, a class veteran who achieved a bucket list item by winning their class at Quantum Key West 2016.

“I’ve always loved this regatta and now I can die a happy man because I finally won here. We are just over the moon about this accomplishment. About the only regatta I would prefer to win more than Key West would be a World Championship,” said Thompson, who lives in London. “I’m delighted for the crew. Every man did their job impeccably well. They actually had to make up for me so I’m quite proud of them. I can’t remember one crew error in any race.”

Skipper Walt Thirion and the Themis team placed fourth in Race 10, but held on to edge out closest rival Extreme2 (Dan Cheresh, Holland, MI) by just two points in C&C 30 class. Geoff Ewenson called tactics on Themis, which won two races and placed fourth or better in seven others.

“The one-design racing in our class was excellent. It was a lot tighter than previous events and we had a lot of different winners. All the boats are getting better, which is good to see,” said Thirion, who lives in Colorado and bases his boat out of Annapolis. “We did a good job of getting off the line in most races and made smart decisions on which side of the course to take. Racing at this level is all about minimizing mistakes and our team executed well all week.”

Quantum Key West Race Week 2016

The Themis team celebrates victory in the C&C 30 Class - photo Max Ranchi/Quantum Key West 2016

Division 1 principal race officer Ken Legler said steep waves he estimated at six feet battered the committee boat and made it almost impossible for the volunteers onboard to do their jobs. Because the situation was unmanageable, Legler was forced to abandon racing on his course.

That means the results from Thursday stand and made Quantum Racing a narrow winner in IRC 1 class over fellow TP52 Spookie. Skipper Doug DeVos, who won the same class at Quantum Key West 2014, closed the regatta with three straight wins to nip skipper Steve Benjamin (Norwalk, CT) and Spookie by a half point. Morgan Larson served as tactician aboard Quantum Racing, a multi-time winner of the 52 Super Series.

“It’s always wonderful to win Key West. What a great regatta and what fabulous sailing. I thought the team was just magnificent. I’m just really proud of everybody,” DeVos said. “What the whole team does to prepare the boat is outstanding. It’s always dialed in perfectly for the conditions. And what they do to get it around the course is spectacular. To drive this boat is a dream because you don’t have to worry about anything but driving because you know everything else is covered.”

DeVos also had high praise for Benjamin, who was just named 2015 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. Spookie also had four bullets and three seconds with the difference in the regatta coming down to a fourth place finish in Race 3 for Benjamin’s team.

“Steve and the entire Spookie team are terrific, just outstanding sailors. It was neck-and-neck the whole way. They sailed incredibly well and really pushed us hard. Fortunately, we were able to eke out a few seconds here and there on the race course,” said DeVos, who was presented with a special award for his contributions to the sport of sailing at tonight’s final prize giving ceremony.

Bella Mente, which clinched victory in the Maxi 72 class on Thursday, was selected as Quantum Boat of the Week. Skipper Hap Fauth steered his big blue boat to first place in six of nine races in a class that was extremely close this year. Two of the most dominant race week champions were on Division 1 with Christopher Dragon capturing IRC 2 by 13 points and Skeleton Key securing J/111 class by 14 ½ points. Christopher Dragon, owned by Andrew and Linda Weiss of Mamaroneck, NY, this Sydney 43 finished second in Race 1 then proceeded to reel off eight straight wins. Legendary sailmaker Butch Ulmer served as tactician and Larry Fox as navigator for Weiss, who has known both men since he was 14 years old and crewing on his father’s boat.

“We worked really hard this year to get the boat going fast. We’ve worked hard on our sail program and have improved our upwind speed,” Weiss said. “I’ve had pretty much the same crew for the last couple years and we work well together. We’re just sailing really well and I give all the credit to the crew.”

Quantum Key West Race Week 2016

Joe Mele's (New York, NY) Swan 44 Triple Lindy,2nd in the Performance Cruising class, a new feature in this year's event ©Max Ranchi, Quantum Key West

Christopher Dragon led at every mark rounding from Race 2 through 9. Weiss said the Sydney 43 performs very well in heavy air, which prevailed all week in Key West.

Skipper Peter Wagner and the Skeleton Key crew made a successful debut at Quantum Key West, winning J/111 in dominant fashion. Skeleton Key, which does most of its racing on San Francisco Bay, also reveled in the big breeze while notching seven bullets and a pair of seconds.

“I really enjoyed my first Key West. We had great conditions and it was a really well-run event. The race committee did a fantastic job,” said Wagner, who hails from Atherton, CA. “We’re just really fortunate that we managed to sail consistently and we had a lot of fun doing it. We got off the line well and Seadon did a great job of managing things tactically on the course. We had really solid boat speed throughout.”

Defiant, a New York 40 owned by John Streicker of New York City, won all three-distance races in the Performance Cruising class, a new feature at this year’s event. The entries in both this class and the multihulls started and finished near the harbor, with courses set around government buoys south of the island.

And the winner of the Multihull class, like the performance cruisers, also won in straight bullets: Tom Reese’s Corsair 28R Flight Simulator from Youngstown, NY bested the much larger (and luxurious) Gunboat 60 Arethusa, owned by Phil Lotz.

Report by Event Media

For full results, click here

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Thursday, January 21, 2016 - The Final Day approaches at Quantum Key West Race Week

It’s coming down to the wire at Quantum Key West 2016 with several classes to be determined on the final day of racing, Industry Partner Day. Organizers with the Storm Trysail Club held three more races on all three courses today in solid 10-14 knot winds that started out of the northeast and slowly clocked around to the east, all per prediction.

The 10 classes on Divisions 1, 2 and 3 have now completed nine races. Division 1 principal race officer Ken Legler and Division 3 PRO Wayne Bretsch intend to hold one start on Friday to finish a 10-race series. Division 2 PRO Dave Brennan has the option of running two races for the J/70, Melges 24 and C&C 30 classes. We will know tomorrow their decision based on the weather forecast of good conditions in the morning, but then dying later into the day.

Quantum Key West Race Week 2016

On Thursday night, Skipper Steve Benjamin (Norwalk, CT) and his crew on Spookie are just a half point out of 1st in class. © Photo-boat.com 

No class is closer than IRC 1 where the TP52 entries Spookie and Quantum Racing are separated by just a half point. Skipper Doug DeVos (Ada, MI) steered Quantum to victory in all three races today and now has the low score of 16.5 points. Skipper Steve Benjamin (Norwalk, CT) and his crew on Spookie placed second in all three starts today and has 17 points.

The two designs are similar in being from Botin Partners and built to race in the TP52 class, but small differences mean they have slightly differences in IRC rating. Quantum Racing owes Spookie about a minute over an hour-long race so match racing the rival is not an option. “We just have to get a good start and try to get away from them enough so that we can save our time,” Quantum tactician Morgan Larson said. “It’s tough because they kind of follow us around the course without making too many maneuvers.”

Benjamin, who held the lead after winning all three races yesterday, said some poor decisions on sails deprived Spookie from having better results. “It will be important that we make the right sail choices tomorrow,” he said.

Quantum Racing is a multi-time winner of the 52Super Series while Benjamin is a relative newcomer to the class, having just purchased the boat last summer.

“I don’t think we can finish worse than second so we’re real happy with that. We feel like we’ve made a lot of progress with the boat,” Benjamin said. “We’re going up against the best team in the world and holding our own. It’s an honor to be able to hang right with them.”

The Melges 24 is another incredibly close class with skipper John Brown leading Blind Squirrel to a one-point lead over skipper Richard Thompson aboard Black Seal. Kevin Jewett is calling tactics on Blind Squirrel, which has won three races and placed second in four others in totaling 14 points.

“We just have to go out tomorrow and sail the way we have been,” said Brown, from Philadelphia, PA. “We’ve gotten good starts in just about all the races and our crew work has been superb. I’ve got a bunch of good sailors on the boat and Kevin has done a fantastic job with tactics.”

Black Seal, which earned the Mount Gay Rum Boat of the Day honors yesterday, has posted five bullets in the series. Thompson, who lives in London, was not happy that Blind Squirrel was match racing Black Seal in today’s final race. Blind Squirrel finished seventh out of 12 entries, while Black Seal was eighth. Both boats threw out that result, but it could be more of the same one-on-one tactical combat on Friday.

Quantum Key West Race Week 2016

Andrew Fisher's (Rye, NY) J/70 Button Fly  © Photo-boat.com 

Helly Hansen skipper Tim Healy is hoping for two races on Friday since he stands second in J/70 class, 10 points behind Calvi Network. That is not insurmountable in a 54-boat fleet, although skipper Carlo Alberini and his crew on Calvi Network have not finished worse than sixth so far.

“Those guys are going really well so they would have to make a mistake,” Healy said. “In a fleet this size, anything can happen. We were over early in the last race last year so you never know.”

Healy and his Helly Hansen team found another gear today, winning two of three races with a runner-up result in the other. “We changed some things with our tuning and rig to account for the short chop and it really helped. The boat felt really good today and we were going well as far as boat speed,” he said.

It’s a similar scenario in the C&C 30 class as skipper Dan Cheresh and his Extreme2 team probably need two races to make up four points on Themis. Skipper Walt Thirion and the Themis team posted a strong score line of 2-1-2 to take the lead away from Extreme2.

“We have to get off the start line, catch that first wind shift then try to stay out front. We just have to sail our own race and see what happens,” Cheresh said. “We won the first race today and thought we had good wheels, but we had got caught on the wrong side of some shifts in the other two races. This is a tough class, and if you get behind it’s hard to fight back.”

Teamwork and Orion, a pair of J/122’s, have been battling all week and are just three points apart going into the 10th and final race. Skipper Robin Team (Lexington, NC) has steered Teamwork to victory in six races, placing second in the other three. Skipper Paul Milo (Leesburg, VA) and Orion won the three races Teamwork did not and finished second in all the others.

“It’s been a dogfight just like we expected. Every tack, every gybe, every mark rounding – we are within feet of Orion,” said Team, a multi-time class winner in Key West. “We’ve gotten to know the guys on Orion and they’re an awesome group to sail against.”

Team credited his foredeck crew comprised of son Coleman and Matt Welborn for the two wins on Thursday. “We’re making our gains on the downwind legs. We just seem to be able to carry the kite deeper into the leeward mark,” he said.

Milo admitted it would be tough to make up three points in one race, although Teamwork could have some sort of breakdown. “That’s an incredibly well-sailed boat and the fact we’re chasing them around the course, and sometimes the other way around, is very encouraging. We’ve had a lot of fun competing against Teamwork this week,” he said.

Quantum Key West Race Week 2016 

Sedgwick Ward's (Rye, NY) J/111 Bravo © Photo-boat.com 

Skipper Mike Bruno (Armonk, NY) and his crew on Wings hold a four-point lead over skipper Iris Vogel and the Deviation team in J/88 class, so it will come down to tomorrow’s result to determine a winner. Meanwhile, Wired increased its lead in ORC 2 class with skipper Henry DeGroot steering the J/80 to a 3-2-1 score line. Wired now has 15 points, six better than the GP 26 Rattle N Rum (Mike Beasley, Annapolis, MD), so its not over yet in that class either.

In contrast, Skipper Hap Fauth and the Bella Mente team has already clinched victory in Maxi 72 class with three bullets earned today. Bella Mente is six points clear of second place Caol Ila R (Alex Schaerer, Malta) in the four-boat class.

“We had a really good day. Our strategy has been the same all week – get good starts, get out front and let Bella do the rest. She’s going really well,” said Fauth, who hails from Minneapolis, MN. “It’s been a fabulous week and we are very thrilled to win such a competitive class. We’re the oldest boat in the fleet and the other three made a lot of improvements since the World Championship. It’s nice to know that our boat is still comparable in terms of speed.”

It was the second straight Quantum Key West class victory for Bella Mente, which went on to win the class World Championship last year. The also won today’s Industry Partner Boat of the Day Trophy.

“Winning Key West in 2016 is way more satisfying than winning in 2015 because of the closeness of the fleet. The scorecard doesn’t reflect how close the racing was here this week,” said Bella Mente tactician Terry Hutchinson (Harwood, MD). This was a really good test for the program and this result is a great benchmark for the boat and team.”

Skipper Andrew Weiss and the crew of Christopher Dragon (Sydney 43, Mamaroneck, NY) have built a comfortable 13-point lead over the Mills 43 Cool Breeze (John Cooper, Cane Hill, MO) in IRC 2 class. It’s a similar story in J/111 class where skipper Peter Wagner (Atherton, CA) has sailed Skeleton Key to an insurmountable 14 ½ point lead over Spaceman Spiff (Rob Ruhlman, Cleveland, OH).

Today brought champagne sailing conditions for the four boats in the Performance Cruising class, which is doing one distance race per day around government marks. Skipper Joseph Mele has steered his Swan 44 Triple Lindy to line honors in two straight races, but skipper John Streicker and the Defiant team have won all three races this week on corrected time. Principal race officer Bruce Bingman has created courses in the range of 20 miles with the fleet taking just over 2 ½ hours to finish.

Quantum Key West Race Week 2016

John Streicker (New York, NY) and his NY 40 Defiant team have won all three races this week in the Performance Cruising Class. Photo courtesy Sara Proctor, sailfastphotography.com

“You only need one other good boat to race against and we have that in Defiant. It’s been very competitive racing, very enjoyable sailing and we’re having a wonderful time,” said Mele, who like Streicker resides in New York City.

Report by Event Media.

For full results, click here.

You can watch Thursday's Regatta Show at T2P.TV

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 – Perfect Winds, Perfect Day at Quantum Key West 2016

Key West, FL, USA -- Unlike yesterday in the howling wind, today started well in Day Three of Quantum Key West. During his morning weather briefing, Ed Baird alerted the assembled sailors about the importance of Wednesday’s racing.

“More than likely, there’s going to be three races today. That means the regatta is going to be more than halfway complete by the time you come off the water,” Baird said. “Like I tell my kids with their junior regattas, this is moving day. This is when all the action happens. Some boats are going to fall off the cliff while others are going to climb up the standings.”

Quantum Key West Race Week 2016

Iris Vogel (New Rochelle, NY) and friends on Deviation are just a few points out of first in the J88 class. © Photo-boat.com 

Baird’s words proved prophetic and many teams did indeed make a major move on Mount Gay Rum Day as multiple races were contested in perfect 15-18 knot northeasterly winds that held steady enough to provide the closest race action of the week.

On Division 1, it was Bella Mente in the Maxi 72’s and the TP52 Spookie in IRC 1 that had an outstanding day on the water to take the lead in their respective classes. On Division 2, Extreme2 posted a string of superb results to take charge of the new and competitive C&C 30 class. On Division 3, the J/80 Wired showed it will be a factor in ORC 2. And on Division 4, the New York 40 Defiant won its second straight distance race to seize control of the Performance Cruising class.

“Today was important for a lot of people, and it was a perfect day of racing. When you’ve completed six of 10 races, you want to be in position to win the week,” said Dan Cheresh, skipper of Extreme2. “We knew it was key to do well today and we’re happy with our results.”

Meanwhile, several boats that came out of the gate strong on Monday did well again on Wednesday to increase their advantage. Christopher Dragon (IRC 2), Skeleton Key (J/111) and Blind Squirrel (Melges 24) have all taken commanding leads.

Skipper Hap Fauth and his 20-man team on Bella Mente posted a score line of 1-1-2 on Wednesday to move past Day 1 leader Caol Ila R (Alex Schaerer, Malta) in Maxi 72 class. “We started the boat well and sailed consistently the entire day. We were well prepared for the conditions, had all the right sails. It was pretty much a mistake-free day,” said Fauth, who hails from Minneapolis, MN.

Two-time Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Terry Hutchinson (Harwood, MD) and America’s Cup veteran Adrian Stead of Great Britain are serving as tactician and strategist, respectively, on Bella Mente.

“Tactically, Terry is on top of his game and working very well with Ado,” Fauth said. “Our goal today was to start well and stay clean. We didn’t want to get tangled up with the other boats like we did on Monday.”

Skipper Steve Benjamin steered Spookie to victory in Race 4 and 5 then took second in the third race of the day to overtake Quantum Racing (Doug DeVos, Ada, MI) in IRC 1. St Thomas native and former America’s Cup champion Peter Holmberg is calling tactics for Benjamin.

“We made a bunch of changes based off Monday and I would say the changes we made were all for the positive,” said Benjamin, crowned just last week as the 2015 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year.  

Benjamin (Norwalk, CT) said the crew debrief on Monday focused on improving communication. Crew members also made a few adjustments to the rig tune, giving Benjamin more helm.

“We had much better communication between helmsman and tactician, between tactician and trimmer and so on,” Benjamin said. “We’re still learning how the boat feels and how it should feel. We learned a lot on Monday that we applied today.” 

Cheresh (Holland, MI) steered Extreme2 to victory in Race 4 then tacked on a pair of seconds to ease into the lead in C&C 30 class, which has proven quite competitive with four different boats winning races so far.

“We had some trouble with crew mechanics on Monday. We talked about some things and our crew work was much better today,” said Cheresh, who has Morgan Reeser aboard as tactician. “We were fairly conservative on the starting line and just took what we could. We saw a lot of wind shifts and did a good job of staying in phase.”

Wired, a J/80 owned by Henry DeGroot of Newton, MA, is the slowest-rated boat in an ORC 2 class comprised primarily of sport boats (three Farr 280s, three GP 26s). However, DeGroot and his team have sailed quite well so far in winning three races and placing second in three others.

“I’ll admit it’s very helpful to have a favorable rating, but we are trying to sail the boat as well as it can possibly sailed and I think we are doing that,” said DeGroot, who holds a seven point lead over the GP 26 Rattle N Rum (Mike Beasley, Annapolis, MD). “Our best finishes have been due to good starts. After the first couple legs, the other boats get away from us and it basically becomes a race against the clock. This is my third straight Key West with this team and we work very well together. We pretty much had an error-free day.”

Christopher Dragon, the Sydney 43 owned by Andrew and Linda Weiss of Mamaroneck, NY, has put forth a very impressive performance in IRC 2 – winning five of six races and placing second in the other. Legendary sailmaker Butch Ulmer is calling tactics for Andrew Weiss, who has Byren LaMotte as strategist.

“We worked the chinks out a bit on Monday and the team is starting to pull together. Our sets and takedowns were a lot cleaner today,” said Ed Bahen, captain of Christopher Dragon. “Butch is putting us in the right places and we’re executing our maneuvers.” Christopher Dragon has a low score of seven points, six ahead of the J/125 Double Trouble (Peter Krueger, Reno, NV). Bahen said third place Cool Breeze, the Mills 43 owned by John Cooper (Cane Hill, MO) is also sailing well. Those three boats have raced in close quarters for much of the regatta, Bahen said.

Skipper Peter Wagner and the Skeleton Key team have really stretched out the lead in J/111 class. Two bullets on Wednesday gave the San Francisco Bay area boat a total of five for the regatta and a comfortable 11-point lead over Spaceman Spiff.

“The Skeleton Key guys start well and are very consistent. They’re also darn fast,” said Rob Ruhlman (Cleveland, OH), skipper of Spaceman Spiff. “If we’re going to do something we need to do it tomorrow.”

In an attempt to get the best bang for the buck value in races, Division 2 principal race officer Dave Brennan actually completed four races today, which was enough to trigger a discard in the scorelines for the Melges 24 and J/70 classes.

Italian skipper Carlo Alberini’s Calvi Network posted a scores of 2-3-1-3 on to maintain the lead in the J/70’s, the largest fleet in the regatta with 54 boats. Branko Brcin is calling tactics for the defending regatta champion, which now has a low score of eight points and leads the reigning J/70 world champ Flojito Y Cooperando (Julian Fernandez Neckelmann, Mexico City) by three points. Relative Obscurity (Peter Duncan, Rye, NY) and Helly Hansen (Tim Healy, Newport, RI) are still in the mix with 14 and 19 points, respectively.

“There are a lot of very good boats and very talented sailors in this field. We prefer strong wind so we are enjoying the racing here this year,” Alberini said. “The game is far from finished. Tomorrow is a new day and we must keep our focus.”

Factoring in the discard in points put British skipper Richard Thompson and the Black Seal team into first place of the 12-boat Melges 24 class. Jamie Lea and Nigel Young are tactician and strategist, respectively, who has won four races and leads Blind Squirrel (John Brown, Philadelphia, PA) by a point. Their impressive 1-1-1-3 scores for the day was enough to earn them the Mt Gay Rum Boat of the Day prize.

"I really must give credit to my tactician, Jamie Lea, for this prize. He made a lot of great calls today," Thompson said. "Our crew work as a whole was fantastic. Blind Squirrel sailed very well today, but we were just a little better."

Lying in fifth place in the Melges class is Thomas Ritter’s Tramp from Bloomfield Hills, MI, who also had a day good enough to earn them the Corinthian Boat of the Day winner.

Quantum Key West Race Week 2016
Michael ORourke's (Fairfield, CT) Flying Tiger Lite-N-Up © Photo-boat.com 

No class is closer in points than ORC 1, where J/122 sister ships Orion (Paul Milo, Leesburg, VA) and Teamwork (Robin Team, Lexington, NC) are tied with 17 points. Four boats are still very much in contention with third place SkyFall (Peter Sulick, Naples, FL) and fourth place Bluto (Ben Hall, Tiverton, RI) totaling 18 and 19 points.

Skipper Mike Bruno (Armonk, NY) and the crew of Wings stayed on top of the J/88 class by closing with consecutive second place finishes on Wednesday. Rob Fear is tactician on Wings, which leads Deviation by three points.

“It has been really close sailing. Wings sails very consistently and very fast, which keeps us on our toes,” said Deviation skipper Iris Vogel (New Rochelle, NY), who sandwiched a pair of bullets around a seventh on Wednesday. “We had one bad race today and we cannot afford to do that. We need to be more consistent.”

The Performance Cruising class is a new addition to Quantum Key West 2016 and principal race officer Bruce Bingman has the four entries doing distance races around government marks. Defiant, a New York 40 owned by John Streicker of New York, has won both races.

“It’s a matter of teamwork. We have 10 people on the boat that have all sailed together before and we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Streicker said.

Triple Lindy, a Swan 44 owned by Dr. Joseph Mele of New York, captured line honors on Wednesday with Defiant not far behind and easily saving its time on ORC handicap.

“We sailed pretty close to our course the whole way,” Streicker said. “The only deviations were to go around crab pots. It’s like a mine field out there at times.”   Racing resumes tomorrow at 11:30 AM, with another three races expected in another day of similar breeze.

For full results, click here.

You can watch Wednesday's Regatta Show at T2P.TV

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 - Too much of a good thing…no racing today

Yesterday organizers with the Storm Trysail Club knew wind conditions would be on the edge off for today, which is why race committee chairman Dick Neville asked principal race officers on all three divisions to complete three races yesterday at Quantum Key West 2016.

Sure enough, when today dawned over the Conch Republic it was howling, and it was cold. Locals and tourists alike donned their hats and coats, while Neville met with principal race officers Ken Legler (Division 1), Dave Brennan (Division 2) and Wayne Bretsch (Division 3) to develop a plan.

“The forecast was not promising, so we postponed a decision for one hour, sent some boats out to the race area to determine the exact conditions, and the wind speed was higher than the forecast and building,” Neville said. Northeasterly winds were blowing a steady above 25 knots and routinely gusting to more than 30 knots – producing what Neville politely described as a “nasty sea state.”

“We have a lot of smaller boats in this regatta so we decided not to send them out. We debated about Division 1, but believed it would be tough for them as well,” Neville said. “At the end of the day, we were concerned about gear breakage across the board. It would have been tough on the race committee as well. We also polled some sailor’s opinion, and the consensus was that it would be best not to send the boats out today.”

Neville and other race officials considered waiting it out to see if the wind dissipated and possibly conducting one race in the afternoon, but ultimately decided not to hold the entire fleet hostage.   

“We’ve heard from sailors over the years from running regattas that the rolling 30-minute postponement is pretty frustrating. Because if you end up abandoning, you haven’t been able to do anything constructive,” Neville said. “So we thought we would make the call early today and allow the sailors to enjoy a day off.”

Neville noted the decision to cancel racing for the day was based, in part, on what happened Monday when the 130 boats in 12 classes raced in winds that topped out at 20 knots.

“There were several incidents yesterday on the small boat circles that were borderline dangerous. There were several collisions, multiple gear breakages and man overboard situations – and that was in 20 knots. Sailing in 30 knots is a huge difference,” Neville said.

Down on the docks in front of The Galleon, Rhumb Punch skipper John Edwards breathed a big sigh of relief. Edwards, from the Solomons Island area of Maryland, is chartering a GP 26 sport-boat and is still learning how to handle it.     

“I haven’t had a heart rate of less than 150 since I got out of bed this morning and saw the mailbox had blown down. So that was the best news I’ve gotten all day,” Edwards said. “Yesterday was our upper limit. Going out there in 25 or 30 today would not have been much fun. It would have been more survival than sport. I think the race committee did the right thing.”

Division 1 is comprised primarily of fully professional crews, especially aboard the Maxi 72-footers and the other big boats in IRC 1. Those teams are accustomed to racing in heavy air and are trained to do so, but did not seem distressed about missing one race on Tuesday. Terry Hutchinson (Harwood, MD), tactician aboard the Maxi 72 Bella Mente, voiced that opinion.

“I think it’s the right decision. The race committee is catering to a wide crowd here. They did a great job of getting three races in yesterday and were only going to do one today. With the forecast there’s no reason why we can’t get back on track by the end of tomorrow,” Hutchinson said. “Believe me, even on our boat there’s plenty going on when you’re racing in 25-30 knots of breeze. It can get pretty hairy.”

Hutchinson and skipper Hap Fauth (Minneapolis, MN) decided to spend the day ashore and relax. In contrast, skipper Doug DeVos (Ada, MI) and the Quantum Racing crew elected to take their TP52 out for a practice session on Tuesday morning to help work out any kinks in the breezy conditions.”

“For us there was no reason to do that because we were here training early last week so we have the boat sorted out. There’s an element of managing the asset,” Hutchinson said.

Iris Vogel, skipper of the J/88 Deviation, discussed the dilemma facing both the race committee and each individual skipper when deciding whether or not to race in heavy air and high seas.

“If they had told us to race, we could have gone out there and tried not to break anything,” said Vogel, who hails from New Rochelle, New York. “If you go out there and don’t suffer damage then it was a good decision. If you go out and break the boat and your regatta is over, then it was a bad decision.”

Vogel, who was hosing off her boat at The Galleon docks, said she would spend the day strolling Duval Street and doing some shopping.

Forecasts are favorable for the remainder of the week and Neville believes the PROs on all three divisions will succeed in completing a 10-race series. “Based on the forecast for the next three days, we think we can get most of the scheduled racing completed,” he said.

That’s all that really matters to Steve Benjamin (Norwalk, CT), skipper of the TP52 Spookie. “I think as long as we get in 10 races all the sailors will be happy,” he said.

You can watch Tuesday's Regatta Show T2P.TV

Monday, January 18, 2016: Key West: Off to perfect start

Quantum Key West Race Week 2016Key West, FL (January 18, 2016) – Quantum Key West Race Week 2016 got off to a rousing start on the City of Key West Day with strong winds welcoming the 133 boats in 12 classes and organizers getting in three races on all three divisions.

Mike Bruno (Armonk NY) and Wings team lead the J88 class Monday night. © Photo-boat.com  

It’s coming down to the wire at Quantum Key West 2016 with several classes to be determined on the final day of racing, Industry Partner Day. Organizers with the Storm Trysail Club held three more races on all three courses today in solid 10-14 knot winds that started out of the northeast and slowly clocked around to the east, all per prediction.

 

The 10 classes on Divisions 1, 2 and 3 have now completed nine races. Division 1 principal race officer Ken Legler and Division 3 PRO Wayne Bretsch intend to hold one start on Friday to finish a 10-race series. Division 2 PRO Dave Brennan has the option of running two races for the J/70, Melges 24 and C&C 30 classes. We will know tomorrow their decision based on the weather forecast of good conditions in the morning, but then dying later into the day.

 

No class is closer than IRC 1 where the TP52 entries Spookie and Quantum Racing are separated by just a half point. Skipper Doug DeVos (Ada, MI) steered Quantum to victory in all three races today and now has the low score of 16.5 points. Skipper Steve Benjamin (Norwalk, CT) and his crew on Spookie placed second in all three starts today and has 17 points.

The two designs are similar in being from Botin Partners and built to race in the TP52 class, but small differences men they have slightly differences in IRC rating. Quantum Racing owes Spookie about a minute over an hour-long race so match racing the rival is not an option. “We just have to get a good start and try to get away from them enough so that we can save our time,” Quantum tactician Morgan Larson said. “It’s tough because they kind of follow us around the course without making too many maneuvers.”

Benjamin, who held the lead after winning all three races yesterday, said some poor decisions on sails deprived Spookie from having better results. “It will be important that we make the right sail choices tomorrow,” he said.

Quantum Racing is a multi-time winner of the 52Super Series while Benjamin is a relative newcomer to the class, having just purchased the boat last summer.

“I don’t think we can finish worse than second so we’re real happy with that. We feel like we’ve made a lot of progress with the boat,” Benjamin said. “We’re going up against the best team in the world and holding our own. It’s an honor to be able to hang right with them.”

The Melges 24 is another incredibly close class with skipper John Brown leading Blind Squirrel to a one-point lead over skipper Richard Thompson aboard Black Seal. Kevin Jewett is calling tactics on Blind Squirrel, which has won three races and placed second in four others in totaling 14 points.

“We just have to go out tomorrow and sail the way we have been,” said Brown, from Philadelphia, PA. “We’ve gotten good starts in just about all the races and our crew work has been superb. I’ve got a bunch of good sailors on the boat and Kevin has done a fantastic job with tactics.”

Black Seal, which earned the Mount Gay Rum Boat of the Day honors yesterday, has posted five bullets in the series. Thompson, who lives in London, was not happy that Blind Squirrel was match racing Black Seal in today’s final race. Blind Squirrel finished seventh out of 12 entries, while Black Seal was eighth. Both boats threw out that result, but it could be more of the same one-on-one tactical combat on Friday.

Helly Hansen skipper Tim Healy is hoping for two races on Friday since he stands second in J/70 class, 10 points behind Calvi Network. That is not insurmountable in a 54-boat fleet, although skipper Carlo Alberini and his crew on Calvi Network have not finished worse than sixth so far.

“Those guys are going really well so they would have to make a mistake,” Healy said. “In a fleet this size, anything can happen. We were over early in the last race last year so you never know.”

Healy and his Helly Hansen team found another gear today, winning two of three races with a runner-up result in the other. “We changed some things with our tuning and rig to account for the short chop and it really helped. The boat felt really good today and we were going well as far as boat speed,” he said.

It’s a similar scenario in the C&C 30 class as skipper Dan Cheresh and his Extreme2 team probably need two races to make up four points on Themis. Skipper Walt Thirion and the Themis team posted a strong score line of 2-1-2 to take the lead away from Extreme2.

“We have to get off the start line, catch that first wind shift then try to stay out front. We just have to sail our own race and see what happens,” Cheresh said. “We won the first race today and thought we had good wheels, but we had got caught on the wrong side of some shifts in the other two races. This is a tough class, and if you get behind it’s hard to fight back.”

Teamwork and Orion, a pair of J/122’s, have been battling all week and are just three points apart going into the 10th and final race. Skipper Robin Team (Lexington, NC) has steered Teamwork to victory in six races, placing second in the other three. Skipper Paul Milo (Leesburg, VA) and Orion won the three races Teamwork did not and finished second in all the others.

“It’s been a dogfight just like we expected. Every tack, every gybe, every mark rounding – we are within feet of Orion,” said Team, a multi-time class winner in Key West. “We’ve gotten to know the guys on Orion and they’re an awesome group to sail against.”

Team credited his foredeck crew comprised of son Coleman and Matt Welborn for the two wins on Thursday. “We’re making our gains on the downwind legs. We just seem to be able to carry the kite deeper into the leeward mark,” he said.

Milo admitted it would be tough to make up three points in one race, although Teamwork could have some sort of breakdown. “That’s an incredibly well-sailed boat and the fact we’re chasing them around the course, and sometimes the other way around, is very encouraging. We’ve had a lot of fun competing against Teamwork this week,” he said.

Skipper Mike Bruno (Armonk, NY) and his crew on Wings hold a four-point lead over skipper Iris Vogel and the Deviation team in J/88 class, so it will come down to tomorrow’s result to determine a winner. Meanwhile, Wired increased its lead in ORC 2 class with skipper Henry DeGroot steering the J/80 to a 3-2-1 score line. Wired now has 15 points, six better than the GP 26 Rattle N Rum (Mike Beasley, Annapolis, MD), so its not over yet in that class either.

In contrast, Skipper Hap Fauth and the Bella Mente team has already clinched victory in Maxi 72 class with three bullets earned today. Bella Mente is six points clear of second place Caol Ila R (Alex Schaerer, Malta) in the four-boat class.

“We had a really good day. Our strategy has been the same all week – get good starts, get out front and let Bella do the rest. She’s going really well,” said Fauth, who hails from Minneapolis, MN. “It’s been a fabulous week and we are very thrilled to win such a competitive class. We’re the oldest boat in the fleet and the other three made a lot of improvements since the World Championship. It’s nice to know that our boat is still comparable in terms of speed.”

It was the second straight Quantum Key West class victory for Bella Mente, which went on to win the class World Championship last year. The also won today’s Industry Partner Boat of the Day Trophy.

“Winning Key West in 2016 is way more satisfying than winning in 2015 because of the closeness of the fleet. The scorecard doesn’t reflect how close the racing was here this week,” said Bella Mente tactician Terry Hutchinson (Harwood, MD). This was a really good test for the program and this result is a great benchmark for the boat and team.”

Skipper Andrew Weiss and the crew of Christopher Dragon (Sydney 43, Mamaroneck, NY) have built a comfortable 13-point lead over the Mills 43 Cool Breeze (John Cooper, Cane Hill, MO) in IRC 2 class. It’s a similar story in J/111 class where skipper Peter Wagner (Atherton, CA) has sailed Skeleton Key to an insurmountable 14 ½ point lead over Spaceman Spiff (Rob Ruhlman, Cleveland, OH).

Today brought champagne sailing conditions for the four boats in the Performance Cruising class, which is doing one distance race per day around government marks. Skipper Joseph Mele has steered his Swan 44 Triple Lindy to line honors in two straight races, but skipper John Streicker and the Defiant team have won all three races this week on corrected time. Principal race officer Bruce Bingman has created courses in the range of 20 miles with the fleet taking just over 2 ½ hours to finish.

“You only need one other good boat to race against and we have that in Defiant. It’s been very competitive racing, very enjoyable sailing and we’re having a wonderful time,” said Mele, who like Streicker resides in New York City.

It’s coming down to the wire at Quantum Key West 2016 with several classes to be determined on the final day of racing, Industry Partner Day. Organizers with the Storm Trysail Club held three more races on all three courses today in solid 10-14 knot winds that started out of the northeast and slowly clocked around to the east, all per prediction.

The 10 classes on Divisions 1, 2 and 3 have now completed nine races. Division 1 principal race officer Ken Legler and Division 3 PRO Wayne Bretsch intend to hold one start on Friday to finish a 10-race series. Division 2 PRO Dave Brennan has the option of running two races for the J/70, Melges 24 and C&C 30 classes. We will know tomorrow their decision based on the weather forecast of good conditions in the morning, but then dying later into the day.

No class is closer than IRC 1 where the TP52 entries Spookie and Quantum Racing are separated by just a half point. Skipper Doug DeVos (Ada, MI) steered Quantum to victory in all three races today and now has the low score of 16.5 points. Skipper Steve Benjamin (Norwalk, CT) and his crew on Spookie placed second in all three starts today and has 17 points.

The two designs are similar in being from Botin Partners and built to race in the TP52 class, but small differences men they have slightly differences in IRC rating. Quantum Racing owes Spookie about a minute over an hour-long race so match racing the rival is not an option. “We just have to get a good start and try to get away from them enough so that we can save our time,” Quantum tactician Morgan Larson said. “It’s tough because they kind of follow us around the course without making too many maneuvers.”

Benjamin, who held the lead after winning all three races yesterday, said some poor decisions on sails deprived Spookie from having better results. “It will be important that we make the right sail choices tomorrow,” he said.

Quantum Racing is a multi-time winner of the 52Super Series while Benjamin is a relative newcomer to the class, having just purchased the boat last summer.

“I don’t think we can finish worse than second so we’re real happy with that. We feel like we’ve made a lot of progress with the boat,” Benjamin said. “We’re going up against the best team in the world and holding our own. It’s an honor to be able to hang right with them.”

The Melges 24 is another incredibly close class with skipper John Brown leading Blind Squirrel to a one-point lead over skipper Richard Thompson aboard Black Seal. Kevin Jewett is calling tactics on Blind Squirrel, which has won three races and placed second in four others in totaling 14 points.

“We just have to go out tomorrow and sail the way we have been,” said Brown, from Philadelphia, PA. “We’ve gotten good starts in just about all the races and our crew work has been superb. I’ve got a bunch of good sailors on the boat and Kevin has done a fantastic job with tactics.”

Black Seal, which earned the Mount Gay Rum Boat of the Day honors yesterday, has posted five bullets in the series. Thompson, who lives in London, was not happy that Blind Squirrel was match racing Black Seal in today’s final race. Blind Squirrel finished seventh out of 12 entries, while Black Seal was eighth. Both boats threw out that result, but it could be more of the same one-on-one tactical combat on Friday.

Helly Hansen skipper Tim Healy is hoping for two races on Friday since he stands second in J/70 class, 10 points behind Calvi Network. That is not insurmountable in a 54-boat fleet, although skipper Carlo Alberini and his crew on Calvi Network have not finished worse than sixth so far.

“Those guys are going really well so they would have to make a mistake,” Healy said. “In a fleet this size, anything can happen. We were over early in the last race last year so you never know.”

Healy and his Helly Hansen team found another gear today, winning two of three races with a runner-up result in the other. “We changed some things with our tuning and rig to account for the short chop and it really helped. The boat felt really good today and we were going well as far as boat speed,” he said.

It’s a similar scenario in the C&C 30 class as skipper Dan Cheresh and his Extreme2 team probably need two races to make up four points on Themis. Skipper Walt Thirion and the Themis team posted a strong score line of 2-1-2 to take the lead away from Extreme2.

“We have to get off the start line, catch that first wind shift then try to stay out front. We just have to sail our own race and see what happens,” Cheresh said. “We won the first race today and thought we had good wheels, but we had got caught on the wrong side of some shifts in the other two races. This is a tough class, and if you get behind it’s hard to fight back.”

Teamwork and Orion, a pair of J/122’s, have been battling all week and are just three points apart going into the 10th and final race. Skipper Robin Team (Lexington, NC) has steered Teamwork to victory in six races, placing second in the other three. Skipper Paul Milo (Leesburg, VA) and Orion won the three races Teamwork did not and finished second in all the others.

“It’s been a dogfight just like we expected. Every tack, every gybe, every mark rounding – we are within feet of Orion,” said Team, a multi-time class winner in Key West. “We’ve gotten to know the guys on Orion and they’re an awesome group to sail against.”

Team credited his foredeck crew comprised of son Coleman and Matt Welborn for the two wins on Thursday. “We’re making our gains on the downwind legs. We just seem to be able to carry the kite deeper into the leeward mark,” he said.

Milo admitted it would be tough to make up three points in one race, although Teamwork could have some sort of breakdown. “That’s an incredibly well-sailed boat and the fact we’re chasing them around the course, and sometimes the other way around, is very encouraging. We’ve had a lot of fun competing against Teamwork this week,” he said.

Skipper Mike Bruno (Armonk, NY) and his crew on Wings hold a four-point lead over skipper Iris Vogel and the Deviation team in J/88 class, so it will come down to tomorrow’s result to determine a winner. Meanwhile, Wired increased its lead in ORC 2 class with skipper Henry DeGroot steering the J/80 to a 3-2-1 score line. Wired now has 15 points, six better than the GP 26 Rattle N Rum (Mike Beasley, Annapolis, MD), so its not over yet in that class either.

In contrast, Skipper Hap Fauth and the Bella Mente team has already clinched victory in Maxi 72 class with three bullets earned today. Bella Mente is six points clear of second place Caol Ila R (Alex Schaerer, Malta) in the four-boat class.

“We had a really good day. Our strategy has been the same all week – get good starts, get out front and let Bella do the rest. She’s going really well,” said Fauth, who hails from Minneapolis, MN. “It’s been a fabulous week and we are very thrilled to win such a competitive class. We’re the oldest boat in the fleet and the other three made a lot of improvements since the World Championship. It’s nice to know that our boat is still comparable in terms of speed.”

It was the second straight Quantum Key West class victory for Bella Mente, which went on to win the class World Championship last year. The also won today’s Industry Partner Boat of the Day Trophy.

“Winning Key West in 2016 is way more satisfying than winning in 2015 because of the closeness of the fleet. The scorecard doesn’t reflect how close the racing was here this week,” said Bella Mente tactician Terry Hutchinson (Harwood, MD). This was a really good test for the program and this result is a great benchmark for the boat and team.”

Skipper Andrew Weiss and the crew of Christopher Dragon (Sydney 43, Mamaroneck, NY) have built a comfortable 13-point lead over the Mills 43 Cool Breeze (John Cooper, Cane Hill, MO) in IRC 2 class. It’s a similar story in J/111 class where skipper Peter Wagner (Atherton, CA) has sailed Skeleton Key to an insurmountable 14 ½ point lead over Spaceman Spiff (Rob Ruhlman, Cleveland, OH).

Today brought champagne sailing conditions for the four boats in the Performance Cruising class, which is doing one distance race per day around government marks. Skipper Joseph Mele has steered his Swan 44 Triple Lindy to line honors in two straight races, but skipper John Streicker and the Defiant team have won all three races this week on corrected time. Principal race officer Bruce Bingman has created courses in the range of 20 miles with the fleet taking just over 2 ½ hours to finish.

“You only need one other good boat to race against and we have that in Defiant. It’s been very competitive racing, very enjoyable sailing and we’re having a wonderful time,” said Mele, who like Streicker resides in New York City.

While the tourists enjoyed Martin Luther King Holiday by strolling Duval Street, sailors from 16 countries took the azure waters off the southernmost point of the United States and found ideal conditions, northeast winds that exceeded 20 knots for Race 1 and diminished slightly for the subsequent starts when the sun broke through and brought out the azure seas so famous in Key West.

It was a bumpy day with three to four foot waves rolling through the course areas, giving a challenge for all teams. There was some drama on Division 3 with the GP 26 Rhumb Punch getting hooked on the starting line pin boat and the FarEast 28 Eagle’s Eye suffering a starboard lifeline failure that sent three crewmembers overboard.

Rhumb Punch needed about five minutes to work itself free and head up the course while the mostly junior crew aboard Eagle’s Eye did a fine job of recovering its crew within less than 10 minutes, under the watchful eye of the event’s rescue team.

Ken Legler, longtime principal race officer on Division 1, set a leeward mark a half-mile further downwind for the Maxi 72 class in order to give the four biggest boats in the regatta more of a runway in deep water. Skipper Alex Schaerer (Mreihel, Malta) and his crew on Caol Ila R enjoyed a strong opening day – winning Race 1 then placing second in Races 2 and 3.

“The boat and crew were going really, really well today. It was a struggle to get off the start line, but the guys did a great job of digging out of a hole and putting up three good results,” said John Cutler (Auckland, New Zealand), tactician aboard Caol Ila R.

Bella Mente (Hap Fauth, Minneapolis, MN) recovered from a fourth in Race 2 by winning the final race of the day and was one point behind the leaders in the overall standings. Caol Ila R has undergone extensive modifications – installing a new rig and lengthening the keel to the maximum depth – and Fauth said the boat’s speed is clearly improved as a result.

“The boats are very, very even. Only three clicks separate the whole fleet so it’s almost like one-design racing,” Fauth said. “It was very good sailing today, very fun sailing. All the boats are faster since the last time we saw them, which we expected. In this class, if you’re not going forward you are going backward.”

Quantum Racing emerged from the first round of fighting atop the standings in IRC 1, which features three TP52 designs going against a Botin 44-footer. Skipper Doug DeVos (Ada, MI) steered Quantum to a strong line of 3-1-2 as the boat representing the regatta’s title sponsor took an early one-point lead over Gladiator (Tony Langley, Great Britain).

Steve and Heidi Benjamin Spookie

 

Steve and Heidi Benjamin’s (Norwalk, CT) TP 52 SPOOKIE. They won the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race last week. © Photo-boat.com

“I thought the crew did a nice job in challenging conditions today,” said Quantum Racing tactician Morgan Larson, (Santa Cruz, CA). “We didn’t overstand any marks and we never got stuck on the wrong side of a shift.”

DeVos is sailing with the core of the crew that helped Quantum Racing finish second in the 2015 TP52 Super Series. Larson is the most notable newcomer and said on Monday afternoon that he is still getting acclimated to the team.

Skipper Andrew Weiss (Mamaroneck, NY) and his crew on the Sydney 43 Christopher Dragon got off to a strong start, winning two races and placing second in the other to take an early two-point lead over the J/125 Double Trouble (Peter Krueger, Reno, NV).

Quantum Key West Race Week 2016 Christopher Dragon

Andrew Weiss (Mamaroneck, NY) and his crew on the Sydney 43 Christopher Dragon lead IRC 2 Monday night.

Peter Wagner is a first-time skipper in Key West and made an impressive debut, winning all three races in J/111 class, earning City of Key West Boat of the Day honors aboard Skeleton Key. Wagner (Atherton, CA) is a San Francisco Bay sailor and is thus accustomed to big breeze.

“That’s our home turf so these are conditions we are certainly very familiar with. That said, this venue is very different from San Francisco,” said Wagner, who has another Bay area sailor, Seadon Wisjen, aboard as tactician.

Wagner took delivery of his boat last May and this is only the fifth regatta for his team. He called Key West Race Week a “legendary regatta” and admitted he’s been remiss in not previously attending.

“We got off the line clean and stayed in phase. We didn’t try to make it too complicated,” Wagner said. “We’re not going to get too excited about one day. It’s a long regatta and I’m sure the other boats will have their moments.”

In J/70 class, Carlo Alberini (Pesaro, Italy) and the Calvi Network crew picked up where they left off last year, posting a pair of bullets and taking third in the other race. Calvi Network captured class honors at Quantum Key West 2015 and earned Boat of the Week honors as a result.

Tim Healy and his team on Helly Hansen got the gun in Race 3 to move into second place, five points astern of Calvi Network and just one ahead of Flojito Y Cooperando (Julian Fernandez Neckelman, Mexico City). It is no surprise to see those three boats atop the leader board since they finished 1-2-3 at the J/70 World Championship.

“It was a great day on the water. I’m glad we got three races in, real happy the race committee decided to do that,” said Healy, whose team overcame a broken spinnaker halyard. “It was breezy and a real bumpy, a lot more than I remember. We’re pleased with how we did on the first day.”

Quantum Key West Race Week 2016

Peter Duncan of Rye, NY (Relative Obscurity) sits in 4th out of the 54 J70 fleet tonight. © Photo-boat.com 

And the Corinthian Boat of the Day winner was Luis Bugallo’s J/70 Marnatura from Vigo, Spain, on the strength of earning a 13-12-13 scorecard today in the 54-boat class.

Elsewhere on Division 2, John Brown and the Blind Squirrel team seized the lead in Melges 24 class on the strength of a 2-1-1 score line. Kevin Jewett is calling tactics for Brown, a Philadelphia resident.

C&C 30 has a one-design start at Quantum Key West 2016 for the first time with skipper Walt Thirion and the Themis team setting the pace on Day 1. Annapolis-based professional Geoff Ewenson is serving as tactician while his younger brother Nick Ewenson (Newport, RI) is driving Themis, which placed second in the only other two C&C 30 one-design regattas held to date.

Thirion said the Themis crew had to repair two genoas that suffered damage prior to the first race. “I’m just glad we were able to sail,” he said. “I give the crew a lot of credit for working together to overcome the obstacles we faced today.”

Some of the closest racing of the day came in the two ORC classes competing on Division 3. Teamwork and Orion, a pair of J/122s, chased each other around the course all day and wound up separated by just one point. Skipper Robin Team steered Teamwork to results of 1-2-1 while counterpart Paul Milo led Orion to a 2-1-2 score line.

“Just as expected, we really mixed it up with the Orion boys,” said Team, who hails from Lexington, NC. “We had a real nice tacking duel on the last upwind leg of the third race.”

Heavy air favored the J/122s as most of the other designs in the class (Evelyn 32, B-32, Tartan 101) are lighter. “Both our boat and crew love big breeze,” Team said.

Likewise, the ORC system seems to be working well among the sportboats in ORC 2, where Mike Beasley’s GP 26 Rattle N Rum has a slim 2-point lead over Henry DeGroot’s J/80 Wired. This is only the second day this Kiwi transplant to Annapolis has had in the boat, but he had high praise for its performance, while realizing there’s more to come as they learn their boat.

“The boat is really stiff upwind, so we kept loading up the runners and going faster and faster until the blocks broke. But we got the rest of the rig tune right, and the boat is really fun off the wind: we learned you need to go fast and high, which is where we made our biggest gains on the course. We’re absorbing more and more, and the boat is rewarding us as we learn.”

Mike Bruno got the gun in Race 3 after placing second in Race 2 and is atop the eight-boat J/88 class by three points. Rob Fear is calling tactics for Bruno, a resident of Armonk, New York.

Tuesday’s forecast is for big breeze of 25+ knots to return in the night and into the morning, suggesting a possible delay to the start of racing as the forecast indicates diminishing wind through the rest of the day.

Report by Event Media

Monday Highlights by T2P.TV

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