Thursday, January 29, 2009

Louis Vuitton Pacific Series

I've been searching the web for the LV Pacific Series Site and leave it to SailKarma to have a link, which led to news revealing it had only just gone live this week...

The SailKarma folks have their finger on the pulse for this event and video/audio commentary at BSPORT (New Zealand based sports station.) Oh how lovely it would be to attend. It's exciting to see the boats sailing again.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Till Next Year

Though the numbers were down for Acura Key West 2009, was a spectacular regatta with a record breaking 10 races. As the ferry headed off into the "sunset," thoughts were already on to 2010. Till next year...

One Last Look Back To The Boats Of Acura Race Week

In the mean time, there is quite a bit coming up! I've officially signed onto the team for VOR Boston Stop-over, which is going to be an incredible learning experience and one worth writing about. Furthermore, it's only two and half months away! However, the race currently has us on egg-shells as the teams battle Mother Nature. Therefore really just want to see the boats make it to Boston!

Between now and then there are a few projects in the mix but for now, relaxing at family's in Fort Myers before bracing myself for real cold. The sort Northern Vermont likes to dish out! Thank you to everyone who followed our collaborative efforts in delivering the race home.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Kattack...just plain cool!

Yesterday afternoon I caught up with the Kattack "Boyz" for a little video "Bite"...

It's a beautiful day, broke back into the shorts and flips, though "Slam'ing" in my race-week fleece. It's still chilly. Stay tuned to the daily commentary. The plan is two races and if we succeed it will be a race week record of ten races...fingers and toes!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Beautiful Bite!

It's been chilly but we've had beautiful sailing and today was picture perfect! On a whole, this has been a pretty stellar week of racing. The slideshow is purely where I'm at from walking the docks these last few days. The tent party has officially opened and time to go visit and do what I do!

I talked with the folks from Kattack earlier and will have video up on YouTube channel later this evening. It's a unique way to enjoy the racing and for the racers, a way to learn and improve your tactics.

Thank you to everyone who's followed the event thus far. It's the plan to get off two races on Friday and "Mr. Weather" tells me a touch warmer and just as beautiful...lets hope his "crystal ball" speaks the truth!

For Immediate Release – January 22, 2009

Final Day Drama on Tap at Acura Key West 2009
Friday’s Races to Determine Winners in Ten Classes
By Bill Wagner

Key West, Fla - Competition remains hot and the final results are going down to the wire at Acura Key West 2009, presented by Nautica. There was some significant shakeup in the standings for several of the grand prix classes and winners won’t be decided until the final day of racing in the week-long regatta.

Things couldn’t be tighter than they are in the Melges 32 class, where Star and Red are tied with 30 total points apiece. Star, owned by Jeff Ecklund of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., led the 20-boat class at the end of the initial three days, but suffered a pair of double digit results on Thursday. That enabled Red, skippered by Joe Woods of Great Britain, to make up a three-point deficit.

Tactician Morgan Reeser gave a gutsy performance by sailing both races with a dislocated shoulder as Red posted a pair of eighths on Thursday. Meanwhile, Star suffered an 11th and a 13th, latter of which it was able to throw out. Star technically still holds the lead by virtue of tiebreaker based on winning more races than Red.

“It has been a curious day – almost brilliant, almost disastrous,” Woods said after arriving at the dock. “Ultimately, it was a decent day and we were able to close the gap on Jeff.”

Reeser, a two-time Olympian, is relatively new as tactician aboard Red as this is just his third event with the British team. He suffered the shoulder injury during Race 7 and had the dislocation reset by an on-water medic. However, it dislocated again and Reeser was taken to the hospital after racing.

“Knowing Morgan, I am guessing that he will be sailing on the boat tomorrow,” Woods said.

Red was leading the Melges 32 class going into the fifth and final day last January and was overtaken by Star. Woods is hoping for a reversal of fortunes this year. “We’ll see if we can finish it off and come away with the win this time,” he said.

Farr 40, another professional-laden class, is also totally up for grabs with two races remaining. Barking Mad, which entered Thursday with a seemingly comfortable eight-point cushion, finished last in the 12-boat fleet in Race 8. Skipper Jim Richardson and crew still hold a one-point lead over Mascalzone Latino, the three-time defending world champion owned by Vincenzo Onorato of Napoli, Italy.

“We rounded the first weather mark in second place, but we went backward from there. It was just a matter of poor boat positioning,” said tactician Terry Hutchinson, who blamed himself for the poor result. “What’s disappointing is that we had an opportunity to go into tomorrow with a certain comfort level.”

Richardson won the Farr 40 class at Acura Key West for the first time in 11 attempts last year and is hoping to retain that title. Another threat is Joe Fly, owned by Giovanni Maspero of Como, Italy, which is just three points out of the lead.

There was much rejoicing aboard Nanoq as the Danish entry pulled into its berth at the Schooner Wharf. Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark hoisted a beer with crew members to celebrate winning a race in Farr 40 class for the first time in three appearances at Acura Key West.

Prince Frederik got a great start, got lifted by a favorable shift and both upwind legs, rounded the second windward mark in first and held the lead on the finishing run. His best previous finish was a fourth last year.

“It was great sailing today and it felt good to win a race. That is always difficult in this class because it is so competitive with so many good sailing teams,” Prince Frederik said. “We have learned a lot and improved quite a bit by coming to this regatta. This result is nice, but we still have a long way to go.”

Melges 24, largest class in the regatta with 33 boats and packed with professionals like the Farr 40 and Melges 32, also has not been decided. UKA UKA Racing, the Italian entry skippered by Lorenzo Bressani, has sailed superbly and led at the end of each day’s action. UKA UKA Racing counts four bullets and a pair of seconds in seven races and holds a seven-point lead that is solid but not safe.

“We have not won this regatta yet. There will be another two races tomorrow so we cannot sleep well tonight,” Bressani said. “Seven points is a good margin, but not unbeatable. Blu Moon is our top competition so we will probably match race with them.”

Swan 42 class has been closely contested throughout the week with three different boats holding the lead upon conclusion of each day’s racing. Arethusa, skippered by Phil Lotz of Newport, R.I., was the latest to move into first – posting a first and a third on Thursday to overtake Jon Halbert (Dallas, Texas) and Vitesse. Arethusa holds a one-point lead over Vitesse while first and second day leader Celeritas (Malcolm Gefter, Newport, R.I.) is just four points astern.

“The fleet has been very, very tight. All six boats have been clumped together at most of the mark roundings,” Lotz said. “It really is anybody’s regatta at this point. It’s hard to think about covering anybody at this point. We just have to go out and sail our own race.”

There is a tie in PHRF 4 between Lightning Rod and fellow S2 9.1 Elysium. Both boats have won four races so the tiebreaker went to the number of second place finishes and Lightning Rod, skippered by David Eames of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., has three compared to just one for Elysium (John Nevin, Milford, CT).

John Storck Jr. and his team aboard Rumor have been spectacular in J/80 class, winning six of eight races thus far. Racing was particularly tight on Thursday and Rumor was rewarded with the Lewmar Boat of the Day award.

Robert Armstrong continued his impressive performance in PHRF 2 aboard the J/100 Good Girl. The St. Croix resident has reeled off seven straight bullets since finishing second in Race 1.

Action in this ten race series concludes Friday, which is Acura Day.

Acura Key West 2009, presented by Nautica
Series Results – after 8 Races – January 22, 2009

1. Ran, Niklas Zennstrom, Hamble, UK, 1-1-2-1-3-1-1, 11
2. Rosebud/Team DYT, Roger Sturgeon, Hyannis, MA, USA, 3-2-1-2-1-5-4-5, 23
3. Anema & Core, Ennio Staffini, Annapolis, MD, USA, 4-3-4-4-2-2-2-3, 24

1. Soozal, Daniel Woolery, Pt. Richmond, CA, USA, 3-1-2-5-2-1-1-2, 17
2. Ngoni, Tony Buckingham, Jersey, UK, 1-2-4-6-1-3-2-1, 20
3. Cool Breeze, John Cooper, Cane Hill, MO, USA, 2-3-3-1-7-4-5-5, 30

Farr 40
1. Barking Mad, James Richardson, Newport, RI, USA, 2-4-3-2-1-2-2-12, 28
2. Mascalzone Latino, Vincenzo Onorato, Napoli, ITA, 1-1-2-1-9-10-3-2, 29
3. Joe Fly, Giovanni Maspero, Como, ITA, 3-2-5-9-2-1-4-6, 32

Swan 42
1. Arethusa, Phil Lotz, Newport, RI, USA, 4-3-1-4-4-1-3-1, 21
2.. Vitesse, Jon Halbert, Dallas, TX, USA, 5-2-2-2-2-2-4-3, 22
3. Celeritas, Malcolm Gefter, Newport, RI, USA, 1-1-3-1-6-6-5-2, 25

Farr 30
1. Kinetic, David Sutcliffe, Vancouver, CAN, 1-3-2-1-3-3-2-5, 20
2. Rhumb Punch, John & Linda Edwards, Solomons, MD, USA, 3-2-5-3-2-1-3-4, 23
3. Jack-A-Roe, John Dybas, Chicago, IL, USA, 2-5-4-2-5-4-1-1, 24

Melges 32 (with discard)
1. Star, Jeff Ecklund, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA, 1-1-10-1-1-5-11-(13), 30
2. RED, Joe Woods, Torquay, GBR, 2-(8)-3-5-3-1-8-8, 30
3. New Wave, Michael Carroll, Clearwater, FL, USA, 13-10-2-9-(14)-2-2-1, 39

Melges 24 (with discard)
1. UKA UKA Racing, Lorenzo Bressani, Civitanova Marc, ITA, 1-1-(5)-1-1-2-5-2, 13
2. Blu Moon, Franco Rossini, Lugano, SUI, 4-2-2-2-(7)-6-3-1, 20
3. Joe Fly, Maspero/Zandona, Como, ITA, (10)-3-3-4-8-1-2-5, 26

1. Savasana, Brian Keane, Marion, MA, USA, Brian Keane, 3-2-1-1-2-6-2-3, 20
2. eclipse, Damian Emery, Mt. Sinai, NY, USA, 2-1-3-2-3-3-3-6, 23
3. Max Power, Gerrit Schulze, Cape May, NJ, USA, 1-3-5-3-1-1-6-4, 24

1. Rumor, John Storck, Jr., Huntington, NY, USA, 1-1-1-3-1-1-4-1, 13
2. Kicks, William Rose, League City, TX, USA, 2-2-3-1-3-2-6-5, 23
3. Angry Chameleon, Kristen Robinson, Annapolis, MD, USA, 4-3-2-6-5-5-5-3, 32

1. Primal Scream, Steven Stollman, Key Biscayne ,FL, USA, 1-2-1-1-3-2-3-6, 19
2. El Ocaso, Rick Wesslund, Miami, FL, USA, 7-3-2-2-2-1-5-7, 29
3. Wairere, Pete Hunter, Kill Devil Hill, NC, USA, 3-7-6-5-1-3-4-2, 31

1. Good Girl, Robert Armstrong, St. Croix, USVI, 2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1, 9
2. RUSH, Bill Sweetser, Annapolis, MD, USA, 1-2-3-2-7-2-3-2, 22
3. Man-O-War, Tom Beery, Pascagoula, MS, USA, 3-3-2-3-2-3-2-4, 22

1. Tangent, Gerry Taylor, Annapolis, MD, USA, 1-1-1-1-3-2-1-1, 11
2. L’Outrage, Bruce Gardner, Annapolis, MD, USA, 2-2-2-2-1-1-3-2, 15
3. Seefest, Ira Perry, Padanaram, MA, USA, 3-3-4.5-5-5-4-2-3, 29.5

1. Lightning Rod, David Eames, Ft. Walton, FL, USA, 2-1-1-2-5-1-2-1, 15
2. Elysium, John Nevin, Milford, CT, USA, 1-3-3-1-1-2-1-3, 15
3. Blah Blah Blah, Mark Milnes, Key West, FL, USA, 3-4-4-4-2-4-7-4, 32

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's A Key West Helo Day

The "premiere" event photographer Tim Wilkes and I have been trying something new this year, putting his snazzy camera phone to good use and sharing his day with me back at "blog command center" located race HQ. Today is shaping up to be a "helo day" and Tim shared this on his way out...

Stay tuned to the event blog!

Birthday Bite

Would like to send out a special birthday wish to Stu, forward crew on the C&C 115 "Primal Scream" whom gave a fun sound bite at last night's tent party. The lighting was all wrong but they were all fun!

Premiere Bite

For Immediate Release – January 20 , 2009

“Another Fantastic Day of Sailing in Key West”
World Class Competition and Great Breeze
By Bill Wagner

Key West, Fla - Mother Nature changed her mind and smiled on Acura Key West 2009 today. Advance forecasts called for extreme winds, but instead a consistent 15-20 knot north-northwesterly enabled this high-powered international fleet to enjoy two great races.

“Another fantastic day of sailing in Key West. Days like this are why we come here. The conditions were outstanding,” Melges 24 skipper Riccardo Simoneschi said.

Simoneschi is a two-time winner of Acura Key West, presented by Nautica. The Italian skipper posted a solid line of 4-3 on Tuesday and holds third place overall in Melges 24, largest class in the regatta with 33 boats.

Former Olympic medalist Charlie McKee is calling tactics for Simoneschi, who is 10 points off the very hot pace being set by his countrymen on UKA UKA Racing. Skipper Lorenzo Bressani has won three of four races so far, an impressive feat in the highly-competitive class.

“They are tough to beat. They are fast and smart, which is a winning combination,” said McKee, whose brother Charlie is trimming on UKA UKA Racing. “We are getting better with each race and hopefully we can remain in contention.”

Blu Moon, skippered by Franco Rossini of Switzerland, finished second in both races and won the day. He also received Tuesday’s Sperry Top-Sider Boat of the Day honors, awarded to the winner of the day’s most competitive class. Three-time Olympian Chris Rast is tactician aboard Blu Moon, which stands second in the overall standings – two points behind UKA UKA Racing.

Another Italian team continued its impressive performance in the professional-laden Farr 40 class. Mascalzone Latino, owned and driven by Vincenzo Onorato, has won three of four races with the other result being a second. Briton Adrian Stead has been on fire calling tactics for the three-time defending world champs, who hold a comfortable six-point lead over Acura Key West 2008 winner Barking Mad.

“We are sailing well, but obviously not nearly as well as they are,” said Terry Hutchinson, tactician for owner Jim Richardson aboard Barking Mad.

Hutchinson was just named Rolex Yachtsman of the Year by US Sailing, but is not afraid to admit that he can pick up a few subtle nuances from a team that is clearly at the top of its game.

“We have learned heaps in two days just from watching Mascalzone… how their sails are set up, how they are driving, what they are doing tactically,” he said. “It’s not over yet. There are still a lot of races left. We just have to keep chipping away and hope we’re in range going into the last day.”

Fort Lauderdale resident Jeff Ecklund and his team aboard Star maintained their lead in Melges 32, the other large grand prix one-design class filled with big-name tacticians. Star, like UKA UKA Racing and Mascalzone Latino, has won three of four races held so far. However, a 10th out of 20 boats in Race 3 hurt Star’s cumulative score, which is two points better than second-place Red (Joe Woods, Great Britain).

“It’s a tough fleet with real tight racing. Small mistakes can lead to big losses,” said Star tactician Harry Melges, whose family-owned company builds both the Melges 24 and 32.

IRC 2 is loaded with innovative new designs that are giving each other some real competition. Cool Breeze, a brand new Mills 43 owned by John Cooper of Cane Hill, MO, won Race 4 to vault from third to first in the 13-boat fleet.

An indication of how close the top boats are in IRC 2 comes from the fact a mere 18 second separated the top four finishers in Race 3. Soozal, one of three King 40-footers that are making their competitive debut in Key West, finished second in Race 3 by just seven seconds behind the J/44 Gold Digger (James Bishop).

“The racing in this class has been unbelievable. There are a lot of very good boats that are evenly matched,” Soozal skipper Daniel Woolery said.

Action is heating up in IRC 1 as well after Rosebud/Team DYT stretched its legs and showed its prowess in the heavy air. The STP 65-footer, largest entry in the regatta, won Race 3 then finished second in Race 4 by 34 seconds on corrected time. Ran, a TP52 owned by Niklas Zennstrom of Hamble, Great Britain, now has an impressive line of 1-1-2-1.

“It was a great day of racing for our team, although I’m disappointed we didn’t win the second race as well,” said Malcolm Park, main trimmer on Rosebud/Team DYT. “We’re stronger than the TP 52s going upwind and we had two of those legs today.”

Massachusetts-based owner Roger Sturgeon and his 16-man crew must beat the four 52-footers on its course by nearly six minutes in order to overcome its handicap. “This is a tight course for a boat this big and it’s hard to get her around the cans,” said Park, noting that Rosebud has some draft restrictions. “(Monday) was a learning experience for us in terms of figuring out where we can go. Today’s course was a little more open, both in terms of draft and length.”

PHRF 3 leader Tangent, a Cape Fear 38 owned by Gerry Taylor of Annapolis, Md., is the only boat in the entire fleet that has won all four races. Tangent, the cruising version of the design, is heavier than most of its competitors in the class and thus welcomed the strong breeze.

“We are definitely loving the conditions. When the wind is up, we are smiling,” said Taylor, whose team won Race 3 by just one second over fellow Annapolis entry L’Outrage, which has been runner-up in all four races.

“It certainly eases the pressure when you get off to a good start like this. We are feeling more relaxed and confident each day,” added Taylor, who placed second in class at Acura Key West 2008.

XS, a Robinson 41 that had been leading PHRF 1 after Monday’s action, dropped its rig in Race 3. Owner Douglas Fisher said gear failure was more to blame than the strong wind.

Racing continues tomorrow. Wednesday is sponsored by Mount Gay Rum® - the sailors’ favorite.

Race Week News, Results and more:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One Last Bite For Tuesday

Day Two of Acura Key West Race Week did see a little carnage today. All photos credited to Ken Stanek who is Premiere Racing's Jack-Of-Many-Shots photographer.

Key West Nibble On Good Eats

This will be a quicky, a taste of some good eats for those who embrace the "SailTrim Lifestyle." I've scored just the yummiest cafe, short walk from Race HQ: Help Yourself @ 829 Flemming Street on the corner of Margaret Street. If you are on the island and want some fresh fruits, veggies and organic's awesome. They open at 8AM and close enough to grab the perfect "SailTrim Recommended" pre-sail eats.

Recommend the "Power Bowl" ~ Cheers!

Sailors And Happy Feet

Day Two of Acura Key West Race Week was sponsored by Sperry TopSider and they offered a few sounds bites on their partnership with Premiere Racing and the commitment to sailor's feet...

A Weather Bite

The boats have left, RC is ready to go and event bloggers have started sending in posts. Though before we got going this morning, thought it might be neat to meet Mr. Weather...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Day One Bite From Ken Legler

Division One PRO Ken Legler gives a brief Day One recap...

For Immediate Release – January 19, 2009

Overseas Entries Seize the Day in Key West
International Fleet Revels in Chamber of Commerce Conditions
by Bill Wagner

Opening day of Acura Key West 2009, presented by Nautica, showcased the international flavor of the event with foreign entries seizing the early lead in four of the grand prix classes. Italian entries set the pace in a pair of the premier one-design fleets while British teams surged to the front of two top tier handicap classes.

Competition in North America’s largest winter regatta got underway in ideal conditions with strong westerly winds allowing organizers to hold two races. An ominous squall put a brief damper on the proceedings, but moved through quickly and allowed the action to continue under sunny skies.

“It was Chamber of Commerce type of weather out there today. We had picture-perfect conditions, which is always a great way to start,” said Dave Brennan, principal race officer on Division 2.

Vincenzo Onorato and his team aboard Mascalzone Latino overcame the unexpected loss of three sailors to win both races and the Nautica Watches Boat of the Day in the Farr 40 class. Two crew members took ill while another suffered an injury in practice – forcing the three-time defending world champions to scramble. One substitute was flown in from Italy while the team coach and chef filled the other vacancies onboard.

British-born tactician Adrian Stead said Elena Frezza was the hero of the day, showing she could sail just as well as she could cook. “I think she brought us good luck,” Stead said. “We are really pleased with our performance today considering the circumstances. This is certainly a good start to the regatta.”

Onorato, a businessman from Napoli, Italy, recently took delivery of a brand new Farr 40 that is making its debut in Key West. “It certainly looks like a good boat based off today's results,” said Onorato, who captured class honors at Acura Key West 2006.

Joining Onorato on the podium for Nautica Watches Day was fellow Italian skipper Lorenzo Bressani, who steered UKA UKA Racing to a pair of bullets in Melges 24 class – largest of the regatta with 33 boats. Gabriele Benussi is calling tactics while two-time United States Olympian Jonathan McKee is serving as trimmer aboard UKA UKA Racing, the reigning world champion. McKee is taking a break from his duties in the after-guard of Puma Racing, one of the top contenders in the Volvo Ocean Race.

“We had a little problem with our starts in both races, but fortunately the boat is very, very fast and we were able to come back quickly,” Bressani said. “We have been training a lot and have got the boat going super fast while our crew works very smoothly.”

UKA UKA Racing has by far the youngest crew member of the professional-laden Melges 24 class in 15-year-old bowman Matteo Sprecacenere. “Keep an eye on Matteo. He will be a champion one day,” Bressani predicted.

Both IRC classes have seen an increase in entries this year and the British showed their colors on Monday. Skipper Tim Powell steered the Reichel-Pugh-designed Ran to a pair of first place finishes in IRC 1 while owner Tony Buckingham and his team aboard Ngoni seized the early lead in IRC 2 on the strength of a 1-2 line.

Ran is the former Patches, which enjoyed much success under the ownership of Eamon Conneely. Niklas Zennstrom of Hamble, Great Britain acquired the boat along with many the former Patches crew, including Powell.

“We had good starts in both races and our tactician Jeremy Robinson did a fine job of calling the shifts and keeping us in phase,” Powell said. “It feels good to get off to a great start and now the challenge is to keep it going.”

Fort Lauderdale resident Jeff Ecklund represented the United States well, winning both races in Melges 32 class, which has seen a significant increase in overall talent attending Acura Key West this year. Harry Melges, whose family-owned company builds the up-and-coming sport boats, is tactician aboard Star – the defending regatta champ.

“We had good speed and that enabled us to rebound from average to bad starts,” said Ecklund, who chose the right side of the course in Race 2 and benefited from being the first boat to pick up the wind shift.

“It was a beautiful day to go sailing and we’re happy to put up a couple good numbers to get things going. However, I’m not celebrating anything yet. It’s a long week and anything can happen. We just have to be smart and be conservative.”

Competitors in the J/105 class were surprised to show up on the race course Monday and not see Masquerade, the four-time defending champion in Key West. San Francisco owner Thomas Coates and team were an unexpected no-show, leaving a dozen boats to battle for the now-vacant title.

Eclipse, owned by Damian Emery of Mount Sinai, N.Y., came out on top after a tight day of racing thanks to a first and a second. However, Max Power (Gerrit Schulze, Cape May, N.J.) and Savasana (Brian Keane, Marion, Mass.) trail the frontrunner by just one and two points, respectively.

“We had some decent boat speed today and didn’t make many mistakes,” said Emery, who placed second last year, but was disappointed to learn of Masquerade’s absence. “We always like to face the best competition so we miss them. Fortunately, there are still some very good boats out there.”

Other one-design boats that swept first place in both races yesterday were the Swan 42 Celeritas (Malcolm Gefter, Newport, R.I.) and the J/80 Rumor (John Storck Jr., Huntington, N.Y.). Another double winner among handicap classes was the Cape Fear 38 Tangent (Gerry Taylor, Annapolis, Md.) in PHRF 3.

Race Week News, Results and more:

Key West Virgins Video Bite

How exciting, a chat with Acura Key West Race Week Virgins!

Official Blog Update

Ahh! My computer for blogging and communicating with the RC reporters chose to bail on the party. Final report will be up when we get back online.

Mid-Day Bite

Feels good to be back at it as everything is running smoothly here minus the gnarly squawl that ripped through. The sun is shining and all Divisions are embarking on race two for the day. If conditions favor there could be a third race.

A Race Week Nibble

The gear is dried out from a few days of pre-race practice...


The morning due has been wiped from all the decks...


It's a beautiful day kicking off day one of racing...


The race blog is live and will run commentary with updates ~ 3-5 minutes apart till the end of racing. Cheers!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pre-Race Bite!

I am figuring this video bit out as I go...I have a mini habit of cutting off heads and hope to improve by weeks end!

For Immediate Release – January 19, 2009

Tradition of Excellence Continues at Acura Key West 2009
--- Strong Fleet Set to Get Underway for 22nd Edition

“Blue sky, aqua-colored water, palm trees and 75-degree weather – what’s not to enjoy?” asked Annapolis, Maryland sailor Bruce Gardner. “Key West continues to be one of the premiere events in the country. It has the best competition available because teams go all out to win. A win in Key West has always been and will always be a real feather in your cap.”

Gardner dismisses all the doom and gloom talk about reduced entries at this year’s regatta by saying, “Key West is still Key West.” L’Outrage is one of seven entries in PHRF 3 and Gardner said a class victory at Acura Key West 2009, presented by Nautica, would be just as satisfying as years past.

Gardner has been competing in the renowned race week for a dozen years aboard his Beneteau 10-meter. He has experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat – capturing PHRF Boat of the Week honors in 2000 and sitting out the entire regatta in 2008 after breaking his rig.

Through ups and downs, Gardner and his crew have come to love their January foray to the southernmost tip of the continental United States. They weren’t about to let a global economic crisis interfere with their annual winter getaway to Key West.

“There was never a second thought for me and my crew. We started planning for this year as soon as last year’s regatta was over,” Gardner said. “The economy is definitely having an effect on sailboat racing as in every other area of life. However, just because some people think the sky is falling, we are not going to hide in the bar.”

Another star-studded fleet of sailors from across the country and around the world has descended upon the Conch Republic for the 22nd edition of this winter classic. Three-time Farr 40 world champion Mascalzone Latino, Melges 32 Gold Cup winner New Wave and Melges 24 world champion UKA UKA Racing are just a few of the notable entries on the scratch sheet.

While the total of 155 entries in 13 classes spread over three divisions is down from previous years, event director Peter Craig said the level of participation is really quite remarkable considering the economy has forced cancellation of many regattas around the world.

“Key West traditionally attracts top tier programs and this year is no exception,” said Craig, president of Premiere Racing. “Given the global economic issues, it’s extremely gratifying to see the number and quality of programs that will be racing in Key West.”

Both IRC classes have actually seen an increase in entries with a slew of new designs adding further intrigue to a fleet filled with international flavor. IRC 1 is headlined by Roger Sturgeon’s STP 65-footer Rosebud, largest entry at Acura Key West 2009. The Massachusetts-based yacht, overall IRC winner in the 2008 Sydney-Hobart Race, will be challenged by three TP 52 designs along with the Judel-Vrolijk 52 Anema & Core (Ennio Staffini, Annapolis) and the year-old Marten 49 Pace (Johnny Vincent and Simon Tate, London).

IRC 2 is the largest it has ever been in Key West with 13 entries, half of which are brand new designs. There are three King 40-footers, designed by Mark Mills and built by Summit Yachts. One of them is owned by Houston resident Jim Hightower, who has enjoyed much success at Key West aboard his various boats named Hot Ticket. Mills also designed the IRC 43 Cool Breeze, which will make its debut for owner John Cooper (Cane Hill, Missouri). Finally, there are also a couple Santa Cruz 37-footers, which were awarded Performance Boat of the Year by Sail Magazine.

“IRC 2 is going to be very, very competitive. We are looking forward to some great racing and are anxious to see how our boat performs against some of the new designs,” said Robin Team, who skippered his J/122 Teamwork to fourth place in class and a Boat of the Day honor last year.

“Those Santa Cruz 37s look hot floating at the dock so we expect them to be hot out on the race course,” added Team. The Beaufort, N.C. resident has been competing in Key West since 1994.

“Key West has the best sailors in the world and the best conditions in the world and that is why it’s the best racing in the world,” said Team, a class winner in 2003 aboard his J/120 of the same name.

Melges 24 is again the largest class in the regatta with 33 boats, many of which hail from European ports in Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and Germany. Among the notable foreign entries are reigning world champion UKA UKA Racing (Lorenzo Bressani, Italy), 2008 world rankings leader Blu Moon (Franco Rossini, Switzerland) along with 2006 and 2007 Acura Key West winner Giacomel Audi Racing (Riccardo Simoneschi, Italy).

Top American entries include Full Throttle (Brian Porter, Lake Geneva, WI), Bailout (Vince Brun, San Diego, CA) and Monsoon (Bruce Ayres, Newport Beach, CA). Ayres, who competes with an all-amateur crew and captured class honors at Acura Key West in 1998, figures the competition will be fierce as usual.

“The quantity may not be the same as years past but the quality sure is. All the top teams are here,” Ayres said. “It will be a challenge just to get into the Top 10 in this fleet.”

One of the world’s hottest classes is the rapidly-developing Melges 32, which will have 20 entries featuring a bevy of big-name tacticians on the start line in Key West. Star, skippered by Jeff Ecklund of Fort Lauderdale with boat builder Harry Melges calling tactics, is back to defend its regatta title. One of the more notable newcomers to the class is War Canoe, owned by John Dane of Pass Christian, Missouri. Dane represented the United States in Star class at the 2008 Summer Olympics in China.

Marty Kullman, who co-owns New Wave along with fellow Clearwater (FL) resident Michael Carroll, said the bar has been raised big-time. Quantum professional Scott Nixon will call tactics on New Wave, which finished second to Star by a mere two points at Acura Key West 2008 before going on to capture the Gold Cup.

“The overall talent in this class is coming up very quickly. You look at the scratch sheet and see top pros calling tactics on just about every boat,” said Kullman, rattling off names such as Mark Reynolds, Morgan Reeser, Steve Benjamin and Charlie Ogletree.

Of course, the standard-bearer among grand prix, professional-laden classes in Key West has long been the Farr 40, which boasts an impressive lineup of 12 boats. Mascalzone Latino, owned by Vincenzo Onorato of Napoli, Italy, is riding a remarkable run of three straight world crowns. Barking Mad, skippered by Jim Richardson of Newport, R.I., won both Acura Key West and Acura Miami Grand Prix in 2008. Goombay Smash, a relative class newcomer steered by Doug Douglass, captured the North American Championship off Miami in November.

“We have another great fleet here in Key West, which has always been one of the favorite events for Farr 40 owners. It doesn’t get any better than Key West in terms of organization both on and off the water,” said Richardson, the class president.

Richardson is fortunate to have one of the world’s finest tacticians in Terry Hutchinson, who was recently selected as Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. The Annapolis-based professional has been competing in Key West since 1991 and could not imagine being anywhere else in January.

“This truly is one of the greatest regattas in the world and to me it’s the perfect winter break. It has steadily evolved over the years into an extremely high-level event in all respects,” Hutchinson said. “What I find neat about Key West is that there is a place for the ultra-serious, grand prix programs as well as the more relaxed club-based programs. Both types of teams can come here and find fantastic racing while at the same time having a lot of fun.”

A Return To Calm

It is particularly calm for the Sunday prior to racing and it may have something to do with the weather. It's overcast, light breeze on land (~9 knots on the water,) with a damp-cool feel. I consulted with the folks at Slam on what they'd recommend for today's conditions on land:


It's a fleece sort of day!

On my way back to "mission control" could not resist a chat with the volunteers who man the Registration Booth...

They were great sports since I gave them zero warning, though it was that much more fun as a result!

The day has been calm and relaxed. The RC have been out practicing and so have my fellow bloggers. Mr.Clean shot over a note earlier and they are on there way out to practice and prep for on-the-water anarchy. Finally, rest of the media guru's should be checked in by end of day. As I type Tucker Thompson has just popped his head in.

The coverage this year will be very well rounded for all appetites...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Mercury Is Rising!

The temps are up but so is the breeze and it should be taping off as this post makes its way around the globe. The weigh-ins have been underway, final touches to sponsor booths and all the signs say Acura Race Week is ready to get the party started.

The folks from Sperry have a "HOT" deal for every shoe purchase you will not only get one of their sharp long-sleeve shirts, your new kicks will come packaged in an earth friendly reusable bag! I am ALL over this one and Sperry gets massive "SailTrim Kudos."

While walking the docks I came across a favorite team of mine:

The Russians are back! Team Synergy, a TP52 owned by Sergey Pichugin and guided around the course by Cameron Dunn was looking quite mellow this Saturday morning.

Joining them on the dock and also from the other side of the pond:

Team Yeoman XXXII, a Rogers 46 owned by Brian Benjamin, led around the course by Simon Rogers and based out of Hamble, GBR; will be sharing dock and race course with the Russians in the IRC 1/Division 1. Today the very friendly sailors (they were quite happy to pose for this shot) were on their way out for some testing of the waters.

Saturday is typically a little nutty in the Race HQ and the calm of shore-side affairs has come to an end with the activity level more than doubled from yesterday afternoon. The weather is lovely but the folks at the PRPs fave cafe, Harpoon Harry's had a nice little reminder of what us Northern folks are missing out on...

It is a beautiful day. Tonight the PRPs (Premiere-Racing Peeps) kick off the event with a "cook-out" for our volunteers and support staff whom many take a week off from the day-job to make sure this event is the Premiere sailing event of the US.

The official event blog site is live. The on-site photogs are nothing like past years but expect a number of video gurus kicking around the course.

Phew...going for a single shot of espresso was smart...

Scratch Sheet

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Calm Before Acura Key West

It's beautiful in Key West. A touch cooler, solid breeze and much quieter than normal.

There were a few folks out practicing...

The docks look as they should with gear stacked and dockboxes in place...

There was not a massive amount of "boat bimbling"...

I hiked around Truman Annex and it was a ghost town for now. There were maybe four Farr30s on the hard, a J105 and a couple of Melges 24s lingering with a few peeps meandering about. It is after all, only Friday and many will magically appear overnight.

With a quick visit to Race HQ the word is a rise in the serious sailors and a serious down turn in those who seek out events like Acura Key West as their holiday. It's sad to not have as many this year, though on the flip we are expecting some solid competition and tight racing...

More to come tomorrow ~ cheers!

SailFlow ~ Southern Florida

Thursday, January 15, 2009

KW Weather Bite

Folks, I am in Florida and it is . . . chilly! Not meaning to complain, today there is breeze but for all you Acura Key West peeps, toss in an extra fleece, on-the-water layers and maybe a pair of socks or two. Ah, and a hat! If you bring, you won't need. Furthermore, it may be Key West...there is a proven history of it being cold. Hence the abundance of rum at the event...

On-The-Water coverage will rev up with the racing, pre-race blogging will begin as soon as I get there. The folks from Sailing Anarchy and SailGroove should be on-site Sunday and can't wait for remaining media gurus to arrive. There is one thing I personally will not be participating in, putting self in a situation of mass emails with folks looking for free pictures from our bloggers.

Sorry folks, I'm truly apologetic if this comes across as a b*@#% statement. With the world's state of affairs it is more important then ever to see and show value in the hard work of each, even if "you" are on holiday many of those who support race week, especially the photographers are not. It's no different then buying the crazy picture of your family all shell shocked on the roller-coaster ride, etc. You see value in purchasing that, please see value those who embrace on-the-water photography. The shot may look easy, it's far from it.

There will be a follow-up bite with a solid list of the photographers and their websites.

Ok...tomorrow afternoon will mark the "pre-event" coverage. Cheers!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Passing Bite

To pass the time till this weekend, this stuff NEVER gets old!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

KWRW Mount Gay Run Will Flow in One Week

In one week, most of the boats will be rigged, on the docks with all crew's weighed-in and geared up for Acura Key West. One Week from today, Mount Gay will be serving up their famous Rum beverages and the "Big Top" will be open for business. One Week, sailors from around the globe will gather!

Are you ready...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Picture Bites: VOR Singapore In Port Race

Laid in bed a touch longer than normal this morning after last night's date with VOR virtual land, which did not inspire me to stay up for both races. It did have me checking the results before getting out of bed this morning (the joy of "laptops.") Eric 4 has done it again!

Ahh well, had my hopes for Tele Blue, enjoyed the run by Puma but glad I chose sleep. In a few, going to choose "outdoor play" since we have a lovely, though chilly day in Central Vermont and off for a snowshoe (fyi ~ those Belgium Waffles did not come out fit for anyone!)

In-port Images

Everyone has a different "eye" for what they enjoy in a photograph and these were my top picks from the Singapore Race (All aerials are from Rick Tomlinson/Volvo Ocean Race, while on-the-water shots are from Dave Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race):

Watch the race replays!

Virtual Date With VOR In Port Race

It's Friday night (correction, Saturday morning), should be out doing something other than huddling around two laptops in hope of catching the VOR Singapore In-port race. Technology can be such a massive tease, can't resist the idea of live online yacht racing. Maybe I should have taken my chances with a human companion!

On-the-flip, a quick check in with Telefonica PR peeps reassured there was breeze, a ridiculously tiny race course (which is scary for a VO70 in breeze) and the boys out for a win.

Armed with a PC on one side, the Macbook on the other have carried on with this virtual date. Macbook is delivering the audio commentary on Safari (would not run on FireFox) and video is hit or miss, mostly a miss. Ha, the PC has just crapped out ~ go Mac!

I greatly appreciate VOR's attempt to deliver live commentary thought to be honest, really have to understand and know what the hell they are talking about! Granted, not sure a non-sailor would be doing as I this moment, even if they were curious, I don't think they'd find this is as cool.

I've not been able to get reliable video stream, audio is coming through really clear and I can use my imagination to visualize. The video, when it was coming through was not much more than shots of the guys scampering about the deck.

Puma has won the first race, I am calling it a night, and by the time people scope out this post results will be posted on who took home the coveted points. One last screen shot of my "Friday Night Virtual VOR Date" with Puma the tiny speck to the upper right corner just tearing it up and keeping Eric 4 in their place.

There was the occasional aerial, revealing the massive number of tankers in the background ~ hence the tiny race course.

Well folks, it was fun trying and look forward to waking up, reading the VOR reports after my proper cup of coffee and trying out a Belgium Waffle recipe fit for any one-design racer!

Lovely weekend to all ~ night.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

One More Week: Key West Nibble

Soon the "bites" will be replaced with "sips" of rum and fresh brewed cafe con leches...

One more week and I'll be a walk away from the most delicious Cafe con Leche, working with some of my favorite peeps and flip-flops. Acura Key West Race Week is an event I look forward to before the week’s last race is sailed. This year, despite hard economic affairs, there are still great numbers for quality racing and excellent commentary.

The event will be well covered from the event organizers providing the core information to National and International magazine writers, web-media and even TV (ESPN.) There is a little something for everyone and each year we all get a little better at delivering the goods.

Full Scoop

Monday, January 05, 2009

Counting Down To Acura Key West Race Week 2009

At last! I've been biting-at-the-bit to really start counting down to Acura Key West. YES YES YES!!! Ha ha ha, can you tell I adore this event? (My enthusiasm may have something to do with spending the great portion of last month in Northern Vermont, through three snow storms!)

Let's get down to business,"are YOU Key West ready?" Want to look and feel your best, post here and we'll get this virtual party started and ensure no one freaks about the weigh-in scale or donning those board shorts and two-pieces. Remember, Sailing Anarchy IS planning live on-the-water coverage, ESPN will be flying over head and photographers at every mark. What better way to ensure you are camera ready then with SailTrim/BoatBites tricks and tips...

To start, dig out clothes you'd like to wear in Key West. How they fitting? Perfect? Good for you! Barely up the thigh? There's some work to do.

Take five minutes to think about these questions:
  • Do you eat breakfast?
  • Do you drink enough fluid THROUGHOUT the day?
  • What time do you eat your last meal of the day?
  • Are you physically active?
  • Are you under a lot of stress?
Post thoughts, comments or shoot me an email at jennifer[at] I'll be addressing these questions, bits on losing at least 3-5 lbs by the 19th and whatever else comes up relevant to KWRW.

Happy New Year!