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January 16, 2012

One of biggest complaints from European and US teams at Key West in previous years was the early start times which had sailors headed to their boats in pre-dawn darkness and pushing off the dock just after sunset to prepare for a day of racing.  Throw in a late night on Duval Street, and by weeks end many of the teams had the look of a tourist from Alabama trying to figure out a jet-ski instead of a top notch racing program. The organizing authority relented this year, pushed the start time back to 11:30 which left plenty of time for an egg sandwich, mingling with friends on the dock and checking out the massive tarpon that lurk under the boats.  It even allowed me enough time to grab a spare life jacket from my boy Guy Mossman on Battle Rhythm, and in his typical unselfish fashion, gave me the large off his back knowing my man boobs would not squeeze into the only spare which was a small.   Whether it is rubbing elbows at a random bar, riding handle bars on a rented bike to the next fun location, or piecing things together to make it to the race course, it is good to have friends in KW.

Just as we saw in the practice days, the breeze settled in at the 15-22 range providing some fun conditions and with former Moth World Champ and Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Bora Gulari (good video) on the helm, our goal was to sail clean, avoid any majors and secure a top 3 finish. Despite being from Detroit and having to overcome that most of his life, Bora guided us two clean starts and we were able to make it around the track without any problems to secure a 1, 1 for the first day.  It wasn’t easy as we had to battle with Blu Moon and WTF in both races, and there are definitely some areas where we need to improve like our approaches to the leeward marks and changing our mode a bit quicker upwind with the changing pressure.

After a hard day of racing, we made our way back to our at condo at the Galleon which is about a 30 second walk to our boat.  With 5 sailors packed in a small place things can get a bit messy at times, and when the owner of New England Ropes which is a major sponsor of Bora’s program dropped in for a post race visit, we were caught a bit off guard and handed him a half-full jar of cheese dip, chip crumbs and a half filled beer and welcomed him to our impromptu sponsor party.  I think he was thankful only the on-the water photos are in his catalog.

Prior to leaving our condo this morning, we did a bit of wagering on the Melges 32 fleet as we have a front row seat for watching a world class fleet duke it out.  Samba cleaned up the day which put our tactician Jeremy Wilmot and bow girl Kelly Stannard tied for the top spots, and after putting all my chips in with a team that shall remain nameless who did not live up to my expecations, I am firmly in last place.  Clearly I need to do more to motivate my team.

Full Results.  Photos.

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