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I Pledge Allegiance to the Conch Republic »

January 15, 2012

If Key West Race Week was a person, it would be the highly talented, heavily recruited football Quarterback that had all the fame and glory in H.S. and College, but woke up one morning at the beginning of their pro career, partied out and overweight wondering where all of the girls went (cue Todd Marinovich).   The fundamentals are all still in place, but the intangibles seem to be missing resulting in a lackluster product that has only a few more years show its true value before its legacy is washed away.

Just like a coach that sees potential in a gristled, veteran QB, Key West received a major shot in the arm when Doug DeVos and Quantum Racing stepped up to the plate to be the headlining sponsor of the event for 2012.  It would be a challenge to find a person who has been more charitable with growing the sport of sailing than Doug DeVos in the past few years, and in its 25th year with a rebounding economy the hope is that the numbers will begin to rise, and return Key West Race Week to its place as the premier event in the country.  Despite the low numbers the past few years, the racing is still the best to be found, and the lure of just being in Key West is what makes this event a must do for the die-hards.  The best part for me is taking a post-dinner stroll down Duval street and whether it is watching a tourist get bucked from a mechanical bull, or spotting a transvestite scooter parade, there is no shortage of entertainment in the southern most point in the US.

As for the event this year, there is a stacked fleet of 52 footers headlined by the World Champions on Quantum Racing, the 32 fleet is still going strong with their typical 20 strong entries, and for the 24 fleet which I will be sailing this year with current National Champ Bora Gulari, the numbers are not strong with only 15 boats, but the top 5 will be hard fought with Blu-Moon, WTF,  and Monsoon.  We have had a few solid days of breezy practice which was good for our boathandling, and a bit of a harsh reminder of the long week ahead of painful hiking. Our squad has had no problem gelling on and off the water and if we can sail as hard as we have been laughing to this point, we should be in good shape.

If checking the results of the 15 boat Melges 24 fleet doesnt get you excited, you can always check out Key West mugshots of those who “Came on vacation, left on probation.” When this event was rocking with 400+ sailors you would be guaranteed to get a few photos of Dad’s from Ohio who had a little too much fun at the Green Parrot, wiped out their scooters and ended up in a cell with the large number of vagrants and pirates who pledge their allegiance to the Conch Republic.  Or you can do a little reading the on the history of the Conch Republic, and particularly the Invasion of 1995 where Conch Republic citizens fended off a US Army vessel with a pile of stale cuban bread.

Scratch Sheet here.




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