Every year for one glorious week in January, sailors from all over the world gather in the laid back town of Florida's Key West. This year the event was host to 260 boats from 18 different countries. There were 16 fleets in total, eight of which were one design fleets with the likes of Farr 40's, Mumm 30's and the largest fleet in the regatta Melges 24's competing. The other classes were the Melges 32, J/105, J/80, Swan 42, and the Corsair 28R. There was also a large number of handicapped racing, as well PHRF fleets 1 through 6 and the IRC 1 and 2 had some fierce competition.
Day one of the regatta was as breezy as it gets, blowing 25-35 knots from the northeast. Racing was postponed until noon when the race committee decided to send us out for a look after a controversial postponement at last year's event. Racing was eventually cancelled for the day. The day was described by many on the dock as 'survival conditions'.
Day two of the event was also windy, with 18-22 knots of air. There were a total of three races sailed in great conditions. Grey skies, high winds and anxious sailors made for a great first day of competition.
The third day was another uncharacteristic day for Key West Race Week – no wind at all. The fleets were sent out in the morning because of a promising forecast however, sadly, the breeze never filled in as predicted. Racing was abandoned in the afternoon.
With the race committee desperately wanting to get more races in, they, as well as the participants, were disappointed to wake up on day 4 to find no wind. Racing was postponed all morning; at noon, the fleets were sent out and the breeze filled into 20 knots that lead to some really great racing. The announcement of the rum pour being delayed over the radios brought a sigh of relief to many of the sailors. It was another two-race day for most fleets; this meant that most boats didn't get off the water until 1800 hours – a very long day of competing. Once again, the race committee wanted to get more racing in for all the fleets, so an amendment in the sailing instructions on Thursday night meant first gun was now at 0930 as opposed to the regular 1030. One less hour of sleep (or partying).
A late finish combined with an early start made day 5 a little bit tougher. However, clear skies and 20 knots allowed for great racing on the final day of competition. It was the day that will make every competitor want to return for this extraordinary event. The early start meant the racing ended earlier – good news to many of the road warriors in the smaller boat fleets.
This year's edition of Key West Race Week was, as per its reputation, an extremely well run event. Some uncharacteristic weather made it frustrating for both the competitors and the race committee alike. A full schedule of racing, as well as a number of organized social events (most of which taking place in "the tent") make KWRW fun for both the extremely competitive as well as those who enjoy the party. If you can make the trip down for Key West Race Week, it will never disappoint!