Narragansett Bay sailors have made their annual migration to Key West, Fla., for the 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week. There’s no doubting the beauty of racing in the Bay but at this time of year few places are better than the southernmost point of the continental U.S.
One of the top sailors from the Bay is Tim Healy of Jamestown, who won Boat of the Week honors in 2014 with his J/70 USA-2, with sponsorship from New England Ropes. That year the J/70 class totaled 60 entrants. This year the class is again the largest with 42 entries and Healy’s work will be cut out for him to repeat. Also in the class is 2015 Boat of the Week Calvi Network of Italy as well as Joel Ronning’s Catapult, the reigning world champion.
“When we won in 2014 it was a windy regatta, exceptionally windy the last few days and we had a blast,” said Healy. “Key West is a place you go in the middle of winter where there’s warm weather and big breeze. You come here and feel like you get three days of breeze on and most likely five days of good winds. That’s what sets it apart and why there’s always really good turnout.”
Jamestown’s Hannah Swett, the 2003 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, is also racing in the J/70 Class. She spent last summer racing the new boat in the Tuesday night series racing with her mother and 5-year-old daughter. Race week marks her first major event.
“Yeah, I’m a little scared at a 40-boat starting line,” said the skipper who’s won the Yngling one-design world championship and the Fastnet Race in a diverse and varied career. “I really just wanted an opportunity to go sailing with my friends, so I’m totally looking forward to it. I used to teach sailing in Key West so I have some great memories from the island. It should be fun.”
The TP52 Class is the glamour class in the regatta, bristling with talent from the America’s Cup, Olympic Games and Volvo Ocean Race. The class represents the highest caliber racing in the game where every second counts.
Newporters Austin and Gwen Fragomen have the newest boat in the fleet, Interlodge V, which includes Newporters Kris Matthews as captain and Ben Quatromoni as bowman. Launched in December, the crew has had scant few practice days.
“It’s a brand new machine. We’ve sailed only two days, but all things show it should be a nice piece of equipment,” said tactician Andy Horton of Vermont. “If we’re able to find our settings quickly, we’ll have a good week. The boat feels good for sure.”
Phil Lotz, the new commodore of the New York Yacht Club, and his wife Wendy have entered their Gunboat 60 Arethusa. Other local sailors racing in Key West include Mike Marshall of Jamestown, racing as a coach aboard a Flying Tiger 7.5m, David Reed of Portsmouth, the editor of Sailing World magazine, Tony Rey of Middletown, sailing as tactician aboard the TP52 Provezza IX, and Cameron Appleton of Newport, sailing as tactician for the J/70 Mascalzone Latino. Geoff Ewenson, who grew up in Newport and now calls Annapolis, Md., home, is sailing as tactician for the J/111 Velocity.
Beyond all the sailors, Team 1 Newport and New England Boatworks of Portsmouth are both sponsors of the regatta that begins Monday and runs through Friday. For more information visit the Quantum Key West Race Week web site.