Key West Race Week – Update Final

Three races today in perfect Key West conditions-18-24 knots of wind and sunshine.

There was way too much action to go through it all. The first two races were great for us with a 3, 5 but the third one was bad.

The scores aren’t out yet but I think Barking Mad and Mascalzone tied for first. The French were probably third. I think we may have slipped to 7th or even 8th today. The final results will be available at www.premiere-racing.com.

The amazing thing was watching Mascalzone come back through the fleet after being over early in 3 races. They are truly quick. The French were very impressive in their speed too and they have a brand new boat here so we are hoping for some of that with our new boat which will be ready for the next regatta in March.

We are pretty happy with our regatta. Just getting used to sailing together and sorting out the boat and sails. Being down here in Key West at this time of the year is a treat no matter where you finish.

Key West Race Week – Update

We finally got under way at 1430 with about 10 knots of wind. The wind filled from the North Northwest ahead of the front which is due here tonight or early tomorrow morning.

The sea was very flat as the race course was downwind of a set of barrier islands.

In the first race, the fleet got off to a clean start and unfortunately we were just a bit behind relative to the group around us. We got forced to tack and forced to tack again and basically bounced around a bit. Luckily there were some shifts and we managed to get some good lanes and finished a respectable 8th. Twins, the new French Farr 40 sailed a perfect race to lead around all the marks. Mascalzone Latino sailed a good race finishing 2nd to extend their overall lead over Barking Mad who finished 6th. The win moved Twins up to 4th overall.

In the second race we had a decent start but were going to be in a tough lane with Mascalzone just to windward and another boat tight to leeward. Both were over the start line early and had to restart. Mascalzone fouled a boat returning so they had to do a penalty circle as well as get back to the line. They were over 100 yards clear in last place when the finally got going. The current world champions moved through the fleet with ease to finish 12th. Barking Mad and ourselves (Warpath) went all the way left and got a very nice shift to be first and second at the first windward mark. We sailed comfortably down the run and up the second beat we even gained a bit on Barking Mad. They decided to tack on us near the end of the beat which made things a bit close for us with Twins. The run became a real battle for us but we round the last leeward mark even with the French. We traded tacks up the last windward leg, always close. But near the end of the leg, both of us had gotten to the left side, which had always paid up to that point and Fiamma, another Italian boat got to the right of both of us and moved into second place.

Overall, three Italian boats are in the top 5; Mascalzone, Nerone and Fiamma. Pretty strong! For complete results go to; www.premiere-racing.com

Anyway, it was a good day for Warpath and we moved up two place to 6th overall. We are learning a lot and having some fun too. We will get our new boat for the next regatta in Miami in March and then use it in the pre worlds and World Championship in April, also in Miami.

Tomorrow’s start is move up to 0930 so 0730 at the boat. The temperature is supposed to drop to 60 and the wind is supposed to be 18-24 knots tomorrow. Back to the fleeces, wool ski hats and the wet weather gear.

Key West Race Week – Update – Early Report

No wind the morning here in Key West so the Race Committee postponned and held the competitors ashore.

The postponement flag came down at 1200 EST and we are headed out now for a 1330 start. There is a cold front approaching which should bring a building northwesterly wind this afternoon and evening. Cooler temps too…back into the 60’s tonight and tomorrow.

Two races are possible.

More later.

Key West Race Week – Update

No wind=No Racing….in Sailboats.

This is how you get statistically perfect sailing conditions. Monday we had 30 knots and too much to race and today 4 knots and not enough to sail. The average of that is 17 knots. Perfect, right? Just kidding. In reality, Key West is one of the best venues in the world for racing sailboats. Just a bit of bad luck this week.

Tomorrow is supposed to be good; 8-13 knots of wind. I am sure the race committee will be eager to get three races in so it will be another long, tough day like yesterday. But tomorrow is a long way off right now and most of the 2500 sailors are well into their third Margarita or Mudslide at this point. Good money making afternoon for Key West.

I am going to run to the beach out by the airport and go for a swim. At 1700 I am going over to Seaquest, a Westport 130 (Powerboat) for a beer with Rich DeVos. Rich has been a big supporter of sailing for many, many years with various project and campaigns including AmericaOne in 2000. His sailboats are always named Windquest. Last fall I sailed with his son Doug on his TP 52 in Portugal. Really good people.

END

Key West Race Week – Update

Today the weather conditions returned back to normal and we had a busy day with 3 races in all classes. The wind started out at 18-20 knots in the first race and dropped steadily over the day down to a low of 9 knots midway through the third race. The sky was overcast and rain cells were all around and pulling the wind right and left. The committee on race course 1 did a great job of moving the marks around to keep the course pretty square.

Onboard Warpath, we had a decent day and are currently in 8th place out of the 25 entires. We had a bad start in the first race and struggled to get 13th. In the last two races we had good starts and stayed near the front of the fleet finishing 8th and 7th. The top boats had a bit of speed on us so we have some work to do to get our mast and mainsail working better together.

The top boat for the day was current world champions, Mascalzone Latino, from Naples, Italy with scores of 2,2,3. Mascalzone, Mean Machine (NED), Barking Mad (USA) and Nerone (ITA) are the top of this fleet and no surprise that they were all at the top today. All are past World Champions in the Farr 40 class.

The one design Farr 40’s are so even in speed that even after a 2 mile windward leg, they all seem to arrive at the same time. This makes getting around the windward mark very exciting and sometimes expensive. I think there were a few prangs today, some even with damage. Fortunately, we were not involved in any.

The fleet is gearing up for the World Championship in Miami in April. Key West and the SORC in March are top regattas in their own right but they have the added significance of being usefull in preparation for the World Championship.

The results were not final at the time I wrote this due to some protests. You can find the complete results at; www.premiere-racing.com

Here is some other information that may be useful:

Follow the results and the racing at Premiere-Racing.com. Blogging from all four courses, Kattack race tracking, and daily video reports will bring the action home. Be sure to check ESPN.com each evening for a 4-5 minute Gary Jobson production that will feature racing highlights of different classes each day.

Key West Race Week – Update

Too much wind again today. The Race Committee postponed ashore until 1130 then all fleets were sent out. The wind was in the low 20’s. But as we sailed out to the race areas, the breeze built to 30 knots plus.

At 1300, the scheduled start time, the race committee’s for all four courses abandoned racing for the day and sent the fleet in. Since it was a five mile beat to windward for the Farr 40’s, we used the sail in as an opportunity to train in the heavy air. We sailed in race mode with Peter de Ridder and his Mean Machine team as well as Joe Fly from Italy. We all had our coach boats following us, observing who was doing what from a sail trim standpoint and who was going better. We sailed on both tacks and even switched sides to see if there was any geographical influence on the results. As we approached the harbor the wind had moderated to 25 knots so we set our fractional spinnakers (Farr 40’s can have masthead spinnakers now) and went ripping down wind. It was good to get a few gybes in those conditions when it didn’t count. It was pretty exciting but we did not do any serious damage.

We got back to the dock about 1530, had our little debrief on what we learned, bailed the water out of the boat, hosed off the wet weather gear, loaded the dehumidifier onboard, fired her up and headed back to the house.

This morning a very nice older man approached me on the dock to thank me for participating in the panel discussion yesterday and disusing tactics. He went on to explain that he has come down to Key West each of the 8 years since he retired even though he does not race here. He does not sail big boats, rather, he sails a Lightening. Still he really enjoys coming down, seeing all the boats and mixing with the people. But he particularly likes listening to the forums. He said he was so happy because race organizer, Peter Craig, allows even those who are not racing to attend the panel discussions. It made me feel good to talk to this gentleman because it was just as I had suspected and actually wrote about yesterday

I want to follow up and another topic in my piece from yesterday, where I explained the crew mix onboard the Farr 40’s as; four “pro’s” and six “amateurs”. These terms are not the official terms. ISAF (International Sailing Federation) categorizes sailors for the purpose of eligibility in certain regattas. Category 1 and category 3 are the official terms for “Amateur” and “Professional”. Each Farr 40 is allowed four category 3 sailors and six category 1 sailors. A category one sailor is someone who does not earn his living from sailing. A Category 3 sailor is one who does earn his living from sailing. It does not necessarily refer to the skill level of the sailor. Many a day I come in and don’t feel like a “Pro” and am pretty sure that most of the “amateurs” on my boat could have done a better job than I did. A couple of examples of Category 1 sailors who beat up on us “Pro’s” regularly would be Bill and Carl Buchan of Seattle, Gold Medalists in 1984 Star and Flying Dutchman and John Dane who just won the Star Olympic Trials with Austin Sperry and are headed to China this summer. These guys are at the top of our sport and still focus on a career outside sailing.

Anyway, the important thing about the “Pro” and “Amateur” thing is that the owners, who are amateurs, steer their own boats and the pros fill in other positions. The amateur driver with pro tactician would be like going golfing and having Phil Mickelson or Fred Couples as your caddie, giving you tips but not taking the swing for you. I think it has been very healthy for our sport.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for 20 knots of wind moderating into the lower teens so it will probably be a 3 race day.

One correction; the website for the Acura Key West Race Week is; www.premiere-racing.com.

Key West Race Week – Update

Today marks the first day of racing here in Key West. With entries from 18 countries, 60 foreign boats and 2,500 sailors, the Acura Key West Race Week is without a doubt the most popular winter appointment for sailors worldwide.

Practice over the past three days leading up to today’s start saw conditions ranging from 6-8 knots on Friday, to 10-15 on Saturday and 25-30 on Sunday. Not many ventured out today and some of those who did had more excitement than they desired.

This event has 16 classes, from PHRF to IRC, to the very competitive one design classes like Farr 40, Melges 32, Melges 24 and the Club Swan 42. The 16 classes are spread out over four races areas…that means four race committees, lots of buoys, anchors, anchor lines, spare anchor lines, horns, etc. You get the idea… a BIG organization. Peter Craig and his team at Premiere Racing do an excellent job of not only running the event but promoting it, gathering corporate support and offering an event that fosters interest in our sport.

I am sailing with Fred and Steve Howe on their Farr 40 Warpath. I raced with the Howes in 2005 in Sydney in the Farr 40 Worlds where we finished a credible 4th. The Farr 40 Class is extremely competitive (25 entries here) with a nice mix onboard of four pros and six amateurs per boat. The helmsman is required to be an amateur, as well as the owner of the boat. Many of the top names in the sport are tacticians in this Class, including Terry Hutchinson, Dean Barker, Peter Isler, Brad Butterworth, Vasco Vascotto, Tony Rey, Gavin Brady, Morgan Larsson, Jeff Madrigali, to name a few….The other three pros on the boats are usually the mainsheet trimmer, a headsail trimmer and the bow man. Most all the pros in this class also race in the America’s Cup.

Having said all that, one of the best things about Key West Race Week is that there are so many passionate amateur sailors here….people who take vacation time and often pay their own expenses to come down here. These are the people who make up the heart and soul of our sport. This is there celebration of sailing.

To honor this passion, a few of us pros participated in a round table conference yesterday afternoon for one hour, just before the skippers’ meeting at 1700. Peter Isler, Terry Hutchinson, Larry Leonard, Riccardo Simoneschi, Kimo Worthington and myself reviewed a Farr 40 race from Key West 2007, using a software program called Kattack. Kattack plots the course of each boat and creates a graphical depiction of the race. Each of us was assigned to be the tactician of one of the race boats. The “race” was stopped a several interesting situations where were asked to comment on what was going through our mind relative to the fleet, the wind direction, even our position in the race at that time and weather risks or conservatism was warranted. The session was surprisingly well received, especially considering the Chargers were playing New England at that time. I think Kattack may be available on line to those of you who could not get down here to Key West in person.

Today’s forecast is for 25-30 knots of wind. My guess is that if this forecast holds true, Peter Craig and his team will postpone the start of Race 1 which is currently scheduled for 1030 EST. It is the first day of a long week and no point in breaking everyone’s gear on day one. The wind may moderate enough in the afternoon for us to get one or two races in.

For more information you can go to

Acura Key West Race Week

Happy 2008! The skiing was good, the eating was too much, and the kids are backing school so now it is time to head south for some good sailing…Key West Style.

I haven’t been to Key West Race Week in a few years so I am really looking forward to it. Good breeze, competitive racing, and a good blend of pro’s and true lovers of the sport. Mix all that together with a few beers (or rums) and a tropical climate and what you have is a great time. I try to stay out of the wildest activities on Duval Street. Coming form northern California where the temperature actually drops at night, I love the warm night breezes blowing through this town in the evenings. The Cruise ships bring a ugly reality to the place but most of that action and population is confined to a few blocks right down at the west end of the island. Peter Craig and his Premier Racing have been doing a fantastic job of organizing this event for many years and have made it the best winter sailing event in the world.

I will be sailing with Steve and Fred Howe’s Warpath, a Farr 40. We are preparing for the Farr 40 World Championship which will take place in Miami in April. I think we will have over 30 boats on the line in Key West and probably over 40 at the Worlds. I have not sailed in the class yet since they moved to masthead spinnakers so I am interested to see how that has changed the performance of the boats. I am also remembering how critical a good start and first windward leg are in these boats. Consistency is always a big payer at the end of these regattas.

Unfortunately the Farr 40 schedule and the Star winter schedule’s conflict this year so no Bacardi Cup or World Championship for me. Not only do the calendars conflict but the venues are the same…Miami.

Valencia seems far away now. It will be interesting to see how the America’s Cup lives through this next 18 months. I guess we will see two incredibly fast contraptions created for the upcoming grudge match. Probably pretty cool boats actually but most likely not much of a race. It is often said that to climb, one can’t just maintain a straight incline but rather one must climb, then level off or descend slightly, then climb again. I guess the America’s Cup is just in one of those mandatory “divots” in the climb…kind of like the chart of the stock market over the past 90 years. Let’s just hope were not at the 1929 part.

Good Sailing or skiing, wherever you are!

Key West Race Week

Next on the calendar for Paul Cayard is Premiere Racing’s Key West Race Week, from 21-25 January. Cayard will be racing with Fred and Steve Howe on their Farr 40 Warpath.

Cayard raced with Warpath during the Farr 40 World Championships in Sydney, Australia a few years back and is looking forward to being back on board for Key West, Miami Race Week and the Farr 40 Worlds later this year in April.

Having won the 2007 North American Championships, the team from San Diego will provide steep competition to the impressive fleet of 25 boats from nine countries.

Cayard will also take part in a panel discussion moderated by Andreas Josenhans of North Sails PRG on ‘Winning Tactics’ on Sunday, 20 January from 16.00-17.00.

Based upon the assumption that…

By the time this article comes out I am sure the decision of the New York State Supreme Court will be known. We will either be on the fast track for 2009 or the back burner while BMW Oracle and Alinghi negotiate a new Protocol for the 33rd America’s Cup. Or, worse yet, we may all sit on the sidelines and watch another catamaran race. Maybe you need one of those every 20 years!

In any case, this is a great example of what is wrong with the America’s Cup and why in its current structure… Deed of Gift, and so on… it is prone to problems in today’s world. All major sporting events need true independent management.

I have been in Valencia now for three weeks working with Desafío Español as the sports director (I love that title… it makes me feel like an athlete.) We have been operating under the presumption that the Cup will happen in 2009 and that it will take place in the new AC 90 class. This seems the only logical way to operate. If one tries to make a plan for all possible outcomes one goes nowhere.

In fact, Alinghi/ACM have maintained a very professional MO throughout all the uncertainty posed by the court case and issued the new AC90 rule on 31 October. This date was important as the Protocol says no race shall be run in the new class within 18 months of the issue of the class rule. The first race of AC 33 is scheduled for 2 May 2009.

What can be said about the new class is it will be bigger, faster and a lot of work. With an unlimited sail area for the spinnaker, a mast of 37m and a tack point 14m forward of the mast (on a bowsprit), you can be sure they will top out very close to 650m2 of sail area. Then add in the fact that the apparent wind will never go aft of 90 and you have some heavyweight cloth being used on these sails. Good luck getting them down and even more luck getting them repacked inside the boat!

The boat has a displacement of 23 tons, which is one ton less than the current ACC boats, but it will have a 6.5m draft rather than the current 4.1m, so there will be righting moment and there will be big loads!

This new boat will be relatively narrow but will carry its beam further aft as there is no more hull girth measurement. The current mainsails are about 220m2 and the new ones will be 375m2. So you don’t want to miss-time the start and have to do the big ease of the main with 10 seconds to go, so that you can bearaway down the line. The grinders (12 of them) won’t be at all happy with you.

Honestly, the new boat is the big attraction for me to get back into the Cup. I like development and I like speed. It looks like we will have plenty of both.

There is a document called the Competitor Regulations that contains the rules for both the Cup and the preceding Acts. And there are some new rules for the 33rd AC. Among them: no two-boat testing. So no team may have more than one AC 90 boat outside the harbour at any one time.

This means that ‘testing’ and ‘development’ will be done by racing against others. Seems simple enough, just like any other regatta: find a partner and organise a race or some training. Nope. ACM have to organise all training… So when you want to sail against someone else, you have to ring up and make an appointment and then find out who ACM assign you to train with.

Also, Alinghi will race in the Challenger Selection Series and will train with the challengers before hand. This is because, with no two-boat testing, Alinghi would be disadvantaged if, as Defender, they had no one to race against. This means Alinghi will be completely current with the challengers all the way through the Challenger Selection Series…

Of course these races don’t count for Alinghi as they are in the final anyway; so how do you know what you are getting when you race against them? Furthermore, if you lose to Alinghi, it is aloss. They will undoubtedly affect the outcome of the Challenger Selection Series. This is definitely something new…

The only other sailing team in residence here in Valencia is United Internet Team Germany. The Germans look to be on a goodpath. From Alinghi they acquired SUI 91,the first of the two new boats the Swiss built for 2007, and Jochen Schumann, sport director of Alinghi. They have chosen good crew from all teams and look to have a lean but competent design team with Jason Ker who designed Shosholoza for the last Cup. And now they have enough budget to be fully competitive in the marketplace for personnel. We are scheduling racing with them once a week or so from now on using the existing ACC boats.

We’ve also bought two Swedish Match 40s for match race training. The 40s were designed by my father-in-law, Pelle Petterson, a few years ago for the specific purpose of match racing. A number of events on the World Match Racing Tour now use the boats as well as a number of AC teams who bought them in the last cycle for live practice. BMW Oracle relaunched the two SM40s they own here in Valencia last week and they are regularly out sparring. They also have two of these boats in San Francisco where Larry Ellison trains on the wheel.

One new thing here in Valencia is that BMW Oracle Racing now have the US flag flying over their base. The US flag was noticeably absent from the base and the boat during the last campaign and I felt for Jane Eagleson, BMW Oracle PR director, dodging and deflecting questions about the missing flag.

Desafío Español will train here in Valencia through to mid-December, then we are off until early February at least. The base will get a bit of work done to improve it, based on what was learned last time and also what is necessary to accommodate the new AC 90 yachts. Our team will get a nice long Christmas break as the vacation at the end of 2008 will no doubt be very short…