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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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 by

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!

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.

I am back home for the holidays, after three months in Valencia. As we all know, the event has yet to gain traction. The court case between BMW Oracle and Alinghi has completely derailed the America’s Cup. As of this time, there is no date, there is no class of boat, and no venue. There is a defender (Alinghi) and one (1) challenger, BMW Oracle.

Desafio Español, like most other teams, has had to make new plans. In the New Year, we will go to a reduced operation until there is some certainty about the next Cup that the team will be able to participate in. A new program has the team competing on the TP 52 Med Cup and GP 42 Circuits next summer, both in the Mediterranean. These circuits are very competitive and in fact most of the America’s Cup sailors race there. By having its own team boats, supported by Iberdrola and other top sponsors, Desafio will keep the sailing team working seriously and together and continue its presence in the sport of sailing.

This situation is obviously hard on the people on every team who have to, after getting their lives organized to be in Valencia for two years working for the America’s Cup. It is also a shame for the fans of the sport and the corporate sponsors who were starting to appreciate what sailing can offer.

It is amazing to think that just 6 months ago, on the 21st of June, we were heading to the most competitive America’s Cup final in many years following on of the most interesting Louis Vuitton Cups. The first America’s Cup in Valencia raised the profile of the event world wide and indeed Alinghi is to be complimented for that. But, how long will it take to get back to that level? When will we next see a harbor with 60,000 spectators and the kind of enthusiasm we witnessed last summer? What a shame to be in this situation.

For me, I plan to continue with Desafio on their TP 52 project next summer, keeping the team together and hoping for some Cup news before December of 2008. This spring, I will sail on Warpath with Steve and Fred Howe of San Diego, on the Farr 40 circuit which includes Key West, Miami SORC, and the World Championship in April (also in Miami). We finished 4th in the World Championship in Sydney a few years back, so it will be fun to try to improve on that.

I am also revisiting a plan I had last year to race with my kids and a few others to Hawaii. There is a lot of organization required to get a project like that to come to fruition but no time like the present. No Star sailing for the time being although my new boat still sits in a friend’s hangar at Gnoss Field in Novato….fully cured I guess by now.

For now, a bit of a rest and family time. We will be at our home in Kentfield, CA for Christmas and then off to Lake Tahoe for a week of skiing. I want to wish all of you a Very Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Year’s!

Paul Cayard

Cannes

Blown out today. 30 knots of Mistral kept the boats in the harbor all day.

Some of us from the Kiwi Magic team went to our friend Anna Gambiagi’s house in Valbonne for a great lunch with a little French wine. What a luxury to have a four hour lunch on a Friday.

During the afternoon, we had to “petanque” championship. The winner was “Buddha Bob” Billingham who had perfected the “shot put” technique to win over myself and Lexy Gahagen.

I used the high altitude, mega reverse spin technique which got me launched into the lead initially. However, one of my “ultra high altitude” balls went out of bounds and I had to take a Grappa penalty. From there my game kind of deteriorated.

Later in the evening, having sailed two America’s Cups in 12 Meters (Defender and USA), I was privileged to be part of a “round table” discussion on the 12 Meter Class with Marc Pajot (French Kiss), Cino Ricci (Azzurra), James Spithill(Kookaburra). Bob Fisher, esteemed journalist and author of the most comprehensive book on the America’s Cup, “an irresistible” served as moderator. We reminisced about the 12’s in Newport, no shore teams, no pay, etc….the good old days – and answered a few questions.

There is a movement to race on Sunday to get a few more races in, since we only have three races so far, when ten were scheduled. Tomorrow we will find out the result of this effort. I want to note that Roger Wright’s KZ3, who is leading the World Championship, is in favor of more races despite the obvious advantage to them to have fewer races. This is real sportsmanship on the part of the Brazilians!

We are hoping for good wind tomorrow!