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;