KWRW 2010

8:29 AM 0 Comments

Key West Race Week always holds the promise of sunny skies, good breeze and warm temperatures. As with many things, reality does not always live up to expectations. But, this year Key West did not disappoint. On the docket this year were pleasant conditions and multiple races each day of the week.

I made the journey south to do mast onboard the Melges 32, Ninkasi. This was one of my first opportunities to do mast and opened my eyes to a few deck layout and rigging issues that wouldn't be obvious when staring at a drawing on paper. It's amazing how lines never get knotted or tangled on paper, but how easily it happens in reality if blocks aren't spaced or angled correctly.

Although participant numbers are down from their peak a few years ago, the competition level has not faltered. This point was illustrated by both the Melges 32 class, where each of the top 5 finishers had at least one finish in the mid to high teens, and the Farr 40 class, where the boats seem to round every mark bow to stern with one another.

Key West also offers more than just great racing. The ability to step off the boat, go for a short ride to any one of a number of meeting places, and sit down with owners, boat captains, and project managers to discuss current issues and future plans within the industry is vital to a yacht designer. Sometimes these meetings turn out to be more valuable or more interesting than the days racing.

Not only is Key West a good place to catch up with familiar faces and meet new ones, it also presents great opportunities to walk the docks while admiring and scrutinizing all the different aspects of the fleets. The IRC-1 boats really caught my interest this year. Although the larger boats in IRC 1 are truly impressive, the four IRC52s grabbed my attention. The subtle modifications made by each of the three TP52s are quite interesting. Each had added a sprit, but retained slight differences in terms of deck and stern treatments. All in all, not too different from many of the modifications we make for our optimizations. Add in the Southern Cross 52 and you have a nice fleet within a fleet.

Whether you traveled to Key West this year for the racing, weather, or networking it was hard to come back disappointed.

Emerson Smith