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Six fleets came out to play in Key West at the Southernmost Regatta Powered by Sailing Inc

by Hannah Lee Noll 20 Jan 12:20 NZDT 15-19 January 2024
Southernmost Regatta Powered by Sailing Inc © Hannah Lee Noll

On a little chain of islands a few hours south of Miami, there's a town popping with palm trees, humming with live music, and surrounded by shimmering turquoise waters.

Forget port/starboard: in Key West, the roosters roaming the streets have the right of way. Everything moves a bit slower down here, which is just how we like it. Here at the southernmost point of the United States, the Southernmost Regatta presented by Sailing Inc. just came to a close.

Six classes raced in the fourth edition of the event. A wide range of conditions ensured the best teams found their way to the top of the leaderboard after a week of racing.

Sailors enjoyed the laidback island lifestyle here in the Florida Keys. Each day after racing, sailors gathered for awards at the Sunset Tiki Bar with live music and Mount Gay aplenty.

"This is the fourth year we've organized racing in Key West," said Rob Ruhlman. "This year saw a noticeable increase in professionalism all due to the team Chip assembled: highly organized yet personal and friendly." We'll do it again next year! Registration is open for January 20-25, 2025.

ORC Navigator

The newcomer this year is the "Navigator" division, won by Will McKeige. Each day, this double-handed ORC fleet raced a short distance race, including an overnight race won by McKeige and Vadim Shablinksky racing a Figaro 2+. McKeige finished at about ten in the morning on Thursday, ten minutes ahead of the next boat. "We had about ten sail changes overnight, so we're looking forward to a fun Key West dinner and a good night's sleep." The Southernmost Regatta teamed up with North East Keelboat Alliance (NEKA) to bring this growing double-handed format to Key West.

Cape 31

Richard Thompson's Black Seal team from the United Kingdom had a late-game surge in the evenly matched Cape 31 fleet. Drew Freides's Pacific Yankee began the event in pole position, but a pair of bullets on day three catapulted the Brits ahead of the Americans.

Great Lakes 52

The behemoths in the Great Lakes 52 fleet were a stunning spectacle on the blue waters off Key West. Led by skipper Santiago Lange and tactician Andy Horton, Victor Wild's FOX took charge early on, finishing with seven bullets throughout the 11-race series. "The Southernmost was run at a very high level and had something for every crew," said Horton. "Some are more interested in Duval Street and others in tight racing; it's a great balance. The level of GL52 competition is fierce here, so we feel lucky enough to come out on top." The GL52 fleet had a dedicated race course supported by PRO Carol Ewing.

J/111

Tight competition characterized the J/111 racing, especially between Andrew & Sedgwick Ward's Bravo and Rob Ruhlman's Spaceman Spiff. Like in 2022, Bravo came out on top.

ORC Performance

Bill Hanckel's J/120 Emocean made a strong showing this week, winning nearly all the races. It was Jon Weglarz's The Asylum who had the last laugh though, winning the final race.

J/70

Douglas Newhouse's Yonder team from New York Yacht Club put on a show in the J/70 fleet with six bullets out of eight contests.

50 races, including three distance races, were completed. Regatta Chair Marty Kullman, Principal Race Officer Chip Till, and their teams rolled out the red carpet for sailors. The Southernmost Regatta Powered by Sailing Inc. extends its deep gratitude to the vision of the Ruhlman family, Evolution Sails, Chicago Yacht Club, Mount Gay Rum, Harken Inc., J/Boats, La Leyenda Mezcal, EWE Spirit Foundation, AA Dive Services, Sunset Tiki Bar, the City of Key West. Media coverage was provided by Hannah Lee Noll, Sharon Green's Ultimate Sailing, and Up Top Media.

The Mount Gay was flowing, the breeze was blowing, and the Southernmost Regatta has cemented itself as the place to be in January. Plan on joining the fun next year — onward & upward!

Full Results

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