Not surprising that only 154 boats turned out for the 22nd edition of Key West Race Week, down from 261 boats in 2008. Still, the competition was high, especially amongst the Melges 24 (33 boats) and the Melges 32 (20 boats) fleets. While the grand-prix action was in IRC 1, it was IRC 2 that proved to be the most interesting handicap fleet to watch as it featured the U.S. racing premiere of the new Santa Cruz 37, and the first KWRW for the King 40’s. Interestingly, Jim Bishop’s nearly 20-year-old J/44, Gold Digger, finished third in IRC 2, proving yet again that masterful sailing, not a spanking-new boat, is the recipe for success.
You’d think that in a down-turned economy fewer sailors would be able to turn up for a Olympic Class Regatta (OCR), especially this far out from the next summer Olympics. Not so. In fact, 444 sailors from 41 countries arrived for January’s Miami OCR to compete in 10 Olympic classes and 3 Paralympics classes. For comparison, 2008’s Miami OCR fielded 369 sailors from 34 countries. In an Olympic year. Go figure.
Blood, not water, has flowed under the bridge since 2007 when the America’s Cup rift was matched by rumors that Louis Vuitton was leaving the game. But the luxury goods company returned to sponsor the Vuitton Pacific Series in New Zealand in February. As racing opened, final legal arguments were yet to be heard in a New York court between Cup defender Alinghi and BMW Oracle. And, OK, the racing was interesting, but the real competition was for hearts and minds. Ed Baird was helming Alinghi with skipper Brad Butterworth at his side. And Butterworth’s former skipper, Russell Coutts, was helming BMW Oracle. Ernesto Bertarelli did not list himself as an Alinghi crew member; Larry Ellison did sign onto the crewsheet of his BMW Oracle Team. The end, or a new beginning?