If there were ever any doubts about Quantum Key West Race Week remaining a competitive event, the experience of SAIL magazine’s Best Around the Buoys crew this past January should put them to rest, once and for all.
Sailing in the 19-boat J/80 class, skipper Ryan Glaze and teammates Gray Rackley, and Max and Jake Scott were looking good midway through the five-day event, with four podium finishes in the first six races. Despite being new to the boat—the Texas-based crew typically races aboard Glaze’s Melges 24 Team Gringo—they were generating excellent boatspeed in a variety of conditions and running in second place overall.
And then came Day 4.
Before leaving the dock that morning, Glaze reiterated his plan to sail “conservatively,” as he had all week. But after rounding the first mark of the first race in fourth place, Team Gringo took a bit of a flyer in search of better wind and got stung. “It looked good to the right, so we went right, and then the left came in,” Glaze said ruefully.
Then in the following race Team Gringo got caught over early at the start, once again putting them at the back of the fleet. Glaze and company fought back as best they could in the light conditions, but to little avail. “We were passing boats, but when you’re that far back, it’s tough,” Glaze said of the ensuing 12th-place finish, their worst of the regatta.
Still, as cruel as Key West can be out on the water, there are few better places to lick your wounds in the middle of January—even midway through a winter as mild as this past one. Earlier that day, Jake Scott had joked that the crew might give Glaze a couple of beers to keep him from getting too jumpy. And though it was decided beers for breakfast might not be such a good idea after all, when I caught up with Glaze, Rackley and the Scotts that afternoon they were all “drowning their sorrows” at the Schooner Wharf Bar—a form of sports therapy that appeared to be meeting with a good deal of success.
The following morning dawned bright and clear, with the same “chamber of commerce” sailing conditions—a fresh breeze and plenty of sun—that had characterized the start of the regatta. Team Gringo started the day with a solid sixth, and finished third in the 10th and final race, which gave them a respectable sixth overall. Finishing in first for the week was skipper Glenn Darden and crew John Gluek, Reese Hillard and Karl Anderson aboard Le Tigre. Taking second overall was Swedish sailor Mikael Lindqvist aboard Rocad Racing.
Afterward, despite those first couple of gybes on Day 4, Team Gringo still seemed plenty happy, both with their own performance and Key West in general. Not only has Quantum Key West long been a “bucket list” regatta for the crew, but they clearly love being on the water together. There’s also nothing like having the support of SAIL’s BAB partners North Sails, Pettit Paint, Harken, US Sailing and Premiere Racing Inc. to help ease the pain. In Glaze’s words: “We all love to race sailboats, and we love racing with each other even more.”
Doing what you love in a place like Key West, Florida: it doesn’t get much better than that, no matter where you finish!
For full KWRC coverage, check out our Best Around the Buoys blog!
Top photo by Ingrid Abery