#commodorescup – The build up for next Summer's Commodore's Cup event starts next month in Florida. Irish Interest in Key West features Cork Olympic sailor Peter O'Leary at the helm of the New York based Ker 40 Catapult, a boat tipped as one of three to form the Irish Commodore's Cup team next July on the Solent.
Irish crews including O'Leary will be among the racing teams from across the USA and around the world getting ready to compete in the waters off America's southernmost city during the 27th annual Key West Race Week, scheduled Sunday through Friday, January 19-24.
Ireland is aiming to field a team at the Commodore's Cup next July and although the three boat team has yet to be officially announced it is expected the American Ker design will be flying the Irish Tricolour on the Solent.
The 2012 built yacht will also feature Irish sailor Tommy Murphy on board with the American sailors, according to the Catapult crew entry.
The "wow" factor is clearly in play again for the 2014 edition. All three divisions will feature well prepared programmes gathering to enjoy great competition and renowned Key West sailing conditions, as they pursue coveted podium finishes.
The incredibly popular J/70 class is coming off a very successful Key West debut with the fleet topping 60 boats for their 2014 Midwinter Championship. Returning veterans and newcomers to Key West will experience big fleet racing with exciting starts, tight mark roundings, and close finishes. Both the J/70 Open and Corinthian winners will be recognised with daily and series trophies.
The variety of boat size and type are two of the elements that make Key West special, and big boat racing will again be a meaningful part of the 2014 story. Three 72 footers will test each other in the 'Mini Maxi' IRC class. 2013 winner George Sakellaris' Shockwave and Hap Fauth's Bella Mente will mix it up with Alex Schaerer's 2013 Rolex Capri Sailing Week champion Caol Ila R.
The 52 Class begins their second US Super Series in Key West. They'll continue the series at their 2014 World Championship in Miami next March. Alberto Roemmers and team Azzurra will be back to defend their 2013 title against five other high-powered programs.
The J/80s are the comeback class of the year. These one designs, strong players in Key West for many years, will feature quality and quantity with 14 boats currently on the scratch sheet.
Andrew Kerr, tactician on Ron Buzil's Vayu 2 shared his enthusiasm: "We are excited to have a growing fleet of J80's for this coming year's Key West Race Week. Key West is an important part of the J80 class' winter tour as teams gear up for the World Championships in Annapolis in late September. Racing at Key West always features world class competition in every fleet. Top level race and event management from Premiere Racing, coupled with fantastic sailing conditions, helps the event attract more and more J/80 teams who want to kick start the racing year!"
Handicap racing will also come in the form of a High Performance (HPR), IRC3, and two PHRF classes. For the PHRF racing, three number handicaps will be in play for three established wind ranges - a first in Key West - which is expected to produce even closer racing. All four of these classes boast serious programs, experienced racers and talented afterguards, along with some exciting, new models. A look at the scratch sheet tells a very promising story.
"As the curtain comes down on the 2013 racing season, the Premiere Racing team is looking forward to kicking off 2014 with a bang," remarked Event Director Peter Craig. "The make up of the Key West fleet is different every year, but one thing that never changes is the quality of the competition, which will come in the form of terrific one design, IRC, HPR and PHRF racing."
Regatta dates are January 19 - 24, 2014.