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Key West Race Week Celebrates 20 Years

The 20th edition of North America’s premiere regatta is loaded with international sailing talent and new designs, promising intense competition on all four courses.

54 foreign entries, representing a record breaking 23 different countries, and a domestic contingent from more that 30 U.S. states are sending their best to Acura Key
st 2007, presented by Nautica (Jan 15 – 19).

For two decades now the debut of new and exciting racing designs has been a staple for this showcase event. 2007 will be no different with the list of new boats including 3 IRC designs: Michael Brennan’s R/P45 Sjambok, the Ker 50 Magic Glove (IRL) and Rogers 46 Yeoman 32 (UK). Three other designs that will likely be one design classes in Key West beginning in 2008 include the Club Swan 42 (Esmeralda – hull #2), and the J/92 S and Beneteau 10R, both boasting 5 entries this year.

“The quality of this year’s fleet is extraordinary and the competition will be world class”, said Event Director Peter Craig. “We’re really looking forward to celebrating 20 great years with another memorable regatta in January.”

International competition will be at it fiercest in the IRC fleet and the perennially hot Farr 40 class. 27 IRC boats (11 foreign), hailing from nine different countries, will race in three classes.

The IRC 1 class will feature a Porto Cervo Swan 601 re-match with Moneypenny, Artemis, Spirit of Jethou and Cuordileone going head to head. Russell Coutts, back with Artemis, is looking to turn the tables on Swan Rolex Cup winner Moneypenny. The biggest Key West entry on record – the R/P 81 foot BonBon (former Carrera) – joins Newport-Bermuda winner Bella Mente and two Farr 60′s Numbers and Hissar.

The lighter displacement boats in IRC 2 have 4 TP52s including the Russian entry Rusal Synergy. David Aisher’s Rogers 46 Yeoman 32, the R/P 45 Sjambok, and Ireland’s swing keel Cookson 50 Chieftain and Ker 50 Magic Glove round out this competitive class. Makoto Uematsu’s Club Swan 42 Esmeralda will have last year’s PHRF 2 champion Peter Conrad’s Sister Golden Hair to contend with along with 9 other entries from Canada, France, the UK, and the U.S. East Coast and Mid West.

The Farr 40s come with their usual hallmark of talented owner-drivers and all star afterguards. America’s Cup winners and class champions take on royalty with Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik making his first trip to Key West. America’s Cup defender Alinghi with Ernesto Bertarelli and Brad Butterworth, 2006 World Champion Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino and 2006 Mumm 30 World Champion Erik Maris will ensure an intense week of competition.

The PHRF handicap rule was a cornerstone of the first Yachting Race Week in 1988. It is fitting that the rule continues as a major draw with more than 60 boats in six classes competing for their first ever PHRF National Championship twenty years later. A special championship scoring criteria has been developed and is posted on event web site. PHRF class winners will be eligible for the National Championship crown. The all-important class breaks are in process and will be posted soon.

Eight one design classes will make up two thirds of the 2007 fleet. In addition to Key West class championships, many will be vying for additional class honors. The Corsair 28R National Championship and the Melges 32 and Melges 24 Mid Winter Championships are at stake.

The Melges 32 class, which debuted in 2006 with 8 boats, will feature an astonishing 20 boats in 2007. The Melges 24s are again the largest and one of the most competitive one design classes with 5 of last year’s top 6 returning (Dave Ullman – US, Franco Rossini – SUI, John Pollard – UK, Riccardo Simoneschi – ITA, Philippe Ligot – FRA).

J Boats designs, competing in PHRF and one design classes, will comprise nearly one third of the 2007 fleet. 35 J/105s and 17 J/80s will compete for their Mid Winter Championship honors, as will the J/109 class. The J/92s make their Key West debut in PHRF with 5 boats competing for PHRF and sub-class honors. Five J/120s will race boat for boat in a sub-class within PHRF with Rick Wesslund’s El Ocaso defending his 2006 class and PHRF fleet wins.

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