by Shayne Benowitz
Olympians, World Champions, and Gold Cup Champions from across the country and around the world are tactfully tacking across the tropical waters of Key West this week in fierce competition. January 19-23 marks the 22nd Annual Acura Regatta, the largest winter racing event in the country. Sailors and sailing enthusiasts have swarmed Key West for this exciting week.
The official headquarters of the regatta is at the historic Key West Bight. Trailers packed with supplies for each team line the streets and parking lots. At the Westin Marina, where I work at Fury Water Adventures, there are a number of racing sailboats docked in the surrounding slips. My first experience with boats was learning how to sail on 26’ cruising sloops in the Hudson River. It became one of my favorite pastimes, so I love coming to work in the morning to see these beautiful boats in the marina.
In the calm waters offshore, you can see a line of racing sloops rounding their course with colorful spinnakers ballooning from the bow. There are three divisions in the regatta featuring sailboats ranging from the larger Farr 40s and Swan 42s to the midsize Melges 32s and 24s and the smaller J/80s. All Class Associations are watching closely to see how their fleets perform. Monday, the Italians and the British fared well in the races. The rest of the week promises to be action-packed and exciting.
Before the week is over, I’d love to get a closer look at some of these boats and learn more about what goes into sail racing. Maybe I’ll make some new friends along the docks!
Shayne Benowitz is a Fury crewmember and freelance writer working on her debut novel. For more travel stories and a daily dose of what’s cool around the globe visit her Wanderlust Website at http://web.me.com/shaynebeth.