Quantum Key West Race week started in Florida with epic conditions

City of Key West Day won by 52 Super Series leader Platoon of Germany

Key West can be named as one of the best racing venues in the world with its amazing sailing conditions. The comments are not even needed to express how awesome was the beginning of the 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week.

"It was a sporty day," said J.D. Hill (Houston, TX), owner of the J/122 Second Star. Hill was the first to enter Quantum Key West Race Week last June and he’s racing for the first time after having the regatta on his bucket list. "For years I’ve heard about all the great conditions and big breeze, and that’s what it delivered. We had winds between 15 and 20 knots with gusts to 25. It was a lovely day, plenty of action."

The fabulous conditions helped spur Harm Müller Spreer’s (Hamburg, GER) Platoon in the 52 Super Series to Boat of the Day honors. Platoon posted a 1-1 and leads Takashi Okura’s (Newport, RI) Sled by 5 points. Spreer drives with all-world tactician John Kostecki (Reno, NV) calling the shots.

"Perfect. Perfect. It’s incredibly nice, warm, good breeze, shifty winds, great racecourse," said Kostecki. "We had really good starts today, pretty good consistent boat speed, good boat handling, somewhat went the right way most of the day. When you do all of those things pretty much right it means you do pretty well in this fleet. It’s hard getting them all right."

It might be hard getting them all right, but not when you have trusted lieutenants at your side. The 13-man crew also includes mainsail trimmer Dirk de Ridder and headsail trimmer Ross Halcrow. Kostecki, de Ridder and Halcrow all won the America’s Cup with Oracle Racing in 2010 and the Volvo Ocean Race with illbruck Challenge in 2002.

"We got the band back together," said de Ridder.

The 52 Super Series was one of five classes that sailed two races. Two other classes, the J/70 and C&C 30 One-Design, sailed three races, and the Performance Cruising Class sailed one race, all as scheduled. As is typically seen after the first day of a lengthy regatta, many class leaders have sterling scorelines.

In the highly competitive J/70 Class, the largest class at race week with 42 entries, the story from the past two years remains the same – Carlo Alberini’s Calvi Network of Italy is leading the way.

Alberini won the class last year and in 2015 when he also won Boat of the Week honors. Along the way, he and crew have been extremely consistent, never counting a finish worse than 11th in 19 races. After finishing 3-2-1 today, they’ve posted top 3 finishes an astounding 13 times over the past three years. That type of consistency is rare in one regatta, let alone over a three-year span.

"It always turns out right for us. It’s just very nice sailing," said mainsail trimmer Karlo Hmeljak of Slovenia, a two-time Olympian (2008, ’12). "We escape winter to come here and sail in summertime conditions. We enjoy it a lot and maybe that’s why we do so well."

Hmeljak said that their performance today is even more important because crews are not allowed to discard their worst finishes. So a bad finish adds points that can hinder an overall victory. Hmeljak said that their strong showing today was due in part to a good first leg.

Henry Filter (Annapolis, MD) leads the J/70 Corinthian Division with Wild Child. "This weather is a so much better than last year, it’s just spectacular with the wind, waves and sun" said Filter. "We got off the line OK today, and had good first legs, usually within or close to the top ten. But then we’d have a few mistakes and drop back, and in this class it can be hard to recover. A lot of these other crews have been racing together more recently, but I think our teamwork will improve as we keep racing."

This race brings everyone surprises and joy, you can read the full story here.

And stayed tuned, the regatta will last until January 20th.

Quantum Key West Race week started in Florida with epic conditions