Some Californians who know only about earthquakes may have been all shook up when they thought a series of hurricanes might spoil their plans for Key West 2005, scheduled Jan. 17-21.
"We had just booked our rooms, so I was a little nervous,"
said Chris BUSCH of San Diego. "But it all missed Key West, and now it looks like a big turnout."
Indeed, hurricane season is long gone and the entry list has already reached 108, matching the record pace of 326 in 2001.
But the Florida Keys, like many destinations throughout the state, are suffering from a misperception that the island chain was devastated by the four hurricanes that came ashore in other regions of Florida during a six-week period in August and September.
In fact, dangerous hurricane-force winds from all storms stayed well offshore from Key Largo to Key West, according to Matt Strahan, meteorologist-in-charge for the National Weather Service in Key West.
Harold Wheeler, director of the Keys tourism council, said, "The fact is that the Keys is unscathed and open for business."
Such reassurance has put competitors from the Golden State at ease. Busch and his wife Kara, sailing their 1D35 Wild Thing, will be joined by several other Californians, including Philippe Kahn and son Samuel, a.k.a. "Shark," of Santa Cruz, sailing a Farr 40 and Melges 24, respectively; husband John Demourkas and wife Deneen from Santa Barbara, sailing a Farr 40 and Mumm 30, and two-time Key West winners Richard Bergmann and Chris Bennett with their J/105, Zuni Bear.
The Busches won the 1D35 class in 2002---after which Chris proposed to Kara---and Chris crewed on David Kirk's first-place Détente from Chicago in 2003. There was no 1D35 class in 2004, but they're back in force for what will be their national championship in 2005.
"It'll be fun,"
Chris BUSCH said. "Right after Transpac [in 2003] Kara got pregnant and we had a baby last March. She's been working out hard trying to get back in shape. This will be the first regatta she's done since becoming a mother."
Peter BUSCH, the newest family member, is penciled in as a future crew member.
Entries are arriving from across the U.S. and overseas. Peter de RIDDER'S Farr 40, Mean Machine, is among the flood of early entries. Last January the Dutch entry came from behind on the last day to claim the class title. and the Boat of the Week award.
Anticipated one-design classes include the Swan 45s, which debuted a year earlier; Transpac 52s, Farr 40s, Mumm 30s, 1D35s, J/105s, J/120s, J/109s, J/80s, J/29s, C&C 99s, Corsair 28Rs and the largest group of all, the Melges 24s with their usual strong international turnout.
One-off designs and others without the numbers to establish level classes will be assigned to the PHRF, IMS and IRC fleets that traditionally comprise about one-third of the turnout.
Key West 2005 sponsors are Nautica, Terra Nova Trading, RealTick, Mount Gay Rum, B&G, Lewmar, Samson Rope Technologies, and the Florida Keys and Key West Tourist Development Council. The Historic Seaport is the Official Site.
Support also comes from a record number of 28 Industry Partners.
Entry information and current list, Notice and Conditions of Race, accommodations and much more on the event website at the address below.