The overall fleet winner on corrected time was Mirage, the Hobie 33 owned by Christian SCHAUMLOFFEL. A 43-boat fleet departed Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on January 12 for the 30th annual sprint south to Key West, Fla.
Schaumloffel and his six-person crew have competed in the race for the past three years, and decided to undertake this offshore classic 'one more time.' They raced to Key West not as a way to get south for more racing but as a test against other boats, since Mirage usually competes in one-design racing.
Schaumloffel commented on his team's finish: 'This was a big achievement for us. We were the smallest boat and the first boat home in our fleet (D). For most of the race we were ahead of many of the B-fleet boats, including both Beneteau 40.7s, and saw our fastest speed ever in the boat at 20.9 knots. The second-place boat, Bandana, finished behind us by a little over an hour and 15 minutes. What our finish tells everyone is that the size of the boat doesn't matter; everyone had a shot at winning this race.'
Carrera almost didn't finish the race. 'We were one mile from the turning mark that begins the four-mile run to the finish when we heard a bang and thought we had hit something,' said Dockery. 'We realized that we had broken the rudder, so we put a double reef in the main and continued to the finish. We didn't realize we were in the lead; we thought a multihull would beat us.' What Dockery and his veteran crew also did not know was that Patriot, the 76-foot multihull owned by Michael Rush, had dropped out, leaving the race - and the record - up for grabs. 'I have what you might call a 'perma-grin,'' said Dockery, 'and (crewmember) Ken READ said it was the race of his life.'
Zephyr led the fleet for the first half of the race, but as Zelinsky described it, the conditions were starting to take a toll on the entire fleet. 'It was fairly windy, starting with 20 knots and building. The solid gusts of 30 knots caused a few boats to drop out, including Patriot, which was our biggest competition,' he said. 'At about 9pm, Carrera passed us. We had held our screacher too long before we popped the spinnaker, being in the complacent safety mode that we were, but then when we saw Carerra we really got going. We were going for first over the line, but we didn't do that. Instead we got best in elapsed time for multihulls and beat the multihull record. The record is the best!'Sjambok, the TP52 owned by Michael Brennan (Annapolis, Md.), claimed first in class A while breaking the race record.
'We've finished second for the past four years,' said Brennan from the dock in Key West. 'And I'm pleased to finally get a chance to kiss the groom. It was a phenomenal night; the boat was just screaming, averaging in the mid-20s speed-wise. These boats are a handful and it's hard work, but we have a great crew. The boys worked hard from the minute we left to the second we finished.' BMW Oracle Racing helmsman Gavin BRADY was one of Sjambok's 14-member crew.
Race Results and more information is available on the event website via the link below.