Among the 19 boats competing are five TP52s sailing in their own one-design class, including Makoto UEMATSU's Japanese entrant Esmeralda, with multiple world champion Ken READ (Newport, R.I.) aboard; several maxi boats competing under the IRC rule, including Tom HILL's Puerto Rican entry Titan 12, with America's Cup veteran Mike TOPPA (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) aboard; and a balance of 40-70 footers racing PHRF, including Stuart HEBB's (Coral Gables, Fla.) Thin Ice, an Aerodyne 38 with 2004 Olympic gold medallist and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award nominee Kevin BURNHAM (Miami) aboard.
'It's kind of an offshore race but not really,' explained Stu ARGO (St. Clair Shores, Mich.), the captain of Bill ALCOTT's Andrews 68 Equation who competed in the 2003 event. 'There is a lot of jib reaching in the Bahama Islands and different weather patterns that make it interesting. Then from Cuba to Jamaica, it's usually a nice run in a southeasterly.'
Optimum conditions have been forecasted for the coming week, and with longstanding records recently smashed at another race co-hosted by the Storm Trysail and Lauderdale Yacht Clubsthe Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race-race organizers are hopeful that the 2003 'Mo Bay' record set by Zephyrus V will be broken. The time to beat: 2 days, 23 hours, 5 minutes and 57 seconds.
The Montego Bay Yacht Club will host the awards party on Friday, February 11. Among trophies to be awarded are the Pineapple Cup, for best overall performance, and the Windward Passage Challenge Cup, awarded for breaking the course record.