Maybe the first nips of winter make them impatient for balmy breezes over turquoise waters, but more than half of the sailors who will compete in Terra Nova Trading Key West 2004, presented by Nautica, next month have submitted their entry applications.
The current list represents five continents, 17 countries and 24 states, and is on track to meet the 300-boat standard of recent years. One fresh entry is Tom HILL'S Reichel/Pugh 75, Titan 12, from San Juan, P.R. Hill's tactician will be Peter HOLMBERG, who was the world's No. 1-ranked match racer until he left the circuit to drive San Francisco's Oracle in the last America's Cup. He recently signed on with Switzerland's Alinghi team that will defend the Cup in 2007.
Among the North American "snowbirds" fleeing south for five days of racing Jan. 19-23 will be a flock of C&C 99s from the upper Midwest and Ontario, Canada. The harbinger of that breed was Rabbit. In 2002, with the paint barely dry on the 32-footer, designer Tim JACKETT sailed the prototype to first place in PHRF 7---not bad for a product that also won Cruising World Magazine's award as the best new performance cruiser of 2002.
"The original Rabbit did really well for us,"
C&C marketing director Michael MINOR said. "Everywhere we went to shows and events it was, 'Oh, that was the boat that won at Key West.' We want to push the fact that it is a racing boat, and getting 10 or 12 boats down to Key West is a statement."
About half of those will come from Toronto, where the fleet sails on Lakes Michigan and Ontario, except for this time of year.
The country's premiere regatta has long been a launching pad for successful new lines. The Farr 36 made its debut at Key West last January; the new Swan 45s and Corsair 24 multihulls are making theirs this year.
With seven J/120s from six states, that group now has special sub-class status. That strengthens the J/Boat presence that usually accounts for one-fourth of the entries overall. The J/105s are projecting a record number and will introduce their "President's Southern Circuit Trophy" for the best performance at Key West and institute a yellow "brag flag," akin to cycling's yellow jersey, for the current leader to fly out to the race course each day.
To recognize the significance of all long-distance efforts, the Key West Trophy will be awarded this year to the boat owner who has travelled farthest from his or her hometown. Besides the fast-growing J/105 group, invited classes include Corsair 24 and 28R, Farr 40, IMS, J/29, J/80, Melges 24, MORC, Mumm 30, PHRF, Swan 45, Open Swan and T-10.
Entry documents, planning information and the current entry list are available on the event web site via the link below