2014 Quantum Key West Wrap Up

Sundog-teamBy Kathy “Sundog” Parks

This was my second trip to Quantum Key West Race Week and it was terrific.  Our extended family came along on vacation so it was fun for my husband, Paul, who was serving as land support all week.  It was great to sail to the Truman Annex ramp at the end of each day and see Paul there with the hoisting pole, drill and pick-up truck.  Best of all, I had seven days in a row of sailing with a great  team (Roger Link, Trevor Perkins & Brad Julian) in my favorite boat in the middle of January!  And, there were big seas and big wind most days.

One of the main draws for me to Key West is the educational component of which North Sails plays a major role.  I appreciated the on-the-water clinic and my crew and I specifically arranged our schedules to be there in time to be out on the water with North on Saturday.  And, we found the debrief and videos afterward to be very helpful.  The cooler of cold beer was a hit and made it less intense and more relaxing.  We asked lots of questions which were always answered beautifully.

Another day Tim Healy did a dock talk right at his boat.  He went over all the tuning issues and boat set up.  Both he and his crew were great about explaining if we didn’t at first understand.

Chuck Allen took great video of us on the race course Tuesday and again, we appreciated the debrief session back at the North loft that evening.  His suggestion to me that in the transitions downwind we looked like we were chasing a plane that wasn’t there rang true for me.  We then got great advice as to more exactly which boat speeds required staying high and which suggest soaking low.  This was very helpful.

The Key West parties are so much fun and the awards presentations are electric.  When they start that music the energy rises to an incredible level.  After racing but before awards there are panel discussions with sailing rock stars.  I had a really good time catching up with Terry Hutchinson (I was his 3rd grade music teacher) and getting personalized advice from him on how to do well in the regatta (“Just be in the top 20 at the first mark of each race and you will be 10th in the regatta”).

The race committee is amazing and got all 10 races off without a single general recall or flag (last year as well).  During the first start they called 22 boats over early.  Maybe that’s why it was our best race, a 14th.  The fleet immediately settled down after that with just a few boats jumping the gun each time.

The challenges of going to Key West include needing to make housing reservations early (I recommend spring of the year before) and getting your boat there (it’s a 24 hour drive).  However, it is well worth it because you get a great adventure vacation in a warm location with five days of racing in a big fleet, usually with big wind and waves.  I feel that this regatta alone has been a great factor in helping me take my sailing to a higher level.  Come to Key West next year!