Key West sailing regatta starts Sunday

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Quantum Key West 2014 is gearing up for its trademark full week of racing, which starts Sunday and continues through Jan. 24.

Shockwave, skippered by George Sakellaris will look to defend its title against fellow 72-footer Bella Mente (Hap Fauth) and the 69-foot Caol Ila R (Alex Schaerer).

Organizers said the 52 Class (IRC 2) features an international fleet of six boats loaded with the world’s top professionals. Key West is the opening event for the 52 Super Series, which was won last year by Quantum Racing. Doug DeVos will skipper the Quantum entry in Key West, with America’s Cup veteran Terry Hutchinson aboard as tactician.

“We had a very successful 2013 season and are looking forward to getting off to a good start in 2014,” Hutchinson said in a statement, noting that Ed Baird (strategist) and Juan Vila (navigator) complete a talented afterguard. “We love having Doug driving the boat. He’s the leader of the whole program and brings great energy to the team.”

Defending champion Decision, a Carkeek 40 skippered by Stephen Murray (New Orleans) headlines the High Performance Class and will no doubt duke it out daily with sister ship Spookie (Steve & Heidi Benjamin).

Robin Team and the boys aboard Teamwork will look to repeat in PHRF 1 while going against another J/122 and four J/111 designs in the competitive eight-boat class.

Regatta chairman Peter Craig is excited about the 10-boat lineup in IRC 3, which will have such diverse designs as a Swan 42, Sydney 43, Mills 43 and Ker 43. Catapult, a Ker 40 owned by Marc Glimcher of New York, captured IRC sub-class honors at Quantum Key West 2013 and will be challenged by an influx of new entries.

Newport-based professional Tim Healy will be back to defend his title in the J/70 class, which has attracted 62 boats. Runner-up Brian Keane and third place finisher Bruno Pasquinelli also will be back as the J/70 class contests its Midwinter Championship.

Organizers said a real bounce-back one-design at Key West this year is the J/80 class, which will have 13 boats on the starting line. Skipper Ron Buzil and his Vayu2 team will try to repeat as regatta winners against a deep fleet that includes former North American champion Rumor (John Storck) and several other accomplished programs.

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