January 5, 2009 - For Immediate Release


Champions and Challengers from 14 Countries Countdown to Key West

--- North America’s Premiere Mid-Winter Regatta Begins January 19


Key West, Fla – Tough competition, sunshine, and warm breezes will greet entrants as they head for the race course. In less than two weeks the 22nd edition of this winter classic, Acura Key West 2009 presented by Nautica, will welcome entrants from across the country and around the world.


Three–time Farr 40 World Champion Mascalzone Latino, Melges 32 Gold Cup Champion New Wave, Melges 24 World Champion Uka Uka Racing are just a few of the marquee programs on the scratch sheet.


“Key West traditionally attracts top tier programs and this year is no exception,” reports event director Peter Craig. “Given the global economic issues, it’s extremely gratifying to see the number and quality of programs that will be racing in Key West,” he added.


IRC boats are stronger in number than last year with new designs and international favorites lining up. IRC 1 will have four TP52s, all with strong finishes and international experience. IRC 2 debuts the new Mills 43 Cool Breeze, features three King 40s (Sailing World’s Boat of the Year), and three Santa Cruz 37s (SAIL Magazine’s Best Performance Boat for 2009). Add in the hot Elan 450 from Switzerland, an AC 40 and this is has the makings of one exciting class.      


One Design classes will be as exciting as ever with Melges 24s, Melges 32s, Farr 40s, and J/80s showing up in strong numbers.


Jim Richardson’s Farr 40 Barking Mad will defend his Key West championship against a field that includes Vincenzo Onorato’s World Champion Mascalzone Latino, Giovanni Maspero’s 2nd Place finisher Joe Fly , and William Douglass’s North American Champion Goombay Smash.


Terry Hutchinson, the leader of Quantum Racing’s TP52 Med Cup triumph and recent World Championship, will again team up with Richardson. Onorato has Adrian Stead as tactician; Douglass has Morgan Larson; and Maspero will be guided by Francesco Bruni.


The Melges 32 Gold Cup Championship New Wave team of Mike Carroll and Marty Kullman won the prestigious 2008 Acura Grand Prix Trophy last March. Awarded to the best combined score for both Acura Key West and the Acura Miami Grand Prix, this year the series will include the recent Gold Cup results as well.


Defending Melges 32 Key West champion Jeff Ecklund’s Star and podium finisher Joe Wood’s UK boat Red will face off in a strong 20 boat class. This year, they will be racing on the same division as the Melges 24s.


Always the largest class in Key West, the high performance Melges 24 class can boast of entries from no less than eight countries and over 12 states.


Lorenzo Bressani’s 2008 World Champion UKA UKA Racing (ITA) team faces Key West veterans and perennial top ten finishers. Riccardo Simoneschi’s Giacomel Audi was 2007 Boat of the Week and Class Champion.


J/Boats, and in particular the J/105 and J/80 classes, have been an important part of Key West Race Week for many years. Tom Coates’ J/105 Masquerade has won the last four Key West championships and will be defending against a dozen boats no doubt eager to end his streak.


J/80 defending champion John Storck Jr. is one of 15 boats in what is sure to a very competitive class.


PHRF entries will race in four separate classes. Ranging from 40 foot J/120s to 24 foot J/24s, each of these classes has a good mix of Key West veterans and new comers. Will Hanckel’s J/120 Emocean was class winner last year and Pete Hunter’s Thompson 30 Wairere was a mere 2 points of out 1st place in 2008. In separate classes last January, this year they’ll face each other in PHRF 1.


The 2009 divisions and preliminary class assignments are:

Division 1 (PRO Ken Legler) - IRC 1, Farr 40, Swan 42, IRC 2 and Farr 30

Division 2 (PRO Dave Brennan) – Melges 32, Melges 24, J/105

Division 3 (PRO Wayne Bretsch) – J/80 and PHRF 1 - 4


Title Sponsor Acura is the Official Vehicle. Nautica is the Presenting Sponsor and Nautica Watches is the Official Timekeeper. Day Sponsors are Mount Gay® Rum (Official Rum), Lewmar (Official Marine Hardware) and Sperry Top-Sider (Official Footwear). Supporting sponsors are B&G (Official Marine Electronics), Marlow (Official Rope) and SLAM (Official Technical Gear). Supplier Spaten is the Official Beer.


Acura Key West is also supported by The Florida Keys & Key West Tourism Council. The Historic Seaport at the Key West Bight is the Official Site.


Thirty-six Industry Partners bring their support through a program that is now in its 8th year. Learn more about the Industry Partners and the Program on the event web site.


Acura Key West 2009 and the 2009 Acura Miami Grand Prix are US Sailing sanctioned events.


About Acura

Acura offers a full line of technologically advanced luxury performance vehicles through a nationwide network of more than 260 dealers throughout the United States. The 2009 Acura lineup features five distinctive models, the RL luxury performance sedan, the  TL premium performance sedan, the  TSX premium sport sedan, the turbo-charged RDX premium sport CUV and the award-winning MDX premium performance CUV.

For more information about Acura vehicles, please visit 

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November 26, 2008 – For Immediate Release 

World Class Racing at Acura Key West 2009

--- International Talent and New Designs are Highlights for Mid-Winter Classic

Key West, Fla – IRC classes will showcase new designs and the competition will be fierce at Acura Key West 2009, presented by Nautica. The quality of the racing will again be world class, with programs hailing from overseas and across the country. 

2008 IRC East Coast Champion Mayhem, Ashley Wolfe’s TP52 (Calgary, Canada), faces a rematch with Ennio Staffini’s Anema & Core, Michael Brennan’s Sjambok, and Jim Mitchell & Johnny Vincent’s Vincitore (Georgetown, New Zealand). The Annapolis based Staffini and Brennan also had podium finishes in the recent championship.  

The big boat IRC class will also feature Roger Sturgeon’s STP 65 Rosebud. Last year’s Sydney-Hobart winner has recently returned from a busy summer season in Europe. The IRC 2 class will boast an exciting mix of new designs and talented international crews. The updated entry list is posted in the web site: 

Design debuts are standard fare in Key West, and 2009 will be no different, Mark Mills’s designs will be prominent this year. The new Summit Performance Yachts King 40 will make its Key West debut with three of these sleek racer cruisers. Key West veterans Jim Hightower and Jeff Kitterman (Houston, TX) will compete on one with a familiar name Hot Ticket.  

Cool Breeze is a new custom IRC 43 also designed by Mills and built in the UK by Vision Yachts. Key West is its debut event. Owner John Cooper (Cane Hill, MO) placed second in his PHRF class last January. 

In the first year with their Marten 49 Pace, Londoners Johnny Vincent and Simon Tate have taken their Reichel Pugh design to Les Voiles Saint Tropez Regatta, Cowes Week and next on the docket is Key West. The goal of this close knit, amateur crew is to “be competitive, have fun, make no mistakes, and to improve their racing performance.” What better place to continue that effort than Key West in January? 

One designs classes will continue their strong presence in Key West at the 22nd edition of race week.

The Melges 24 class - always the largest in number - has a strong early showing. Europe is sending their very best with Giovanni Maspero’s Joe Fly (Italy), current world champion Lorenzo Santini’s Uka Uka (Italy), Riccardo Simoneschi’s Giacomel Audi Racing (Italy) and Franco Rossini’s Blu Moon (Switzerland) already entered.

All are Key West regulars and Simoneschi, Acura Boat of the Week winner in 2007, sums up the feelings of many; “We love Key West, it is a great spot for sailing and a well organized event.”

Other one designs include the Melges 32, Farr 40, Swan 42, J/105, J/80, and M 30 classes.

 The Melges 32 class will be coming off their 22-boat Gold Cup in Ft Lauderdale with a very strong turnout that will include European entries, US Star class Olympian John Dane (Pass Christian, MS), and defending Key West champion Jeff Ecklund (Ft Lauderdale, FL).  

The competition is never more intense than in the Farr 40 class. Terry Hutchinson - arguably the hottest hand in sailing today – will be calling tactics on Jim Richardson’s 2-time  World Champion Barking Mad (Newport, RI) Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino (Napoli, Italy) has Adrian Stead making the calls. Onorato is the current World Champion with a remarkable three consecutive wins.  

PHRF competition is also shaping up well, with new programs and veterans alike making their plans for North America’s premiere regatta. Key West podium finishers will defend against the classic mix of serious PHRF programs. 2008 winners include Charleston, SC based Will Hanckel’s J/120 Emocean and St. Croix, USVI’s Robert Armstrong’s J/100 Good Girl. 

“We are very pleased with the way the fleet is coming together” said Event Director Peter Craig. “Given the current global economic uncertainties, we are certainly not taking participation for granted. I’m impressed with the high caliber of international and U.S. entries and it’s clear that there will be no drop off in the quality of competition this year”, he added.




October 15, 2008  -  for Immediate Release


Excitement Building for Acura Key West 2009


Key West, Fla. The northern temperatures are dropping and owners are turning their thoughts to racing in Key West’s azure blue waters. One Design, PHRF and IRC boats are making their plans for Acura Key West 2009, presented by Nautica.


“We wouldn’t miss it for the world!” sums up the feelings of Alan Field’s Melges 24 WTF California team.


Stephen Stroub, another Californian, is most enthusiastic about bringing his brand new Santa Cruz 37 Tiburon to Key West. “We are very excited about returning to Key West in 2009. Our last visit was in 2005 and we knew we had to return”, he stated. He believes that the new Tim Kernan designed boat with its light displacement, carbon construction, keel to weight ratio, and asymmetrical pole, all add up to a fun, fast, boat, that will go around the buoys and be great for ocean racing.     


Melges 24 World Champion UKA UKA Racing, with owner Lorenzo Santini and helmsman Lorenzo Bressani, will be the boat to beat in what is always the largest fleet in Key West.  Melges representative Andy Burdick anticipates strong numbers in both the Melges 24 and Melges 32 classes.  


Early IRC entries include Charles Dunstone’s TP52 Rio hailing from Great Britain. This new Judel Vrolik design recently was second at Skandia Cowes Week, winning two of the last three races. Ennio Staffini’s JV/52 Amena & Core is another early entry which bodes well for a tough IRC competition and sufficient boats for a TP52 sub-class. A Key West regular since 1999, Staffini took a few years off, but is back with what he describes as a challenging but very rewarding boat to sail. He and his Annapolis based crew have been training hard for the November IRC regatta and for Key West after that.


The PHRF National Championship will again be a highlight in Key West. Robert Armstrong (USVI) will be defending the title won by his J/100 Bad Girl, in his “twin” boat Good Girl.


One design classes predicting good turnouts include the Swan 42s, J/105s, J/80s, Farr 40s, and M30s.


PHRF, IRC and One Design classes will be shaping up in the coming months. With entries typically coming from over 30 states and as many as 20 different countries, the final composition is different from year to year and unknown until the entry deadline.


“It is early, but entries are coming in at a good clip, and we are optimistic about January’s fleet” said Event Director Peter Craig. “Given the current economic uncertainties, it’s too early to make projections, but one thing is certain is that the high caliber of competition that has always defined Key West racing will be intact”, he added.