Notes and Quotes from
Wagner's Dock Walks
Best Around the Buoys Profile (pdf)
enjoyed tremendous success in a variety of classes while racing
sailboats during the 1990s while living in Annapolis. However,
the former Naval Academy intercollegiate standout moved to his
wife’s native country of Bermuda to raise children and has been
out of competitive sailing for almost a decade.
youngest daughter headed off to boarding school, Cutler felt the
time was right to resume racing. The Pembroke resident is
skippering Hedgehog in the ultra-competitive Melges 24 class and
has been the biggest surprise of the regatta so far.
Thursday’s action, Cutler had steered Hedgehog to victory in two
races and counts all single-digit results in totaling 22 points
– just two behind second-place UKA UKA Racing and nine astern of
overall leader Blu Moon. Veteran Vermont-based professional Andy
Horton is calling tactics while Mike Wolfs and Brian Janney
round out the crew on Hedgehog.
surprised with how well we’re doing. I’d have to give all the
credit to the crew because I’ve got some outstanding sailors
onboard,” Cutler said.
a Melges 24 entry at Key West in 2001 then returned to call
tactics for Steve Phillips aboard the Farr 40 Le Renard in 2003.
He is happy to return to the Conch Republic after a seven-year
enjoyed sailing in Key West. You can’t beat this regatta when it
comes to the total package,” Cutler said.
Cutler plans to
campaign Hedgehog through the Melges 24 World Championships,
being held in May off Corpus Christi, Texas. “This regatta is
our launching off point and we’re going to ramp it up as fast as
possible,” he said.
Standing on the
dock following Thursday’s racing, Cutler and crew had not given
up on the prospect of winning Key West 2011, presented by
Nautica. “We’re going to go out tomorrow and put up the best
results possible and see what happens. No matter how it shakes
out, it has been a successful event for our team.”
One of the most
impressive performances at Key West 2011 has come in PHRF 3,
where You Bad Girl reeled off six straight victories before
finally settling for a second in Race 7. Skipper Steve Burns
credits the remarkable success of the Capo 26 to rock-solid crew
“Why are we
going so well? It’s because we have a team of experienced
sailors who are very familiar with the boat,” Burns said. “We
have a group of guys who have been together on this boat for 23
years. We know how to set the boat up for each day’s conditions
and have the ability to change gears when necessary.”
You Bad Girl was
based in Corpus Christi, Texas for about 15 years and was owned
at various times by Fred Soward, Doug Haas and Burns. Other
regulars in the crew are Buddy Byington and Brant Bricarell.
“We are all good
friends that work well together. Collectively and individually
we all have a good sailing resumes. We sail mostly for the
camaraderie, but when we’re on the race course, it’s only about
winning,” said Burns, who has resided in Key West the past eight
Burns is founder
of VP Racing Fuels and is usually conducting performance testing
and product development this time of year. He finally could not
justify being a Key West resident and not competing in the
renowned midwinter regatta that his held here annually so he
took the week off and got the old team back together.
“We came here
totally prepared to win. We bought new sails and logged many
hours of boat testing and crew practice. We’ve had excellent
crew work this week, and fortunately have not made many
mistakes,” Burns said. “But, we have also gotten a couple of
lucky wind shifts when we really needed them. We worked hard on
boat speed, but harder on crew work. We all worked out and
trained for this race. Key West Race Week is not a regatta to
bring sloppy crew work, as the competition will quickly expose
The Schooner Wharf
has always been one of the most popular hangouts for sailors
participating in the annual race week off Key West. Walk the
dock in front of the Schooner Wharf around 4 p.m. any day this
week and you will a rainbow of colors as the place is packed
with crew members sporting their various team uniforms.
That is the type
of scene Evalena Worthington envisioned when she sailed into Key
West aboard an 83-foot wooden schooner named Defiance.
Worthington and future husband Paul met while delivering
schooners and decided to settle in the Conch Republic and open a
native of Sweden, is competing in Key West 2011 aboard the J/24
Freya. She has sailed in the regatta many times before, but is
skippering an entry for the first time in three years.
“I love race
week and having all the sailors in town,” Worthington told the
Key West Citizen. “I love to sail, love to race and it’s just
fun to participate in an international event.”
her four-member crew of Key West locals has performed well so
far and entered Thursday’s action in fourth place out of nine
entries in PHRF 3. Like so many other competitors at Key West
2011, Worthington’s team heads straight to the Schooner Wharf
after a long day of racing to enjoy green bottled beer, blender
drinks, Mount Gay rum and live acoustical music.
“It’s fun to be
part of this event and have Schooner Wharf be part of the
camaraderie that race week brings to Key West. I like having the
sailors at the bar sharing the stories of the day.”
Jean-Pierre Turgeon has heard for years about the annual race
week off Key West. Sunny skies, warm weather and consistent
breeze beckoned the Quebec native, but he had never been able to
pull of competing in the popular midwinter regatta.
last year to finally check this item off his bucket list of
things to do. The St. Bernard-de-Lacolle resident spent months
preparing his Beneteau 44.7 for a long voyage, packed it up with
plenty of gear and proceeded to sail Galilee from Montreal to
Key West – an arduous 2,500-mile voyage.
“We have come a
long way to compete in Key West and it has been well worth the
effort. The weather is wonderful down here, a heck of a lot
better than Canada at this time of year,” Turgeon said.
Turgeon and the
Galilee team got off to a rough start – placing last in the
six-boat fleet in Race 1 then having to retire from Race 2.
However, the Canadian boat settled down and found the groove on
Tuesday, winning both races.
“We are more
competitive in the light to medium air. I have a huge sail plan
and that has proven a great advantage in the lighter
conditions,” Turgeon said.
Galilee also won
Race 5 on corrected time, but was subsequently disqualified and
currently stands fifth in the overall standings.
Douglass, owner of the Melges 32 Goombay Smash, hosted a big
party on his luxury motor yacht on Tuesday afternoon and it was
well attended by competitors at Key West 2011. Georgiana, which
is berthed alongside the walkway leading to the cruise ship
pier, boasts a spacious fly bridge that served as the perfect
platform for the affair, which attracted a slew of notable
Drink of choice
at the party? A Goombay Smash, of course! Crew members had
filled kitchen-sized trash cans with the popular drink that
combines spiced rum, coconut rum and apricot brandy with
pineapple and orange juice.
One race on
Wednesday resulted in an early arrival at the dock, and most
competitors were not at all unhappy about that. Jonathan Swain,
a veteran professional sailor crewing aboard the RC44 Ironbound,
headed offshore to do some sport fishing. Swain reports that he
and Groovederci skipper Deneen Demourkas caught several tuna
that weighed almost 50 pounds.
“It’s nice to be
able to combine business with pleasure,” Swain said as he headed
off to purchase bait and tackle.
participants, such as professional coaches Dobbs Davis and Dee
Smith, used the open afternoon to play golf. Sources tell us
that Davis and Smith both lost a considerable number of balls en
route to shooting identical 96 scores at the Key West Golf Club.
MONDAY - TUESDAY Gregg Knighton has saved a classic Ranger
33 sailboat from the scrap heap on two different occasions. The
Florida-based sailmaker has dutifully restored the good old boat
twice and it is now the oldest entry at Key West 2011, presented
operates a sail loft in Sarasota, Fla., first discovered the
Ranger 33 in 2001. At the time, it was owned by longtime friend
Rick Pantall, who was slowly but surely repairing the boat in
his Gainesville garage.
Hurricane Charlie completely destroy Pantall’s garage and
inflicted significant damage to the Ranger 33. “Rick called me
up and asked if I could come give him a hand with cutting up the
boat and taking it to the dump,” Knighton said.
along with 9-year-old daughter Jessica, who was struck by the
fact the Ranger 33 was still standing upright – balancing on its
keel amidst the destruction of the garage.
adamant that if the boat could survive the hurricane it didn’t
deserve to die,” Knighton said.
reluctantly took the Ranger 33 to a marina in Bahia Beach and
spent six months fixing it up. He had to replace rotten
bulkheads, install new rigging and hardware, fare the hull,
repaint the bottom and generally clean up the boat.
Knighton and his
family raced the boat locally and performed well – winning PHRF
Boat of the Year honors from the Sun Coast Sailing Association
five years in a row. In 2007, the boat was sold to an orthopedic
surgeon in the area, who neglected the boat and allowed it to
fall into disrepair again.
called me up and said the boat sank at the dock in his backyard
and asked if I would come take it back,” Knighton said.
That is how
Knighton came to own the Ranger 33 a second time and was forced
to perform another major restoration effort. Misty was launched
on Jan. 11 and promptly sailed from Venice to Key West in 21
racing the boat in PHRF 3 class at Key West 2011 and entered
Wednesday’s action in second place overall after finishing as
runner-up in all four races held Monday and Tuesday.
we’ve been through with this boat, it now holds sentimental
value. We’re not getting rid of it ever again,” Knighton said.
“It’s a family boat and I race her with my wife and daughter.
Our competitors jokingly call us the Griswolds and our battle
flag is a station wagon.”
skippered an entry at Key West Race Week way back in 1995. The
renowned yachtsman thoroughly enjoyed the experience and never
imagined it would take 15 years to return to popular midwinter
competing in Key West 2011 aboard Titan, a Reichel-Pugh
72-footer that is largest entry in the regatta. The billionaire
primarily resides in Palm Beach these days and suddenly got the
urge to go sailing off Key West again.
“I love sailing
and I recalled how much fun this regatta was so I figured why
not get a boat and go down there,” Koch said.
chartered Titan from owner Tom Hill in the past and it didn’t
take long to round up a qualified crew of professionals. Koch
captured the America’s Cup in 1992 aboard America3 and many of
the sailors from that team are here in Key West this year. Among
the loyal crew members who are helping Koch sail Titan are Mike
Toppa, Larry Mialik, Peter Grubb, Wally Henry and Art Price.
That core group also sailed with Koch on his series of boats
named Matador and didn’t take long to regain the old chemistry.
“My main goal
was to have fun racing in a beautiful venue, but it was also an
opportunity to have a reunion with my old sailing buddies,” Koch
Koch does not
currently own a sailboat after selling Kiwi Magic, the famous
fiberglass 12-meter that lost to Dennis Conner and Stars &
Stripes in the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger finals for the 1986
“I can tell you
that this boat (Titan) is a heck of a lot faster and responsive
than a 12-meter,” Koch said. “It’s like driving a Porsche
instead of a Mack truck.”
Koch and the
Titan team led the Mini Maxi class after the opening day of
racing and remained in a three-way tie for first going into
Wednesday’s action. Koch is currently married to Bridget Rooney,
granddaughter of Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney. His
father-in-law and brother-in-law (Jim Rooney Sr. and Jr.) are
also aboard Titan for the week.
thoroughly enjoying ourselves. The weather is wonderful and the
racing has been challenging but fun,” Koch said.
John Kilroy was in great spirits as he stood on the Galleon
docks this morning. The California skipper was surveying the
sporty new red, white and blue graphics on his Melges 32 and
discussing the dramatic changeover of his Samba Pa Ti crew.
Kilroy has five
new sailors aboard the boat that captured class honors at Key
West 2010, and almost all the newcomers are at least half the
age of the men they replaced. In fact, the foredeck crew of
Australian Dean Curtis and Italian Martino Tortarola, both of
whom are 21, are a combined 64 years younger than their
“I loved my
‘old’ team,” said Kilroy, pun clearly intended. “But these
younger guys bring great energy, great enthusiasm. They have got
me fully re-energized.”
Nathan Wilmot, the reigning Olympic champion in 470 class, has
succeeded John Kostecki as tactician – bringing almost another
20-year reduction in age. After going through each of the five
changes, Kilroy estimated that Samba Pa Ti’s crew is a total of
100 years younger than last year.
Kilroy said the
changes were necessary because several members of his former
crew signed on with Volvo Ocean Race or America’s Cup teams.
“We’ve gotten significantly younger almost overnight. I’m
excited because these guys are all great sailors who bring a
fresh new feel to the boat.”
has long been one of the top amateur skippers in the
professional-laden Melges 24 class. Ayres has enjoyed tremendous
success while competing against top-flight helmsmen in major
regattas around the world.
resident of Costa Mesa, Cal., placed fourth in Melges 24 class
at Key West 2008 and has followed with Top 10 finishes the two
years since. “I’m proud to say that we’re always right there in
the mix,” he said.
Ayres had to
scramble to fill the crew for Key West 2011 as two members of
the afterguard had to pull out a few weeks before the regatta.
The California skipper found a pair of very capable replacements
in Vince Brun and Peer Moberg. Brun head of North Sails
One-Design and a champion in multiple classes, came aboard as
tactician. Moberg, Norway’s Laser class representative at the
2008 Olympics, is serving as a trimmer-strategist.
“We had some
last-minute changes and had to pick up a couple guys. We feel
very fortunate to have found two sailors as talented as Vince
and Per,” Ayres said. “It’s a different group than normal so
hopefully we’ll come together quickly.”