Making the Cancellation Call

Published on January 20th, 2016

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
One of the compelling attributes of Key West Race Week is how rare it is to lose a day of sailing. It hardly ever happens, but that was the case on Tuesday. However, sailing is not the only activity in Key West. Aside from the near-carnival atmosphere of Duval Street, there was a lot of learning going on too.

Amid the luncheon crowd at the Turtle Kraal restaurant, a cast of J/70 experts were projecting photos and video on the wall to highlight proper trim and technique. At the event village, Ed Baird was hosting his standing room only presentation, while further into the venue there was a sit down forum with some of the leading skippers.

Then, of course, there was the Mount Gay Bar. I go for the 3 drinks for $10 package.

Dick Neville, On-the-Water Chair at Key West Race Week, shares the factors that impacted the decision to cancel…

In this world we now live in, 20 knots is considered to be heavy air, and that’s what we saw on the first day of racing on Monday. There were boats with all forms of problems. So when faced with 25 knots and above on Tuesday, we could have had some serious problems.

The truth is that boats these days are not designed to sail in those kinds of conditions. Unfortunately, it appears to be a thing of the past, so we have to take it into consideration.

The bigger boats on Division 1 could have handled the conditions, but they are also pretty high-tech, with plenty of gear that can break and cause harm. While we could have sent that course out, and they might have been okay, the chance of them breaking something and ruining the rest of the week for them was pretty high. That is a situation we’d like to avoid.

With the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday being so good, we felt strongly that we’d be able to get in an extra race to catch up on the schedule by the final day on Friday. With consensus from all the race officers, we made the call just after 10:00am that we’d be cancelling for the day.

Some times when you make that call, the weather switches on you and it becomes a beautiful day. But that wasn’t the case. It was cold, which makes being on the water even more unpleasant. If you aren’t comfortable sailing in heavy air, and a lot of the sailors aren’t, being cold adds to the discomfort. Fortunately for us, the wind continued to build and stayed that way all day, so it proved to be the right call.

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