No Key West Race Week in 2018

Published on May 25th, 2017

Launched in 1988, Key West Race Week has seen the ebb and flow of the sport reach the southern extent of the continental United States, attracting international grand prix competition along with casual racing enthusiasts.

The event benefited from epic sailing conditions and an unmatched shoreside vibe, with organizational enthusiasm at a venue with very little infrastructure, requiring the import of both volunteers and equipment.

But after years of declining participation, with the 30th anniversary event this year attracting 90 boats and no certain outlook to increase numbers, Leonard Sitar (Commodore, Storm Trysail Club) and John Fisher (Event Chairman, 2016 & 2017) have issued this joint statement:

After extensive discussion and deliberation, the Storm Trysail Club has decided not to organize and hold Key West Race Week in January 2018.

Many factors led to this difficult decision, however, the bottom line is that with declining participation, the event has become heavily dependent upon sponsorship making the event unsustainable in its current format.

Our primary sponsors remain very supportive and the Storm Trysail Club is committed to exploring alternative formats for the future that address changing conditions in our sport. The club anticipates that this could lead to another edition as soon as 2019.

The Storm Trysail Club wishes to thank especially Quantum Sails (the title sponsor for the last six years) as well as the City and community of Key West for their gracious hospitality and help in underwriting this event which has spanned the last 30 years.

Many thanks as well to all our other sponsors, supporters and past participants for their support of the event and of the sport of sailing. Most importantly we wish to thank the countless volunteers, storm trysail club members and others who made Key West Race Week possible and produced a world-class event.

Comment: When Key West Race Week got started, the racing calendar was open, and a good idea snowballed into a huge hit. But over time, outside forces chipped away.

One design classes that once supported race week began competing against it. The economy took a hit in 2008. A smear campaign in support of another event. Fractured handicap in USA. Local development increased costs and decreased moorage.

But there still is no better place to race during the day and raise hell at night. It’s a galvanizing event for the sport and the industry. It was a mountain to climb; a necessary adventure. I will miss it in 2018 and I hope others do too. – Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

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