Behind the Scenes, May 2018

Published on May 2nd, 2018

We are fans of the wall calendar, and the start of each month welcomes new imagery from our J/Boats, Onne van der Wal, and Sharon Green calendars. Here Sharon shares the behind-the-scenes story from May of her 2018 Ultimate Sailing Calendar.

The intensity of our May image always pulls me in. It’s so vibrant, artistic, and intense – it really speaks of what Key West Race Week was all about. For 30 years, KWRW was the season-opener for sailing in North America: a pilgrimage to the Florida Keys, in the dead of winter, that gave sailors something to live for!

And what a lively regatta it was, with outrageous conditions, often 15 to 25 knots; coursing through vibrant, tumbling turquoise water, beneath warm sunny skies. It would stir my soul!

Drawing over 300 boats in the heyday, KWRW had all the splash and sizzle I could ever dream of! It was frequently ‘Fresh to Frightening’ with big seas, breeze, and boats: including the latest and greatest.

Sharon Green in Key West

Many vendors would use KWRW as a launchpad for new boats or products; so it wouldn’t be unusual to bump into sailing celebrities and rock stars, industry leaders, and colleagues. This crazy mix led attendees to call it ‘a cross between an industry convention and the Super Bowl of sailboat racing!’

For years we depended on the incredible skills of Mike Weinhofer, who swapped his normal schedule of fishing charters to zoom us around the course in his super 37-foot SeaHunter, Compass Rose. Wind-whipped, drenched, laughing hysterically – we would zip from course to course, to capture the best action. More than once, we’d peer across the whitecaps to a distant class and ask, ‘Can we make their start?’ And he’d rocket us across the seas, full-throttle. What a thrill!

In the mid 2000s, the Harken rib was our chariot driven by Scott Norman. Many epic days onboard with industry guests while Scott would expertly position us right in the action, windward layline or leeward trajectory.

The evenings – once we’d desalinated ourselves and our equipment, and downloaded too many images – we’d venture out into the funky town.

A posse of sailors might roll up on rented bikes to tell us about their day, while a Bentley slowed down to let a rooster cross the road. Then a drink at race headquarters or the Green Parrot hangout, and dining at one of the amazing restaurants in Key West; before starting it all over the next day.

Sadly, KWRW has been cancelled, due to sponsorship issues. But we can still reflect on these great times, with amazing images like these … and hope one day this adrenaline-filled regatta is revived!

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