Key West racing is back

Published on October 15th, 2020

When the difficult decision was made not to hold Key West Race Week in January 2018, it was a harsh blow to those who relied on its weather and weirdness during the teeth of winter.

But it’s hard to forget the roosters, ruckus nightlife, and key lime everything, so it’s southbound again for the inaugural Key West Winter Series powered by Sailing Inc. With two events planned in 2021 for January 16-18 and March 5-7, we check in with some of the instigators for an update:

Where did the idea come from?
Rob Ruhlman: Key West Race Week had an epic 30 year run and being part of nearly every one of those years made it more than an annual event but a way of life. It was what January was dedicated to every year. The opportunity to reignite that flame, albeit on a much smaller scale, is worth pursuing in the hope that when properly fanned and fed the fire will once again burn brightly. The J/111 class has gotten together to organize an event this year and with the support we have and a little bit of luck, we can use this as a starting point for bigger and better events going forward.

Why Key West and not somewhere else?
Ryan Ruhlman: Key West is a signature destination in the United States, an honest-to-God tropical paradise. The opportunity to race on blue water, experience the island culture, and reconnect with our friends during the cold winter months is just too good to pass up.

Key West had become less accommodating when KWRW ended. Has that changed?
Karl Felger: The City of Key West has graciously signed off on the event, and we’re going to have a lot of help from our friends and sponsors. The majority of the organized activity will be on-the-water, with our social gatherings leveraging some of the best spots in Key West. We appreciate the City of Key West’s cooperation, and are happy to help support the local community and economy.

There is no infrastructure in Key West… how do you pull this off?
Karl Felger: Our goal is to provide a grand prix racing experience, while planting the seeds for the future. Our focus is on offering multiple great races each day over the two weekend format, leveraging resources provided by the J/111 owners, and with the help of a world class PRO. We have secured the services of a full service marina, allowing the fleet a venue to launch, haul-out, and store their boat between two events. Boat owners then have an option for dockage at any marina of their choosing.

Finally, something to look forward to.
Karl Felger: Pack your bags and we’ll see you at the Green Parrot.

More details: https://yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=13215

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