|KEY WEST, FL. USA-(12-10-2005) Key West’s azure blue “race track” is sure to feature the world’s top performing race boats and crews in January. Premiere Racing’s new year sailing kick-off begins on January 16, with 9 races scheduled over the five days of racing.
The prestigious Swan 45 Gold Cup will highlight the 2006 event. As many as twenty of Nautor’s Swan luxury racing yachts will travel from Japan, Italy, Great Britain, Australia and the US in hopes of wresting the championship from Stefano Polti and his Italian Mintaka crew.
“This will be a championship to remember”, said US Class President Craig Speck. “The international presence will be significant with nearly half the fleet hailing from Italy and Great Britain.”
The high profile Transpac 52 class will be warming up for their inaugural Global Championship at Acura Miami Race Week in March. Eamon Conneely’s Patches (Galway, Ireland), Philippe Kahn’s Pegasus 52 (Honolulu, HI) and Tom Stark’s Rush (Newport, RI) are early entries.
The first ever IRC National Championship has provided big appeal to big boat owners. Five custom boats over 60 feet LOA have already entered. James Madden’s brand new, 66 foot, canting keel Reichel-Pugh designed Stark Raving Mad III (Newport, RI) will be scratch boat while Bill Alcott’s Andrews 68 Equation (Detroit, MI) will likely be the biggest of the big.
Three matching pairs will provide some match racing within the IRC competition: Peter Ogden’s Swan 601 Spirit of Jethou (Guernsey, UK) and Jim Swartz’ Moneypenny (Edgartown, MA) ; Dan Meyers’ C/M 60 Numbers (Newport, RI) and Edgar Cato’s Hissar (Charlotte, NC) ; and Jean-Philippe Chomette’s Open 60 Solune (LaRochelle, FRA) and Bruce Schwab’s Ocean Planet (Portland, ME). These diverse boats would test any handicapping system.
“The combination of 10 Transpac 52s, the Swan 45 Gold Cup, and a big boat IRC class elevates the grand prix component of the 2006 edition of race week,” said Premiere Racing’s Peter Craig. “All 3 of these classes have solid international representation, which brings yet another exciting element to the regatta.”
The international Farr 40 and Mumm 30 fleets will bring their high-powered competition and elite afterguards to grand prix Division 1. There will be champions galore. Jim Richardson and his two-time World Championship Barking Mad crew will be among the early favorites. Australian Sailor of the Year Richard Perini – who holds both the 2004 Mumm 30 and Farr 40 World Championship – will race his Mumm 30 Foreign Affair in Key West.
It’s not all about size as evidence by over two thirds of the 300-boat fleet featuring boats under 40 feet long. A Mid-Winter Championship for the Melges 24 and J/105 classes always ensures that Key West’s two largest classes will turn out in force. This year the Melges 24 numbers will be stronger than ever, with US and European boats staying on following their World Championship in Key Largo in December. The J/105s broke their fleet record with 40 boats in 2005. Class projections call for as many as 50 of the popular 35 footers at the 2006 edition of race week.
Other invited one design classes with early entries are the C&C 99, J/120s, J/109s, J/80s and Corsair 28Rs. Current entries are posted on the event web site.
Traditionally strong numbers of PHRF handicap boats are making their January plans. It’s a Key West debut for Tapio Saavalainen’s Grand Soleil 37 Kalevala II and the 10th time around for Bruce Gardner’s Beneteau 10M L’Outrage. Both boats hail from Annapolis, MD.
The Acura Grand Prix Awards – presented to the combined class winners of Acura Key West and Acura Miami Race Week – are destined to become some of the most sought after trophies on the international racing circuit. Perpetual awards will be offered to the Transpac 52, Swan 45, Farr 40, Mumm 30, J/105, Melges 24, and other classes that meet eligibility requirements.
Title Sponsor Acura is the Official Vehicle. Presenting Sponsor Nautica represents the Official Timekeeper (Nautica Watches) and the Official Footwear. Day Sponsor Mount Gay® Rum is the Official Rum. Supporting sponsors are B&G (Official Marine Electronics), Lewmar (Official Marine Hardware), and Samson Rope Technologies (Official Cordage).
Acura Key West is also supported by The Florida Keys and Key West Tourist Development Council. The Historic Seaport at the Key West Bight is the Official Site.
About the Industry Partner Program
Twenty-nine Industry Partners bring their support through a program that is now in its 5th year. A record number of Partners will participate in the Hospitality and Exhibit Area on site: Bainbridge International, Dimension-Polyant Sailcloth, Hall Spars and Rigging, J/Boats, Melges Performance Sailboats, Nautor’s Swan, North Sails, and SLAM.
Acura offers a full line of luxury performance vehicles through a nationwide network of more than 260 dealers. The Acura lineup features six distinctive models including the exotic NSX supercar, the RL luxury sedan, the TL performance luxury sedan, the TSX sports sedan, the race-bred RSX sports coupe and the award-winning MDX luxury sport utility vehicle. For more information about Acura vehicles, please visit www.Acura.com. For media inquiries, please go to www.AcuraNews.com.