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Californians at Key West Race Week

Peter Wagner’s Skeleton Key not only placed first in the J/111 division for the second consecutive year, but the crew was recognized on Thursday with the Marine Partners’ Day award.

© 2017 Martha Blanchfield

It’s not only ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) sailors who swoop into Key West for its turquoise waters and competitive week of racing on January 15-20. Quantum Key West Race Week attracts contenders from the West Coast and around the globe. For the second year in a row the Bay Area’s Peter Wagner and the Skeleton Key J/111 crew earned a first after five days of racing, logging a tally of 25 (8-3-1-1-4-1-3-2-1-1). By scoring an 8 then a 3 right off, the crew found themselves digging out for the comeback. This year saw nine J/111s on the line, and Wagner reports that the entire fleet had raised its competitive game. Wagner purchased the boat in 2015 and competes with an entirely West Coast crew, including his mainsail trimmer, who is a college mate and fellow All-American sailor from Harvard.

The Skeleton Key crew on terra firma. Left to right: Dave Lyons, Peter Wagner, John Collins, John Hayes, Nick Gibbens and John Pernick. (Missing are Shawn Hwang and tactician Seadon Wijsen.)

© 2017 Martha Blanchfield

Gary Panariello of Sausalito has been racing in Key West since 2010, initially in the J/80 and now the J/88 class. He chartered a boat for his bicoastal Courageous crew. “This year was super-competitive and racing was tight. Conditions were fantastic, but at this venue you really need to focus; this is a challenging place to race.” The Courageous team earned a fourth in the fleet of seven.

The Courageous crew aboard their chartered J/88 M:1-2 were Alex Berg, bow; Will Lowe, trim/pit; Blaine SooHoo, mast/grinder; Jeff Jordan, trim; Mike Coe, tactician; and Gary Panariello, skipper/helm.

© 2017 T2PTV: Sailing on Demand

Chris Snow of Menlo Park and crew campaigned Cool Story Bro., placing 20th in the competitive J/70 division of 41 boats. In the C&C 30 division, RoXanne relied on tactician Steve Hunt, and the Anema & Core crew included Southern California sailors Will Tetrick on the bow and Kevin Abbink as mast/grinder. “This event has a large participation of boats, grand prix and PHRF, and organizers provide a great social venue," says Tetrick. "Racers are treated very well with educational debriefs and panel discussion, plus good food and beverage. This event is on many racers’ bucket list.”

The C&C 30s hit the startline on Day 5.

© Martha Blanchfield

Quantum Key West Race Week is managed by Storm Trysail Club, which also hosts Block Island Race Week, plus offshore events such as the biennial Pineapple Cup race to Montego Bay, the Transatlantic Race and various others along the eastern shore of the US.

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