Team Cyberspeed drives through the wind and waves for a win in the ‘Keys 100 Reef Run’
Hardy souls braved blustery conditions to compete in the inaugural Keys 100 Reef Run, Saturday, April 25th. Five of an intended 10 boats decided to fight strong winds and go racing 80 miles from Islamorada to Key West. All were briefed on conditions. Averaging 18.1 mph over a five minute period, with gusts to 24, from the east, measured at the end of the pier at the Islander Resort. Major reef marks 3 miles off shore recorded wind gusts over 30 mph during the day.
Bret Moss, in his Marstrom 20 made a great start, first across the line, set for a run. He was within 20 feet of the start line, streaking under main and jib, at the signal. A spinnaker pole strut gave within the hour and was he forced to retire. The remaining boats continued to Smathers Beach, Key West 80 miles downwind.
There were several spills, the most spectacular being a forward catapult, by Curt Johnson and Kevin Greene in the white Team Royal boat after plowing bows into a wave. Each boat, except the winners, Craig Van Eaton and Rob Behrend in the Super Cat 20, capsized at least once. This was a real test for four different boat types that included a Supercat 20, a Marstrom, an I-20, a Nacra 6.0 and an F-16.
Chris Stater and required second man crew Eric Hosch in the F – 16, decided to stay closer to the land in a conservative route plan remained close to the fleet until an unplanned jibe, while rolling in a wave trough, caused their only capsize. They continued the race under jib alone due to a rudder problem. Everyone was pulling for Chris and the F-16, who promised he had seen these conditions often in Puerto Rico sailing an even a Hobie 16. The F-16, though small for the conditions, proved its worth in this race, under able hands.
Curt Johnson, finishing third, was asked how many times he capsized and his reply was, “More than I could count.” They broke the tiller cross bar, where the tiller extension attaches and ended the raced under jib alone to finish.
Tony Prui and Mark Lipkus raced the red Nacra 6.0, coming in second only 17: 15 minutes behind the Super Cat, whose broad beam and screecher were ready for these conditions. A tight race ensued between the Nacra 6.0 and the Super Cat until the 6.0 capsized. Both crews said it was nip and tuck and would have finished that way except for the unplanned event. Craig Van Eaton reported covering far more than the 80 miles due to so many jibes running dead downwind. Team Cyberspeed completed the race in 5:43:36 hours and recorded a top speed of 26.5 mph on GPS.
Team Cyberspeed used the race to complete a four stage run from West Palm Beach to Key West and included both the Miami – Key Largo Race as well as the Keys 100 and logged in 419.7 miles total.
The race was monitored by TopoFusion.com, who contributes to successful tracking via “Spot” trackers. Both TopoFusion.com and SailSeries.com have links to replay the race on their home pages. The program smoothes out the track as it is pinged every 10 to 15 minutes.
The Keys 100 was originally the Hogs Breath 100 and will be continued under the Name “KEYS REEF RUN” annually. Historically, winds for the predecessor, were lighter, but still have provided a great sleigh ride to Key West. Prevailing conditions during April normally provide long/short spinnaker tacks to the finish.
The Race is the first race in the 2009 endurance series and was sponsored by Islander Water Sports and Tybee Island Sailing Association. Sponsors provided finger food and beverages for registration, on Friday evening and the Grand Key Double tree Resort in Key West gave discounted rooms and meals to the participants. Both hotels were at capacity and the Key West Conch republic anniversary activities provided a lot of hoopla down town Key West for weary souls.
More information on the series and the event can be found at www.SailSeries.com.