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Regatta Notices: 2015 Key Largo Steeplechase

Added by grandude on Nov 20, 2015 - 12:32 PM

2015 Key Largo Steeplechase… check it out.

If you have ever had an interest or curiosity in the Key Largo Steeplechase, you should look at the race again, this year. The 2015 Steeplechase is scheduled for December 12th and 13th and will be the new format we ran last year. This new course is the result of the sailors’ initiative and everyone agreed the changes worked well.

Instead of rigging and launching from Gilbert’s, the boats are rigged at the Islander Resort in Islamorada. The start is from the beach at the Islander. As the host of Tradewinds, The Florida 300 and many other great regattas, the Islander is perfect for sailing beachcats. Many thanks to Dennis Greene and Water Sports, our contact onsite.

The Islander has been upgraded and is now a Guy Harvey Outpost. The rooms, bar, restaurant and pool area make it great for evening socials and really nice for ground crews. One year at Tradewinds we even had a camp fire.

Saturday morning is the start, and the longer of the 2 days. We sail north east to Angelfish Creek. Navigation is pretty simple but a GPS is standard equipment. Through Angelfish Creek and down through Card Sound, under the bridge and across Barnes Sound. Card Sound bridge offers great photo opportunity and many crews meet there to check on their teams. Jewfish Creek slows things down where some teams paddle and some show skills that only the Steeplechase can teach. Past Gilbert’s and down Blackwater Sound, through Dusenbury Creek and into Tarpon Basin. Grouper Creek opens up into Buttonwood Sound and the final drag race into the Upper Keys Sailing Club. 

The Club is another great place to hang out and a very secure place to leave the boats overnight. Last year we all hung out for post-race cocktails and told stories of the day. Saturday night has traditionally been an awesome dinner social and “re-hydration” process. The second day is all about picking the right line so picking the right brains Saturday night can be very helpful.

Sunday morning we sail southwest and through the maze of flats and channels. Under the Channel 5 bridge, make a left turn and sail NE for an hour or so to finish back at the Islander. Drink cold beer, break the boats down and tell stories until Rick hands out awards.

Finishing the Steeplechase has always been an award in itself for me. It’s a physical and mental challenge, yet a refreshing retreat into some beautifully scenic sailing that is the Florida Keys. The Keys are unique and diverse and the Steeplechase puts you through all of it.

Although dominated by spinnaker boats like the I20, F18 and the Robert’s Super Cats, the race has been completed by Hobie 16s as well. You will find highly skilled seasoned veterans on this race, but the average sailor can also enjoy the day. Set your pace and settle into your groove, smart navigation and persistence will pay, sometimes big time.

There is always a Steeplechase thread on catsailor.com this time of year. Plenty of advice available there or bring your questions to the race.

Dick Macdonald

F18 Team Turtle Mojo 

 

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