I’ve finally gotten my photos from Key West Race week posted.  Many of them come from screen captures from the video cameras we were running.  Hopefully in another week I’ll have the video completed.  Some photos of the boat by the professional photographers are here and here.

Jon aboard Lucky Dog during Key West Race Week 2011

With racing complete, I had one final day in Key West for sightseeing before my flight out at the end of the day.  I visited the Hemmingway house and saw the 6-toed cats and the studio where he wrote most of his books.  I also visited the Key West lighthouse and walked up it to see the views of the area.  I made another stop to the shipwreck museum.

Hemmingway House

Key West Light House

My trip to Key West wouldn’t have been complete without more problems with flights.  All week the winds hadn’t been over 10 knots which didn’t make for great race conditions.  But today there were high wind warnings and so the plane flying in to fly me out wasn’t able to land because of it.  My flight was cancelled and Delta didn’t have another seat on a plane out of Key West until Monday.  So they put bunches of us in cabs and drove us 190 miles to Miami where I was put up in 2-room king bed suite at Embassy Suites.  My trip goes on another day…

Friday was the final day of racing and having had a day with only 1 race, the race committee bumped up the start time so that we could try and get in 3 races.  Out on the race course the wind was light and out of the same direction as it was on Tuesday.  In the light sloppy stuff we just didn’t have the horsepower to keep up with the fast boats.  By the 3rd race there was weather on the horizon and we played the side we thought the wind would fill in to, but it didn’t come in time and we were hung out there.  We ended up going 9-8-9 for the day putting us into 8th for the week.

After racing we had a few of our crew needing to catch a 5:30 flight so we got the boat completely packed on the water so that we could dock and dash.  Tal and I were the only two left so we caught up with the crew from Solaris and went to the regatta party and dinner.

Today was a rough day on the water.  It started out with an intense fog that limited visibility to only a couple hundred feet.  We were postponed on shore for 30 minutes before finally being sent out.  Initially the fog was lifting as we were heading out of the channel, but once out in open water it came in even thicker.  We didn’t have a chart plotter onboard so we ended up using a plotter app on my iPhone using coordinates radioed by the race committee to find their position.  One unlucky Melges 24 ended up several miles away on the Division 3 course.

Fog surrounding the signal boat

The Race Committee postponed us on the water until the fog lifted and then got racing started.  The wind was light in the 6-8 knot range and by the time we were actually racing it was rarely over 6.  At least the water was pretty flat so we weren’t bobbing around.

I can’t say much else about the racing because I didn’t see any of it.  To best position our crew weight while sailing upwind, Lud and I sat down below.  Being out of the sun with a slight breeze was more comfortable than being on deck.  If only we hadn’t tacked so much causing me to switch sides, I could have actually caught some zzz’s.

At the last minute before the mark rounding, Lud and I would spring onto deck and raise the spinnaker.  We’d be on deck until it was doused and then we were back below.  Results-wise it wasn’t the best day for us.  We put up an 8 and a 13 in two races dropping us into 8th.

After racing we did some packing at the condo as many of our crew are hoping on a plane immediately after racing tomorrow.  We hit up the regatta party, grabbed some sea food for dinner and called it a night.

Today was a light air day just on the verge of being sailable.  We headed out to course not knowing if we were actually going to race or if we were just going to be sitting out there for a while.  The wind was just strong enough that the Race Committee started us on time on a course with just 1-mile legs.

Lud getting interviewed by T2P.TV

We won the start but ended up on the wrong side of the course when the first shift came down.  We were mid-fleet around the first windward mark and caught a couple boats downwind.  On the next upwind we held our own, but boats that banged the corners came out ahead.  On the final downwind we had clear wind heading downwind and picked up a boat, but got sniped at the line by another boat putting us in 7th.

Travis at the helm just after the start of race 5

By that point the wind was dying and wouldn’t be enough to get another race in so the Race Committee called us off and we were back at shore by 1.

Most of us rested or did some sight-seeing for the rest of the afternoon.  At 6 we headed over to the regatta party tent to see the awards.  Unfortunately for me something I drank didn’t agree with me and I went from feeling fine to feeling like I was going to be pretty sick in just a matter of minutes.  I booked it home and rested up for the rest of the night hoping to be back to normal tomorrow.

The second day of racing at Key West Race Week was a little warmer and had a little lighter wind than yesterday.  We had a great start in the first race.  Unfortunately, it was too great and the race committee called nearly half the fleet over early including boats that were above us and below us.  We realized we were over immediately and were able to bail out and get restarted without loosing a lot of ground.  With so many boats being called over meant many of the leaders were at the back of the pack right at the start.

The lighter wind we today than yesterday meant the racing was a lot more about being in the right spot.  Our boat handling was a lot cleaner and we did a good job getting around the marks without getting into any drama with other boats.  We managed a 6th in the first race.

The second race was light and lumpy which required much better technique going up wind to keep the boat moving.  We were in the lead pack up the first beat, but fell off on the next two legs and ended up 6th when the race was shortened down to 3 laps from the 5 that were planned because of the dying wind.

Jon and Lud at the Southern Most Point

After racing we packed up the boat and headed back to the Condo.  Lud and I went for a bike tour of the western part of the island and rode by places like the Hemmingway House and the Southern Most Point.  Later we all stopped by the regatta party to see the awards given. Following the party we went to the Rum Barrel restaurant and had a nice dinner with some live music.

Tim Wilkes posted some photos of Lucky Dog from the first day of racing here.  Overall results from the first two days of racing are here.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for less wind than today.  We were reminded numerous times while at the party to listen to the 8:30 and 9am announcements to find out if we will be postponed on shore.  Tomorrow could be a good day to be a tourist.

Monday was the first day of racing at Key West Race Week for the J105 Lucky Dog Racing.  Last night a storm rolled through the area which left some lumpy seas around the course for the first part of the day.  The cloudy skies in the morning cleared as the day went on and with them went the wind.

At the race course we did some practice to be sure everything was ship shape and ready to go.  We were a half a boat length late at the start with Max Power above us.  We worked our way out to the middle left of the course on the first beat and were about 6th around the first mark.  We held our own downwind, but had a terrible takedown and lost 10-15 boat lengths at the leeward mark.

Upwind we were fast and clawed our way back a few spots.  We ended up 8th in the 1st race of the day in the 15-boat fleet.

Lucky Dog on Day 2 of Key West Race Week

In the second race of the day the wind and waves had subsided a bit.  Travis did a great job nailing the start and we hit the line on the front row and were able to get out in clear air.  We were right with Ghost, Savasana, Wasabi and Masquerade.  We had good upwind boat speed and led Ghost at the first windward mark by half a boat length.  On the next three legs we had clean maneuvers, good tactics and extended our lead.

On the final leg upwind to the finish, Masquerade, who was in 4~6th place rounded the leeward mark and went way left.  We covered everyone else in the fleet who mostly stayed to the middle right.  Masquerade hit the left corner perfectly and was lifted ahead of us by 5-8 boat lengths.  We continued to gain on the boats behind, but couldn’t catch up to Masqueraded leaving us with a 2nd place finish.

A second and an 8 put us in 4th overall.  Tomorrow’s forecast is for a little lighter winds which will be a bit more challenging for us.

After racing we headed back to the condos and a short time later a storm rolled through the area.  We headed over to Kelley’s for the J105 party and then went out to dinner.

Overall results are posted here.  Tomorrow, be sure to watch the Division 2 blog for updates on our course throughout the day.

Sunday was our day to get out on the water and practice.  The boat had been brought down and set up earlier in the week, so all we needed to do was some final tuning and go sailing.  We are sharing a slip with another J105, Max Power.  The RC44s are just down the dock from us as well as a few other big racing boats.

After an hour of prep work, we were ready to go.  2 minutes after getting the sails up and starting to sail, I was down below and noticed water above the floorboards.  It turns out there were 2 slow leaks on the boat and the bilge pump had not been turned on.  Turning that on along with a couple minutes of bailing and we got the bilge emptied and went back to sailing.

Practicing downwind on the J105

Our practice went well.  It gave us all a chance to sail together, we made sure all of the systems and equipment were race ready, and we got to spend time practicing some new positions for many of us.  Mid-afternoon we headed back to shore and made a few repairs and got everything cleaned up for racing tomorrow.

We ate a late lunch at Turtle Krawls and Russell Coutts (BMW Oracle) sat down at the table next to us.  Peter Holmgren (Alinghi 2003) was at another table nearby.  In the evening everyone hung out watching the NFL playoffs.  Rob went to the skippers meeting, we checked out the regatta party and after a pretty low-key evening, turned in pretty early.  8:30 dock call tomorrow.

Ambulances outside our first flight from RIC>ATLWe started the week with a bit of a bumpy ride to Key West on Saturday.  John Wake drove, Tal flew out of Texas, and Rob flew AirTran.  All of their trips were pretty uneventfully. Lud, Travis and I were on all of the same flights and we can’t say the same for our trip.  Our first flight out of Richmond was diverted back to the gate while taxing to the runway due to a passenger having a medical emergency.  An hour later we were on our way to Atlanta, but not with enough time to catch our connection to Key West.  We relaxed at the sky lounge and caught the next flight to Key West.  That flight was at the end of the runway about to take off, and they had a computer problem and returned us to the gate to fix it.  An hour later we were on our way not arriving in Key West until about 5:30, 5 hours after we were originally scheduled to be there.

Welcome To Key West

Thankfully the other guys got there on time and were able to register, check into the condos and pick up our rental bikes for the week.  After getting settled we went out to a Brazillion Steak House for dinner and then went out on Duvall street.