There truly is something magical about the Florida Keys: the azure water, the insistence of the breeze, the liveliness of the sailors, breaking free of winter hibernations in frosty latitudes. It has always been one of my favorite venues to photograph and this image of a brigade of Melges 32s rocketing downwind shows exactly why.
May 2022’s featured image was taken during Key West Race Week (KWRW) 2010. Founded in 1987, by 2010 KWRW was in full swing, recognized as one of the leading regattas for competitors from across the US, Canada and Europe. Escaping the winter chill wasn’t the only reason for coming to Key West. The world-class competition was intense, capped by colorful nightlife and eccentric parties that ended as Key West’s ubiquitous roosters crowed at dawn.
KWRW was a showcase for one-designs such as the Melges 32 fleet. Just five-years old at this point, the Melges 32 was another winning design from this iconic sailing family and company. Measuring 31-feet with massive sail area, it accommodates – no, demands – a crew of five, to keep it in check. With an amateur owner/driver rule and professional crew limitations, it remains to this day one of the most thrilling classes on the water!
Another exciting one-design was the Mumm 30, leaping off the bottom of the page in the 2022 Ultimate Sailing Calendar as they crew hikes hard! This was captured during the 2005 Miami Race Week where over 100 boats turned out to compete on the turquoise waters off Key Biscayne.
The Mumm 30 was praised for being clean, fast and straightforward, popular for its easy handling in big offshore conditions. First launched in 1995, it was in its heyday in this 2005 race series. You may know it as the Farr 30: its name was changed after title sponsor Champagne Mumm dropped out. Although sponsorship may have fizzled it remains popular as a hardy and affordable race boat for its size.
Talking of fizzling … Key West Race Week lapsed in 2017, much to the dismay of sailors, organizers, officials and me! Here is a retrospective of 30 years of KWRW.
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