Poor economy means fewer sailboats for Key West race


Published: Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 3:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 3:32 p.m.

KEY WEST, Fla. The global economic crisis has dramatically reduced the number of sailboats at the Acura Key West Race Week, set to begin Monday off the Florida Keys.

This year's field of 155 entries is down 40 percent compared to last year's fleet of 262, according to event director Peter Craig.

"We're down, just like my 401K," Craig said. "It's across the board. The Grand Prix high-end classes have been impacted, just like the budget classes."

But Craig gratefully emphasizes that the 22-year-old tradition of January fleet sailing in Key West continues, unlike many other regattas around the world that have been canceled because of fiscal doldrums.

He also points to the number of the sport's marquee sailors who are registered to compete in the five-day event that is to feature nine races for entrants in 13 different classes.

The Farr 40 class, headlined by Terry Hutchinson, recently named 2008 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, is sailing aboard defending champion Barking Mad, owned by Jim Richardson of Newport, R.I. Three-time world champion Mascalzone Latino, owned by Italian Vincenzo Onorato, is in Key West.

For the third consecutive year, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark is to skipper Nanoq in the Farr 40 class. He'll have former Olympic sailor Ross MacDonald calling tactics.

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