Key West weather is phenomenally glorious in the winter months and is the peak of our tourist season. Warm tropical breezes also make it a world famous sailing destination and like a pilgrimage, sailboats of all sizes and types make their way to the tiny island every year. Fly into the Key West Caribbean-style airport on any given day in January, and you’re treated to a magnificent down-look view of the hundreds of sailboats moored and docked in the turquoise waters around the island.
The official countdown is now on for the 25th anniversary of the International Key West Yacht Premier Racing week. Some of the best and big-name professional sailors in the world are getting ready to let the competition begin. Staged off-shore Key West, in the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary, regatta dates for 2012 are set for January 15 – 20. With the title sponsor, Quantum Sails, the world-class event is drawing sail racing champions and America’s Cup veterans from all over the globe.
For sailing buffs, the International Key West Yacht Premier Racing Week is synonymous with the beginning of the winter sailing season, and the spirit of the global sailing community comes alive with this regatta. In the Florida, an energetic precursor to the event is the 37th annual Fort Lauderdale-to-Key West yacht race that begins on Wednesday, January 11. An impressive collection of more than 45 sailboats, with their hearty-hearted crews, will race the 160 mile course down the South Florida seaboard to the Key West Historic Seaport, where many will remain for the alluring yacht race week.
Once the racing begins, spectators will be treated to an impressive line-up of J/ Boats. The Quantum Key West 2012 event will introduce a J/Boat specific handicap class, and spectators can expect to see J/35s, and some new J11s. J/80 Class boats which is reported to have enjoyed growth in despite the downturn in the world economy, will have a strong showing. It is also reported that the regatta will see a return of the Farr 30s, which have a long history in the Key West Premier Racing event.
Old Town and the Historic Seaport comes alive with the International Yacht Premier Racing Week events both on and off the water. Racing boats are staged on the hard in the old Navy Mole, behind Truman Annex Neighborhood where it may be possible to get a closer look at these magnificent machines. The Key West Historic Seaport, which is also a supporter of the event, is the host of big tents for the participants, and the bustling harbor-walk literally teams with excitement during the week. Favorite extracurricular indulgences include fine dining at the island’s amazing restaurants and over-the-top night life.
Touring historic neighborhoods with grand wooden gingerbread Victorian homes built by turn-of-the-century ship builders in the Historic Seaport Neighborhood is also a big draw. A select number of these homes and estates are available to rent as exclusive vacation rentals by Vacation Homes of Key West (VHKW). January is a fantastic month to visit Key West, for sailors and landlubbers alike.