Spookie practice 1

Skippers and crews have been training and tuning over the past few days in preparation for racing to start tomorrow in Quantum Key West 2014. The HPR fleet is a mix of veterans and newcomers to this class of high-performance yachts, in their third appearance at what most regard as North America's most competitive regatta.

Two Carkeek HPR 40's top the rating bands, with DECISION, skippered by New Orleans-based Stephen Murray, Jr, eager to defend his title earned here last year with help from Newport-based Anthony Kotoun on board as tactician. DECISION is trying out a new keel for the event, which she hopes will give her an edge over rival SPOOKIE, owned by Steve & Heidi Benjamin from Norwalk, Connecticut. SPOOKIE has had an extremely active 2013 season of racing, is coming off a win last week in the Ft Lauderdale - Key West Race, and is being led by former Rolex Award-winning tactician Bora Gulari.

Mark Ewing's MC 38 RIOT is making their HPR racing debut and is a new boat for this team, although Ewing brings in extensive experience from the Farr 40 and other one-design classes. He has brought a Newport-based crew this week rich with talent, led by tactician Kimo Worthington.

Bernie Girod's ROCK & ROLL has come the furthest of any team, hailing from Santa Barbara, California, where the Farr 400 has recently competed at the HPR National Championship at the Rolex St Francis Big Boat Series. Like DECISION, ROCK & ROLL is in a new configuration with some added internal ballast to enhance their upwind performance. ROCK & ROLL will be led this week by tactician Kevin Miller.

For photos, videos and results from Quantum Key West, visit the event website at www.premiere-racing.com.

(photo courtesy of Images by Marco)