International Sailing Regatta Jan. 17-21 In Key West, Florida

KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Sailboats and crews from around the world are to compete in subtropical waters during Key West 2011, scheduled Monday through Friday, Jan. 17-21.

Presented by Nautica, the challenge features world-class competition and yachting teams from more than 12 countries and 24 American states.

America’s Cup legend Russell Coutts will be on hand for the southernmost debut of the RC 44 class, while the IRC fleet is expected to star standouts including Titan, chartered by former America’s Cup skipper Bill Koch.

One-design entries are strongly represented in classes such as the Melges 32, talent-laden international Melges 24, revitalized Farr 30 and J/105 and J/80 competing for midwinter championships. Multihull and PHRF competitors are featured as well.

According to organizers, the regatta’s primary attractions for race teams are the warm-water January sailing, reliable breezes, high level of competition and unique Key West atmosphere. Unlike other challenges, the regatta also allows amateur sailors to test their skills against professionals.

Races are slated to begin at 10:30 a.m. daily. Courses are set over an 8-mile stretch of the Atlantic Ocean just off Key West’s shore and inside the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef.

Kelly’s Caribbean Bar, Grill & Brewery, 301 Whitehead St., is to be headquarters for the racing crews. Plans call for the adjoining block of Caroline Street to be closed to traffic and open to fun for sailors and sailing aficionados.

To view the action, fans can book seats on spectator boats ranging from excursion catamarans to historic tall ships. Prime land-based viewing spots include Key West’s Atlantic-front restaurants, resorts and beaches.

Event information: www.premiere-racing.com or 781-639-9545

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