On the last day of Key West Race Week we were back to light winds, probably the lightest of the week, so I started out my day by looking for something different. On the way out to the race courses I spotted a Melges 24 passing in front of one of the cruise ships that frequent Key West.
Mind you, the Melges is a 24 foot long boat and it is hundreds of feet in front of the cruise ship, so you can’t even imagine how the Crystal Symphony, which is 790 feet long, dwarfs a Melges 24. The mast on a Melges 24 is 26.5 feet tall.
For comparison, look at the shot of the Wally 82 Highland Fling XI, the largest sail boat at Key West Race Week, as it backed into its berth at the end of the day. Its mast is 131 feet tall.
Here’s the craziest part. The Wally 82 draws 16 feet, which means if you took the Melges 24 and stood it up on its bow and pushed it underwater to the bottom of Highland Fling XI’s keel the stern of the Melges 24 would barely come up above the deck of the Wally. If you were to do the same thing with my Herreshoff 12.5, which is less than 16 feet long overall if wouldn’t even break the surface of the water.
Highland Fling XI was launched last year and Key West Race Week was an early test of its speed. It’s too early to say, but the light winds certainly didn’t favor a boat of this size. Highland Fling XI would cross the finish line first every time, but on corrected time it lost to another Reichl/Pugh design, Bella Mente, a 69 footer owned by Hap Fauth.
Here’s Bella Mente at the windward mark as it kept Highland Fling XI safely within striking distance, and last but not least, Hap Fauth savoring his victory with a cigar after the last race of the week.