2018 Dates:
Skipper's Meeting - January 9
Race Starts - January 10
Awards Party - January 12


Recent Race News:

Photo by Marco Oquendo

June 22, 2017
The Race is ON!
As they have every January since 1976, competitors will gather on the waters south of Port Everglades on January 10, 2018, for the 42nd Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race, hosted by the Lauderdale Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club, and managed by the Southern Ocean Racing Conference.  The race will be the third race of the 2017-2018 SORC Islands in the Stream Series. The Skippers Meeting and party at LYC will take place on Tuesday night, January 9, and the after-race SORC headquarters will once again be at Turtle Kraals in Key West.  The awards party will be held at Kelly’s Caribbean Bar and Grill on Friday night.

The organizers of the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race were excited when Yachting Magazine started Key West Race Week back in 1987. We regret its interruption, and look forward to working with anyone who revives this storied event.   In the meantime, plans are underway to revive the Conch Grinder Race, which fell victim to crowded docks and schedules between the Key West Race and Key West Race Week many years ago.  The Conch Grinder Race Revival will take competitors on an amusing journey on Saturday January 13. 

Watch for updates on the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race on this page. Updates on the SORC Islands in the Stream Series can be found on the main SORC page. Keep an eye on the SORC Sailing Facebook page for information on all SORC events.

January 13, 2017
What a Blast!
David and Peter Askew’s Reichel/Pugh 74 Wizard broke out the broom for a clean sweep in the 2017 Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race, winning the IRC Class, and scoring First Monohull to Finish, while setting a new monohull record, to break the 12 year-old record. The outstanding result was no fluke, and it was not just because of the weather, which came through with a late shift and increase in velocity as Wizard passed Boca Chica Key, to help the team nip the record at the line, according to Tactician Chris Larson, a member of the last two crews to break the race record.  Larson credited an all-star crew with flawless sail-handling, to keep the gears shifting smoothly all the way down and around the Keys, no small task on such a boat.  The Askews brought the total package to the race course, and walked away with a clean sweep at the trophy table as a result. 

Being prepared to shift gears as you progress down the course and steer more westerly is one of the more consistent lessons of the Lauderdale to Key West Race, but there were other recurring lessons on display across the top of the leader-board this year.  Chris and Karen Lewis’ ORC winner Kenai, with Storm Trysail Club Commodore Lenny Sitar aboard, and Bill Bollin’s PHRF A Class and Fleet winning Melges 32 Badfish both set good examples of the old adage about sailing the shortest course possible.  Those following on the tracker saw that Navigator H.L. Devore consistently had Kenai in the inside position, all the way down the course.  Badfish Navigator Tom Morgan also kept his team in the inside lane as much as possible. Kenai’s ORC win and Badfish’s Overall PHRF win were no coincidence, as the inside lane is the path to victory year after year...and the Gulfstream is no place to visit in January.

Jason Carroll’s Gunboat 62 Elvis (also with an all-star crew) had the fastest ride of the race, finishing in 10 hours and 48 seconds, but corrected out second in the Multihull division.  Joseph Rome’s Simpson 48 Peregrine took the win.  Joel Andrews’ Beneteau FC 10 Macushla took the win in the PHRF B. Class.

The conditions for this year’s race were textbook South Florida winter front breeze and waves, which bring people back to the Lauderdale to Key West Race year after year.  The predicted sleigh ride showed up in force and the competitors delivered in historic fashion.  Winners delivered a textbook race by following textbook lessons. With that, three of the four races of the SORC Islands in the Stream Series are in the books, with the Champion to be decided in the Miami to Havana Race on March 15.  Kenai and Wizard both have two wins and would have to be the favorites to win the series.  The early entry deadline is February 1.  The updated series standings are here and will also be posted on the SORC website.

SORC Media - Chris Woolsey

Photo by Boatpix

January 11, 2017
Record Broken!
With an elapsed time of 10 hours18 minutes and 50 seconds, Wizard has broken the monohull elapsed time record. Stay tuned for more info and epic stories.

January 10, 2017
Sleigh Ride
The 2017 Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race starts Wednesday, January 11 at 1:00 P.M., and if the weather delivers as the forecast promises, it looks to be a fast trip to the Southernmost Point of the US. Hosted by the Lauderdale Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club, and managed by the Southern Ocean Racing Conference, the annual race sends sailors on a 160-mile sprint down along the curve of the Florida Keys, to the Key West Sea Buoy, where they make the hard turn onto the final leg up the channel to the finish off of Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.

It appears that competitors will enjoy classic Lauderdale to Key West Race conditions this year. David Cannon, Director of Yacht Ops and Meteorologist for Weather Routing, Inc., Official Weather Provider for the Race, advises that “ for Wednesday and Thursday, high pressure and Easterly winds will be the rule throughout the area, with wind speeds averaging near 20kts. Higher wind gusts (to 23-24kts) are likely in any local NE winds downwind of any ‘channeling’ areas between the Florida Keys. Short and choppy seas will be from the east as well, generally from 4-6 feet, though within the Gulfstream waters south of the Keys, seas will tend to be near the high end of this range.

Race veterans will attest that these are the conditions that bring them back to do the race again and again. South Floridian Dave Woolsey, a three time race winner, recalls similar sleigh-ride conditions for the 1980 race, won on a hot pink Santa Cruz 27 named Inspector Clouseau. Among the motivations for the youngsters doing the race in those days were honing important offshore (and onshore) skills against the world’s best (not to mention the motivation for someone on a Santa Cruz 27 to be someplace warm and dry in January).

Speaking of the world’s best... none other than Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup Skipper Ken Read is a long time competitor in the event, and holds the monohull race record as a member of the crew of Joe Dockery’s R/P 81' Carrera in 2005. Ken’s comments about the experience of both the race and the record:

The Fort Lauderdale to Key West race is one of the first "Distance" races I remember doing. It was Christmas break and I was at Boston University ...early 1981. There was no Key West Race Week back then. It was simply the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race. I remember the amazing party at the end of it and this crazy group of guys on a boat called Puff owned by Wilkie Gilbert. From Fort Lauderdale I believe. I remember that the whole crew was nuts and I loved it. And my friend Tom Lihan was the person that got me on board. No shock that Tom was onboard and we won our class. Snapshot forward to 2005 when I sailed aboard Carrera and we broke the record. It was a great forecast of reaching and running on an 80 foot Reichel Pugh sled. Amazing crew. Great owner, a guy named Joe Dockery. We had a phenomenal easy fun trip down, only to load the boat up a little too much about 5 miles before the right hand turn to go into the cut at Key West. That's when we did a little spin out with the A4 up and heard a big bang only to find three quarters of the rudder gone. But nobody wanted to stop so after about 15 to 20 minutes we got the boat back under control, bore off without hitting the reef and got up a number 4 jib and put a reef in the main. That was when as a crew we learned how to sail the boat with about a 2-foot stub of a rudder and easing and trimming the Jib and Mainsail in order to keep the boat going straight. The windy jibe at the final mark to head for shore was very tricky if I remember correctly. But we finished without crashing into anything and probably would've done the race about a half an hour faster if it weren't for a broken rudder. Every year since then a group of us who were all on board including the owner and the project manager Simon Davidson and Chris Larson and others get in touch and watch the race to determine whether our record is still safe . Well I can tell you this year based on some early prognosis it looks like it could be another ripper of the year. With great boats like Wizard and Prospector doing the race I certainly wouldn't be shocked if the record was in jeopardy. I just hope they don't suffer the same fate with a broken rudder at the end because it's no fun and was a little bit scary at the time.

Only time will tell if the record set by Joe, Ken and the rest of the Carrera crew will hold up for another year, but even with conditions ripe for a challenge there still must be a challenger. The likely candidate would seem to be David and Peter Askew’s Reichel/Pugh 74 Wizard, a pedigreed thoroughbred sailed by a who’s-who of offshore talent, several of whom sailed Alvimedica in the last Volvo World Race, including Alvimedica co-Skippers Charlie Enright and Mark Towill and the aforementioned Chris Larson. Enright, Wizard’s Tactician, has his eye on the forecast, noting that it “looks like a great forecast. 20 knots from the ENE going ESE will make for a fast trip down to KW. Exactly how fast will depend on how much the breeze shifts with us as we free up. The more we have to VMG run the longer it will take, by virtue of having to sail more distance. The gulfstream can compound this, if it doesn't head and you end up lifting offshore, you expose yourself to more adverse current, too.” He is wisely cautious about discussing things like records before a race, concluding “No matter what happens, it would be great to get there in time to enjoy what Key West is best known for, especially if we have a good run!”.

Any discussion of the record would be incomplete without noting that one boat and crew has completed the course in less time than Carrera. Steve and Scott Liebel’s 50' Custom Catamaran Stars and Stripes set the outright record of just over 8.5 hours in 2007. Ken, if you’re still reading this, is this taunt about Stars and Stripes holding the record thinly veiled enough?

Thank you to all contributors.

Follow the race on the Kattack Tracker here.
Watch for updates on the SORC Sailing Facebook Page here.
Find the WRI Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Forecast here.

- Chris Woolsey - SORC Media


December 15, 2016
Heading South?
The best-laid plans have mostly taken shape and are starting to solidify for the 41st Annual Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race. The cold winds of winter are either driving folks indoors or to points south. There is still time to change course and head for the tropics this January. For those of you who chose to stay north for the winter, the SORC sends you our warm thoughts.

May we humbly suggest that there are better options to the south? The Lauderdale Yacht Club, Storm Trysail Club, and the SORC welcome you to the 2017 Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race. Competitors will gather at LYC on Tuesday, January 10 for packet pickup at 16:00, Skippers Meeting at 18:30, and the traditional Mt. Gay Rum bar. The race starts at 13:00 off of Port Everglades, for the 160-mile sprint southbound and around the curve of the Florida Keys to Key West, where winter in the tropics awaits. Once in Key West, competitors can enjoy all that the island has to offer, including (but by no means limited to) the SORC Duty Station at the upstairs deck at Turtle Kraals, and the Friday night Awards Party at Kelly’s Caribbean Bar and Grill. The Storm Trysail Club will keep you busy during the following week, with Quantum Key West Race Week 2017.

Get moving now, because the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race attracts a crowd.

September 5, 2016
Key West is the Answer…What was the Question?
When the cold northerly winds of January blow, where would you rather be, bundled up in the cold white north, or in shorts and a t-shirt in Key West? Would you rather shovel your driveway, or walk Duval Street?  Would you rather sit around waiting for a groundhog to see his shadow or share the streets with roosters and six-toed cats?  No matter the question, Key West is The Answer. 

The 41st Annual Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race, hosted by Lauderdale Yacht Club and the Storm Trysail Club, kicks off on Tuesday, January 10, 2017, when competitors gather at Lauderdale Yacht Club for the pre-race Mt. Gay Rum Party and Skippers Meeting.  On Wednesday the 11th, the race will get under way for the annual sprint down and around the shoals of the Florida Keys to the Conch Republic.  The SORC Race Committee will again operate the shore-side duty station at Turtle Kraals on Thursday and Friday, with the Awards Party at Kelly’s Caribbean Bar and Grill on Friday evening.

Aside from being the second race of the SORC Islands in the Stream Series, this year’s Key West Race has a couple of new wrinkles.  An ORC class is offered, to accommodate the rule that is gaining popularity and helping to build fleets in other areas.  US Representative for ORC Dobbs Davis spoke about the ORC class inclusion and what it means for the SORC series.  “ORC is honored to be asked to help make the revival of the SORC a success. Our involvement with this prestigious series goes back to its roots 40-or more years ago when it was ORC that generated ratings in the IOR system to produce competitive racing. Now the tools are much more sophisticated so that a greater range of boat types can have the same competitive racing while enjoying the joys and challenges of offshore sailing.”

The new East Coast Racer Cruiser Association (ECRCA) Division are offered as well.  ECRCA president Jay Tyson shared “This is the next step in our vision of providing a format that allows dual purpose boats the ability to follow the seasons and participate in great events using the same class rules and rating system”.  The ECRCA classes offered for the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race include:

PERFORMANCE CRUISER CLASS – Open to any boat a full cruising interior and a Downwind Sail Area/Displacement ratio of less than 50.

CRUISER CLASS – Limited to boats using “Cruising Chutes” tacked to the centerline of the boat and DWSA/DISP of less than 34

NON SPINNAKER CRUISER CLASS – Rated Sail Area/Displacement of less than 30.

Make plans now, to escape the cold and warm up your winter in an island paradise. 

Septrmber 2, 2016
Online Entry Open
The Notice of Race has been posted and the online entry is now open.



Multihull Record Holder:
Custom 60 - Stars and Stripes
Steve and Scott Liebel
8 hours 31 min 4 sec
Stars and Stripes
Photo courtesy of  William E. Spruance
Monohull Record Holder
R/P 81 - Carrera
Joe Dockery
10 hours 24 min 2 sec


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