KWP01KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Veteran sailboat racing teams from around the world are to compete in the waters off America’s southernmost city during Quantum Key West 2012, scheduled Sunday through Friday, Jan. 15-20.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012, the Key West event is one of the most prestigious sailing regattas on the international calendar. Racing teams from more than a dozen countries are to test their mettle against teams from around the United States during five days of competition.

The action is slated to begin daily at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 16-20, with as many as 10 races scheduled during the challenge. Competitors are to race on courses 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.

KW Race WeekThe 2012 regatta lineup features some of the world’s top racing professionals in the closely contested Melges 32 class, including Tokyo-based Makoto Uematsu and Italian Vincenzo Onorato. The returning Farr 40 class is always competitive, while the talent-laden international Melges 24 typically draws the largest field.

Fierce competition is expected between the two boats that won the last three Mini Maxi–class world championships: Niklas Zennstrom’s J/V 72 Ran and Dan Meyers’ J/V 66 Numbers.

The Farr 400 is to make its class debut at Key West, and famed sailor Sir Irvine Laidlaw is slated to debut his Highland Fling XII in the TP52 class.

Event organizers say teams are drawn to Key West by the opportunity for January sailing in warm subtropical waters, reliable breezes and the high level of competition. The challenge also allows amateur sailors to race against professionals.

Regatta headquarters, where sailors and sailing aficionados can mingle, is to be on Caroline Street between Duval and Whitehead streets.

To view the races, 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

Key West visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY

Social: facebook.com/floridakeysandkeywesttwitter.com/thefloridakeysYouTube.com/FloridaKeysTV

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