The 31st biennial Pineapple Cup – Montego Bay Race Presented by Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum is living up to its reputation as one of the marquee offshore sailboat races in the world by, once again, welcoming a fleet of high profile boats, both newcomers and veterans, to compete. Starting on February 8, just outside Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s Port Everglades, this ocean racing classic will take competitors on a challenging all-points-of-sail course, stretching 811 nautical miles to the legendary destination of Montego Bay, Jamaica.
“This has been called the most interesting race because you are almost never out of sight of land the whole time,” said Race Chairman Ken Batzer (Lighthouse Point, Fla.), adding that the iconic race was established in 1961 and has been running either annually or biennially ever since. The current race record was set in 2005 by Titan 12 with an impressive elapsed time of 2 days, 10 hours, 24 minutes and 42 seconds. “We have a real quality fleet once again this year and are hoping to have good weather.”
Past winners of the event include some of the most world-renowned skippers; Ted Turner won three times in Vamoose (’67), Lightnin (’73) and Tenacious (’79); the Johnson family won in Ticonderoga (’65); John Kilroy won twice in Kialoa (’75 and ’77); and Jack King won in Merrythought (’91). Past competitors taking line honors include Sir Peter Blake on Condor (’79), Larry Ellison on Sayonora (’97) and Roy Disney on Pyewacket (’99).
Return contender Tom Slade (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) took second place in the PHRF 1 class in 2011 with his Santa Cruz 52 Renegade and marks this year as his fifth Pineapple Cup. “It’s got to be one of the best ocean races in the world. Not only is it challenging but also the scenery is just unbelievable, and when you get to Jamaica, it’s like no other place. This race always has a very impressive fleet with a lot of great boats. We are going to try to sail well again this year, but more importantly, have fun.”
Event rookie, but veteran in the world of ocean racing, Michael Hennessy (Mystic, Conn.) will also be competing in his Class 40 Dragon. “We’d like to be competitive, have a lot fun and enjoy a new course with new surroundings,” said Hennessy, who already has an impressive resume when it comes to offshore sailing, including racing double handed aboard Dragon in the Transatlantic Race 2011.
This year, Hennessy will be sailing with a team of five. “We’re looking forward to matching up against the other Class 40 (MacKenzie Davis’ AMHAS) and racing handicap against the rest of the fleet,” said Hennessy. “Our boat is pretty well dialed in right now and moving fast.”
For more info and to follow the race visit www.montegobayrace.com