An interview with Martin Kullman on The Southernmost Regatta
January 14, 2022 - by David Schmidt - Let's face it: January doesn't typically deliver the best racing conditions in most of the Lower 48, however there are some wonderful exceptions. Of these, it's tough to top Key West, the southernmost town in the USA and one that's blessed with fantastic breeze, gloriously warm waters, and a reputation for delivering great post-sailing fun. The town was home to the legendary Key West Race Week for thirty years, however those days sadly sunset in 2017.
Fortunately, The Southernmost Regatta (January 17-21, 2022) aims to help fill this gap, albeit on a different scale (at least at first—this is their inaugural event).
The regatta is open to One Design keelboats ranging in size from 22-feet to 75-feet, ORC monohulls from 24-feet to 75-feet, and ORCmh multihulls from 24-feet to 65-feet (certain handicap requirements apply; see the NOR).
As of this writing, there are 47 boats registered for the 2022 edition of The Southernmost Regatta, ranging from Melges 24s and J/70s to J/111s and TP52s, with a few other 40-something footers in between.
I checked in with Martin Kullman, regatta chairman of the 2022 edition of The Southernmost Regatta and 2005 Melges 24 Corinthian World Champion in Key West, via email, to learn more about this exciting new regatta.
It's always exciting when a new regatta begins, but should sailors think of The Southernmost Regatta as a new event, or a continuation of the much-loved Key West Race Week?
I have been sailing in Key West for over 30 years, and it is one of the best locations to have a regatta, especially in January. Key West provides a venue where there [are] almost always great sailing conditions. Wrap that around a great venue and Duval Street gives it a unique experience.
I realize that this is the first year of The Southernmost Regatta, but what kind of event culture are you and the other organizers hoping to foster? Also, how do you plan on helping to create this culture?
We want to get back to grass roots where the culture and atmosphere [are] focused on fun wrapped around a few races and comradery amongst competitors.
We hope to achieve this through keeping everything simple and easy. The last few years has taught us that we can host regattas simply and still have a great event.
What kind of entry numbers are you expecting? Also, are yuo seeing any geographical concentrations to the entry list?
We have fifty entries currently and are pleased with the turnout. With the pandemic, we are excited to have the numbers that we have and I am sure next year we will have lots more.
Travel is still difficult with teams that want to attend from outside the country. There a few that are attending, and we are hoping next year it will be easier.
In the ideal world, do you see the Southernmost Regatta becoming more of a One Design event, or do you expect that it will be a mixture of One Design and handicap racing?
We want to make it a mix and not exclude teams that would like to attend.
We have chosen the ORC rating platform as it has gained huge popularity over the last few years, causing [an] increase in [regatta] participation across the country.
What kind of role, if any, do you see local knowledge playing at this regatta?
You could say that many people have local knowledge [who] have attended [Key West Race Week] over the last thirty plus years.
The racecourse here is awesome. There is a high percentage of perfect racing conditions, and that attracts lots of teams to this venue.
I have heard from many people over the years that this location is their favorite location to race. It is my favorite.
What kind of weather conditions should sailors expect to see in mid-January off of Key West?
Conditions in Key West are influenced a bit by tradewinds coming from the east-northeast direction. However, in January, we can be [affected] by a cold front that will typically blow from the north for a day or two, giving windy conditions and warm water coming over the bow.
What kinds of post-racing/onshore entertainment can sailors look forward to?
We have learned over the last year to keep the onshore activities to a minimum. For [The Southernmost Regatta,] we are planning to have post-race entertainment right after racing when the boats return to the dock at the Galleon Resort [and Marina] where there is an outside venue on the water with plenty of open space.
Can you tell us about any efforts that you and the other regatta organizers have made to try to lower the regatta's environmental footprint?
[Our sponsor,] Sailing Inc., has embraced the use of MarkBots for the race marks. These bots are controlled by cellphone and can move location on their own power. This allows the race committee to reduce the amount of motor boats and the reduction of fuel computation.
Sailing Inc also has provided Hydra filtration systems that allow teams to use refillable water bottles and refill them on the docks before leaving each day.
Is there anything else that you'd like to add, for the record?
Sailing Inc. has [been] stepping in to provide a sailing opportunity in a location that is notably one of the best locations [in the world] to have a regatta. The love and passion for sailing and finding ways for teams to enjoy their passion is what drives the desire to help and provide regattas in places that we love to attend.
Our goal is to continue to hold The Southernmost Regatta every year in an economical and [environmentally sustainable manor].