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29th Annual Key Largo Steeplechase

December 14-15, 2013
Key Largo, FL

Karl Langefeld and Jeff Dusek took second overall and won the F18 Perpetual Trophy

The twenty ninth running of the Key Largo Steeplechase was blessed with temperatures in the lower 80s and winds averaging 15 mph and more. One could not ask for any more than that. One could ask for more boats to participate, as this was the lowest turnout since the very first time the event was run.

Back then seven boats did the race from what is now called CABB (Catamaran Association of Biscayne Bay).., just to see if it could be done. There were six Hobie 18s and one Tornado with a spinnaker. And it was howling. Rick White won in 8 hours and 6 minutes with a Hobie 18, beating out the Tornado just before the finish in Blackwater Sound. That record stood for quite a few years, despite the fact that most of the boats after that were spinnaker equipped.

There were no trophies or anything, and no entry fee. While at the first stop on Saturday one of the ground crew ladies wandered into the woods to take care of business. While there found this discarded and dilapidated old lawn chair.

As a joke she presented this to Rick White as a trophy for winning the race. White rejoiced and proclaimed this would be the Perpetual Trophy for the event.., and it stuck. The race is now on its second Olde Lawn Chair Perpetual, and on them is a complete record of the sailors, the boat, and their elapsed time for the 110-mile trek around the Key Largo area.

The Race

First Day

It was a hot reaching start and the Supercat 22 showed it was the fastest boat as it stretched out a lead across Barnes Sound on the way to the first underpass – the Card Sound Bridge. After that the fleet has another few miles before heading through a mangrove creek (Angelfish Creek) that empties out on the Atlantic side of the Keys. Then it is a drag race down Hawk Channel, which is a deep water area between the chain of islands to the west and the coral reefs to the east.
Eric Roberts and Dave Wier won all the marbles: First on Elapsed Time and First on Corrected Time

The first stop is Anne’s Beach on Lower Metecumbe Key. First in was Eric Roberts and Dave Wier on the Supercat. Eleven minutes behind them Steve Lohmayer and Terry Greene in a Nacra 20 finished.

The rest of the fleet was made up of F18s and the first one in was Dick MacDonald and Mark Herendeen. They hit the beach only 3 minutes behind the N20, which put them in the lead overall on correct time by 3 minutes over Todd Riccardi and Brendon Scanlon.

Steve Lohmayer and Terry Greene sailed their Nacra 20 to a 3rd place overall

Fifth into the beach was Karl Langefeld and Jeff Dusek, then Dave Ingram and Laura Muma, then Scott Rathburn and Bill Dolan.

Steve Lohmayer for years has thrown a party at his house about 10 miles north of the first day’s finish area. This year the sailors were treated to Turkey and Lasagna. And it was an early finish this year, so everyone got to relax and enjoy. Some of the races in the past have been light air and it was often hard to get anyone to party late particularly after long hours on the water.

Dick MacDonald and Mark Herendeen were the leaders overall after the first day of racing

Second Day
On Sunday morning the fleet had a Lemanz start just off the beach. From there they have to sail across shallow flats and then head southwest to a 65-foot bridge. Once through the Channel Five Bridge they head back toward the finish line a Gilberts Resort on the north side of Blackwater Sound.

And here is where the Men are separated from the Boys. And why the race is called a Steeplechase. Back in Merry Old England a Steeplechase was a race from a given start to a Church Steeple. Obviously roads and lanes could be used to get there, but the brave at heart and those not afraid of a challenge head straight for the Steeple, jumping fences and creeks.

Well, this Steeplechase is similar. There is the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, with marked channels that you could follow. But, that would be pretty long and slow way to go. The option is pull up the boards and rudders and skim across mud/sand banks, kicking up a muddy rooster tail far behind you, knocking down upcoming mangrove sprouts, thus keeping up high speed and taking a much shorter route.

There are several trick place along the inside part of the Keys and if the wind is just right and the conditions are just so, they can pay big dividends. Two boats found a very narrow mangrove channel that leads from Florida Bay to the last body of water – Blackwater Sound. The channel is called the Bogeys.

Todd Riccardi and Brendon Scanlon were in 2nd place overall after the first day

Roberts and Wier tried it and it payed off big time, finishing 28 minutes ahead of the next boat. By the way, Lohmayer/Greene also took that shortcut and were second across the line.
The Supercat, by doing this, not only won the first to finish with the fastest time, but also won all the marbles by also taking first on Corrected time. Their overall time was 6 hours; 26 minutes; and 47 seconds.., not a bad time to complete a 110-mile sail. However, it did not set the recond. Several years back Robbie Daniel finished in 6 hours; thirteen minutes.

Scott Rathburn and Bill Dolan just keep getting better and better -- better watch out for this team.

They won the Olde Lawn Chair for fastest time and the Rick White Perpetual for the first place on corrected time. They had a load full of trophies to take home.

Meanwhile, Karl Langefeld and Jeff Dusek were the first F18, finishing substantially ahead of the next boat, Ingram/Muma. In doing so, they took second place overall on corrected and again won the trophy for the fastest F18.

More Pictures

At the awards every finisher is awarded a bottle of champagne.., everyone wins. Here are the results:

2013 Key Largo Steeplechase

Great Distance Race


Sailed: 3, Discards: 2, To count: 1, Ratings: USPN, Entries: 8, Scoring system: Appendix A
Rank Class SailNo Club HelmName CrewName USPN Leg One   Leg Two   Overall   Total Nett
1 Supercat 22 2230 Eric Roberts Dave Weir 57 5.58.55 4.56.51 10.55.46 5.0 1.0
2 F18 286 Karl Langefeld Jeff Dusek 62.4 6.03.41 5.25.13 11.28.53 9.0 2.0
3 N20 Royal Steve Lohmayer Terry Greene 59.3 6.03.40 5.32.53 11.36.33 11.0 3.0
4 F18 1717 Laura Muma David Ingram 62.4 6.17.07 5.32.30 11.49.37 13.0 4.0
5 F18 712 Dick MacDonald Mark Herendeen 62.4 5.50.37 6.00.46 11.51.23 11.0 5.0
6 F18 Can 12 Todd Riccardi Brendon Scanlon 62.4 5.53.48 6.06.05 11.59.52 14.0 6.0
7 F18 241 Scott Rathburn William Dolan 62.4 6.25.43 6.34.28 13.00.11 21.0 7.0
8 Tornado 824 Buzz WentZ Tyler Gruen 59 DNF DNF 26.0 9.0


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