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

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Recent Race News:

October 11, 2017
There and Back Again
Done properly, life tends to present an interesting journey through various phases and stages.  Great ocean races tend to enjoy these same tendencies, and take on a life of their own.  So it is with the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race. 

Back in the 1970s, when the race was conceived, the Southern Ocean Racing Conference (“the Southern Circuit”) was a multi-race regatta which spanned several weeks each winter, on waters spanning Florida’s west and east coasts, before winding up in the Bahamas.  Boats sent south for the winter could participate in the Miami to Palm Beach Race in December, before heading around to St. Petersburg for the start of “the Circuit”. Quite naturally, someone thought of having a race to Key West, to get boats half of the way around to the start of the SORC, and as the nation kicked off its bicentennial year full of celebrations, the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race was born. 

Back in 1976, Key West did not have quite the assortment of marine facilities which it currently enjoys.  Finishers heading around the corner to Key West Bight were not greeted by the lovely facilities at the A&B Marina, Galleon, Conch Harbor and the like, they found shrimp boat docks, along with the sights and smells of such an operation, which put the “historic” in what is now the “Historic Key West Seaport.”  Those venturing to those docks were likely greeted by a young entrepreneur who rolled out of his Volkswagen van in a cloud of smoke that would make Jeff Spicoli proud, who could assess and collect the fees for dockage...in cash.  This not being a reliable foundation upon which to build an event, the organizers from the Lauderdale Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club, now in their 42nd year of working together, based the event out of the former submarine basin at Truman Annex (formerly Ft. Zachary Taylor Annex).  Given it’s proximity just on the other side of the mole from the finish line, this location resulted in epic raft-ups, parties in dockside tents set up for the event, and impromptu parties on the foredecks of the bigger boats (cough Thunderhead, cough), of various varieties of wet t-shirts, t-shirts that were wet, and water on t-shirts, removed t-shirts, not to mention various other recreational activities that today fall prey to boundaries of liability and ordinary moral decency.


The fleet stretches out along the curve of the reef.

A regular staple of the festival in the sub basin was the greased pole climb, in which an adventurous participant would climb from a float onto the end of a downward angled section of 12" PVC pipe, generously lathered with Crisco.  Those who stepped off of the pipe and onto the dock were rewarded with a bottle of Mt. Gay and the others got wet (continuing the theme from the previous paragraph). The pictures say many thousands of words....  The culmination of the “Feeder Race” weekend was the annual Conch Grinder Race, an adventure that often seemed backwards, due the downwind start or the timing of the party before the race. This wound up with finishers receiving a bombardment from the signal boat, in the form of funnelator (millenials, ask an old guy about them) and water balloons. 


Climb the Greased Pole, Win a Bottle of Mt. Gay


Raftup and party at the sub basin.


Thunderhead and Insanity, the Appropriately Named Party Location

The event grew over the course of the next decade, but with costs of running an offshore racing campaign escalated and interest diminished, the numbers of participants in the SORC waned, and participation in buoys racing picked up.  Yachting Magazine kicked off its Key West Race Week to answer this demand in 1987, held the week after the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race.  As Race Week grew in popularity and participation, fleets started arriving earlier and earlier to prepare for the week of racing ahead.  As increasing demand stressed the capacity of the growing number of dock spaces available in the growing Key West Historic Seaport, marina operators became less willing to provide weekend dockage for competitors lingering from the “Feeder Race”, and the Conch Grinder Race became a footnote, and the start of the race from Lauderdale moved from Thursday to Wednesday. 

The 42nd Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race will begin this new chapter of its story south of Port Everglades on January 10, 2018, hosted as always by Lauderdale Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club. As usual, the SORC Duty Station will be open on Thursday and Friday, on the upstairs deck of Turtle Kraals, overlooking Key West Bight. The Awards Party will once again be on Friday night at Kelly’s Caribbean Bar and Grill. The Conch Grinder Race returns on Saturday, January 13, 2018, with after race festivities to be announced.

Do not miss out on the action of the third race of the SORC Islands in the Stream Series.  Poke your bow offshore and join the fleet for the 160-mile sprint down around the bend to Key West. If you want to race with less pressure, there is a racer cruiser class for you, populated in part by boats that could have taken part in the race back in the early days.  Expect to be greeted in Key West by falling prices and locals happy to see you there. The final entry deadline is Friday, January 5.  See the links above for the Entry page and the Notice of Race.  Follow the SORC Sailing Facebook page for the latest information, pictures, video and stories, and www.sorcsailing.org for information on all Series races. 

Want to get out of the cold?  The SORC will race you. 
Photo credits: Joe Fema.

October 2, 2017
Island Time
As of Sunday, October 1, Key West is open for business, tourists are welcome and the Southern Ocean Racing Conference is planning to take you there.  While Key West did not completely escape Irma’s impact, the island dodged much of the devastation felt a bit farther up the island chain. Marinas, restaurants, hotels and other businesses are operational. There are two great ways for all of us to celebrate Key West’s survival: a sailboat race and a Mount Gay Rum party (or two), and the SORC is going to give you both.

The 42nd Annual Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race will start on Wednesday, January 10, 2018, south of Port Everglades.  Hosted as always by Lauderdale Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club, the race will take sailors south, along the westerly curve of the Florida Keys to the island that defies time and trouble.  IRC, ORC, PHRF, Racer-Cruiser/ARC and Multihull classes are invited. The race serves as the third leg of the SORC Islands in the Stream series for 2017-18.  Lauderdale Yacht Club will host the Skippers Meeting and pre-race party on Tuesday, January 9.  The SORC duty station will be based at the top deck bar at Turtle Kraals on Thursday and Friday, as always. 

For the first time in many years, Friday night’s Award’s Party will not be the end of the festivities.  The Conch Grinder Revival Race of 2018 will take place on Saturday morning, with details to be announced.  Watch for information on this official race website and check the SORC Sailing Facebook page for information on all SORC events.  Find information about the SORC Islands in the Stream Series on the main SORC page.

September 23, 2017
Hurricane Irma Update
Florida is a little nicked up right now from Hurricane Irma, but our schedule has not changed, and we are moving forward with this event. Make your plans for January 2018.

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.

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