Ed Reynolds on Quantum’s Key West Priorities

Ed Reynolds, President of Quantum Sails, sponsors of Quantum Key West 2013 regatta week and the team manager of Quantum Racing is a huge fan of this regatta which kicks off the 52 SuperSeries in the USA for the very first time. Naturally, as a huge fan of North America’s showcase regatta and a very passionate activist for the 52 Class, Reynolds is especially pleased and proud to have the 2013 season start here, with team owner Doug DeVos steering Quantum Racing.

So with Doug steering how will things work at the back of the boat, and what are the priorities this week:
“ Ed Baird will do tactics and Andy Horton will do strategy and just integrate Doug. For all the commitments he makes, everything he has done for this event and for 52 SuperSeries this is our chance to make sure he has some fun. That is a major priority, but of course we always want to win. Also we are working on a lot of new technology with the sails. We have some new fibres we are testing here, a number of new films and that is also a big focus for us, making sure the next evolution is validated.”

So if this technology is so new, is there an added risk in using it on the race course?
“ They are developed enough that these have never been used so far in the world of sailing so far but we have actually sails being built with these fibres. We have a new J1 which were are testing. We used it yesterday for the first time and it looked great, incredibly light and strong. We have some new films we have done enough work on, but I don’t think we will button in the new J1 yet, but that is of course one of the major points of this programme is testing things on ourselves and not on our customers. There is always a risk when you are pushing things.”

“ I don’t know if our crew get the credit they deserve, because they are not just paid sailor out there to win. They have marketing responsibilities but also they have a responsibility to product development. They take it on. They are brutal in that respect, but we have got better and better because of that.”

And why sponsor Quantum Key West 2013?
“For us, of course Quantum more and more has a worldwide presence and is a global company, but the fact of the matter is we are an American company andKey West is the flagship regatta inNorth America. And even though I think theUS economy is now as strong as anywhere in the world right now, there seemed to be a drift away from the focus and support, especially from the corporate world, for sailing in theUnited   States. And we were very worried. And I think that Doug DeVos gets it better than most, that ifKey West had gone away then it is not going to come back. And it is such a brilliant place to be. It is a great place to sail. The impact on the industry, not just on Quantum would have been devastating.”

But even after one year of support last year, things are looking better for the regatta?
“ A lot of it comes down to how you define success. A lot of people are talking about Key West again, a lot of people are talking about the quality of the racing. There is nothing to match it. But there are some serious challenges here. It is January it is a big challenge to get a boat here from the northern states. There is no local fleet. These are things that people miss when you talk about numbers, every single boat has to make a commitment to get here. And if they can get 130 boats from around the world here, then it shows it has turned the corner, it has a good solid viable event. Even as bad as the Euro is  you can get good value here. And it is nice to see the Europeans wandering around jet-lagged. We are usually the ones walking around like zombies at events inEurope.”

What really captures the essence of Key West for you?
“ For me personally Key West has been the foundation of my career. Our first successes that put us on the national and international map were successes we had here, in the IMS fleet with boats like Flash Gordon,Vim,ChinaCloud and Sensation. We had an amazing run. And a lot of the guys I started out doing this with, are now the patriarchs in the sailing industry. You get here and it is like old home week. I think I have missed two, maybe three since the beginning. I love it here. In January where I live it is dry, raw and bitter cold. And every year when you land here and they open the door of the airplane, there is the warm humidity that hits you, and that brings a certain calmness. I think when you get typicalKey Westconditions, it is the best sailing venue in the world. You get 15-20kts, a nice sea state, it is a really, really nice race track. I love the ability to be here and showcase this in my home country.

And it is fantastic that the 52 SuperSeries is here. I am proud of the image of Quantum Racing and that there are a lot of people in the United States who follow Quantum Racing and so it is such a pleasure and an honour to be able to now bring it to America.  And so after those years of being in countries where owners have said they will come to theUSA, here we are and it is good also to see some of these American boats going toEuropethis season for the first time. The 52 SuperSeries is a big challenge in terms of viability, trying to get it all together. But this is healthy for the 52’s, I think this is healthy for sailing. There are a lot of cool boats out there, but these are still the coolest.”