By Bill Wagner
J/World Annapolis rents sailboats and provides sailing instruction. There isn't a whole lot of business in mid-January so owner Jahn Tihansky decided many years ago to close the office and move the entire Performance Sailing School to Florida for a week.
"We were sitting up there in Annapolis looking at all of our assets covered with snow and it was like a coconut dropped on our head. We asked ourselves, 'Why don't we go down to Key West?' It made too much sense to not do it," Tihansky said.
Since 1996, J/World has been hauling boats and its entire staff to the southernmost point of the United States to compete in the annual midwinter regatta commonly known as Key West Race Week.
J/World Annapolis has four entries in Quantum Key West 2014 with Tihansky leading the way as helmsman aboard the J/80 Vayu2. That boat is being chartered for fourth straight year by Ron Buzil of Chicago, who won J/80 class at the 2013 event.
"I've sailed a Beneteau 40.7 down here in the past, but it's a lot easier and tidier to charter. J/World does a great job of prepping the boat and I get a couple great crew members as a bonus," said Buzil, who laughed when asked if he was enjoying himself. "I wouldn't keep coming back year after year if I didn't enjoy it. I'm out here on blue waters wearing shorts while back home in Chicago it's about zero degrees."
Jeff Jordan and Kristen Berry, co-directors of J/World Annapolis, are both skippering entries at Quantum Key West 2014. Jordan is steering the J/80 Wild Horses while Berry is helming the J/70 Danger Mouse. Dave Manheimer, a longtime coach at J/World Annapolis, is skippering the J/80 Willy T. All three boats are being crewed by J/World students with Jordan, Berry and Manheimer operating more like coaches than skippers.
Many of the clients are repeat customers in terms of coming to Key West with Canadian Tom Case competing in the regatta for the fifth straight year aboard a J/World boat. "Key West has really provided a great opportunity for our company and our clients. This is a spectacular sailing venue and the regatta is always so well-run," Tihansky said. "Our entire team really looks forward to coming down here every year and our customers have really enjoyed competing in such a great event."