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Key West Race Week starts Monday

Sailors from around the world are arriving in Key West and preparing to race in North America's premiere annual international regatta, Key West 2010, presented by Nautica.

The cold snap that has gripped much of the country, and even dropped Key West temperatures into the low 40s, is past as temperatures rise with balmy conditions on tap for the weekend practice sessions and racing in the early part of the week. Key West's dependable breezes and warm waters will be welcome news for crews from more than 14 countries and 20 states. The five days of intense competition begins Monday.

IRC, PHRF and one-design boats will race in three divisions. Grand Prix headliners include the Farr 40 and Melges 32 fleets. The turnout for both classes is up from last year, with an impressive roster of Olympians, America's Cup and world champions in the mix. They will be joined in Division 1 by two IRC classes. IRC entrants range in size from 40 feet to Irvine Laidlaw's Wally 82-foot Highland Fling XI.

There's talent galore in the other seven classes as well. The Melges 24, J/105 and J/80 classes will do battle in Division 2. All three classes have Key West champions back to defend their coveted titles. They'll see tough competition from veterans and newcomers alike.

New to race week this year is a multihull handicap class. They will start first in Division 3. There is plenty of optimism for growing this class of trimarans and catamarans in 2011.

Follow all the action, racing excitement and results through the Web site blog and coverage, live tracking of the Melges 32 and J/80 fleets, on-the-scene reports and nightly on demand video after 9 p.m. EST.

Scratch sheet, schedules and news are available at