Rohart and Ponsot ease ahead
With high temperatures and an ESE breeze of 12 knots, competitors quickly got down to business on the penultimate day of racing at Bacardi Miami Sailing Week presented by EFG Bank. Two races were sailed by the Star fleet, and four were completed by the Audi Melges 20, Melges 24, Viper 640 and J/80 classes.
For the second day in a row, Ireland's 2008 Olympian Peter O’Leary and David Burrows won the first race of the day in the Star class which is competing for the 85th Bacardi Cup. France's Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot were second across the line, and when they won race two, they were propelled to the top of the overall standings with nine points. O’Leary and Burrows, after finishing fifth in the second race, have 11 points and are followed by Poland's 2008 Star World Champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki with 15 points after finishes of 9-3 today. Austria’s five-time Olympian Hans Spitzauer, sailing with Gerd Habermueller, is fourth overall with 17 points, followed by New Zealand's 2007 Bacardi Cup champion Hamish Pepper and crew Jim Turner with 23 points.
“It was a really great day,” said Xavier Rohart while admitting that he and Ponsot – with whom he has been sailing since 2008 – did not expect to do this well. “This was not our favorite weather, but we had good work with our coach. Miami is good training for Weymouth [site of the 2012 Olympic Regatta]. It’s why we are here, and to know the people we will be sailing against. To win [the Bacardi Cup] would be a very good end for our training.” When Rohart races in Weymouth, it will be his sixth Olympic Regatta. His best finish – a bronze medal – was earned at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Michael Kiss remains the standings leader in the 34-strong Audi Melges 20 class despite picking up 41 points as a penalty for his disqualification in the third race of the day. With finishes of 7-7-BFD, a win of the day’s final race gave the two-time national champion 19 points for a four-point lead over Paul Reilly who placed 3-9-4-3 today. Marcus Eagan placed 2-5-3-16 for a total of 27 points and third in the overall standings, four points ahead of Italy's Luca Lalli who finished 5-13-5-6. The first race of the day went to Erik Post, which he followed with 20-1. Although Post finished second in the final race of the day, a protest was undecided at press time which could change his fifth-place position in the overall standings at 35 points.
The three races won by Italian Riccardo Simoneschi in the 21-boat Melges 24 class, plus a fifth-place finish in the third race of the day, moved him up one place in the overall standings, just three points behind Switzerland's Franco Rossini whose finishes of 2-4-2-2 kept him in the top spot with 10 points. Ireland's Conor Clarke dropped from second to third overall with 19 points after finishes of 6-2-6-4 today. Kristen Lane with 23 points and Alan Field with 35 complete the top-five.
“We definitely had less wind than yesterday,” said Franco Rossini. “There has been a problem with areas with no wind and that caused some challenges and it has been a busy day out there with four races. Our competitor Riccardo Simoneschi had a very good day, it was their day. I think the tactician did an excellent job and his is the team we will look closely at tomorrow. We will do our race, but will definitely keep an eye on him as we would like to take home Bacardi Miami. Overall we're very happy and the sail change we made is paying off.”
The defending champions in the Viper 640 – the UK's Glyn Locke, David Chapman and Ian Nicholson – continued their domination of the 14-boat fleet by winning three of today’s four races. Combined with a second-place finish in the day’s second race, Locke and crew have six points heading into the final day of the regatta. There was also no position change in the standings for the teams in second and third overall: Lee Eikel (Mandeville, La.) added finishes of 2-6-5-2 today for 20 points, and Craig and Deborah Wilusz have 26 points after finishes of 5-10-3-3. Although tied with Phil and Wendy Lotz on 28 points, Justin Scott moved up to fourth overall by virtue of finishing 7-1-2-11 to the 6-4-6-7 posted by Lotz.
Glenn Darden continues to lead the standings in the fleet of nine J/80s, after winning back-to-back races today which he sandwiched between finishes of second and third. Darden has nine points to the 19 of Gary Kamins who finished 4-6-3-4 today. Rick Schaffer placed 3-7-9-1 and is tied on 24 points with Henry Brauer who posted finishes of 8-3-2-5. Brian Keane moved up a spot to round out the top-five with 25 points.
“Today we had less breeze but conditions were challenging with lots of wind shifts,” said Glenn Darden. “I would say that this was the biggest challenge to overcome. Luckily our tactician did a great job in searching for the breeze. We also had good starts and these are the secrets of the day. For tomorrow the strategy is to keep the momentum with my team. We've been sailing together for three years and hopefully this will get us on top tomorrow night.
Racing concludes for all five classes tomorrow, Saturday, March 10.