Battle lines drawn

Acura Miami Grand Prix fires up tomorrow

Thursday March 8th 2007, Author: Bill Wagner, Location: United States
If the final practice day was any indication, the 2007 Acura Miami Grand Prix should deliver just what the hundreds of visiting sailors are seeking.

Most of the 46 entries participating in the annual regatta headed out of Government Cut for one final tune-up before the competition turns serious on Thursday. It proved an ideal day for testing sails and training crew as sunny skies and warm temperatures were augmented by winds that ranged from 12-15 knots.

"It truly is wonderful to be back here in Florida. We had lovely conditions today with the sun shining brightly and the wind blowing strong," said Colm Barrington, owner of the IRC entry Magic Glove. "That is why we all come here to go sailing in the winter. There aren’t many places in the world this nice at this time of the year."

In his native Dublin, Ireland, it is quite cold and nasty at the moment. Barrington steered his Ker 50 to overall victory in the IRC 2 class at Acura Key West 2007 and is hoping to duplicate that type of performance here in Miami. It won’t be easy as the one IRC class has nine good boats ranging in size from Marcin Rojek’s Swan 45 Better Than to Hap Fauth’s JV 66 Bella Mente. In between are four TP52s and a pair of Farr 60s.

"I think if anything the competition will be more intense than in Key West because we’ve added the three bigger boats," Barrington said. "A lot will depend on the type of conditions we get. Certain boats perform better in certain conditions."

No one can ever accurately predict the wind and weather, but Premiere Racing will surely deliver its characteristic top-notch race management and superb awards parties throughout the Acura Miami Grand Prix, being held Thursday through Sunday on an ocean course set just off the north end of Key Biscayne.

Respected Principal Race Officer Dave Brennan and his well-trained team of volunteers plan to conduct 10 races over four days while the evening social gathering at Monty’s Raw Bar is sure to deliver the best in food and drink.

There is certain to be stiff competition in all four grand prix classes as some of the top professional sailing talent in the world has trekked to this colorful, cosmopolitan city.
Robert Greenhalgh, a past International 14 World Champion and ABN AMROOne crewman for example is sailing aboard Magic Glove.

Samba Pa Ti, a TP 52 owned by California native John Kilroy, has four Volvo veterans aboard, including tactician Stu Bannatyne. Samba Pa Ti, named for Kilroy’s favorite Carlos Santana song, finished just one point behind Magic Glove at Key West.

"I’ve always enjoyed doing the Florida circuit, and to me that means a regatta in Key West and a regatta in Miami," said Kilroy, a veteran of the old Southern Ocean Racing Circuit.

An international fleet of 16 Farr 40s has come to contest the Rolex North American Championship and has typically attracted a slew of big-time professionals. Alinghi is the pre-regatta favorite after putting forth an impressive performance in Key West. Skipper Ernesto Bertarelli has several members of his America’s Cup crew onboard, including tactician Brad Butterworth.

"On paper, Alinghi has got a really good cart and a really good team," said Helmut Jahn, German-born skipper of Flash Gordon 5. "We were one of the other boats that did well in Key West, but it can all be turned upside down at this regatta. That is what makes this class so exciting."

Several foreign entries that missed Key West have arrived in Miami, including Aleph (Hughes Lepic, France), Cannonball (Dario Ferrari, Italy), Monick (Nicklas Holm, Denmark) and Old Boys (Eduardo Souza Ramos, Brazil).

"There are some new players and all of them are capable of doing well," said Jahn, who finished second, three points behind Alinghi, at Key West.

Another notable entry in Farr 40 class is Norwegian Storm, runner-up at the 2006 Miami Grand Prix. Skipper Eivind Astrup and crew led the regatta most of the way before being overtaken by Heartbreaker on the final day. "We are very happy to be back because this is such a well-organised regatta. We hope this place brings us the luck we deserve,” Astrup said.

There figures to be equally stiff competition in Melges 32 class, which also has drawn a slew of talent-laden teams. Skipper Claudio Recchi and crew aboard Let’s Roll overwhelmed the competition in Key West, clinching overall victory with one race to spare. Recchi is remaining humble despite keeping the Italian team entirely intact.

"It’s always nice to be in sunny Florida. We are back to see if we still have the boat speed we had in Key West," said Recchi, who deflects credit to tactician Gabriele Benussi. "We had very good fortune in Key West. It will be difficult to repeat. The gap in this class is very close."

Let’s Roll could get a challenge from Grins, the Georgia-based entry that placed second in Miami last year. Skipper Rick Orchard missed Key West for the first time in years because he was helicopter skiing in Canada with boyhood friends from California.

"From what I heard, Let’s Roll won Key West with good execution. It wasn’t the rig, it wasn’t the sails, it was time on the water and time in the boat," Orchard said. "We haven’t spent as much time in the boat as we should, but feel we can be competitive."

Peter De Ridder and the Mean Machine team are early favorite in Mumm 30 class after losing a tiebreaker and placing second in Key West. Volvo Ocean Race veteran Jono Swain, a Ft. Lauderdale resident, is calling tactics on Mean Machine.

"We are coming into this confident and sailing well," said De Ridder, who is mounting a Volvo Ocean Race campaign. "Our main competition will probably be Groovederci (Deneen Demourkas), although there are several solid teams here."

Line-up

Boat Name Type LOA Owner / Entrant Homeport Helmsman Tactician
Class A - IRC
Bella Mente JV 66 66 Hap Fauth Newport, RI Hap Fauth Peter Staulkus
Numbers Farr 60 60 Daniel Meyers Newport, RI Daniel Meyers Murray Jones
Hissar Farr 60 60 Edgar Cato Newport, RI Brad Read Morgan Reeser
Rusal-Synergy TP52 52 Alexey Nikolaev Gibraltar/Russia Andrey Nikolaev Alexey Nikolaev
Windquest TP52 52 Doug Devos Holland, MI Doug Devos John Bertrand
Samba Pa Ti TP52 52 John Kilroy Los Angeles, CA John Kilroy Stu Bannatyne
Decision TP52 52 Stephen B. Murray New Orleans, LA Stephen B. Murray Andy Lovell
Magic Glove Ker 50 50 Colm Barrington Dublin, IRL Colm Barrington Robert Greenhalgh
Better Than Swan 45 45 Andrzej Rojek Newport, RI Andrzej Rojek Britt Hughes
Farr 40
Aleph Farr 40 40 Hughes Lepic FRA Hughes Lepic
Alinghi Farr 40 40 Ernesto Bertarelli Geneva, SUI Ernesto Bertarelli Brad Butterworth
Barking Mad Farr 40 40 James Richardson Newport, RI ames Richardson Brian Ledbetter
Cannonball Farr 40 40 Dario Ferrari Portofino, ITA Dario Ferrari Cameron Appleton
Fiamma Farr 40 40 Alessandro Barnaba Cala Galera, ITA Alessandro Barnaba Chris Larson
Flash Gordon 5 Farr 40 40 Helmut & Evan Jahn Chicago, IL Helmut Jahn Mark Ivey
Groovederci Farr 40 40 John Demourkas Santa Barbara, CA John Demourkas Jeff Madrigali
Monick Farr 40 40 Nicklas Holm Tuborg, DEN David Holm Nicklas Holm
Nanoq Farr 40 40 HRH Prince Frederik Copenhagen, DEN HRH Prince Frederik Bouwe Bekking
Nerone Farr 40 40 Massimo Mezzaroma Savona, ITA Antonio S Migliori Lorenzo Bressani
Norwegian Steam Farr 40 40 Eivind Astrup Oslo, NOR Eivind Astrup Morten Henriksen
Old Boys Farr 40 40 Eduardo Souza Ramos Sao Paulo, BRA E. Souza Ramos Dee Smith
Opus One Farr 40 40 Wolfgang Stolz Frankfurt, GER Wolfgang Stolz Tim Powell
Ramrod Farr 40 40 Rod Jabin Annapolis, MD Rod Jabin Scott Nixon
Twins Farr 40 40 Erik Maris YC Porquerolles, FRA Erik Maris Gildas Philippe
Warpath Farr 40 40 Steve Howe San Diego, CA Steve Howe Ian Williams
Melges 32
Badfish Melges 32 32 Philip Lotz Annapolis, MD Philip Lotz Bill Jorch
Bigtime Melges 32 32 Mark Landwer & Jeff Wittenberg Chicago, IL Jeff Wittenberg Matt Woodworth
Evil Woman Melges 32 32 George Gamble Pensacola, FL George Gamble Mark Foster
Fast Forward Melges 32 32 Tad Fairbank Bainbridge Isl, WA Tad Fairbank Bob Pistay
Fresh Guidance Melges 32 32 Simon Williams Newport, RI Simon Williams Bill Hardesty
Grins Melges 32 32 Rick Orchard Flowery Branch, GA Rick Orchard Dave Chapin
Highlife Melges 32 32 Peter Rogers Hamble, UK John Taggart Ben Cooper
Let's Roll Melges 32 32 Claudio Recchi YCI, Italy Claudio Recchi Gabriele Denussi
New Wave Melges 32 32 Carroll/Kullman St Pete/Clearwtr, FL Marty Kullman John Jennings
Nitemare Melges 32 32 Tom Neill Chicago, IL Tom Neill Pat Considine
Nosedive Melges 32 32 David Hoyt Stowe, VT David Hoyt
Savannah Melges 32 32 Walter Kennedy Charlotte, NC Walter Kennedy Rick Applin
Star Melges 32 32 Jeff Ecklund Ft Lauderdale, FL Jeff Ecklund Harry Melges
Stewball Melges 32 32 Caleb Everett San Francisco, CA Caleb Everett
Vamoose Melges 32 32 Robby Wilkins Lexington, SC Robby Wilkins Ross Griffith
Wicked Woman Melges 32 32 George Gamble Pensacola, FL Joe Godard Mark Ploch
Mumm 30
Champosa Mumm 30 30 Jonathan McDonagh Minneapolis, MN Jonathan McDonagh TBD
Groovederci Mumm 30 30 Deneen Demourkas Santa Barbara, CA Deneen Demourkas
Just Plain Nutz Mumm 30 30 J. Cameron Dean Pleasant Valley, NY Norm Dean Billy Heintz
Kaizen Mumm 30 30 Scott Baker/Moise Solomon Noank, CT Moise Solomon Clinton Hayes
Mean Machine Mumm 30 30 Peter De Ridder Monaco Peter De Ridder Jono Swain

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