Tension mounts

The top of the leaderboard is close in all the top classes at the Acura Miami Grand Prix

Sunday March 8th 2009, Author: Bill Wagner, Location: United Kingdom
Strong performances on Saturday by top contenders has put pressure on the leaders of the two largest classes going into the final day of racing at the Acura Miami Grand Prix.

Skipper John Kilroy and his crew aboard Samba Pa Ti put up a first and a second on Saturday and have pulled within striking distance of series-long leader Bliksem in Melges 32 class. Nerone, the Italian entry skippered by Massimo Mezzaroma, has led the Farr 40 class after each day of action, but has been unable to shake Joe Fly and Goombay Smash.

Meanwhile, Dan Woolery and the Soozal team increased their lead in IRC 2 class while Niklas Zennstrom and the Ran crew strengthened their hold on IRC 1 during another picture-perfect day off South Beach. Steady 15 knot easterly winds enabled organizers to get off three starts, which means Premiere Racing will almost certainly meet its goal of conducting a 10-race series.

“We had three really excellent races today. We had a bright sunshiny day and gin clear water,” principal race office Dave Brennan said. “It was really close competition in all the classes, especially coming downwind at the finishes.”

Pietar Taselaar has steered Bliksem to first place finishes in four of seven races that count and has led the 19-boat Melges 32 class since the outset. However, Kilroy notched a first and a second on Saturday and sits just seven points behind the pacesetter.

“We have managed to get ourselves into contention. I feel good about where we stand going into the last day,” Kilroy said. “The Bliksem guys are sailing very, very well and will be hard to beat, but we have at least given ourselves a chance.”

Kilroy, who competed at Acura Miami Grand Prix aboard a TP52 last year, is a newcomer to the Melges 32 class with this being just his third regatta. A successful skipper in a variety of big-boat designs, the San Francisco resident seems to have climbed the learning curve quite quickly.

“I have always loved one-design sailing and this is some of the best I’ve ever done,” Kilroy said. “This boat is very exciting in terms of performance and requires a lot of energy. It’s a building class that has attracted a lot of great sailors.”

Samba Pa Ti led at the first weather mark in three of the initial five races without winning so yesterday’s bullet was a monkey off the team’s back. “John does a really solid, consistent job of driving and we’ve had outstanding upwind speed the whole regatta,” tactician Morgan Reeser said. “It should be interesting tomorrow between us and Bliksem. Both boats have stumbled in a race so it could come down to one bad start, one big mistake.”

Nerone continued its stellar series with a first and a fourth on Saturday, but a seventh in Race 6 helped the competition in the 12-boat Farr 40 class, which does not allow a throw out. Giovanni Maspero and the Italian team on Joe Fly posted a superb line of 4-2-2 yesterday while Doug Douglass and the boys aboard Goombay Smash equalled that score total with results of 3-3-1.

That leaves Nerone clinging to a three-point lead over Joe Fly and a six-point advantage on Goombay Smash. Tactician Vasco Vascotto is concerned even though Nerone has won four of eight races so far: “It is normal in the Farr 40 class to go into the last day with the regatta still up for grabs. We just have to keep fighting,” Vascotto said. “We have been very fortunate so far in overcoming some bad starts. Hopefully, we can get off the line better in the two races tomorrow.”

Nerone rallied from a significant deficit to win Race 7 today, passing Joe Fly in the last 10 meters. “It was one of the most exciting races I’ve ever experienced. To come from behind and win at the very end like that was very uplifting for our team.”

The Acura Boat of the Week, awarded to the class with the closest most competitive overall racing, will not be decided until the final gun and it appears the honor will come down to the winner of either the Melges 32 or Farr 40 class.

Ran captured IRC 1 class at Acura Key West 2009 in impressive fashion and has picked up right where she left off at the Acura Miami Grand Prix. Helmsman Tim Powell and tactician Thierry Peponnet have clearly developed a nice chemistry as the British TP52 has won six of eight races.

Soozal, a newly-launched King 40 designed by Mark Mills, is also seeking to pull off a sweep of the two winter regattas organized by Premiere Racing. Woolery steered his rocket ship to five straight first place finishes in an extremely competitive seven-boat fleet.

“Our keel is spot-on and that has proven to be a real weapon. We have a few degrees worth of pointing on the rest of the fleet, if we want to go higher we can,” Woolery said.

Ran and Soozal are neck-and-neck in the battle for the Acura Grand Prix Championship, awarded for best combined scores at Acura Key West and the Acura Miami Grand Prix.

“I just found out about that competition today and certainly that would be a nice added treat,” Woolery said.

The Farr 40 and Melges 32 Acura Grand Prix Championships will also have to wait until the end of the last day, as Joe Fly holds but a nine-point lead over fellow Italian entry Mascalzone Latino (Vincenzo Onorato) in the Farr 40 class and New Wave has only a 10-point advantage on Red (Joe Woods, Great Britain) in the Melges 32 class.

The 10-race series, being held on a course set just off the north end of Key Biscayne, concludes on Sunday.

Acura Miami Grand Prix Results - Provisional after 8 races
Farr 40 (12 entries)
1, Nerone, Massimo Mezzaroma, Punta Ala, Italy, 1-1-2-7-1-7-1-4=24
2, Joe Fly, Giovanni Maspero, Como, Italy, 2-5-4-4-4-4-2-2=27
3, Goombay Smash, Doug Douglas, Newport, R.I., 5-2-7-3-6-3-3-1=30

Melges 32 (19 entries) - with discard
1, Bliksem, Pieter Taselaar, St Inigoes, M.D., 1-1-1-2-(-7)-5-1-3=14
2, Samba Pa Ti, John Kilroy, San Francisco, C.A., 2-6-3-4-3-2-(-9)-1=21
3, Red, Joe Woods, Torbay, UK, 7-8-2-3-2-(-9)-4-6=32

IRC 1 (4 entries)
1, RAN, Niklas Zennstrom, Hamble, GBR, 1-1-1-2-3-1-1-1=11
2, Rio, Charles Dunstone, Cowes, GBR, 2-2-3-1-1-2-2-3=16
3, Synergy, Sergey Pichugin, Moscow, RUS, 3-3-2-3-2-4-3-2=22

IRC 2 (7 entries)
1, Soozal, King 40, Daniel Woolery, Pt Richmond, C.A., 2-1-4-1-1-1-1-1=12
2, Ciao, AC 40, Philippe Paturel, Halifax, CAN, 1-3-2-2-2-3-2-2=17
3, Gold Digger, J/44, James Bishop, Jamestown, R.I., 3-2-1-3-3-2-3-5=22

Acura Grand Prix Championship - Provisional after 8 Races
Farr 40
1. Joe Fly, Giovanni Maspero, Como, ITA, 62 pts
2. Mascalzone Latino, Vincenzo Onorato, Napoli,ITA, 73 pts
3. Barking Mad, James Richardson, Newport, RI, 77 pts

Melges 32
1. New Wave, M Carroll/M Kullman, Clearwater, FL, 122 pts
2. Red, Joe Woods, Torbay, GBR, 132 pts
3. Ninkasi, John Taylor, Big Sky, MT 164 pts

IRC Combined
1. Ran (TP52), Niklas Zennstrom, Hamble, GBR 29 pts.
2. Soozal (King 40), Daniel Woolery, Pt. Richmond, CA, 31 pts.
3. Rio (TP52),Charles Dunstone, Cowes, GBR, 44 pts.

More of Rick Tomlinson's images on the following pages...

Latest Comments

Add a comment - Members log in

Latest news!

Back to top
    Back to top