Florida action moves on

Acura Miami Grand Prix kicks off on 5 March

Wednesday February 4th 2009, Author: Jeanne Kleene, Location: United Kingdom
Rematches and tough competition will be the order of the day at the 2009 Acura Miami Grand Prix when it strikes up on 5 March. Florida sunshine and dependable breezes beckon sailors from across the county and around the world.

Event Director Peter Craig and Principal Race Officer Dave Brennan are preparing to conduct another great week of racing in the ocean waters off America’s Riviera - South Beach.

“Premiere Racing is very encouraged by the entries to date. We expected some impact given the global economic troubles, but were always confident that there would be a high quality turnout that would produce great racing just like we had in Key West last month,” said Craig. “The four classes will be represented by top-tier programs.”

IRC, Farr 40 and Melges 32 classes have a good mix of recent Acura Key West 2009 champions and participants along with boats that will be adding new flavor to the competition in Miami.

Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino (Napoli, Italy) took Farr 40 top honors in Key West last month by a narrow 3 point margin. Fellow countryman Maspero Giovanni’s Joe Fly (Como, Italy) edged out Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad (Boston, MA) on a tie-breaker for second and third place. Reigning world champion Onorato appears unstoppable, but with a projected field of 12-15 boats, anything can happen in this grand prix class.

“We’re really looking forward to another great Premiere Racing event in South Beach,” said Terry Hutchinson, Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and Richardson’s tactician. “ Mascalzone Latino and Joe Fly sailed great regattas in Key West and onboard Barking Mad we are looking forward to another opportunity to test ourselves against those two great Italian teams. Hopefully with a different outcome!” he added.

IRC classes will split into a big boat IRC 1 class consisting of TP52s, and IRC 2 with the 40 footers, including John Cooper’s Mills 43 Cool Breeze (Cane Hill, MO) launched in December and Jim Bishop’s venerable J/44 Gold Digger (Jamestown, RI). They’ll be joined by at least two Swan 42s. Racing one design in Key West, John Halbert’s Vitesse (Dallas, TX) took top honors, with Malcom Gefter’s Celeritas (Newport, RI) on the podium finishing third.

Nicklas Zennstrom’s TP52 Ran (Hamble, GBR) led IRC 1 all week in Key West. Challengers are Ennio Staffini’s Anema & Core (Annapolis, MD), Charles Dunstone’s Rio (Cowes, GBR), and Sergey Pichugin’s Synergy (Moscow, RUS).

The Melges 32 class made its Miami debut in 2006 with six boats. They’ve been newsmakers and a photographer’s delight every year since. 2008 Acura Miami Grand Prix champion, Michael Illbruck’s Pinta (Munich, GER), will defend against a field of no less than 12 boats, the majority of which are fresh from Key West’s proving grounds. Jeff Ecklund’s Star (Fort Lauderdale, FL) won class honors and Acura Boat of the Week in January. Melges 32s were recognised as the class with the closest most competitive racing.

All four classes are in the hunt for the Acura Grand Prix Awards will be presented to the boats with the lowest combined cumulative points for Acura Key West and the Acura Miami Grand Prix in their respective classes. Given the stature of both events and the competitiveness of these grand prix classes, these recipients will be special champions. This year the Melges 32 Gold Cup results are included in that class’s scores. Perpetual awards are in the offing to the Farr 40, Melges 32 classes and IRC classes. Barking Mad (Farr 40) and New Wave (Melges 32) are defending Acura Grand Prix Champions.

Four race days with as many as ten races are scheduled. The first entry deadline is February 6.

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