Another new leader

As Barking Mad comes to the fore in th Farr 40s and Numbers is hastily repaired at Acura Miami Grand Prix

Sunday March 9th 2008, Author: Bill Wagner, Location: United Kingdom
The Numbers’ shore crew worked late into Friday night to repair damage to the hull of Dan Meyer’s new Judel/Vrolijk 66. It required extraordinary measures to fix the delamination problem that developed in Friday’s big breeze, but it was worth the effort.

Numbers was back on the water on Saturday and promptly won a race in picture-perfect conditions. “This was one of the nicest sailing days I’ve ever seen. It was absolutely beautiful out there today. I can’t think of anything that could have made it any better,” said Meyers.

Mother Nature is indeed smiling on 2008 Acura Miami Grand Prix. Nasty thunderstorms that were predicted for Saturday came during the wee hours of the morning. By the time racing began around 11 a.m., the sun was shining brightly and a stiff wind was blowing from the west-northwest. Because the wind direction changed dramatically, the steep waves that made racing so challenging on Friday had dissipated.

“Today was wonderful, simply wonderful.Great breeze, warm weather, flat water… what a gorgeous day to go sailing,” said Colm Barrington, skipper of IRC 2 leader Flash Glove.

PRO Dave Brennan and his crack race committee got off three races for the second straight day, almost guaranteeing the four-day series will reach the stated goal of 10. In three of four classes, a discard came into play with Race 7 and allowed skippers to scratch their worst result.

There is a new leader in Farr 40 class as Barking Mad vaulted from third to first on the strength of two bullets on Saturday. Skipper Jim Richardson and crew are sailing so well they were able to win Race 6 despite being on-course-side at the start.

Barking Mad was 26th out of 28 boats after restarting, but played the wind shifts well enough to work back up to fifth by the first windward mark. Richardson got the gun in Race 7 as well then added a sixth to bring his cumulative score to 42 - nine points ahead of previous leader Opus One.

Terry Hutchinson, formerly with America’s Cup runner-up Team New Zealand, is calling tactics on Barking Mad, which is seeking to pull off a rare double by winning both Acura Key West and Acura Miami Grand Prix in the same year.

“Terry did a really great job today because it was so shifty out there," Richardson said. "It was one of those days when the potential for big gains or big losses was very high. We’re happy with what we did today, but there is still a lot of racing to do. We just have to try to sail smart, sail conservatively and stay out of harm’s way.”

Opus One skipper Wolfgang Stolz sustained a pair of double-digit results on Saturday, but rebounded by winning Race 8 to remain in contention. Opus One is four points clear of Mascalzone Latino, the Day 1 leader owned by Vincenzo Onorato.

“This regatta has been incredibly fascinating. There are so many good boats and things can change from race to race,” said Onorato, who was over the line early in two starts yesterday. “One day you can have two firsts and be a hero. The next day you can have two bad results and be a zero.”

In the 20-boat Melges 32 class, Pinta, the German entry skippered by Michael Illbruck, tightened its grip on first place. America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race winner John Kostecki is calling tactics on Pinta, which posted a superb score line of 1-1-2 on Saturday and increased its advantage over New Wave to 10 points.

“Pinta is sailing at a very high level right now. They just don’t make any mistakes,” said Marty Kullman, co-owner of New Wave. “We did not have a good day and now we have some work to do in order to catch up with Pinta. We have to go out tomorrow and put up a good result in the first race and hope Pinta has a bad one. We need to close the gap enough to put pressure on them in the last race.”

Colm Barrington has virtually clinched IRC 1 class after placing first or second in all eight races. Rob Greenhalgh is calling tactics on Flash Glove, which needs only to finish one race tomorrow in order to make the victory official

“We have a good boat that has been optimized to the IRC rating quite well. We have a very good crew that does maneuvers real well. Since Robert is calling good shots, we are usually in the right place on the course,” said Barrington, who is also likely to capture the Acura Grand Prix Championship that is based on combined score from the Key West and Miami regattas run by Premiere Racing.

There is an interesting mix of boats in IRC 2 and wind conditions dictate how well certain boats do. Gold Digger, a J/44 that is heaviest boat in the class, suffered a last place result in light to medium conditions on Thursday. However, the 18-year-old design has excelled in the heavy air conditions that predominated on Friday and Saturday and has steadily moved to the top of the fleet.

Skipper Jim Bishop has won two of the last six races and finished no worse than tied for third over the last two days and now holds a half point lead over Andy Fisher's Swan 42 Bandit.

“We like the breeze. This boat goes very well when it gets above 15 knots,” said Bishop, who splits his time between Palm Beach, Jamestown but does a lot of racing on Long Island Sound as a member of the American Yacht Club in Rye, N.Y.

Acura Miami Grand Prix Results – provisional after 8 races
Farr 40 (28 entries)
1, Barking Mad, Jim Richardson, Newport, R.I., 2-2-11-18-1-1-1-6=42
2, Opus One, Wolfgang Stolz, Munich, Germany, 8-8-1-1-5-11-16-1=51
3, Mascalzone Latino, Vincenzo Onorato, Napoli, Italy, 1-1-14-9-6-3-9-12=55

Melges 32 (20 entries)
1, Pinta, Michael Illbruck, Munich, Germany, 2-3-1-(3)-2-1-1-2=12
2, New Wave, Mike Carroll/Marty Kullman, Clearwater, Fla., 6-1-3-1-1-7-3-(9)=22
3, Star, Jeff Ecklund, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., 5-2-4-2-4-(8)-6-4=27

IRC 1 (6 entries)
1, Flash Glove, J/V 52, Colm Barrington, Dublin, Ireland, 1-(2)-2-1-1-2-1-2=10
2, Windquest, TP52, Doug DeVos, Holland, Mich., 2-(5)-3-3-2-3-2-1=16
3, Rusal Synergy, Sergey Pichugin, Russia, (5)-3-1-2-3-4-3-4=20

IRC 2 (6 entries)
1, Gold Digger, J/44, James Bishop, Jamestown, R.I., 3-(6)-1-2-3-1-3.5-3=16.5
2, Bandit, Swan 42, Andy Fisher, Newport, R.I., (4)-2-2-3-1-3-2-4=17
3, Tiburon, Swan 42, Mark Watson, Newport, R.I., (6)-3-3-1-2-2-5-2=18

Acura has been the proud title sponsor and Official Vehicle of the Miami Grand Prix, Miami Race Week and the SORC for the previous 8 years. They are joined by supporting sponsors Mount Gay Rum (Official Rum) and SLAM (Official Technical Gear and Retailer). The Miami Beach Marina is the Official Site for this 2008 grand prix event. The Avalon and South Seas Hotels are the Official Host Hotels. Shake-A-Leg Miami is the official charity of both the Acura Miami Grand Prix and Acura Key West.

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