A Farr 40 class approaching 30 boats, two IRC classes and over 20 Melges 32s, teeming with international talent and world champions, make up this extraordinary grand prix fleet.
Class championships and bragging rights for this four day, 10-race regatta are not all that is at stake. The Acura Grand Prix trophies for the best combined Key West and Miami scores will be awarded at the conclusion of racing, and the Farr 40s will have taken another step toward their Rolex World Championship at this same venue later in April.
January’s Key West event set the stage for the 2008 Acura Grand Prix trophies. These prestigious awards debuted in 2005, recognizing the top performing boats with the best combined score from the celebrated Key West and Miami regattas. The Farr 40, Melges 32 and IRC classes are eligible.
"In recent years, winning in Key West has been one of the paramount achievements for sailing in this country. Now the level of competition in Miami is equally as high," Event Director Peter Craig said. "Winning the Acura Grand Prix Trophy demonstrates excellence on a very consistence basis against the best in the world.”
Here’s how things look heading into the regatta:
Farr 40s (28 boats)
Ten of the top 12 Key West finishers will be on the line. Jim Richardson’s Barking Mad (USA) won the January series on a last race tie-breaker over Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino (Italy). Erik Maris’ Twins (France) and Massimo Mezzaroma’s Nerone (Italy) finished 3rd and 4th respectively. Onorato is the defending World Champion.
Peter de Ridder’s Mean Machine (Monaco) and Fred and Steve Howe’s Warpath (USA) tied for 6th place at Key West, with de Ridder’s race 2 win breaking that tie. The Howes are defending their 2007 Miami Farr 40 class win. De Ridder took Mumm 30 2007 class honors, and the Acura Grand Prix combined trophy.
HRH Prince Frederik ( Nanoq, Denmark) continues to move up in the Key West standings, having finishing a respectable 11th, just 4 points behind Taskashi Okura’s SLED (Japan). Class newcomer William Douglas ( Goombay Smash) had the thrill of finishing ahead of Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi (Switzerland). Bertarelli won the Farr 40 Acura Grand Prix trophy last year, but will not be back to defend. Prince Frederik finished 3rd last March in Miami.
Melges 32s (21 boats)
Is there a closer three boat rivalry around than that of Jeff Ecklund’s Star (USA), Mike Carroll’s New Wave (USA) and Claudio Recchi’s Let’s Roll (Italy)?
Placing 1, 2 and 4 at Acura Key West in January and 2, 3 and 1 at last year’s Acura Miami Grand Prix respectively, these top tier crews will again be keeping tabs on one another. Last year, Recchi was unbeatable, winning Key West and Miami and the combined Acura Grand Prix trophy.
Seven of the top ten Key West boats will resume racing in the waters off Miami Beach.
IRC 1 and IRC 2 (13 boats)
Dan Meyer’s new J/V 66, Goetz-built rocket Numbers is again the scratch boat in IRC. He took IRC 1 class honors in Key West, finishing four points clear of Colm Barrington’s J/V 52 Flash Glove (Ireland). Close behind was John Kilroy’s IRC-optimized TP52 Samba Pa Ti.
Last year’s Acura Miami Grand Prix witnessed a very tight contest between Kilroy and Barrington, with Kilroy ultimately taking class and the combined trophy. Doug DeVos’ TP52 Windquest finished just behind Kilroy in Key West and was 3rd last March in Miami.
Four Swan 42s will race in the IRC 2 class. Twelve of these cruiser racers made a spectacular one design debut in Key West last month. The top two Swans in Key West, Andrew Fisher’s Bandit and Mark Watson’s Tiburon (both hailing from Newport, RI) will be a handful, though Jim Bishop’s Gold Digger (J/44) and Robin Team’s Teamwork (J/122) had podium finishes in Key West last month.
Acura Grand Prix Standings after Acura Key West 2008, presented by Nautica
Top Boats in each Class
1. Barking Mad, Jim Richardson – 29 points
2. Mascalzone Latino, Vincenzo Onorato – 29 points
3. Twins, Erik Maris – 37 points
4. Nerone, Massimo Mezzaroma - 42 points
5. Mean Machine, Peter de Ridder – 61 points
6. Warpath-MedImpact, Fred & Steve Howe – 61 points
1. Star, Jeff Ecklund – 25 points
2. New Wave, Mike Carroll and Marty Kullman – 27 points
3. Let’s Roll, Claudio Recchi – 34 points
4. Arkle, John Sherlock – 41 points
5. Pinta, Michael Illbruck – 47 points
1. Numbers, Dan Meyers – 10 points
2. Flash Glove, Colm Barrington – 14 points
3. Samba Pa Ti, John Kilroy Jr. – 16 points
4. Gold Digger, Jim Bishop – 20 points
5. Teamwork, Robin Team – 24 points