Sportsboats join the party
The arrival of competitors racing in the Audi Melges 20, J/70, Melges 24, Viper 640 and VX One classes at the fifth annual running of Bacardi Miami Sailing Week presented by EFG, turned Biscayne Bay into a hotbed of activity as the first races for those one-design classes were held today. Marking the turning point in their competition were the 55 teams of Star sailors, who have already been racing for three days in pursuit of the 87th Bacardi Cup.
The Star fleet, having had all the attention for the first half of this six-day event, today completed the fourth race in their series which now allows the worst score to be discarded from their cumulative points. 2012 champion Xavier Rohart (FRA), with crew Serge Pulfer, was first around the weather mark followed closely by two members of Seattle Yacht Club: Larry Whipple and Brian Ledbetter. Those positions remained intact as the three boats crossed the finish line. The early standings leaders – Brazil’s Lars Grael, who finished 14th today, and San Diego’s Mark Reynolds, who finished 12th – benefitted from the drop score as both retained their overall positions, respectively first and second, with no change in their point totals. Torben Grael, who finished fifth in today’s race, also saw no change in either his overall position (third) or points (12). The big gain went to Rohart who was able to drop a 10th from the first day of racing to move up from sixth overall to fourth with 16 points.
“We knew bad weather was called for later in the day and were hoping to get in a full day before losing the battle with Mother Nature,” said Mark Pincus, BMSW Regatta Chair. “Unfortunately, the storms blew in a little after 1500. The Stars finished their race and are still on schedule. The two circles just kicking off today are a race or two behind. So the Audi Melges 20, J/70, Melges 24, Viper 640 and VX One classes should expect a work out tomorrow. The weather tomorrow calls for breezy conditions and not stormy so we should be able to get some good racing in and catch up.”
The 25-strong Viper 640 fleet had their second race of the day shortened as the threatening weather approached.
“Racing was good,” said Canadian sailor Brad Boston. Boston, and Lee Shuckerow, finished 1-2 and is off to a good run at successfully defending their BMSW class win. “Nice breeze. Nine to 10 knots at the start, and it got up to 12 before it started to drop back. It was perfect planning conditions for the Viper and both races were done before the storm.”
The Canadian team is tied on points with Florida’s Phil Lotz who finished 2-1 for three points. Third overall is British sailor Justin Scott with nine points. Two Australian teams follow, Rod Beurteaux and Graeme Monkhouse, each with 15. Another pair tied on points is Great Britain’s Jon Powell and Travis Yates of Sarasota, FL, each with 16 points.
In the 41-boat Audi Melges 20 class, three races were run, each of which saw a different team cross the finish line first. With single-digit finishes across the board, John Kilroy’s consistency earned him the top spot in the overall standings with 10 points. Drew Freides is second overall with 21 points, followed by three teams who are tied at 22 points each, respectively, James Wilson, Russell Lucas and Marc Hollerbach. Cesar Gomes Neto (BRA) is sixth overall with 23 points. Richard Davies and Robert Hughes are tied at 26 points each, while 2013 World Champion John Taylor stands ninth overall on 27 points.
“Fantastic M20 racing today!” said Kilroy, who was the 2012 Melges 32 World Champion. “Unfortunately the electronics let us down today, but we ended up pretty well anyway! Conditions were great overall. At the end the course was shortened due to weather coming in; smart choice by our PRO Bruce Golison. Allow me to say that I’m very happy for my son Liam, he is 10 years old and he competed in his first M20 regatta today and stands 17th. It’s a father’s dream!”
The Melges 24 class has six boats racing, and with bullets in the first two races of the day, plus a second for the third race, Italian skipper Nicola Ardito stands first overall with four points. Kevin Welch, with a 3-2-1 scoreline, is second with six points. Richard Reid (CAN) and Wisconsin’s Steven Boho are third and fourth, respectively, tied on 10 points each.
Only two races were sailed today by the 40-strong J/70 fleet, with Heather Gregg-Earl, the 2013 J/70 North American Champion, posting finishes of 3-5 to take the overall lead with eight points. BMSW defending champion Brian Keane has nine points, followed by Will Welles with 11 points, and two skippers tied with 12 points each: Venezuela’s Victor Diaz de Leon and Peter Duncan.
“Our first race was great,” said Bennet Greenwald of his first-place finish. “The course was perfect. Conditions were nice on the first race and plenty of wind on the second race. I believe the RC made a good call to halt the race; some sailors might not be happy, but thunderstorms were fast approaching.”
The 22 teams in the VX One class, making its debut racing at BMSW, also completed two races today. Alabama’s Donovan Brennan finished 5-1, while Rhode Island’s David Bolyard finished 1-5 to earn six points for each. Another Alabama sailor, Kevin Northrop, finished 3-4 for seven points and third in the overall standings, followed by two more teams that have mirrored scores and are equal on points: Michael Brown (8-2) and David Reich (2-8) for 10 points to round out the top-five.
Paul Cayard reports:
A front was expected across the south Florida area sometime this afternoon with large thunder storms containing lightening and hail. The forecast called for 14-17 knots of breeze from the south prior to the front. After a brief postponement to evaluate the situation, the Coral Reef Race Committee got the Stars out on the water for what was the best race of the series so far.
The fleet got off to a clean start in 15 knots from 185. Shortly after the start the wind moved right to 195 and stayed there for the rest of the race.
Rodney and I had a good start, but went a bit too far left and missed the first important shift. Half way up the first 1.9 mile leg, we were in 20th. We had good speed and rounded the first mark about 15th and worked our way up to 7th at the finish. There was a significant amount of technique involved in sailing downwind today and I have to say that I am a bit rusty.
Xavier Rohart, with Serge Pulfer as crew were in a league of their own. They hit the right hand side of the course pretty hard and had a handy lead at the first windward mark. They are fast in breeze and therefore were able to stretch out on the fleet from there. My good friends Larry Whipple and Austin Sperry were 2nd all the way around the course. Brian Ledbetter and Josh Revkin sailed very well to get 3rd.
The hard luck went to Mark Reynolds and Magnus Liljedahl. They broke their connection at the top of the rudder to the tiller and saw a very good 4th place slip to 12th. That would have changed the score board a bit at the top. Torbrn Grael sailed very well to get 5th today as he was back with us on the first leg.
Lars Grael did not have a very good race today finishing 14th. But after 4 races all competitors get to discard their worst score. We now are able to average races 2-4 and get a placing for our redress in race #1. We are currently tied for 10th over all, five points off 5th.
Once a shore, the front hit at about 3:30 bringing a massive downpour and lightening all around. Fortunately all the boats and crews were safe. The Race Committee of all the fleets did a great job of getting the races in and the boats back to the dock before the equal line hit!
Tomorrow's forecast is for 15-18 knots from the west. These conditions normally produce very shifty racing here as the wind is coming off the land.