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Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta

The Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta, the annual highlight for many sailors from around the world, wrapped up in fine style on Saturday March 10th at Coral Reef Yacht Club.

Winners were decided after six days and six neck and neck races for the Star Class, with an equally intense eight races packed into three days for the J/70 fleet.

For nearly one century, the Bacardi Cup has continued to attract the world’s top sailors and fans with its popularity and intrigue, and in 2018 celebrated its 91st anniversary on the waters of Biscayne Bay, the event’s home for the past 56 straight years. What started out as a 3-day event with less than 10 boats in 1927 in Cuba, now attracts well over 300 sailors.

For 2018, the Bacardi Cup organizing committee decided to refocus the series on the original invitation-only concept, inviting the world’s best small-boat sailors to compete in tight, competitive racing with an emphasis on quality instead of quantity in the Star and J/70 Classes. Still sponsored by the venerable Bacardi Rum brand and the Bacardi family, who have been active patrons since the inaugural Bacardi Cup was presented in 1927.

As usual, the sport’s biggest names were attracted to the superb racing on offer, with the entry list teeming with super-talented World Champions, Olympians, Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup stars. Control of the leaderboard changed hands many times on the turquoise waters of Biscayne Bay, with tactics crucial to take advantage of the unpredictable breeze changes and range of conditions. Both fleets completed their full slate of racing and, although there were some broken masts and scrapes along the way, the regatta maintained its acclaimed history of quality racing. The day’s highlights were recounted over outstanding hospitality, made to look effortless, by the venerable Bacardi brand, otherwise known as the ‘king of hospitality”. The nightly parties hosted at Coral Reef Yacht Club, Biscayne Bay Yacht Club and Shake a Leg Miami ensured the fun continued long after the finish line, as teams and supporters were welcomed to unwind shore side, with cocktails, tropical music and dinners.

“The Organizing Committee is thrilled with this year’s regatta, on the water and the after parties”, said Sara Zanobini, the driving force behind the event. “Bacardi’s continued sponsorship of this prestigious event sets the character and ensures a unique experience for everyone. Excellence is expected at the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta and the world class sailors, together with the Race Committee, partner clubs and volunteers have achieved it”.

Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta - photo © Tim Wilkes

Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta – photo © Tim Wilkes

The Bacardi Cup opened with a tribute to one of the Star Class greats, Sir Durward Knowles (BAH), who passed away aged 100 years on February 24th 2018. Paul Cayard led the dedication at the Coral Reef Yacht Club to Sir Durward, and one minute before the starting procedure for the opening race, the Star Class boats turned their bows towards Nassau in honour to Sir Durward; who enjoyed 70 years racing the Star, dedicated 31 years as Class Commodore and secured an Olympic Gold Medal.

Making history as the first ever Italian team to claim the coveted Bacardi Cup title were Diego Negri / Sergio Lambertenghi (ITA). In an invincible performance, three-time Olympian Negri and Lambertenghi remained inside the leaderboard top three from day one. Despite, by Star Class standards, having a relatively young partnership of four years, they already hold the 2014 Star European title and silver medal from the 2014 Star Worlds in their trophy cabinet. Understandably though, winning the Bacardi Cup marked a career highlight.

“A very good result and an amazing week,” exclaimed Negri. “I sailed my first Bacardi Cup in 2006 and the fleet was amazing and I had good results. Two years ago was my last edition and I was second and lost by one point and the fleet was still amazing. This time the fleet was amazing and we won. It is a good feeling”.

Second to one of the sport’s most acclaimed Olympians Robert Scheidt of Brazil, racing with Brian Fatih of the USA. Scheidt holds twelve World Championship titles and five Olympic medals, including two gold, whilst Fatih holds well over twenty years’ experience sailing the Star and counts the 2011 World Championship bronze and is a past winner of the Star Sailors League amongst his resume.

The reigning Star Class World Champions Eivind Melleby (NOR) / Joshua Revkin (USA) had to settle for third after leading early on in the series.

Prizes were also presented to winners in the following divisions: Master’s (skippers aged 50 through 59) – Arthur Anosov / David Caesar (USA), Grand Masters (skippers aged 60 and above) – Augie Diaz (USA) / Bruno Prada (BRA), and Exalted Grand Masters (skippers aged 70 and above) – Alessandro Pascolato / Henry Boening (BRA). The Tammy Rubin Rice Trophy was presented to Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise (USA).

Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta - photo © Tim Wilkes

Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta – photo © Tim Wilkes

Star Class – Final Overall Results after six races:
1. Diego Negri / Sergio Lambertenghi (ITA) – 16 pts
2. Robert Scheidt (BRA) / Brian Fatih (USA) – 22 pts
3. Eivind Melleby (NOR) /Joshua Revkin (USA) – 24 pts
4. Lars Grael / Samuel Gonclaves (BRA) – 24 pts
5. Paul Cayard / Mark Strube (USA) – 28 pts
6. Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise (USA) – 23 pts
7. Iain Percy / Andres Ekstrom (GBR) – 32 pts
8. Xavier Rohart / Sebastien Guidoux (FRA) – 26 pts
9. Luke Lawrence (USA) / Pedro Trouche (BRA) – 47 pts
10. Jack Jennings (USA) / Frithjof Kleen (GER) – 51 pts

Eight races over three days demand huge focus and determined teamwork, so no surprise to see three different winners in the opening day’s three races on Thursday March 8th for the forty-seven boat J/70 fleet. Across the series, only two teams managed to win twice, Brian Keane and Timothy Healy, counter balanced by double-digit scores though.

2016 J/70 World Champion Joel Ronning (USA) on ‘Catapult’ had a star-studded team on board, including the relentlessly talented John Kostecki. They took the early running on the first day of racing, before dropping to third after the second day, with Brian Keane stepping up to the front of the leaderboard.

Race day two again saw three different winners, with reigning J/70 World Champion Peter Duncan showing the fleet how to win with panache, as he walked it to the finish with a massive lead in race four. Keane took his second win of the series in race 5, with Glenn Daren seizing race 6.

Onto the final day’s two races, with multiple teams having a shot at the title. The strategy for most was sail to win the first race, and then focus on opponents in the second.

Joel Ronning and his team on ‘Catapult’ ended their scorecard as they started it, wrapping up the victory by 6 points over Jud Smith and his team on ‘Africa’, who held onto second overall, with third going to Keane.

Delighted by their win, Patrick Wilson, trimmer on ‘Catapult’, commented, “Going into today there were four teams who were all phenomenal and anyone could have got it. It was cut-throat out there and somehow we ended up winning. It came down to the last shift in the last race. It was amazingly close competitive sailing”.

Heather Gregg and her crew on ‘Muse’ won the Corinthian category, with Mallory Loe and team on ‘Dime’ in second and Nancy Glover and her team on ‘WinterWind’ in third.

J/70 Class – Final Overall Results after eight races:
1. Joel Ronning / Christopher Stokey / Patrick Wilson / John Kosteki (USA) – 24 Pts
2. Jud Smith / Will Felder / Marc Gauthier / Cindy Smith / Lucas Calabrese (USA) – 30 Pts
3. Brian Keane / Brian Keane / Thomas Barrows / Charles Swanson (USA) – 32 Pts
4. Peter Duncan / Victor Diaz Deleon / Willem Van Way / Massimo Bortoletto (USA) – 33 Pts
5. Timothy Healy / Reed Baldrige / John Mollicone / Paul Abdullah (USA) – 49 pts
6. John Brim / Collin Leon / Taylor Kenfield / Scott Ewing (USA) – 51 pts
7. Vincenzo Onorato / Matteo Savelli / Flavio Favini / Paul Goodison / Giulia Elba Masotto (MON) – 52 pts
8. Renato Faria / Kadja Brandao / Alfredo Rovere / Henrique Pellicano / Caroline Atwood (BRA) – 58 pts
9. Thomas Bowen / Martin Kollman / Alex Shafer / Jacklyn Wetmore (USA) – 68 pts
10. Heather Gregg / Stuart Johnston / Shawn Patrick Powell / Patrick Norris (USA) – 75 pts

Over three hundred and forty sailors from 20 nations competed in the Star and J/70 fleets, with teams from across the USA joined by an international line-up from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Ukraine.

The fleets will congregate again next year for the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta and 92nd Bacardi Cup from March 3rd-9th 2019.

by Icarus Sports

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