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2021 Bacardi Cup: The Stars Come Out

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  • 2021 Bacardi Cup: The Stars Come Out


    MIAMI, FLA (9 March, 2021) – Race day two at the 94th Bacardi Cup welcomed Star Class teams with another strong breeze day of 20-25 knots and knock-back waves, demanding huge physical effort and concentration from the fleet. No change in the leader board top three as the opening day’s finishing order repeated itself for race 2 on Biscayne Bay, Miami.

    Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada (POL) hold off Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise (USA)
    Ten minutes before racing got underway, the Star fleet held a memorial start in honor of James ‘Ding’ Schoonmaker who passed away on 19 January 2021. As the fleet positioned themselves head to wind Ding’s wife Treecie, aboard Mario Bustamonte’s ‘Merengue’ with friends and family, shared some words with the fleet from their position above the start line. A world class sailor and stalwart in the Star fleet and the sailing world, Ding’s contributions and philanthropy have reached out and benefited multitudes of sailors. A World Champion and multiple Bacardi Cup winner, Ding’s mission and continuing legacy was to build the sailing community, support success and extend opportunities for all. Ding was also the driving force behind the training facility which provides sailors access to train and compete on Biscayne Bay, and the building bears his name. The Bacardi Cup’s own legacy is due to the special friendship between Ding, Tito Argamasilla Bacardi and Frank Zagarino who in 1962 together brought the Bacardi Cup to Miami from Cuba, thus saving this unique and special regatta.

    Regatta Chairman Mark Pincus commented, “Ding has been huge in the Star fleet and has been associated with the Bacardi Cup way before it came to Miami. Today we honored him with his wife and family.”

    Racing started a short while later on a two-triangle course, with some teams opting to stay ashore in the challenging conditions. Race 2 was a repeat of yesterday’s opening race as the same line-up claimed the top three places. Defending Champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada (POL) were out front, followed by Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise (USA) with George Szabo/Guy Avellon (USA) rounding out the top three.

    This time though Kusznierewicz/Prada were unable to get away unchallenged. Doyle/Infelise led the initial stages of the race, with Kusznierewicz/Prada only overtaking in the last third of the first reach. Some close maneuvering around the gybe mark saw Kusznierewicz/Prada take off, whilst Doyle/Infelise struggled after attempting to gybe too tight. The battle continued upwind on virtual level pegging, with a split towards the mark with Doyle/Infelise looking to have the advantage as they headed further right. But Doyle/Infelise got knocked back by waves which killed their speed forcing them to duck and handed the advantage going into the mark to the wily Kusznierewicz/Prada, who rounded a few seconds ahead before going on to score another emphatic win.

    “Coming to the regattas, I always look for really good competition, and I must say that today Eric and Payson gave us a really good push,” smiled Kusznierewicz. “We were battling for the win of the second race of the Bacardi Cup and we managed to overtake them on the reach, but I must say wow they were sailing very good today. Full respect and we are looking forward for the next races.”

    Doyle commented, “It was really fun and we had a great battle with Mateusz and Bruno. We were duking it out. We felt we were going pretty good upwind and they passed us on the reach and all in all just a great battle and a lot of fun.”

    Doyle/Payson won the Bacardi Cup in 2019 and have been sailing together for almost ten years, so are a slick partnership. Payson added, “The communication is always good, we know what is happening in the boat, what the other person wants or needs, so from there it is almost natural at this point for us which is quite nice. We were going really well upwind today. We made a couple of little changes but we thought we were pretty happy with it and we were getting closer up there.”

    Payson’s passion for Star sailing is evident as he continued, “The boat is just a classic. You know, I love sailing the Star boat. It is technical, it is physical, you got to be smart, you got to work hard and the fleet and the class is one of the best in the world.”

    Some team combinations are longstanding whilst others are more recent. For third placed George Szabo/Guy Avellon their partnership started just a few years ago, with the 94thBacardi Cup marking their first time sailing in Miami this year.

    ”The conditions are proving a challenge but serious fun so far,” explained Avellon, “Sailing a Star in bigger breeze there is obviously a lot of preparation we go through and [we] do a lot of research on the weather and the course where we are at. Then a lot of boat handling skills go into it.”

    Szabo added, “Sailing a Star boat in heavy airs is kind of like trying to go upwind or downwind in a Laser when you are 140lbs! That thing is just throwing you all over the place and to control that you can’t do that without a big crew, a team mate who really knows how to sail as well. The thing is just a handful, you have to get the tuning right, get the main quiet, get the boat driving and under control. Once you do it is just an absolute ball, but if you don’t it’s kind of a little scary. It’s a hoot!”

    Bouncing back from a DNC yesterday, 2013 Star Class World Champions John MacCausland/Phil Trinter (USA) claimed a 4th place to secure the biggest leader board gain and step up to 12th overall. Close behind were Augie Diaz/Marcus Koy in 5th place, keeping them firm in fourth overall.

    Provisional Top 10 Results – After Race 2
    1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz / Bruno Prada (POL 8548) – 2 pts
    2. Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise (USA 8423) – 4 pts
    3. George Szabo / Guy Avellon (USA 8528) – 6 pts
    4. Augie Diaz / Marcus Koy (USA 8509) – 9 pts
    5. Jim Buckingham / Phil Toth (USA 8440) – 13 pts
    6. Hubert Merkelbach / Kilian Weise (GER 8446) – 16 pts
    7. Shane Zwingelberg / Keith Gardner (USA 8546) – 17 pts
    8. John Ferguson Dane III / Greg Smith (USA 8555) – 17 pts
    9. Joshua Powell / Mark Strube (USA 8522) – 18 pts
    10. Scott Barnard / Craig Moss (USA 8504) – 22 pts

    Last edited by Photoboy; 03-11-2021, 05:11 PM.
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  • #2
    South Beach Blast Greets All Fleets


    11 March 2021 👉🏻 Perfect performance weather conditions delivered an average 14 knot breeze with occasional gusts up to 20 knots on Biscayne Bay, Miami, where racing continued for the Star Class contesting the Bacardi Cup and kicked off for the J/70 and Melges 24 Classes racing the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta.

    A stunning day of racing delivered a full schedule, with three races for the J/70 and Melges 24 and two for the Star Class. No change in the Star Class frontrunners with Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada (POL) holding firm, whilst earning first day colours in the J/70 and Melges 24 were Travis Odenbach and his team on ‘Honey Badger’ and Bruce Ayres and crew on ‘Monsoon’.
    Racing is scheduled to get underway tomorrow, Friday 12 March, at 1000 hours for the J/70, 1115 hours for the Melges 24 and 1125 hours for the Star Class.

    The J/70s were up on the race track first and after a short postponement faced a wind against tide windward/leeward course. Three races were fought in 12-16 knots of shifty breeze and variable pressure ensuring plenty of twists and turns, although a relatively level playing field in the 17-boat Melges 24 fleet saw the race wins shared across different teams.
    Ryan McKillen and his crew on ‘Surge’ strode ahead in the opening race, sitting pretty at the front of the twenty-two boat fleet. They are the top placed finishers from 2020 returning this year, but their follow up was not quite so special with scores of 17, 5 seeing them end their day in 7th overall.
    Consistency from Travis Odenbach and his team on ‘Honey Badger’, as the only team scoring an all top-5 line, rewarded results of 4,2,1 with the overall lead.
    “Today was a great day for us,” said Odenbach. “I learned a lot. We had great upwind boat speed and the thing I really want to work on now is downwind. This is really new to me as I don’t drive the ’70 a lot, so I am learning kind of the modes downwind. Tomorrow I think we will have a better idea of how to do that and it was really critical to pick puffs downwind and gybing to get across the course. Upwind was all about getting off the starting line. We did a really good job of that and being able to hold a lane. The guys kept me focused today so I was pretty pumped about it.”
    Positioned just three points behind the leaders is reigning J/70 World Champion Joel Ronning and his team on ‘Catapult’, with John Brim and crew on ‘Rimette’ one point adrift in third.
    Three races are scheduled for Friday 12 March.

    J/70 Class – Provisional Results after Race 3
    1. Travis Odenbach / Andy Horton / Geoff Becker / Danny Lawless (USA 40) - 7 pts
    2. Joel Ronning / Jud Smith / Kris Stoke / Patrick Wilson (USA 65) - 10 pts
    3. John Brim / Zeke Horowitz / Zach Mason / Ian Coleman (USA 340) - 11 pts
    4. Vernon Robert / Paula Herman / Nicholas Robertson / Rodrigo Robles / Sophie Robertson (CHI 1038) - 17 pts
    5. Robert Hughes / Cameron Appleton / Thomas Allin / Ty Baird (USA 353) - 19 pts

    MELGES 24
    Just 4 points separate the top three teams in the seventeen boat Melges 24 fleet, who kicked off racing at 1120 hours with a shifty breeze and short wave chop for their windward/leeward races.
    Like the J/70, this massively competitive fleet saw different teams claim mastery of the track to seize the three wins, with race glory going to defending champion Bora Gulari and his team on ‘New England Ropes’, Laura Grondin’s team on ‘Dark Energy’ and Bruce Ayres on ‘Monsoon’.
    Gulari opened with a win, but his DNF (did not finish) score in race 2 was not quite the follow-up game plan. Opting for a pin end start, a misjudgement pushed them into a scuffle with the pin boat anchor line and after eventually freeing themselves the fleet had done a horizon job. Even the worst happens to the best!

    Ayres stepped it up a notch from a 5th in the opening race, to score 2,1 and edge into the overall lead by 3 points over Travis Weisleder on ‘Lucky Dog’ with Laura Grondin and her team on ‘Dark Energy’ in third.
    Ayres is racing with three new team members, so first up they were working on team dynamics, but there is no shortage of pedigree with Ayres winning the Melges 24 Worlds in 2017, placing 2nd in 2019 and 3rd in 2018.

    “It is really great to be back in Miami,” said Ayres. “The last regatta I sailed was last year here in March. Through the covid, working at home with the hotels has been brutal,” he added in reference to his professional career with Ayres Hotels, “so it is really good to get out in the boat. These guys are all really strong sailors, so I am getting the rig right and it makes my job a lot easier and the biggest thing is that we have fun.”

    Melges 24 Class – Provisional Results after Race 3
    1. Bruce Ayres / Jeremy Wilmot / Tomas Dietrich / Ted Hackney / Chelsea Simms (USA 851) - 8 pts
    2. Travis Weisleder / John Bowden / Mark Mendelblatt / Haide Goodrick (USA 858) - 11 pts
    3. Laura Grondin / Taylor Canfield / Rich Peale / Scott Ewing / Cole Brauer (USA 864) - 12 pts
    4. John Brown / Jeff Bonanni / Mike Buckley / Charlie Smythe / George Peet (USA 856) - 13 pts
    5. Bora Gulari / Kyle Navin / Norman Berge / Ian Liberty / Micheal Menniger (USA 820) - 21 pts

    Racing for the 94th Bacardi Cup continued after racing was called off yesterday due to strong wind, with two back to back races on a double triangle course and the race throw out coming into play after race 4. Continuing as fleet power brokers are defending Bacardi Cup champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada (POL), who racked up two more race wins to make it four in a row. Their unrelenting performance could prove invincible, but nobody triumphs at the Bacardi Cup win without a battle to the end.
    Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise (USA) scored a 2,5 to sit 3 points off the leaders, with John MacCausland/Phil Trinter finishing 4,2 and, now able to discard their DNC from race 1, they advance nine places to 3rd overall.

    “It was just phenomenal racing,” commented MacCausland. “Phil and I came out of the day feeling pretty strong. First race we didn’t start so well but came on strong and second race we were strong the whole time and very looking forward to the rest of the week. I think the conditions are going to get a little lighter so will give us old guys a little rest!”
    MacCausland is racing with former band member Trinter, so they have a lot of chemistry despite not sailing together since 2015. The pair won the 2013 Star Worlds and Trinter won the 2010 Bacardi Cup with helm Rick Merriman.

    Sitting on tiebreak 10 points with MacCausland/Trinter, the super talented Augie Diaz was the 2016 Star World Champion, but the closest he has ever got to the top spot at the Bacardi Cup is 2nd place last year. He and crew Markus Koy have been on a baptism of fire as Koy only flew into Miami the evening before racing.
    “I had like a last minute arrangement with Augie Diaz, a guy which I ever wanted to sail with and finally got the chance,” explained Koy. “So the first two days were kind of tough, we got along, we developed ourselves as a team a little bit more. Even today we are feeling better as a team and still more races to come, so we are super happy and really looking to get better and better every day.”
    Two more days to go and whilst Kusznierewicz/Prada seem unstoppable there is plenty to wrestle for.

    Star Class – Provisional Results after Race 4
    1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz / Bruno Prada (POL 8548) - 3 pts
    2. Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise (USA 8423) - 6 pts
    3. John MacCausland / Phil Trinter (USA 8448) - 10 pts
    4. Augie Diaz / Marcus Koy (USA 8509) - 10 pts
    5. George Szabo / Guy Avellon (USA 8528) - 12 pts

    Restricted entries for all fleets due to covid-19 has seen the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta whittled down from its usual 200+ boat entry list and over 500 sailors to 64 entries, with only the Star, J/70 and Melges 24 able to race. The Viper 640 and VX One fleets have kindly stepped back and will re-join the racing in 2022.

    USA J/70 Class Association
    Melges 24
    International Star Class Yacht Racing Association : RESULTS
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    • #3
      Looks like sailing is back on the menu!


      • #4
        Now we are talking!
        I hope they are all covid free and this does not result into a super spreader event!


        • #5
          A Picket Fence Takes Star Class In Biscayne Bay

          MIAMI, FLA (13 March, 2021) – An overwhelming display of dominance from defending champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada (POL) made Bacardi Cup history, as according to event knowledge, never before has a team recorded an all-win scorecard. Today Kusznierewicz/Prada wrapped up their assault to defend their title by claiming two more race wins to walk away with the 94th Bacardi Cup on a 15 point advantage.

          In the J/70 Travis Odenbach and his team on ‘Honey Badger’ ended the day where they started in 1st overall, whilst in the Melges 24 defending Champion Bora Gulari on ‘New England Ropes’ stepped up his pace to triumph on the podium.

          “First of all, a huge congratulations to the all the winners of the Bacardi Cup and Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta. Enjoy your victories, they were well earned,” commented Eddie Cutillas of Bacardi USA. “It has been a fantastic week of racing. Whilst COVID has been a tremendous challenge for us all over the past year, Bacardi is very proud that we have been able to look forwards, keep our eyes on the prize and deliver this annual gem of a regatta in a safe manner. Thank you to everyone for following our strict protocols and thank you to the sailors who have been able to navigate the COVID restrictions and join us here in Miami.

          “As the Bacardi Representative of the Bacardi Cup and Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta, I can confirm we will be back stronger than ever in 2022. We hope to see you all here next year.”

          The wind steadily dropped throughout the week and racing unfolded today in a lighter 6-10 knot breeze and fairly flat water across the two Biscayne Bay race courses.

          Kusznierewicz/Prada made achieving their second consecutive Bacardi Cup title look easy, but despite their record breaking scorecard the race track didn’t always go their way, as twice they had to play catch up to secure their wins! Not today though, as they again led from start to finish in what can only be described as an unsurpassable event for the pair. To win with a win as a discard is simply once in a lifetime stuff!

          “Since we left Miami last year after a beautiful Bacardi Cup so many things happened and we were looking forward to come here again and we managed to do this,” said Kusznierewicz. “It was not easy to get to the United States for Bruno from Brazil and me from Poland, but we made it and we experienced such nice sailing conditions, such nice hospitality. Of course we are so happy to win the 94th edition of the Bacardi Cup, it is a great privilege. I just want to say that once you try Bacardi, you want it more and this is why I think we performed so well.”

          Prada added, “Much bigger than our victory was the courage of the Bacardi team to run the Bacardi Cup. It was a super tough year last year and to 2021 and we would like to congratulate all the Bacardi team to make it happen.”

          The battle going into race 7 was all about podium second and third and the two teams having the overnight hold on those places didn’t ease up. Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise went into race 7 on 13 points, with Augie Diaz/Marcus Koy (USA) 5 points behind. Doyle/Infelise took the upper hand, scoring 4th to Diaz/Koy’s 9th, assuring them of second overall.

          Onto the podium deciding race 8 there were now three teams, and four former Star Class World Champion sailors, vying for third place with just 2 points separating Diaz/Koy, John MacCausland/Phil Trinter and George Szabo/Guy Avellon.

          Diaz/Koy knew they had to keep the pressure on to hold onto third place, as Diaz explained their road to the final spot on the podium.

          “We had a really good race between three of us for third place. Our first race this morning was not very good, we ended up 9th and that was our throw out. So basically there were three of us to get third place and we had a really good start, so we were very fortunate that we were able to control the race. We were third at the weather mark and we were pretty much in second the rest of the way and we just felt really fortunate. It is just so nice to be able to sail in a Bacardi Cup under the conditions that are currently existing.”

          A top performance from Star Class President Hubert Merkelbach and crew Kilian Weise, who unleashed their best day of racing, with a 2,5 bumping them up the leader board to finish in 6th overall and earn the Tammy Rubin-Rice Trophy.

          As Kusznierewicz/Prada yet again shared the honor of sipping Bacardi Rum from the perpetual Bacardi Cup Trophy and the Tito Bacardi Cup, division prizes were also presented. Doyle/Infelise won the Masters (skippers age 50 through 59), Diaz/Koy the Grand Masters (skippers age 60 and above) and John Ferguson Dane III/Art Anisov the Exalted Grand Masters (skippers age 70 and above).

          Star Class – Provisional Results after Race 8
          1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz / Bruno Prada (POL 8548) – 7 pts
          2. Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise (USA 8423) – 22 pts
          3. Augie Diaz / Marcus Koy (USA 8509) – 25 pts
          4. George Szabo / Guy Avellon (USA 8528) – 28 pts
          5. John MacCausland / Phil Trinter (USA 8448) – 32 pts

          On any given day, anything can happen out on Biscayne Bay, with the elements bouncing around you and the lighter breeze made the race track even more unpredictable. Going into the day’s opening race 7, it was all to lose for series leader Travis Odenbach (USA) on ‘Honey Badger’.
          Two-time Bacardi Invitational Regatta winner Joel Ronning (USA) on ‘Catapult’ was ahead by the windward mark of race 7 with Grand Cayman’s ‘Powerplay’ driven by Peter Cunningham in second. Whilst Ronning continued to extend, series leader ‘Honey Badger’ opted to split at the leeward gate and were rewarded by a step up to second overall, with ‘Powerplay’ dropping back to fourth, as Ryan McKillen and co on ‘Surge’ advanced to finish in third.

          Onto race 8 and ‘Honey Badger’ had assured themselves of first or second overall with their 4th place finish. Elsewhere, the race 8 rivalry was between ‘Surge’, who could still step up to oust the leader, but at the same time needed to hold off ‘Catapult’ who might seize second. The team on ‘Surge’ did what they needed to win race 8, with ‘Catapult’ finishing back in 9th. The battle extended into the final race 9.

          ‘Honey Badger’ kept out front to win race 9 and safely secure the overall title and a maiden J/70 win for Odenbach at the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta. ‘Surge’ held their pace to finish 4th and repeat last year’s second overall, with ‘Catapult’ crossing in 8th to hold onto 3rd and achieve a step up from their 4th place overall in 2020.

          Finishing as top placed Corinthian team in 19th overall were Zachary Segal/Ashton Hamerlin/Enrique Quintero/Blake Cabassa (USA).

          J/70 Class – Provisional Results after Race 9
          1. Travis Odenbach / Andy Horton / Geoff Becker / Danny Lawless / Travis Odenbach (USA 4) – 16 pts
          2. Ryan McKillen / Jeff Reynolds / Lucas Calabrese / Sam Loughborough (USA 179) – 22 pts
          3. Joel Ronning / Jud Smith / Kris Stoke / Patrick Wilson (USA 65) – 30 pts
          4. John Brim / Zeke Horowitz / Zach Mason / Ian Coleman (USA 340) – 39 pts
          5. Vernon Robert / Paula Herman / Nicholas Robertson / Rodrigo Robles / Sophie Robertson (CHI 1083) – 57 pts

          MELGES 24
          Plenty of tense moments on the Melges 24 race track as the top three teams sought to claim the advantage out of their three-way tiebreak going into the day. The final outcome was the same top five leader board at the end of the day as the start, the only change was the order.

          John Brown on ‘Blind Squirrel’, Bruce Ayres on ‘Monsoon’ and Travis Weisleder on ‘Lucky Dog’ went into race 7 on 27 points apiece, with defending Champion Bora Gulari on ‘New England Ropes’ just 2 points behind in 4th.

          A win in race 7 for Gulari escalated him into the overall lead, on a 5 point advantage over ‘Lucky Dog, with ‘Monsoon’ another 5 points behind in third. Gulari followed up with a 2ndplace finish in race 8 to hold the series lead, but there was still plenty to do if he was to ultimately triumph. A 4th in race 9 sealed the deal.

          “We had a pretty challenging week, since we got a DNF in the second race, so we had to sail a no drop series from there,” commented Gulari. “We won the event so that was awesome. We have a really good team and courtesy of Bacardi this is one of the biggest events that I get to sail on my boat this year so I am super excited to win it. It was awesome, I loved sailing, it was really good to be in Miami.”

          ‘Lucky Dog’ followed up with a 5,1 in races 8 and 9 to ultimately swap places with Ayres on ‘Monsoon’ and seal second overall, with third to Ayres.

          Accolade to Steve Suddath/Steve Burke/Shawn Burke/Jack Smith on ‘3 ½ Men’ as the top placed Corinthian team in 10th overall.

          Melges 24 Class – Provisional Results after Race 9
          1. Bora Gulari / Kyle Navin / Norman Berge / Ian Liberty / Micheal Menniger (USA 820) – 18 pts
          2. Travis Weisleder / John Bowden / Mark Mendelblatt / Hayden Goodrick (USA 858) – 23 pts
          3. Bruce Ayres / Jeremy Wilmot / Tomas Dietrich / Ted Hackney / Chelsea Simms (USA 851) – 30 pts
          4. Peter Duncan / Willem van Waay / Matteo Ramian / Carlos Robles / Victor Diaz de Leon (USA 829) – 34 pts
          5. John Brown / Jeff Bonanni / Mike Buckley / Charlie Smythe / George Peet (USA 856) – 35 pts

          This afternoon’s award ceremony was a quiet affair, with just the winners invited to collect their prizes. As well as the Bacardi Cup and Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta prizes, wins were awarded to Bora Gulari and his Melges 24 team on ‘New England Ropes’ for winning the Melges 24 Bacardi Winter Series, with Megan Ratliff on ‘Decorum’ as top Corinthian. In the J/70, the Bacardi Winter Series title went to Ryan McKillen on ‘Surge’ and the Corinthian to Zachary Segal and crew.

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