Peter O'Leary/Stephen Milne claim the overall lead on day 5 at the 96th Bacardi Cup
96th Bacardi Cup and Bacardi Invitational Regatta: sun, fun and rum
Another massive day of energy and perfect sailing on a sunny Biscayne Bay for teams racing at the 96th Bacardi Cup and Bacardi Invitational Regatta. The usual shifty breeze was around 10-12 knots from the south east, with plenty of race track nuances.
A game changer of a day for some and still a mountain to climb for others as tomorrow, Saturday, March 11, marks the final fight for the podium. Who will be brave enough to take the risks where required?
The all-important discard came into play in race 5 for the seventy-three boat Star fleet and what a shake-up with the Irish pair of Peter O'Leary/Stephen Milne now topping the leader board. The tightness of racing indicates nothing is out of reach, and it is going to be a battle of titans in Saturday's concluding race.
All change with 'Savasana' now leading the J/70 and 'Pacific Yankee' topping the Melges 24, whilst the same teams dominate in the VX One, Melges 15 and 69F.
Another long day on the water for the Stars, with two races proving a match for everyone. It was all about consistent performances and Ireland's Peter O'Leary/Stephen Milne had plenty of that. They combined team wisdom and playing off the cuff to deliver a phenomenal all-round performance, scoring 1,4 to move into the overall lead. Whilst O'Leary has competed at the Bacardi Cup in recent years, as a team the last time they raced in Miami together was thirteen years ago.
"We just tried to keep it simple and get out of the start, not be dictated to by other boats in the first few minutes," commented O'Leary. "Steve hiking hard out of the start and head out of the boat downwind, especially in lanes of pressure. It was hard today, trying to keep some decent fellas behind you! We will try and to it all again tomorrow."
Defending champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada secured a 2, followed by a 21 in the day's second race, which is discarded to position them 2 points behind the Irish. A helter-skelter of results too for Eivind Melleby/Mark Strube, whose 16,1 scored card places them in third.
Yesterday's race winners, Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise now have their BFD discarded and advance up to 5th overall.
With just 17 points separating them, theoretically the chase for top spot remains in the hands of any of the top eight teams who could still lay claim to the 96th Bacardi Cup. That's seven out of the nineteen nations represented in the Star fleet here in Miami in the running. The opportunity extends further to the top nine who could claim 2nd or 3rd.
O'Leary has come super close to the Bacardi Cup trophies before, finishing in second place three times. Looking ahead to their game plan for the final race, he continued, "Just stay out of trouble, be clean, you know there's lots of good guys here. It would be nice to try and finally get it across the line."
Star Provisional Results – Top 5 after Race 5
1. Peter O'Leary/Stephen Milne (IRL) - 12 pts
2. Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada (POL) - 14 pts
3. Eivind Melleby/Mark Strube (NOR) - 15 pts
4. Piet Eckert/Frederico Melo (SUI) - 20 pts
5. Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise (USA) - 22 pts
Three races ended with all change in the Melges 24 leader board as Drew Freides' 'Pacific Yankee' team step into the lead from a 3,1,11 scorecard. This will be a battle to the end with plenty of teams relishing the thrill of being in the podium mix,
"Stressful, but reasonably successful," said a straight talking Freides on the team's day, before adding, "It has been a battle!
"Peter Duncan and their team have been right at our throats the entire time, as has Brian Porter and Harry, Bruce Ayres, everybody. It has just been a fight every race. It has been a long day. So essentially, we are ahead by a measly 1 point, which basically means we are even with two races to go, so it will all happen tomorrow."
'Pacific Yankee' is always in the running at every regatta, which Freides put down to having the best team. Commenting on the racing so far, Freides continued, "It has been perfect. The conditions have been phenomenal, the race committee has done a great job. It has been shifty, it has been challenging. Big holes, big puffs keeping us on our toes."
In the opening race 4, Alessandro Rombelli's 'STIG' led from start to finish to take the win. Impressive form from the Corinthian team on '3 & ½ Men' who finished fourth, to make it the best Corinthian team finish of the series so far.
In race 5, the teams who started left made the gains, with the win to 'Pacific Yankee', who opted to go far left, 2nd to 'Full Throttle' and third to 'Raza Mixta'. Most of the same teams opted to go right for race 6, but the judgement saw them unravel and different teams take the line glory, with only 'Full Throttle' repeating their earlier form.
Melges 24 Provisional Results – Top 5 after Race 6
1. Drew Freides/Nic Asher/Charlie Smythe/Alec Anderson/Mark Ivey (USA) - 14 pts
2. Peter Duncan/Victor Diaz de Leon/Patrick Wilson/Morgan Trubovich/Erik Shampain (USA) - 15 pts
3. Brian Porter/RJ Porter/Bri Porter/Matt Woodworth (USA) - 22 pts
4. Bruce Ayres/Thomas Dietrich/Edward Hackney/Chelsea Simms/Jeremy Wilmot (USA) - 31 pts
5. Richard Reid/Brian Kamilar/Ian Sloan/Billy Gooderham/Madelin Gill (CAN) – 31 pts
The day couldn't have been better for Brian Keane's 'Savasana' team, who converted a 6th overall at the start to a meteoric first after three races. They survived the gruelling challenges on the racecourse, fighting for every tack and gybe to secure a solid 1,3,1 performance - the best of the fleet
John Heaton, the overnight leader, on 'Empeiria' looked to have the race 5 win, bouncing back from a penalty turn just after the start to overhaul Richard Witzel's team on 'Rowdy' at the leeward gate. But 'Rowdy' found the pressure to squeeze through for the win at the finish and hold his position in fourth overall.
The podium fight is finely balanced going into the final day where the teams' performance differences will be settled.
J/70 Provisional Results – Top 5 after Race 6
1. Brian Keane/Connor Harding/Thomas Barrows/Ron Weed (USA) – 15 pts
2. John Heaton/Will Felder/Zeke Horowitz/Zachary Mason (USA) - 17 pts
3. Bruce Golison/Morgan Reeser/Chris Stocke/Jeff Reynolds (USA) - 18 pts
4. Richard Witzel/Jud Smith/Carlos Robles/Malcom lamphere (USA) - 20 pts
5. Robert Hughes/Willem Van Way/Mark Gauthier/Manuel Weiller (USA) - 27 pts
'Savasana' enjoys an impressive advance to first overall in the J/70s
Four races for the VX One fleet and another headline performance from Christopher Alexander/Grace Howie/Ricky Welch, although not quite the domination of race wins as yesterday.
Their leader board advantage must now be insurmountable, with today's results of 4,2,1 making them hard to displace, as they sit 20 points ahead of Great Britain's Jono Shelley/Benji Shelley.
VX One Provisional Results – Top 5 after Race 7
1. Christopher Alexander/Grace Howie/Ricky Welch (USA) - 7 pts
2. Jono Shelley/Benji Shelley (GBR) - 27 pts
3. John Porter/Sam Kerner (USA) - 32 pts
4. Victor Bloede/Brian Shores (GBR) – 33 pts
3. Michelle Warner/Austin Powers/Monica Morgan (USA) - 34 pts
Christopher Alexander/Grace Howie/Ricky Welch control the VX One fleet
Rob Britts/Jillian Aydelotte continue to be at their best, maintaining their winning ways, to now hold a total of four race wins from six races.
"We felt like we had the boat really dialled in today, especially downwind," said Rob Britts. "We made the transitions really well that led us to finish 1, 2, 1. We really enjoyed the shorter course in the last race today!"
The race 5 win went to Pamela Rose/Kathleen Tocke.
Melges 15 Provisional Results – Top 5 after Race 6
1. Rob Britts/Jillian Aydelotte (USA) - 6 pts
2. Pamela Rose/Kathleen Tocke (USA) - 8 pts
3. Kent Sisk/Katie Gluskin (USA) - 15 pts
4. Rich Horton/Amanda Horton (USA) - 17 pts
5. Danny Woodruff/Lucas Tejada (USA) - 27 pts
A super-efficient day on the water for the 69F fleet, with 5 races on the 'L' course format and flat water conditions. Another dominant day for Flying Nika 47, who again won every race with the winning combination of Enrico Zennaro/Federico Colaninno/Lorenzo Bressani controlling the seven-boat fleet.
"We are very happy, we have a lot of bullets," said Zennaro
"We train a lot with the 69F because our goal is to go in the big boats, the 60 feet Flying Nika Maxi. It is very similar with the 69F," added Bressani.
Behind the leaders, every team had a go at knocking out some good scores in the best day of racing so far.
69F Provisional Results – Top 5 after Race 24
1. Flying Nika 47 – 377.5 pts
2. Flying Nika 74 – 327 pts
3. NYYC A Magic 1 – 300 pts
4. NYYC A Magic 2 – 306 pts
5. Team Happy – 308.5 pts
Tomorrow, Saturday, March 11, racing continues for all fleets, with scheduled start times at:
Star – first start at 1100
Melges 24 and J/70 – first start at 1100
VX One and Melges 15 – first start at 1100
69F – first start at 1100
The Bacardi Happy Hour will be followed by the prize giving for the 96th Bacardi Cup and Bacardi Invitational Regatta at Shake-A-Leg Miami.