by Jan Harley
Attracted by a highly-regarded race management team and the area’s renowned racing conditions, elite sailors will again be on hand when the fifth annual running of Bacardi Miami Sailing Week (BMSW) presented by EFG Bank is held March 2-8, 2014, from the regatta headquarters at Kennedy Park in Coconut Grove.
The J/70 Fleet at Bacardi Miami Sailing Week 2013
The six-day racing schedule is headlined by the Star class, which will have 57 boats on the starting line all fighting to win the 87th Bacardi Cup. On the last four days of the regatta, the Stars will share the Bay with competitors in the Audi Melges 20, J/70, Melges 24, Viper 640, and VX One classes.
There are 192 boats registered across the six one-design fleets, with competitors from 15 foreign nations (Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ukraine) travelling great distances to compete against American sailors.
As the Star is considered one of the most competitive one-design classes in the world, it stands to reason that the entry list for the 87th Bacardi Cup would include some of the most recognizable names in the sport: 2012 Star World Champion Xavier Rohart (France); 1992 Finn Olympic Silver medalist Brian Ledbetter (Medina, Wash.); 2003 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Augie Diaz (Miami, Fla.); 2013 Star World Champion John MacCausland (Cherry Hill, N.J.); Paul Cayard (San Francisco, Calif.), America’s Cup veteran and winner of the 1998 Whitbread Round the World Race; and Mark Reynolds (San Diego, Calif.), two-time Star World Champion (1995, 2000) and three-time Olympic medalist (1992 Gold,1988 Silver, 2000 Gold).
In addition, Brazil’s most well-known sailing siblings, two-time (’88, ’96) Tornado Olympic Medalist Lars Grael and brother Torben Grael, the 1990 Star World Champion will race each other, as will another native of Brazil, Vince Brun (San Diego, Calif.), world champion in the Soling, Star, J24, Etchells and Melges 24 classes.
The Star Fleet at BACARDI Miami Sailing Week 2013 - 87th Bacardi Cup 2014
The Audi Melges 20 fleet has 41 registered entries, including Michael Kiss (Holland, Mich.), winner of BMSW in 2013 and 2012. Kiss, a three-time class national champion (’10,’11, ‘12), finished second at the 2013 Audi Melges 20 U.S. National Championship behind John Kilroy (Los Angeles, Calif.) who is also the 2012 Melges 32 World Champion. John Taylor (Jupiter, Fla.), crowned the Audi Melges 20 World Champion in mid-December, will also be on the starting line in this class.
The ever-growing popularity of the J/70 class will again be in evidence at BMSW where entries are up almost 100% from their strong debut in last year’s event. The 39-strong class will see Brian Keane (Weston, Mass.) work to defend his title against 2013 J/70 North American Champion Heather Gregg-Earl (Boston, Mass.) and 2006 Audi Etchells World Champion Jud Smith (Marblehead, Mass.).
Riccardo Simoneschi (Milan, ITA), racing in the Melges 24 class, is another returning champion hoping to defend his BMSW title, as is Lee Shuckerow (Point Edward, CAN) in the Viper 640 class. Making their debut in the mix of classes racing at BMSW is the VX One which will have 22 boats racing.
Bacardi Miami Sailing Week will hold its second Pro-Am Regatta on Sunday, March 2, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., to benefit Shake-A-Leg Miami, Team Paradise and Sailing Heals. Five Sonars and five Marstrom 32s, with guest helmsman – including Paul Cayard, Mark Reynolds, Lars Grael and Miami’s Augie Diaz – will give the amateur sailors a glimpse of elite-level racing.
The prestigious Coral Reef Yacht Club will coordinate on-water activities in collaboration with the Coconut Grove Sailing Club. The U.S. Sailing Center and Shake-A-Leg Miami will also support the event. Racing will be held on three separate courses approximately two miles out on Biscayne Bay. Racing for the Star class gets underway on Monday, March 3. Beginning Thursday, March 6, the Stars will be joined on Biscayne Bay by sailors in the Audi Melges 20, Melges 24, J/70, Viper 640 and VX One classes, with racing for concluding on Saturday, March 8.
During Bacardi Miami Sailing Week sailors will enjoy the hospitality lounge, Bacardi Rum tastings, as well as a special showing of the film 07-07-07 Amorita’s Unlucky Day. A special exhibit, Wynwood Sails Color the Grove, will feature the work of 10 artists of the graffiti and street art genre taking inspiration from the sea and sailing to create a work on canvas shaped like the jib of a sailboat.
The art will be displayed at Coco Walk, the iconic open-air shopping, dining, and entertainment destination in Coconut Grove, from March 2-8, daily between 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Additionally, two live performances will take place on Sunday, March 2, and Saturday, March 8, from 4:00-8:00 p.m., allowing the public to witness the artist’s creativity first-hand.
In addition, select images from the 2010 to 2013 regattas, from the lenses of respected marine photographers Franco Pace of Italy, and Onne van der Wal and Cory Silken of the USA, will be displayed alongside the canvasses created specifically for Wynwood Sails Color the Grove to juxtapose 'the City meets the Sea' for this unique art event.