by Jan Harley
Bacardi Miami Sailing Week day 6. In the Star Class, the Bacardi Cup winner was decided.
Star class starting their final race for the BACARDI Cup - Miami Sailing Week - Bacardi Cup
For the 472 sailors from 25 countries, conditions on Biscayne Bay were ideal as temperatures in the low 70s and sunny weather combined with shifty breeze to challenge them on the final day of racing at Bacardi Miami Sailing Week presented by EFG Bank where champions were decided in five one-design classes.
In the Star class, racing for the 84th Bacardi Cup over six days, the sixth and final race opened with the top-two teams separated by just one point. 2008 Olympian Peter O’Leary and David Burrows (Ireland) were leading the 89-boat fleet followed by Guillaume Florent and Pascal Rambeau (France), and, just five points back, Frederik Lööf with Max Salmiren (Sweden) and Eivind Melleby with Petter Morland Pedersen (Norway) were third and fourth, respectively, but tied on points.
With a 12 knot breeze at the start of the race, the Stars were off on a course covering 11 nautical miles. When all was said and done, 2007 Bacardi Cup winner Hamish Pepper and crew Craig Monk (both New Zealand) were the race winners, followed across the line by Eivind Melleby and Petter Morland Pedersen (Norway) who had led the series early in the week before picking up penalty points in race four. The French team was fourth across the line, and with O’Leary and Burrows crossing sixth, the Bacardi Cup went to Florent and Rambeau with 23 points – edging out the Irish by just one point.
'Up to the last day, the Irish, and even the Swedish could have won the Bacardi Cup,' said Florent who hails from Gravelines, a town in the north of France. 'The conditions were super tricky, lots of wind shifts, lots of pressure differences. It made it very challenging to sail out there, especially when you're trying to win the championship. When you finish high in the standings day after day, realizing what is at stake, mentally it is very tough. You have to do your best continuing to stay consistent.'
'It was a nail biting race,' Florent continued. 'It could have gone either way with the Irish. We were ahead at the top mark, and then they caught up. We managed to pass them again on the second downwind. The key to the race was the last 500 meters before the finish. We spotted good pressure on the left and decided to go there. It was probably that decision that led us to winning the Bacardi Cup.'
A 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist in the Finn class, Florent is marking not only his first year in the Star, but also his first Bacardi Cup. 'The Star is very interesting because you're sailing with a crew and it's a highly technical boat, so it's extremely challenging. Even before I was thinking about sailing the Star, I've heard about the Bacardi Cup for a long time. The Bacardi Cup is a very prestigious event and I'm absolutely delighted to win. Especially it being my first time participating.
On the first day, before the race started, I joked with my coach about winning the Bacardi Cup saying that I spent so much money with Bacardi back when I was student that I would like to get something back from them! We had a good laugh about that of course, and with the Bacardi Cup win I couldn't be happier.'
Crew Pascal Rambeau, from La Rochelle, won a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics in the Star and has competed in the Bacardi Cup before, with his previous best finish a fourth. When Florent was recovering from an Achilles tendon injury a year ago, he reached out to Rambeau, and the rest, as they say, is history.
'Miami is always challenging,' said Rambeau explaining that tonight the duo were going to enjoy the Bacardi Cup before starting to train for the French Olympic Trials in April.
'For us, it was good preparation with all the teamwork on board. It was very important for us to be here. It was a tough day. The wind was very flaky. It was very stressful because there were big shifts and big pressure coming from Key Biscayne. We were very successful on the first upwind and then the race was mano a mano, head to head. It was never more than 20 meters with no more than a couple boat lengths separating us at any time.
We were really close with the Irish this morning, chasing them. Until the last 100 meters, anything could have happened. When we crossed the line, it was definitely satisfying. It was our first win together, and this being Florent's first year in the Star and his first Bacardi Cup, this win is very special.'
Rounding out the top five in the Bacardi Cup final standings: Melleby and Pedersen (NOR) are third with 26 points; Loof and Salmiren (SWE) are fourth with 29 points; and Pepper and Monk (NZL) are fifth with 30 points.
Two additional races were completed by the Melges 24 and Melges 20 fleets, and three additional races by the Viper 640 and J/24 classes to conclude Bacardi Miami Sailing Week presented by EFG Bank for those classes.
Lorenzo Bressani (Milan, Italy) won the first race of the day in the Melges 24 class, and, having mathematically secured the top spot on the podium, elected not to sail the final race of the series. Alan Field (Los Angeles, Calif.), sailing with tactician Steve Hunt (San Diego) and crew Sarah Curran, Jeff Reynolds and Erik Shampain, finished two to one to claim second overall on 17 points as a tie with Riccardo Simoneschi (Milan, Italy) went in Field’s favor by virtue of his win of the last race.
2011 Melges 24 Bacardi Miami Sailing Week; Lorenzo Bressani/Lorenzo Santini, Uka Uka Racing
In the Melges 20 class Mary Anne Ward (Cocoa Beach, Fla.), with tactician Sam Rogers and bowman Peter Keck, took the series win after finishing 1-4 on the final day of racing. The 2010 Audi Melges 20 National Champions – Michael Kiss, Mitchell Kiss (both Holland, Mich.) and Chris Rast (San Diego, Calif.) – had moved into podium contention after winning the last two races on the penultimate day. Unfortunately, a minute after the start of today’s first race, they were hit hard by another boat and had to drop out and make repairs before the next race.
'It was one of those things,' said Michael Kiss. 'It was blowing 13 knots, there was lots of traffic and the guy was unsuccessful in trying to duck us. We were second [overall], so don’t feel sorry for us. This is our second year here and the sailing conditions were great, the race committee work was great and we had a great time.' Paul Reilly (Chicago, Ill.), with tactician Andy Burdick (Zenda, Wisc.) and Mike Kuschner, finished third overall with 18 points.
There was no change in the top-two positions in the 12-boat Viper 640 fleet, as Glyn Locke (Isle of Wight), with crew David Chapman and Ian Nicholson, finished one-two-two to win the series with eight points, followed by Justin Scott (Greenwich, Conn.), with Peter Beardsley and Ched Proctor, in second on 16 points. Joseph Healey (Stormville, N.Y.), with Kevin Gillman and Vincent Marchetto, were third overall in the 17-boat fleet on 30 points.
In the J/24 fleet: Brian Kamilar (Miami), sailing with Fran Bellocchio, Fabio Galarce, Mauricio Galarce and Enrique Quintero, finished one-two-three today to win the series with 12 points, one point ahead of Robert Pincus (Miami), with Patricia Amaducci, Eammon Delisser and JB Slater, who posted finishes of two-one-four over the final three races. Kris Werner (Rochester, N.Y.), sailing with John Enwright, Michael Mansfield, Fred Meyer and Kiki Werner, was third overall with 18 points.
Brian Porter, Full Throttle - Melges 24 Bacardi Miami Sailing Week
Full results at www.MiamiSailingWeek.com