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New crew for Pepper and reflections on Bacardi Cup

by Hamish Pepper on 11 Mar 2007
Congratulations all round as David Giles and Hamish Pepper win the hat-trick of major US Star regattas - Worlds, NA’s and now Bacardi Cup. Fried Elliott © http://www.friedbits.com
Yesterday we won the 80th Bacardi Cup. As you can see the Bacardi Cup has been around a lot longer than me and probably most of you that will read this.

It is a regatta that has a long history in the class and is the Star class equivalent to the Players Championship in golf. So to add this trophy to the other majors that we have won was a great way to finish off the Miami season and our first win for 2007.

In David Giles’s 18 years in the class the Bacardi Cup has always just slipped through his fingertips, so it was especially rewarding to win it with him. Dave has had a huge part to play in Carl’s and my success to date.

As always the racing was incredibly close. We had a great tussle with the Swedes (Fredrik Loof and Anders Ekstrom) and the Polish (Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki) throughout the regatta, with it all coming down to the last race.

We had a six point lead over Mateusz and seven points over Freddie. So for us the plan was to be ahead of them, but if behind stay close enough and within the points (6 or 7 depending on who it was) to still win the regatta.

As the final race panned out, we had a good first beat and were second to the top mark ahead of both Mateusz in 15th and Freddie in seventh. So at this point in the race we were comfortable, but in a 2 1/2 hour race lots can happen and it did!.

As the wind slowly dropped away and was once again became very shifty it made it increasingly hard to cover everyone, but at this midway point of the race our main focus was on Freddie. At the third mark Freddie had picked some good shifts and had taken the lead, we were close behind in second place.

On the fourth leg the wind dropped even more with little shifts with pressure coming in from the opposite side to where Freddie and I were positioned. This gave the guys behind us the chance to catch up and some managed to overtake.

Not great news but still we were counting boats and just had to finish in the top eight if Freddie won.

We rounded the last mark in seventh place with a few boats close enough behind to create little beads of sweat!.

With big shifts up the last beat again we had to play it cool and sail as best we could. Freddie crossed in third place and finally we crossed the finish line in seventh place to win the 80th Bacardi Cup.

From here Annabel and I drive from Valencia to Lake Garda for the Expert Olympic classes regatta.

This will be the first chance to race our new Star NZL 8292. I will be racing with Brad Nichol from the USA who is normally Andy Horton's crew. Unfortunately Carl is firmly entrenched in the Americas cup and Dave has other commitments, which will tie him up until mid May.

Thanks for everyone’s support

Hamish Pepper

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