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An interview with Gabriele Pedone about the 2019 Miami Sailing Week

by David Schmidt 1 Mar 08:00 PST March 4-10, 2019
Rigging to race at the 2018 Miami Sailing Week © Image courtesy of Miami Sailing Week

One of the coolest aspects of sailing is the opportunity to pick and choose one’s racing adventures and challenges. For example, while some One Design sailors seek only the toughest Olympic-level competition, others enjoy the opportunity to race dinghies and beach cats hard all day before heading ashore for the chance to socialize with their competitors and explore a new or different city. If the later sounds like your speed, Miami Sailing Week (March 4-10) could be your perfect late-winter sailing escape.

Miami Sailing Week began in 2010 and has-like a lot of regattas-experienced different iterations of itself en route to becoming a welcoming and friendly regatta for dinghy sailors of all ages.

One interesting aspect of the regatta’s history is its emphasis on involving adult and junior-level classes, giving sailors of all ages an opportunity to rub elbows and gunwales, both on the water and in the dinghy park. Not only does this encourage family-wide participation, but it also provides a great opportunity for younger sailors to watch how adults play the game on a significantly faster and higher level.

And, for anyone who is rapidly loosing patience with winter’s seemingly never-ending grasp, Miami Sailing Week also provides a reprieve and an opportunity to start polishing one’s starting-line skills ahead of the coming spring and summer regattas.

I checked in with Gabriele Pedone, event director for the 2019 Miami Sailing Week, via email, to learn more about this One Design regatta.

How many boats do you hope to see at this year’s event? Also, what classes will be best represented when the starting guns begin sounding?

We’re excited to see lots of boats registering for the event. We’re over 155 as we speak, and on our way to becoming the largest regatta during the month of March. We're also happy to see boats from several different countries and, of course, many locals.

The main classes we will see are the A-Cats, Optis and Lasers and some 420s.

Our headquarters will be Regatta Park, a magnificent area that will serve as our main event area.

It looks like 2018 featured A-Cats, but it also looks like the 2019 MSW has invited Lasers, I420s, C420s, 29ers, 505s, F16s and F18…what was the inspiration to invite other classes and other sailors to this year’s event? Also, are Opti’s in for the 2019 MSW?

2018 was a transition year for us, but as they say ‘it always seems impossible until it’s done’.

We are pleased that A-Cats and Opti’s are back, and we extended additional invitation to the Lasers, 420s, 29ers, 505, F16 and F18. Not all classes will be able to join in 2019, but we established relationships and we’re comforted by the positive feedback we received.

What kind of competition levels can visiting sailors expect to encounter at MSW?

I love the wind because you can’t buy it and because it makes competition always challenging and interesting at the same time. Our sailors will have the opportunity to race among sailors of different level and will have the opportunity to measure their skills.

We’re not an Olympic or Championship regatta, but that’s not our goal either; we want to promote sailing at every level.

Where will racing physically take place? Also, are we talking Windward-Leewards, or will theRace Committee also involve other shapes and reaching legs?

Racing will take place on Biscayne Bay, the lower end of the bay across from CGSC.

The Coconut Grove Sailing Club's talented race committee will set up courses according the prevailing conditions with upwind and downwind legs and other shapes to spread the field. We’re planning to operate three different courses, making the racing enjoyable for both the adults and the youth.

What kinds of evening and onshore entertainment can sailors expect? Miami, of course, has a great reputation when it comes to nightlife…

We’ll be offering different entertainment for adults and youth. The grown-ups will enjoy the best bar in town, the only place where the world famous “Dark & Stormy” will be served along with food and music.

For the kids, we’ll have a separate area where they can play games and enjoy a Tiramisu party!

I notice that there’s a real blend of youth and adult classes at the 2019 MSW—what kinds of culture are you trying to create at the regatta?

Miami Sailing Week was established in 2010 and is preparing for its 10th anniversary event, which is an important milestone for us and for Miami.

The event is not just a regatta; it’s more like a program that wants to celebrate sailing and sailing-related activities. “The Next Ten Years” is the slogan we created for this year’s event because we see this anniversary event as the starting point of a new journey!

Can you tell us about any steps that you and the other event organizers have taken in the last couple years to help green-up the regatta or otherwise reduce its environmental footprint?

We encourage sailors to be mindful of the environment and of Biscayne Bay fragile ecosystem. We encourage not using plastic and created recycling opportunities in the hospitality area. We would definitely like to do more, and it’s going to be a discussion point for the next ten years of our event.

Anything else that you’d like to add, for the record?

Miami Sailing Week’s goal for the next ten years is to further establish the event as a non-profit experiential program with wide-ranging activities that embrace the sport of sailing. We want to become a marquee event that’s far more than just a regatta. For example, we want to create opportunities for the Community to be closer to event, and for businesses to benefit from the event.

We’d also like to use the event to create opportunities for the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County with the national and international sailing communities, while also earning media exposure. Finally, we want to do more to create opportunities to for newer and younger sailors to get involved in sailing and sailboat racing.

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