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92nd Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta at Coral Reef Yacht Club - Day 5

by Rachele Vitello 9 Mar 05:31 PST 3-9 March 2019
2019 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta - Day 5 © Martina Orsini

Miami and the South of Florida woke up under a cloudy sky with the wind blowing vigorously at 15/18 knots from East/North East on day 5 of the 2019 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta. All races started on schedule at 1100 hours across the different race courses on Biscayne Bay. Three races were wrapped up for the J/70, Melges 24, Viper 640 and the Flying Tiger 7.5, and one very long five leg race for the Star Class.

The fifth day of the Bacardi Cup saw Paul Cayard/Magnus Liljedahl (USA) starting fast and right on time at the pin end, claiming the lead to the first mark and extending over the tight and fierce fleet in pursuit. Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise (USA), Eivind Melleby (NOR) and Joshua Revkin (USA), Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Frithjof Kleen (GER) and, in fifth position, Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (FRA) are all members of the elite band of former Star World Champions, carrying gold stars on their mainsails, who pursued Cayard/Liljedahl.

Despite intense pressure, the Cayard/Liljedahl partnership did not buckle, made no mistakes and just observed the action unfolding behind. Numerous shuffles in fleet position saw the overall leaderboard change throughout the race, as teams made their final charge to position themselves with a podium chance ahead of Saturday's final racing. Positions are close, with just 5 points separating the top three, and 11 points separating the top 5, so plenty of teams sit well in with a shot at stepping up to the podium. The question of who will lift the 92 year old Bacardi Cup Trophy is between two teams, as only Cayard/Liljedahl and Doyle/Infelise can mathematically win. The odds are on the most solid team in the series Doyle/Infelise. To oust them, Paul Cayard will have to win the race and Doyle/Infelise finish 3rd or worse. Regardless of the odds, the momentum is with the 1992 Louis Vuitton Cup winner and his crew, Olympic Champion Magnus Liljedahl, who has won the Bacardi Cup six times with different skippers, the last time just two years ago with Mark Mendelblatt (USA).

"We are just going out and try to do what we've been doing in the last few races," said Paul Cayard (USA). "I think we found our groove, we have good speed, we just need to get a good start, the black flag will be up, and we'll just try to sail another great race".

"It's pretty helpful to have had a solid week," responded Eric Doyle. "We'll just start and always know where Paul is and if we get ahead it's going to be a long day for him on the beat. It's going to be tough but it should be a fun race."

Tough and close battles unfolded on the J/70 course as well, with the top two teams separated by just four points. Italy's Calvi Network lost their overnight lead after mistakes in their gennaker drop, giving the opportunity for Catapult driven by Joel Ronning to break away into top spot. But with two races on Saturday the game is still wide open. Surge drops to third place, and sits on an 11 point deficit to second.

"It was a fantastic day in the bay," said Carlo Alberini of Calvi Network. "The race course here is always interesting and different. "We're four points from the leader and we're not going to make it easy for them tomorrow. This year we celebrate our team's 20th anniversary that started in 1999 with the Mumm30. We've been to this event many times and it is one of our favorites!"

Opening their title assault with an impressive three bullets yesterday was a feat not be repeated by the Melges 24 team on Full Throttle, as they racked up a 7,2,11 scorecard. The American team with Johnathan McKee calling tactics were close to losing top billing on the leaderboard, but with the discard kicking in after race 5, they hold firm. Two points behind are Italy's Bombarda on tiebreak with Lucky Dog/Gill Race Team (USA) in third.

"Another beautiful day out on the bay," commented Brian Porter of Full Throttle. "It was a hard day again, with good breeze that started out more on the left than yesterday. It was a fun day! I love coming to Miami, meeting all these friends, chatting at the after sail party every evening, it's such a great event!"

Six races down and three different teams have dominated to claim the wins so far in the Viper 640 fleet. Three races today keeps GreatScott!slang with Geoff Fargo, Jon Bell and Spencer Steffen out front, as they scored their third win, and hold a two point advantage over Evil Hiss, with Loco X in third.

Back ashore at Shake-a-Leg, Brad Boston (CAN) of Jackpot reflected on the day, saying, "Perfect Miami conditions with warm water and long races. That's why we come to Miami, and on top of that the hospitality at Shake-A-Leg is the best hospitality we've ever had and we wouldn't miss the after racing parties for anything in the world!"

Three different winners in the Flying Tigers 7.5 fleet sees the charge for victory close in. Overnight leaders on Neun of Canada scored their third win of the series, and hold their lead by 1 point over the team on Grassy Manatee (CAN). Based on their consistent performances so far, and points advantage over the rest of the pack, it will be these two likely in the hunt for first and second overall. There is a significant 11 point margin to the third placed team on J.A.C.K.ed (USA), who are super close on points with the rest of the fleet, so the final spot on the podium remains wide open.

"It was just ideal conditions and our fourth day together on the boat," chimed in the team on Neun. "I felt that today we just clicked and all of the improvements of the previous days met today for a beautiful day. We're having an amazing time, it is the best event we've been at so far. We want to thank everybody and particularly the Race Committee for an awesome job."

Tomorrow, Saturday March 8th, is the last day of the Bacardi Invitational Regatta and another 1100 hours start is scheduled for everyone. A few hours later the winners will be known, and the Star Class will crown its 92nd Bacardi Cup Champion, as another team is recorded in the history of this amazing event that started in 1927.

Full results available here.

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