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94th Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta on Biscayne Bay - Overall

by Luissa Smith 13 Mar 19:17 PDT 7-13 March 2021

An overwhelming display of dominance from defending champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada (POL) made Bacardi Cup history, as according to event knowledge, never before has a team recorded an all-win scorecard. Today Kusznierewicz/Prada wrapped up their assault to defend their title by claiming two more race wins to walk away with the 94th Bacardi Cup on a 15 point advantage.

In the J/70 Travis Odenbach and his team on 'Honey Badger' ended the day where they started in 1st overall, whilst in the Melges 24 defending Champion Bora Gulari on 'New England Ropes' stepped up his pace to triumph on the podium.

"First of all, a huge congratulations to the all the winners of the Bacardi Cup and Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta. Enjoy your victories, they were well earned," commented Eddie Cutillas of Bacardi USA. "It has been a fantastic week of racing. Whilst COVID has been a tremendous challenge for us all over the past year, Bacardi is very proud that we have been able to look forwards, keep our eyes on the prize and deliver this annual gem of a regatta in a safe manner. Thank you to everyone for following our strict protocols and thank you to the sailors who have been able to navigate the COVID restrictions and join us here in Miami.

"As the Bacardi Representative of the Bacardi Cup and Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta, I can confirm we will be back stronger than ever in 2022. We hope to see you all here next year."

The wind steadily dropped throughout the week and racing unfolded today in a lighter 6-10 knot breeze and fairly flat water across the two Biscayne Bay race courses.

Star

Kusznierewicz/Prada made achieving their second consecutive Bacardi Cup title look easy, but despite their record breaking scorecard the race track didn't always go their way, as twice they had to play catch up to secure their wins! Not today though, as they again led from start to finish in what can only be described as an unsurpassable event for the pair. To win with a win as a discard is simply once in a lifetime stuff!

"Since we left Miami last year after a beautiful Bacardi Cup so many things happened and we were looking forward to come here again and we managed to do this," said Kusznierewicz. "It was not easy to get to the United States for Bruno from Brazil and me from Poland, but we made it and we experienced such nice sailing conditions, such nice hospitality. Of course we are so happy to win the 94th edition of the Bacardi Cup, it is a great privilege. I just want to say that once you try Bacardi, you want it more and this is why I think we performed so well."

Prada added, "Much bigger than our victory was the courage of the Bacardi team to run the Bacardi Cup. It was a super tough year last year and to 2021 and we would like to congratulate all the Bacardi team to make it happen."

The battle going into race 7 was all about podium second and third and the two teams having the overnight hold on those places didn't ease up. Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise went into race 7 on 13 points, with Augie Diaz/Marcus Koy (USA) 5 points behind. Doyle/Infelise took the upper hand, scoring 4th to Diaz/Koy's 9th, assuring them of second overall.

Onto the podium deciding race 8 there were now three teams, and four former Star Class World Champion sailors, vying for third place with just 2 points separating Diaz/Koy, John MacCausland/Phil Trinter and George Szabo/Guy Avellon.

Diaz/Koy knew they had to keep the pressure on to hold onto third place, as Diaz explained their road to the final spot on the podium.

"We had a really good race between three of us for third place. Our first race this morning was not very good, we ended up 9th and that was our throw out. So basically there were three of us to get third place and we had a really good start, so we were very fortunate that we were able to control the race. We were third at the weather mark and we were pretty much in second the rest of the way and we just felt really fortunate. It is just so nice to be able to sail in a Bacardi Cup under the conditions that are currently existing."

A top performance from Star Class President Hubert Merkelbach and crew Kilian Weise, who unleashed their best day of racing, with a 2,5 bumping them up the leader board to finish in 6th overall and earn the Tammy Rubin-Rice Trophy.

As Kusznierewicz/Prada yet again shared the honor of sipping Bacardi Rum from the perpetual Bacardi Cup Trophy and the Tito Bacardi Cup, division prizes were also presented. Doyle/Infelise won the Masters (skippers age 50 through 59), Diaz/Koy the Grand Masters (skippers age 60 and above) and John Ferguson Dane III/Art Anisov the Exalted Grand Masters (skippers age 70 and above).

Star Class - Provisional Results after Race 8:

1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz / Bruno Prada (POL 8548) - 7 pts
2. Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise (USA 8423) - 22 pts
3. Augie Diaz / Marcus Koy (USA 8509) - 25 pts
4. George Szabo / Guy Avellon (USA 8528) - 28 pts
5. John MacCausland / Phil Trinter (USA 8448) - 32 pts

J/70

On any given day, anything can happen out on Biscayne Bay, with the elements bouncing around you and the lighter breeze made the race track even more unpredictable. Going into the day's opening race 7, it was all to lose for series leader Travis Odenbach (USA) on 'Honey Badger'.

Two-time Bacardi Invitational Regatta winner Joel Ronning (USA) on 'Catapult' was ahead by the windward mark of race 7 with Grand Cayman's 'Powerplay' driven by Peter Cunningham in second. Whilst Ronning continued to extend, series leader 'Honey Badger' opted to split at the leeward gate and were rewarded by a step up to second overall, with 'Powerplay' dropping back to fourth, as Ryan McKillen and co on 'Surge' advanced to finish in third.

Onto race 8 and 'Honey Badger' had assured themselves of first or second overall with their 4th place finish. Elsewhere, the race 8 rivalry was between 'Surge', who could still step up to oust the leader, but at the same time needed to hold off 'Catapult' who might seize second. The team on 'Surge' did what they needed to win race 8, with 'Catapult' finishing back in 9th. The battle extended into the final race 9.

'Honey Badger' kept out front to win race 9 and safely secure the overall title and a maiden J/70 win for Odenbach at the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta. 'Surge' held their pace to finish 4th and repeat last year's second overall, with 'Catapult' crossing in 8th to hold onto 3rd and achieve a step up from their 4th place overall in 2020.

Finishing as top placed Corinthian team in 19th overall were Zachary Segal/Ashton Hamerlin/Enrique Quintero/Blake Cabassa (USA).

J/70 Class - Provisional Results after Race 9:

1. Travis Odenbach / Andy Horton / Geoff Becker / Danny Lawless / Travis Odenbach (USA 4) - 16 pts
2. Ryan McKillen / Jeff Reynolds / Lucas Calabrese / Sam Loughborough (USA 179) - 22 pts
3. Joel Ronning / Jud Smith / Kris Stoke / Patrick Wilson (USA 65) - 30 pts
4. John Brim / Zeke Horowitz / Zach Mason / Ian Coleman (USA 340) - 39 pts
5. Vernon Robert / Paula Herman / Nicholas Robertson / Rodrigo Robles / Sophie Robertson (CHI 1083) - 57 pts

Melges 24

Plenty of tense moments on the Melges 24 race track as the top three teams sought to claim the advantage out of their three-way tiebreak going into the day. The final outcome was the same top five leader board at the end of the day as the start, the only change was the order.

John Brown on 'Blind Squirrel', Bruce Ayres on 'Monsoon' and Travis Weisleder on 'Lucky Dog' went into race 7 on 27 points apiece, with defending Champion Bora Gulari on 'New England Ropes' just 2 points behind in 4th.

A win in race 7 for Gulari escalated him into the overall lead, on a 5 point advantage over 'Lucky Dog, with 'Monsoon' another 5 points behind in third. Gulari followed up with a 2nd place finish in race 8 to hold the series lead, but there was still plenty to do if he was to ultimately triumph. A 4th in race 9 sealed the deal.

"We had a pretty challenging week, since we got a DNF in the second race, so we had to sail a no drop series from there," commented Gulari. "We won the event so that was awesome. We have a really good team and courtesy of Bacardi this is one of the biggest events that I get to sail on my boat this year so I am super excited to win it. It was awesome, I loved sailing, it was really good to be in Miami."

'Lucky Dog' followed up with a 5,1 in races 8 and 9 to ultimately swap places with Ayres on 'Monsoon' and seal second overall, with third to Ayres.

Accolade to Steve Suddath/Steve Burke/Shawn Burke/Jack Smith on '3 half Men' as the top placed Corinthian team in 10th overall.

Melges 24 Class - Provisional Results after Race 9:

1. Bora Gulari / Kyle Navin / Norman Berge / Ian Liberty / Micheal Menniger (USA 820) - 18 pts
2. Travis Weisleder / John Bowden / Mark Mendelblatt / Hayden Goodrick (USA 858) - 23 pts
3. Bruce Ayres / Jeremy Wilmot / Tomas Dietrich / Ted Hackney / Chelsea Simms (USA 851) - 30 pts
4. Peter Duncan / Willem van Waay / Matteo Ramian / Carlos Robles / Victor Diaz de Leon (USA 829) - 34 pts
5. John Brown / Jeff Bonanni / Mike Buckley / Charlie Smythe / George Peet (USA 856) - 35 pts

This afternoon's award ceremony was a quiet affair, with just the winners invited to collect their prizes. As well as the Bacardi Cup and Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta prizes, wins were awarded to Bora Gulari and his Melges 24 team on 'New England Ropes' for winning the Melges 24 Bacardi Winter Series, with Megan Ratliff on 'Decorum' as top Corinthian. In the J/70, the Bacardi Winter Series title went to Ryan McKillen on 'Surge' and the Corinthian to Zachary Segal and crew.

Full results can be found here.

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