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Melges 24 Bushwhacker Cup at Pensacola Yacht Club

by Talbot Wilson/Pensacola YC 16 Nov 2021 15:07 PST 12-14 November 2021
‘Pacific Yankee' gets a nose out at the start of Race 1 in a brisk 10-15kt NNW breeze, gusting to 25, in Racing on Day 1 of the Pensacola Yacht Club's 2021 Bushwhacker Cup. Four brilliant races were completed Saturday, two on Sunday © Talbot Wilson

Yes, the travel was worth the trouble. Canadian Richard Reid's 'Zingara' came all the way from Port Credit, Ont, to Northwest Florida to win first place overall in the 2021 Bushwhacker Cup hosted by Pensacola Yacht Club.

For the six-race regatta, Reid and his team of Rebecca Anderson, Richard Clarke, Bill Gooderham, Brian Kamilar and Goncalo Ribiero scored bullets in the first and final races to score 1 -[14] -5 -6 -2 -1. With one race to drop, 'Zingara' won with a score of 15 points.

Top Corinthian boat and overall Atlantic Coast Champion was Steve Suddath's '3 1/2 Men'. Suddath and crew Shawn Burke, Steve Burke, and Jack Smith ended with a line score of 7 - 8 - 8 - 3 - 3 - [22/UFD]... They got to drop their final race 22/UFD, a 'U' flag disqualification. The Jacksonville team ended with 29 points, in sixth place overall.

Team 'Nefeli' led by Peter Karrié of Mainz Germany traveled even further then Reid. They trailed by only two points overall at the end. 'Nefeli' scored 3 - 5 - 4 - 1 - [7] - 4 for 17 points. The European crew came to Pensacola the Monday before racing to get acclimated and practice. That paid off with a nice second place win. This is their first event on their road to the Melges 24 Worlds in Ft Lauderdale in May 2022.

Third place overall and first place in the Gulf Coast Regional Championship went to New Orleans skipper Dwight LeBlanc iii on 'Triple D's'. LeBlanc had been leading after the first four races on Saturday with his line score of 4 - 1 - 3 - 2 - 9 - [22/UFD] for 19 points. LeBlanc scored a '9' in the fifth race, but with the 'U' flag flying for the final race, 'Triple D's' was over the starting line early, along with three other boats, pushing the pin end of the line. The 'U' flag means if you are over early, you are DSQ.

Proudly hoisting the Bushwhacker Cup, overall winner Reid said, "Our boat had stayed down here [the US] for 20 months since 2020, since this funny thing happened, this pandemic. We are glad to be here. I want to comment on what a great job the Organizing Committee did for the regatta and what a great job the Race Committee did keeping their cool, being patient and waiting for the best breeze today [Sunday]. What a great time we had... Thank you Pensacola Yacht Club. We are coming back for the [Melges 24] Nationals in 2022."

Top five for the overall Bushwhacker Cup:

1. Zingara, Richard Reid, CAN - 1 -[14] -5 -6 -2 -1; 15
2. Nefeli, Peter Karrié, GER - 3 -5 -4 -1 -[7] -4; 17
3. TRIPLE D's, J Dwight Leblanc iii, USA - 4 -1 -3 -2 -9 -[22]; 19
4. PACIFIC YANKEE, Drew Freides, USA - [19] -12 -1 -4 -1 -3; 21
5. Gamecock, Peter McClennen, USA - 2 -3 -6 -[10] -4 -7; 22

After missing 2020 racing in the Bushwhacker Cup because of Hurricane Sally damage, Day 1 Racing in Pensacola YC's Melges 24 Bushwhacker Cup was nearly perfect on Saturday. The 21-boat fleet sailed four races on four 1.25-mile leg courses in the first race and 1-mile legs thereafter.. Starts were hard fought with one general recall and several individual recalls.

Weather mark roundings were crowded. Winds were brisk at 15-18kts, gusty to 25kts and shifty out of the NNW and with a persistent move to the left. With the north wind and low tide at 3:30pm the current flowing south out of the bay was a factor.

And any wind from any northerly direction on Pensacola Bay makes choosing left or right difficult. On Saturday, even the middle course was unpredictable. Boat prep, skill and luck prevailed. One minute it was the penthouse and the next... the other house.

Day 2 / Sunday started as a no-wind drifter with a two-hour wait on the water. Then, just before noon, the old faithful sea breeze kicked in and two races were sailed in a southerly shifting westerly as the pressure increased to 10-12kts.. The competition was close.

On the first try at a start for the final race, all the boats pushed too close to the line and the outgoing tide pushed them over for a massive general recall. On the second try, PRO Hal Smith went with the dreaded 'U' Flag in an effort to prevent another general. Four competitors near the favored pin end were pushing too hard again and were over early and pulled a DSQ... one was 'Triple D's' which dropped from first to third. They had a 22UFD score that was dropped from the total but that just helped them to third.

'Zingara' finished strong with a 2-1 in the final two races to win the 2021 Bushwhacker Cup. As Reid said... "I'll be back."

Commodore Tom Pace and Commodore Emeritus Nikki Ferry presented the trophies as the crews enjoyed their Bushwhackers and chili. Pace congratulated the sailors on their performance.

"This has been a great Bushwhacker Cup. We are glad to have you back in Pensacola. We hope you enjoyed the variety of racing conditions and our unmatched PYC hospitality. Next year, 2022, we will be hosting the Melges 24 National Championships at this same weekend November 10-13th. We want you back; and please, bring your friends."

"Pensacola YC will also be moving our West Florida Open Regatta to Halloween weekend, October 29-30, just two weeks before your nationals. We want every Melges 24 entered in the Nationals to come for that as a warm-up, leave your boats 'mast up' and return for our Bushwhacker Cup/Melges 24 National Championship."

"We can't wrap it up," Pace added, "without thanking Visit Pensacola for the skipper's swag bags and West Marine and Baptist Hospital for the swag to fill them. After practice racing on Friday thanks to John Bowman and Mike Marshall from North Sails held a dock talk session with all the latest pointers on preparation, sails and tuning the Melges 24."

Each crew member got a Bushwhacker cup and a batch of tickets for complimentary Bushwhackers. And that's when the party started."

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