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Rated X pops champagne after a high-stakes finale at the M32 Winter Series Event 3

by M32 Class 5 Mar 17:15 PST March 3-5, 2023
M32 World Miami Winter Series Event 3 © Stephen R Cloutier

Sailors from all around the world descended upon the palm trees, turquoise waters, and colorful foliage of Miami for the third event of the 2023 M32 Winter Series. The three-day event just closed in dramatic fashion after 14 races.

A big round of congratulations is in order for Jake Julien's young Rated X team of Stephan Baker, Keith Swinton, Julius Hallstrom, Jeff McCooey, and Dave Gilmour. Rated X was certainly the team to beat after Saturday's racing, but with only a one-point margin ahead of Dan Cheresh's Extreme2, every Sunday point was going to count.

Winning today's first race extended Rated X's winning margin — but only until Extreme2 won Race Two, reeling in the young guns. The two boats were at each other's throats all day long. The grand finale was a classic who-beats-who between Rated X and Extreme2, tied at the top with 28 points. Rated X played it cool and led the race wire-to-wire. 18-year-old Stephan Baker stepped in for Jake Julien on Saturday and Sunday.

"I was offered to drive the boat for the weekend because Jake had to do a high school business challenge, so of course I took the opportunity," said Baker. "It was an unbelievable experience. I don't know how to pop champagne yet. Turns out I need to practice!"

The fleet saw three days of non-stop sunshine, warm weather, and a perfect big breeze that faded on the last day for a light wind finale. Dock talk will tell you Friday's conditions were the best of the year.

The silver medal goes to the ever-competitive Cheresh, M32 Class Vice President. New this year, the fleet races on Fridays in addition to the traditional Saturday/Sunday schedule. Friday's racing is structured more loosely, with crew and helmsman changes allowed and no owner/driver requirements. Building their case for the Friday Cup series title was Dan Cheresh's Extreme2 who proved hard to beat in the 20-knot Friday breeze, posting a 2, 7, 1, 1 scorecard. They continued the heater into Saturday with two race wins alongside Morgan Larson, Scott Ewing, Mac Agnese, Luke Muller, and support team Lars Guck and James Cyigenza.

Rounding out the podium is Bobby Julien's Dingbat team of Torvar Mirsky, Paul Campbell James, Nick Hutton, Mark Bulkeley, coach Morgan Reeser, and support team Franny Schulte and Kyle Kandt. Dingbat raced a highly consistent event in a fleet that normally sees lots of shake-ups. Julien leads a group of three "J Racing" boats, him and his two sons.

"I'm actually a new sailor," says Julien. "My first regatta ever was Fall of 2021. I tried the charter boat in the M32 fleet last spring, which was a whole nother level of fun. I'm not going to go to the Olympics or anything: I just want to have a great time with some great people, and the M32 really fulfills that dream opportunity for me. The kids also love it - It's a whole lot of fun."

The fleet warmly welcomes Stephen Murray back to the action. "I've had a few boats that go fast offshore, but I've never gone that fast with that many boats around," said Murray. "I called up Dave Doucett [M32 North America] and told him I was interested in sailing. It was all turnkey; they had a great boat ready for us, all tuned up and ready to go. Everybody's just been so friendly to a bunch of new guys."

We can't neglect to mention the M32 shoreside vibe. There's something magical about the Coconut Grove lifestyle. The class sponsored a Friday evening open bar at Atchana's, a favorite local Thai spot in the Grove. Each day after racing, sailors gather at Shake-A-Leg for beers, a post-racing bite, and team debriefs.

The fleet will stay in Miami for the Winter Series finale in April. Next is Lake Garda for the European Series and Newport, Rhode Island for the Midtown Cup series. It all leads up to the 2023 M32 World Championship in Newport in September.

The M32 Class's race committee team of six, led by Principal Race Officer Mattias Dahlstrom, completed 14 high quality races over the three days, rolling out the red carpet for the sailors. The Class extends its deep gratitude to our host, Shake-A-Leg Miami, who makes all this possible. The media team included Stephen Cloutier, Tommy Byrne, Raul De La Cruz, and Hannah Lee Noll.

The beer was flowing, the breeze was blowing, and the M32 Class continues to grow. Plan on joining the fun at the next event — onward & upward!

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