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Bacardi Winter Series 2023/2024 Event 2 in Miami, USA - Day 1

by Luissa Smith 26 Jan 17:42 PST January 26-28, 2024
J/70: Thirty-five teams battle it out on Biscayne Bay - Bacardi Winter Series Event 2 © Hannah Lee Noll

The three-day Bacardi Winter Series Event 2 opened today, Friday, January 26, on the stunning waters of Biscayne Bay, Miami.

Fifty-six teams have descended on Shake-A-Leg Miami for the three-day series. As well as boasting a record sized fleet, the boat park rocks a line-up of sailing legends, with numerous Olympians and World Champions adding to the competitive mix.

Friday opened with three windward/leeward races, showcasing Paolo Brescia's 'Melgina' as a formidable force in the Melges 24. Brescia took control of the fleet in what marks their first outing as a new team. Making a triumphant return to the racetrack after recovering from injury, Joel Ronning on 'Catapult' dominates the J/70 Class.

The day opened warm, though overcast, with a breeze of 10-15 knots. Following race 2 as the breeze dwindled, the Race Committee opted to postpone on the water in anticipation of improved wind. The wind stabilized but remained light, setting the stage for a challenging battle in the lumpy sea.

Hosted at Shake-A-Leg-Miami, the Bacardi Winter Series upholds the legendary hospitality of every Bacardi event, with post-race cocktails and shoreside fun.

Six more races are scheduled over the weekend. Tomorrow, Saturday, January 27, racing is scheduled to start at 1100 hours for the Melges 24, followed by the J/70.


Joel Ronning's 'Catapult' launched their debut at the 2023/2024 Bacardi series in pole position ahead of the thirty-five boat fleet. They were boosted by a pair of bullets in the three-race day catapulting them ahead of David Jannetti's 'Very Odd' team.

After winning the opening event in December 2023, 'Very Odd' met their match on the racecourse, as 'Catapult' returned with confidence forcing their rivals to settle for a 2nd place overall. The two teams traded places throughout.

Ronning who took a break from the racetrack to recover from injury, returned with long-term team mate Victor Diaz de Leon amongst his high-profile crew. The friends celebrated their opening win quietly with a fist bump. Diaz de Leon has also long been a fixture at the front of the J/70 leaderboard, although most recently joined the US SailGP Team as wing trimmer.

"We're campaigning for the J/70 Worlds. We're so happy to be here," said Ronning. They will also return for the 2024 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta in March.

"This is our third event back in the fleet after a break," he continued in reference to the team's second place results at each of the preceding 'warm-up' events, the USA J/70 Winter Series 1 and 2. Ronning holds more than a few titles to his credit, including the 2016 J/70 Worlds.

Skilled across the classes, Diaz De Leon along with the other 'Catapult' crew, Patrick Wilson and Morgan Trubovich, finished second at the 2023 Melges 24 Worlds onboard Peter Duncan's 'Raza Mixta'.

'Catapult' followed up with a 4th in the final race 3 of the day, to top the leaderboard by 13 points. Second to Bruce Golison's 'Midlife Crisis' who scored 11,3,5 and third to 'Very Odd' with a scorecard of 2,6,16.

An up and down day from Daniel Goldberg's 'Bazinga' saw them rise from a 20th in race 2 to win race 3 and advance to fourth on equal points with Peter Vessella's 'Pulse'.

Reigning J/70 World Champion, Charles Thompson on 'Brutus III' returns with his winning World's line-up of Elisabeth Whitener, Chris Grube, Benjamin Saxton, Tom Mallindine. Strong results of 3,5 were offset by a 22nd place in race 3 to place them in 8th overall. The series discard will kick in after race 5 to shake up the leaderboard.

Canada's 'Trial' Corinthian team put in an impressive day, placing 17th overall — strongly ahead of all other Corinthians.

J/70 Provisional Top 10 results - after 3 races

1. Joel Ronning / Victor Diaz de Leon / Patrick Wilson / Morgan Trubovich (USA 65) - 6 pts
2. Bruce Golison / Erik Shampain / Steve Hunt / Jeff Reynolds (USA 26) - 19 pts
3. David Jannetti / Travis Odenbach / Willem Van Waay / Andy Horton (USA 1513) - 24 pts
4. Daniel Goldberg / Kristen Berry / Tomas Hornos / Gonçalo Ribeiro (USA 84) - 25 pts
5. Peter Vessella / Mark Mendelblatt / Karl Anderson / Brett Davis (USA 1437) - 25 pts
6. Robert Hughes / Jud Smith / Manu Weiller / Marc Gauthier / Robert Hughes (USA 353) - 28 pts
7. Martin Dent / Ruairidh Scott / Henry Weatherell / Jack Weatherell (GBR 1573) - 30 pts
8. Charles Thompson / Elisabeth Whitener / Chris Grube / Benjamin Saxton / Tom Mallindine (GBR 1123) - 30 pts
9. John Brim / John Brim / Scott Ewing / Ed Lebens / Greiner Hobbs (USA 1150) - 30 pts
10. John Evans / Zeke Horowitz / Zach Mason / Abie McLaughlin (USA 600) - 34 pts

Melges 24

After a general recall for race one, the day served up three different winners in the twenty-one boat Melges 24 fleet. As the wind eased, it was a struggle for power in light air, with teams constantly working hard to power up.

Bruce Ayres on 'Monsoon' won the opening race with a convincing lead, race 2 went to Paolo Brescia on 'Melgina', and Laura Grondin's 'Dark Energy' team took the race 3 victory.

Opening day glory for 'Melgina', who unlocked the Melges 24 go-fast setup to score 2,1,6 and sit on top of the leaderboard. Superb consistency rewarded them as the only team to count single-digit results.

'Melgina' is packed with Italian talent, including Jas Farneti, a 470 Junior World and Junior European Champion, along with fellow former Olympic campaigner Giulio Desiderato.

"Today was great, was a great day of sailing in Miami," commented Desiderato. "We are super happy as a team because it is our first regatta together - we just started our journey. We can only be happy about the day that we had."

Speaking on their teamwork he continued, "All the guys onboard did a great job. Paolo, he performed very well, he steered very well. We were fast, and from my side, I am calling tactics, it was much easier you know if the boat is fast it is easier in the water.

"We talked before the regatta and just to have fun because it was our first event together, so avoid trouble, clear line and it worked!"

On why they travel over from Italy, Desiderato smiled saying, "This is one of my favourite regattas. It is always great to be here, and we are always happy to come from Italy and sail the Bacardi."

Bora Gulari on 'Kingspoke' scored a consistent 5,3,3 to place in second, with Grondin's 'Dark Energy' in third.

'Bombarda' was hoping for a repeat of the opening series, which saw them romp home ahead of the fleet in the single race face-off. But they end the day outside the top 10, with scores of 8,12,12.

Whilst the pro-teams battle it out at the top of the leaderboard, 'Surprise' from Canada leads the Corinthian teams in 14th place.

Melges 24 Provisional Top 10 results - after 3 races

1. Paolo Brescia / Giulio Desiderato / Stefano Orlandi / Jas Farneti / Andrea Chiappe (USA 8) - 9 pts
2. Bora Gulari / Norman Berge / Nick Ford / Carlos Robles / Charlie Smythe (USA 820) - 11 pts
3. Laura Grondin / Taylor Canfield / Federico Michetti / Ian Liberty / Mark Ivey (USA 864) - 15 pts
4. Bruce Ayres / Tomas Dietrich / Edward Hackney / Pearl Lattanzi / Jeremy Wilmot (USA 851) - 16 pts
5. Peter-David Karrié / Alessandro Franci / Niccolò Bianchi / Saverio Cigliano / Carlo Hmeliak (GER 859) - 19 pts
6. Alec Anderson / Haiden Stapleton / Willy McBride / Jackson Benvenuti / Grant Janov (USA 856) - 21 pts
7. Richard Reid / Serena Vilage / Ian Sloan / Bill Gooderham / Brian Kamilar (CAN 853) - 21 pts
8. Peter McClennen / Mike Marshall / Wilson Stout / Joaquin Bur / Zach Champney (USA 811) - 24 pts
9. Cuyler Morris / Keiran Searle / John Bowden / Charlie Hibben / Mikaela Wulff (USA 863) - 27 pts
10. Andrea Racchelli / Enzo Bonini / Michele Gregoratto / Nic Asher / Matteo Ramian (GBR 835) - 28 pts

The Bacardi Winter Series Event 2 is the second of a three-event series for the J/70 and Melges 24 classes in Miami. Racing is being run by the Coconut Grove Sailing Club Race Committee.

The series opened December 16-17, 2023, and culminates at the 2024 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta, March 6-9, 2024.

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