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Etchells Biscayne Bay Winter Series wrap up: Three-peat win for Lifted

by Kate Wilson Somers 21 Feb 16:57 PST February 16-18, 2024
Fleet 20 Winter Series - Etchells Biscayne Bay Winter Series © Kathleen Tocke

The Etchells Biscayne Bay Series concluded last weekend with an impressive display of skill and consistency, after four regattas that tested the competitive spirit of the Floridan fleet. Participation was strong with 40+ boats on the line over four events: the Louis Piana Cup Regatta in December 2023, the Sidney Doren Memorial Regatta in January 2024, the Florida State Championship in February 2024, and the Mid-Winter's East Regatta, held from February 16-18, 2024.

Jeff Nehms, Fleet 20 Captain, shared his key takeaways from the season, emphasizing that life after hosting an Etchells Worlds remains vibrant. He highlighted the enduring toughness of the class and noted the presence of numerous skilled new faces in the series.

For the third consecutive year, the overall winners were the team aboard USA 1504 Lifted with the same team Jim Cunningham, Steve Hunt, Erik Shampain, and Serena Vilage. Their achievement was attributed by Cunningham "to the cohesive and enduring teamwork they have maintained for over five years."

The crew acknowledged the importance of their consistent performance (they never finished worse than a 4th in a regatta all season), highlighting the irreplaceable coordination and situational understanding that comes from long-term collaboration. Working with A-MAC as tuning partners for the second year proved instrumental, and their coach, Dave Ullman, continually pushed them to improve in the highly competitive fleet.

USA 1504's strategy involved securing solid, lower-risk starts to avoid early mistakes, sailing slightly conservatively, and steering clear of the racecourse edges. The tight competition was evident, with the top three teams separated by just two points. USA 1506 Oatmeal (Peter Duncan, Andrew Palfrey, and Mark Mandelblatt) secured second place, followed by USA 1456 Freedom D (Craig Mense, Ian Liberty, Manu Weiller, Norman Berg) in third. See the full results.

The Corinthian Award winners were once again CAN 1451 Blackadder II with Andrew Cumming, Chloe Congourdeau, Erin Sauder, and John Millen, who clinched the award in a tiebreaker against USA 1349 Amateur Hour with the Bischoff family. The competitive spirit and camaraderie displayed throughout the series affirmed the enduring appeal and challenge of Etchells racing.

The final event, the Mid-Winter's East Regatta, was characterized by fluctuating winds and equally varying results. Over the course of seven races over three days, there were six different winners, only further highlighting the competitiveness of this fleet. Scott Kauffman, Midwinters Champion, led the regatta after winning the first race and sailing the most consistent. He attributed his crew's success to clean starts and excellent downwind boat speed. Racing alongside him were the team of Gonzalo Ribeiro, Carlos Robles, and Hugo Rocha. The crew onboard Rebel finished 7th overall in the series.

Thanks to Kathleen Tocke, footage and photos capturing the Day 1 Races are available on the Etchells North American Class Facebook page.

All season results available here.

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