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97th Bacardi Cup Day 2

by Luissa Smith 5 Mar 20:54 PST March 4-9, 2024
Star Class racing against the Miami skyline - 97th Bacardi Cup © Martina Orsini

They came, they saw, they conquered was the story on day two of the 97th Bacardi Cup for defending Champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada.

From start to finish, Kusznierewicz/Prada exhibited unrelenting control over the sixty-six boat fleet, claiming victory with an impressive lead of one and a half minutes. Kusznierewicz acknowledged the race committee with a tip of his hat at the finish line.

Another perfect day in Miami of warm, sunny weather and an 8-10 knot south-easterly breeze. A super keen fleet forced two general recalls, eventually starting all clear under a black flag.

With Kusznierewicz/Prada out front and coming into the first windward mark from course right, the battle unfolded behind with Austria's Johann Spitzauer/Christian Nehammer and Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise jostling for second and third.

By the downwind, Kusznierewicz/Prada were still full steam ahead. Doyle/Infelise had moved up to second chased by the Austrians, with a further gap to George Szabo/Guy Avalon in fourth. Kusznierewicz/Prada extended their lead even further on the final upwind, with Doyle/Infelise and Spitzauer/Nehammer still tight, and separation in the chasing fleet. Heading into the downwind finish, the leading boats all headed course left with some tight tactics to settle the scorecards.

Kusznierewicz was delighted with his day. "I would like to say we were lucky, but actually we put all the pieces together and when I look at the race that we did today, we first of all had a plan, then we looked around and we connected all of the dots."

"It wasn't easy, it was shifting, clouds. I think the biggest factor that helped us today was we knew where the clouds were coming because they were moving along the course and you have to be very careful not to sail under the clouds. We were sailing on the edges of the clouds and that really, really helped us."

Doyle/Infelise claimed a superb pin end start to set the shape of their race, finished second and moved up to second overall. "We had a big battle with the dream team of Mateusz and Bruno," said Doyle. "We got close to them a few times and they would kinda slap us back. They were sailing fast with a lot of confidence."

Doyle, who won the 2019 Bacardi Cup with Infelise, does have a plan of action. "In the next few days, we've got to find some way to beat Mateusz! We need to up our game a little bit. I think we learned a few things today. You know he sails with a lot of confidence and so do we. It was kind of like the past few years today, we were both out in front kind of battling it out. We've got a few things up our sleeve that hopefully we can pull off, so looking forward to it."

A right battle ensued for third place, with boat speed rewarding Szabo/Avalon to make a remarkable recovery from their 34th place finish yesterday. They move up to 16th overall.

Szabo, who sailed his first Bacardi Cup in 1994, explained how going into the final downwind they punched their ticket, saying, "We found a little mode where we were just a touch lower and a touch quicker. We were pretty far behind, and we were able to sail down on Spitzy and got to leeward of him and gybed in front."

The pair are sailing a Star that is new to them, as Szabo added, "We finally started to find the gears out of that boat, so it's kinda nice to get the training wheels off and sail like it should be. We didn't really do anything different tactically, just finally found the mode and made the boat go. It was kind of neat."

Another super solid result from Lars Grael/Ubiratan Matos, who add a fifth place to their 3rd from yesterday. Grael, a two-time Bacardi Cup winner (2015, 2014), has been a regular on the Star stage for many years and returns to the regatta after a five-year absence.

"I was missing a lot the high-level competition in the Star Class," smiled Grael. "I am not on the highest level at the moment, but I have been sailing some Star regattas in Brazil and also doing the Vintage Gold Cup in Michigan, so I am glad I am back."

Commenting on his expectations, Grael continued, "I don't have a target or great expectations. I know I am out of shape, but I am here to have fun and see if I can be top twenty, maybe."

As with everyone, being at The Bacardi Cup is like being with your family, as Grael expressed, "I am glad to meet so many friends from many years sailing Stars in international events. I am feeling good. I am feeling like at home."

The day one race winners, Augie Diaz/Henry Boening, found themselves buried deep and unable to advance from a 13th place finish.

Bradley Sheppard/Quinton Gallon from Canada are the top placed U30 team in 24th overall, and are supported by the Bacardi Cup U30 program.

Racing continues on Wednesday, March 6, with a midday start.

Provisional Results after Day 2: (top ten, 2 races)

1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz / Bruno Prada (POL 8559) - 3 pts
2. Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise (USA 8580) - 6 pts
3. Lars Grael / Ubiratan Matos (BRA 8392) - 8 pts
4. Piet Eckert / Frederico Melo (SUI 8575) - 13 pts
5. Augie Diaz / Henry Boening (USA 8509) - 14 pts
6. Jørgen Schönherr / Markus Koy (DEN 8532) - 17 pts
7. Johann Spitzauer / Christian Nehammer (AUT 8529) - 19 pts
8. Josh Powell / Mark Strube (USA 8522) - 20 pts
9. Ante Razmilovic / Brian Hammersley (GBR 8443) - 23 pts
10. Paul Cayard / Frithjof Kleen (USA 8550) - 28 pts

The Bacardi Invitational Regatta gets under way from March 7-9, with nine races spread across three days for the J/70, Melges 24, Snipe, Viper 640 and VX One.

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