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97th Bacardi Cup Day 4

by Luissa Smith 7 Mar 18:07 PST March 4-9, 2024
Peter O'Leary / Stephen Milne claim the race 4 win on day 4 of the 97th Bacardi Cup © Martina Orsini

Over 200 boats fill Biscayne Bay as Bacardi Invitational Regatta fleet joins the action

Today, March 7, racing got underway for the five one-design fleets competing in the Bacardi Invitational Regatta, with two hundred and seven teams and well over six hundred sailors delivering a stunning spectacle on Biscayne Bay.

Weather conditions continued to demand focus and patience, with the fleets postponed ashore as the clouds and rain hampered the wind. When racing got underway across the three courses, teams contended with squalls, rain and sunshine, and the breeze bouncing from 5-15 knots.

The battle for supremacy in the Star fleet intensified, with the defending Bacardi Cup Champions, Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada, reclaiming the top spot ahead of overnight leaders and 2019 Bacardi Cup winners Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise.

Three races each for the Melges 24, J/70, Snipe, Viper 640 and VX One delivered some impressive results and a preview of form.

Racing continues on Friday, March 8, with one race for the Star Class and three for each of the other classes.

97th Bacardi Cup

Another day and a new winner in race 4 of the 97th Bacardi Cup, as race track glory went to Ireland’s Peter O'Leary/Stephen Milne. They overcame their rollercoaster scorecard of 39, 9, 33 to work their way to the front of the pack and move up to 16th overall.

“It’s nice to get on the scoreboard and win one race,” said O'Leary. “We tend to excel when it blows hard and there’s loads of rain because it is just like home, so we were happy to see that come. We will take it.”

Looking ahead to the next two races, O’Leary continued, “This is proper racing, there is nowhere to hide, really good sailors and you are sailing against the best of the best. That’s what you get in the Star. The racing is really every inch. We have left ourselves a bit of work to do but that is ok.”

Johann Spitzauer/Christian Nehammer read the stormy upwind leg and rounded the first mark ahead, pursued by O'Leary/Milne and the U30 partnership of Facundo Olezza/Ricardo Vadia. The Swedes extended their lead in the smoother downwind before O'Leary/Milne pounced ahead in the second upwind. Kusznierewicz/Prada made their move too, making a comeback to round in 3rd, which they converted to 2nd by the finish. Doyle/Infelise finished 6th.

Facundo Olezza/Ricardo Vadia become the top placed U30 team in 19th overall, after their 3rd place finish. After tomorrow’s race 5, the series discard kicks in which will close the points margins and shuffle the leaderboard. Points are super close and whilst the stage is set for a thrilling duel between the top two teams, any of the top five could still unseat them.

Provisional Results: Top 3 after Race 4

1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz / Bruno Prada (POL 8559) - 13 pts
2. Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise (USA 8580) - 13 pts
3. Augie Diaz / Henry Boening (USA 8509) - 24 pts


The J/70 fleet faced a testing start with three general recalls, but Brazil’s 'Mindset' team, helmed by Ralph Vasconcellos Rosa, demonstrated dominance. While most teams notched up and down scores, the Brazilians kept it steady with all top ten results.

“I am very happy, nice day, the crew was perfect, everything is so good,” commented Rosa. “We made three good starts, and we discovered very fast the good path to sail alone. Our boat is very fast, and the crew is very good. A hard day, but amazing day.

“We tried to sail not so to the left or right, in the middle and improving in the shifty wind. This boat is hard to sail consistently, and we improve every year and every competition.”

Provisional Results: Top 3 after Race 3

1. Ralph Vasconcellos Rosa / Guilherme Hamelmann / Julio Falcão / Felipe Rondina (BRA 1226) - 17 pts
2. Filip Engelbert / Marcus Höglander / Jimmy Hellberg / Jakob Gustavsson (SWE 901) - 23 pts
3. Margaret McKillen / Orrin Star / Brian Kamilar / Dave Schreiner (USA 1523) - 24 pts

Melges 24

The two Bacardi Winter Series lead in events featured super close battles in the Melges 24, with Bora Gulari’s team most recently coming out on top at BWS2 in January. It was more of the same today, with Gulari racing a solid 1, 5, 3 to lead. Only just though, with Richard Reid’s ‘Zingara’ team and Bruce Ayres’ ‘Monsoon’ on a 10-point tiebreak behind.

“We had a good start and we got to go straight for a long time and when we get to go straight, we are pretty quick and it worked out in our direction,” explained Gulari about the race 1 win. “The shift was a leftie and we got to go to the left corner, so it all kind of happened. We got to hold onto the victory so that was nice.”

Gulari is targeting a win at BIR to wrap up the three-event series, but acknowledges the stiff competition, saying, “Everyone’s good. It doesn’t matter until the last day, we are just trying to hold serve and have a chance.”

Provisional Results: Top 3 after Race 3

1. Bora Gulari / Norman Berge / Nick Ford / RJ Porter / Charlie Smythe (USA 820) - 9 pts
2. Richard Reid / Madeline Gill / Ian Sloan / Bill Gooderham / Alec Anderson (CAN 853) - 10 pts
3. Bruce Ayres / Thomas Dietrich / Edward Hackney / Pearl Lattanzi / Jeremy Wilmot (USA 851) - 10 pts


Today was a big warm welcome to the Snipe Class, who make their debut here, with twenty teams joining the Bacardi party. Ernesto Rodriguez/Issa Uribe hit the race track with style, to count two race wins and lead the fleet.

Provisional Results: Top 3 after Race 3

1. Ernesto Rodriguez / Issa Uribe (USA 31337) - 4 pts
2. Yoan Carrillo / Rene Torrecilla Abreu (USA 29511) - 7 pts
3. Enrique Quintero / Nico Ocariz (USA 31640) - 9 pts

Viper 640

Two teams are already shining in the twenty-two boat Viper 640 fleet, with Marek Zaleski/Chris Zaleski/Jake Bradt claiming a 1,5,1 to sit just one point ahead of reigning Viper 640 North American Champion Jimmy Praley and his crew of Austin Powers and Max Vinocur.

Provisional Results: Top 3 after Race 3

1. Marek Zaleski / Chris Zaleski / Jake Bradt (USA 237) - 7 pts
2. Jimmy Praley / Austin Powers / Max Vinocur (USA 298) - 8 pts
3. Mary Ewenson / Jane Moore / Rob Gorman / Jahn Tihansky (USA 297) - 15 pts

VX One

John Porter/David Himmel lead the VX One fleet, opening with a 6th place before securing a noteworthy two wins. But it is only on tiebreak, with Doug Clark/Matt Haddon on equal points. The defending Bacardi Champions Christopher Alexander/Grace Howie/Ricky Welch sit just one point adrift.

Provisional Results: Top 3 after Race 3

1. John Porter / David Himmel (USA 343) - 8 pts
2. Doug Clark / Matt Haddon (USA 362) - 8 pts
3. Christopher Alexander / Grace Howie / Ricky Welch (USA 276) - 9 pts

More information, including full results, can be found at

A special thank you to this year's event sponsors and supporters: Bacardi USA, EFG International, Quantum Sails, Nautical Ventures, Shake-A-Leg Miami, Sail 22, HATUEY®Beer, Tuuci, Termodinamica USA, Harken Derm, Team 1 Newport, SLAM, Gubinelli Wines, Jaguar Therapeutics, Drop Jolly, Hobie Eyewear, Coconut Grove Business District, Zhik, Coral Reef Yacht Club, Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, Coconut Grove Sailing Club, US Sailing Center and the City of Miami.

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