Photos: BMSW/Cory Silken

Grael and Gonzalves claim Bacardi Cup

Light day finale for the Stars in Miami

Saturday March 8th 2014, Author: Jan Harley, Location: United States

The mantra “a bad day on the water is better than a good day at the office” will resonate with many of the sailors who have been racing at the fifth Bacardi Miami Sailing Week Presented by EFG.

While yesterday the breeze was higher than allowed for competition by some class rules, for today’s finale there was so little wind it appeared as though a raft-up was taking place on Biscayne Bay instead of a regatta. Wrapping up a six-day schedule today, the 180 teams racing in six one-design classes – Audi Melges 20, J/70, Melges 24, Star, Viper 640 and VX One – completed enough races for the victors to collect the spoils, and, with the mid-day cancellation of additional races the sailors had ample time to enjoy the legendary hospitality of Bacardi.

Since 2000, there has been a jinx for the day one winning Star team as none in that position has gone on to claim the prized Bacardi Cup. That was the case again this year for Mark Reynolds and Miami sailor Magnus Liljedahl, who won the first race of the series to jump to the top of the 55-boat Star fleet. The duo, who shared both Olympic Gold and a Star World Championship win in 2000, had not sailed together for 10 years.

“I’m from Miami, live here, have a lot of friends and this result [second overall] feels like a win,” said Liljedahl who has more wins of the Bacardi Cup (five) than any other crew in the event’s history, while Reynolds holds the record (seven) for skippers. “It was a good event for Mark and me. I have a lot of respect for him, he is an outstanding skipper, he is very balanced and I like racing with him.”

Lars Grael of Brazil, the two-time (’88, ’96) Tornado Olympic medallist, with crew Samuel Gonzalves, moved to the top of the Star standings on the second day of racing and held that position to the end. They took the win with five points, holding a five-point lead over Reynolds and Liljedahl.

“This is great, it's my first Bacardi Cup and it's the first for a Brazilian boat,” said Lars Grael. “I'm very proud. Last year we got close and this year we sealed the deal. We started off with two seconds and a first; we dropped our bad race from the other day. Yesterday we had too much wind, today too little, and with our conservative approach we took it home.”

Lars Grael’s superstar elder brother, Torben Grael and crew Guilheme Almeida, finished third overall with 12 points; followed by the 2012 Bacardi Cup Champion Xavier Rohart of France and Serge Pulfer with 16 points. Brad Funk and crew Mark Strube round out the top-five with 18 points.

In the 41-boat Audi Melges 20 fleet, reigning world champion John Taylor goes home the winner after posting finishes of 3-5 yesterday to move to the top of the standings with 35 points. Drew Freides is second overall with 37 points; Russell Lucas placed third overall with 41 points; followed by Brazilian sailor Cesar Gomes Neto with 44 points. Defending champion Michael Kiss, also a three-time national champion in the class, completes the top-five with 45 points.

“The fleet was very competitive; there was a very high level of sailing,” said Bill Hardesty who was John Taylor’s tactician. “It was great sailing against the best of them. [We] won worlds in December and the hardest thing to do is to come back and win again.”

In the six-boat Melges 24 class Kevin Welch won the series with six points. Italian sailor Nicola Ardito was second overall with eight points; Steven Boho took third overall with 16 points; followed by Canada’s Richard Reid with 19 points.

“Coming from the northwest to sail in Miami was a great change of pace,” said Welch. “We have not been able to sail since last fall. First day we hit a snag; our anchor line wrapped around our keel. So Friday our strategy was to just avoid disaster and sail smooth. Friday was the best sailing day we have had in a very long time. This was a great event to be part of. We hope to be back next year. The race committee did a great job of setting the course up.”

With scores of 10-1-1, Will Welles took the win in the 40-boat J/70 fleet with 12 points, winning the tie-breaker over BMSW defending champion Brian Keane who had finishes of 7-2-3. Peter Duncan took third with 14 points; followed by Heather Gregg-Earl with 22 points; and Tim Molony with 23.

“Out of all the regattas this was a really great one to win,” said Welles. “We had a great start, good team work, nice speed and a little luck. The first day we had about 10 knots, second day we had about 20. So I would say today they made a good choice to not race [today]. Coming from Newport we really love coming to Bacardi and we are so glad they invited the J/70 class to be part of it.”

In the 25-boat Viper 640 fleet, Phil Lotz took the win by just one point over defending BMSW champion Canadian Brad Boston who had six points. British sailor Justin Scott was third overall with 14 points; Australian sailor Rod Beurteaux finished fourth overall with 16 points; and another British sailor, Jon Powell, was fifth with 22 points.

“I am very happy to break my streak of placing second,” said Lotz who had his wife, Wendy, and Luke Lawrence as crew. “I was neck and neck with Brad Boston, who sailed very well! I would also like to add how great it was to sail with all the international teams who crossed the pond to be part of this race. I think the key factor to our win is that we really sailed as a team. We worked hard with the breeze on Thursday and Friday. This was mine and my wife's second time sailing in this race; we have been sailing together for a little over a year now.”

In the VX One class, Donovan Brennan took the win in that 21-strong fleet with seven points after finishes of 5-1-1. David Bolyard and Kevin Northrop, were second and third, respectively, tied on eight points each. David Reich took fourth overall with 13 points; Charles Brown finished fifth with 14 points.

“Wow, winning this race was extraordinary for a couple reasons,” said Brennan who sailed with his son and daughter. “I won it with my family. I came into it with no expectations. I believe we won on energy and as for technicalities go we had a flatter give then the others did. We were at 23 knots yesterday. Winning was just as great as it was running into old friends and Olympians. This was my first Bacardi and probably will not be my last.”

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