This years Bacardi Miami Sailing Week featured some of the top international talent competing in a number of the most exciting One Design Classes. At the end of the Regatta, Doyle One Design customers came away with wins in the Star and Viper Classes, and secured a second place finish in the new J/70 class after a unfortunate start to the regatta.
Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih got off to a rough start with an OCS in race one but, after five days of racing, were able to rebound with wins in the last two races to take home the Bacardi Cup. The regatta saw a wide range of conditions forcing teams to constantly adjust, making the win that much more satisfying against some of the Star class’ top competitors. “Winning the Cup again means a lot to me; it’s really great because winning any big Star regatta is not easy at all! I am very happy to have had Brian with me. He is a great crew and wanted to have his name on the Tito Bacardi trophy. The Bacardi Cup is a great event and now, with the addition of all the other classes, it’s even more satisfying.”
The regatta was also the debut of Doyle’s latest Star mainsail design, a new bi-radial cut which until now has not been proven in the Star class. After months of development, the new layout shows improved shape-holding through a wide range of conditions, in addition to being easily tuned. Jud Smith, head of Doyle One Design explains that “we moved to just two sections in the sail, each made up of radial panels. There are a number of benefits that we have realized – the radial bottom section helps handle the transition from the deepest parts of the sail into the clew smoothly while at the same time the radial gores in the clew help support the mast down low giving it a more even mast bend. Along the leech, the two radial sections essentially act as a catenary and evenly distribute the leech load.” The result is a very smooth, tunable sail that can perform in a wide variety of conditions.
In the competitive Viper Class, Brad Boston, Eric Vigrass and Shannon Bush sailing as Team Jackpot were able to win the regatta by winning 3 of the last 4 races, giving them a solid victory in a hotly contested class. Despite trailing early in the regatta, the strong finish helped them jump past some other past champions in the class. The sails he utilized were the standard Doyle sails that have proven durable and easy to trim for a number of years now.
The J70 fleet of 20 boats got in 9 races over 3 bright sunny days on Biscayne Bay for Bacardi Miami Race Week March 7-9. After just one shortened light air race the first day, the breeze filled in for the last two days, blowing 6-15 knots to get in 8 races. Eight of the twenty boats did not make the time limit in the first race when the wind shut off which was an unfortunate starting point for many of the contenders. Saturday featured a NW to NE wind that gradually built to 10 -12 knots as it shifted to the right. Sunday the NE breeze shifted right again during the morning race 7 before settling in from the E-NE with some puffs that featured one planing leg.
Going into the final day of racing both Brian Keane and Will Welles had a commanding lead over the pack and appeared unreachable. There was still a group of 4 boats with a realistic shot at a podium finish. The race committee hailed that they were going to attempt to sail three races that day. Doyle customers Peter Duncan, Mark Ploch and Amy Neill started strong on the final day, rounding the first mark 1, 2 and 3. Brian Keane just beat out Ploch to win and Duncan got third after being caught on the persistent shift on the run. Wells caught back up to 8th but that still gave Keene a big cushion going into the last two races.
Off the line on Race 8 the usual suspects were in the front row but Wells was OCS and had to go back. Duncan and Neill were 1,2 at the first mark again and Duncan held onto win Race 8 with Keane second allowing him to clinch the regatta win. Welles was unable to get back in contention and sailed his throw-out. Going into the final race Duncan was only one point behind Wells with four boats within 5 points of second. So 2nd – 5th overall came down to the last race.
At the start of race 9, the wind shifted left and the fleet tacked onto port on a big lefty. Wells rounded 6th with Duncan in 7th. The fleet planed off on starboard for the first half of the run which allowed Duncan to get inside of Wells and jibe to windward. Duncan covered Wells on the second beat and run to the finish to clinch second place on a tie breaker.
Amy Neill sailing “Nightmare” from Chicago with Rich Sterns , John Baxter and Zach Mason had two 6th place finishes on the last day to clinch a 13th overall. This was Amy’s first time ever steering or skippering any boat in any regatta. Amy used the same Doyle One Design sails as Duncan and Ploch and showed some of the greatest upwind speed straight out of the blocks.
Congratulations all around on a competitive regatta!