Congratulations to Peter Duncan, and his crew Tom Blackwell and Jud Smith, for winning the 2013 Louis Piana cup, the first event of the 2014 Jaguar Cup. Held in Miami, Florida December 7-8, the regatta featured five races with 64 of the world’s top Etchells sailors - no fewer than five previous Etchells world champions were amongst the sixty-four boats on the starting line.
Peter Duncan was using Doyle’s latest AP Mainsail, NLM Jib and the AP Radial Runner and the Bi-Radial Runner. Also in the top ten, using Doyle Sails, were Ted Hardenbergh in 6th, Shannon Bush in 8th and Flip Wehrhem in 10th.
“The Jag”, as it has come to be known, is a four regatta series, spread out over four weekends between December and March, and brings together many of the best Etchells sailors in the world. Hosted by Biscayne Bay Yacht Club and Etchells Fleet 20, the series consistently draws forty or more boats to the good weather, great competition and even better camaraderie.
The first race on Saturday, with East-southeast winds of about six to eight knots, saw lots of shuffling between the favorites and the rest of the fleet. Eight of the eventual top twenty sailed their throwout.
Peter Duncan commented, “We pressed a little too hard on the start and were over early. From that point we did well just to get back to the front half of the fleet.” In the second race, a few boats once again pushed the middle of the line, and were called over early, though all of the leaders started clean. By now the winds were a fairly consistent eight knots, still from the east-southeast. This race also saw a wire to wire winner with Peter Duncan taking his first of what would be three guns over the weekend. He was closely followed by Jim Cunningham. Tom Carruthers rounded out the top three, fresh off his recent win in San Diego.
Sunday brought a bit more wind to the bay with speeds above ten knots. Race four got under way at 1100, with a 1.6mile first beat at a 115 degree bearing. Peter Duncan was first to the weather mark, a lead he would not relinquish for the remainder of the race. Jim Cunningham, sailing with Jeff Madrigali, Mark Ivy and Bryn Bachman took their third straight second place finish, in what had now become a two boat regatta.
In the last race it all came down to Cunningham and Duncan. With a ten as a throwout, to win the Piana Cup, Cunningham simply needed to beat Duncan, or have Duncan finish lower than fifth. However, some technical issues undid Cunningham’s team. “We didn’t get a good start in the last race,” said Madrigali. “We probably should have started near him (Duncan), but we were a little out of whack. But all in all we sailed well. We never dropped boats, and always finished in the best position we were in in any given race. We’re happy.”
When asked about that fifth and deciding race, Peter Duncan said, “We noticed a bit of a right shift while practicing before the race. We decided to go that way, and it was still there. We pretty much stayed right all weekend, except for the last two legs on Sunday when the left paid better.”
Commenting Jud Smith, “We tried to stay in the top five all weekend. We screwed up the first race, but recovered in the next two. The right had good pressure all weekend except as it died at the end of the day, and then the left paid.”
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To see full regatta results, please visit here.