Photo Credit: FRIED ELLIOTT / friedbits.com
A great race win by Cayard/Liljedahl sets the stage for a suspense filled finale on Saturday, as they challenge Doyle/Infelise.
Miami and the South of Florida woke up under a cloudy sky with the wind blowing vigorously at 15/18 knots from East/North East on day 5 of the 2019 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta. All races started on schedule at 1100 hours across the different race courses on Biscayne Bay. Three races were wrapped up for the J/70, Melges 24, Viper 640 and the Flying Tiger 7.5, and one very long five leg race for the Star Class.
The fifth day of the Bacardi Cup saw Paul Cayard/Magnus Liljedahl (USA) starting fast and right on time at the pin end, claiming the lead to the first mark and extending over the tight and fierce fleet in pursuit. Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise (USA), Eivind Melleby (NOR) and Joshua Revkin (USA), Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Frithjof Kleen (GER) and, in fifth position, Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (FRA) are all members of the elite band of former Star World Champions, carrying gold stars on their mainsails, who pursued Cayard/Liljedahl.
Despite intense pressure, the Cayard/Liljedahl partnership did not buckle, made no mistakes and just observed the action unfolding behind. Numerous shuffles in fleet position saw the overall leaderboard change throughout the race, as teams made their final charge to position themselves with a podium chance ahead of Saturday’s final racing. Positions are close, with just 5 points separating the top three, and 11 points separating the top 5, so plenty of teams sit well in with a shot at stepping up to the podium. The question of who will lift the 92 year old Bacardi Cup Trophy is between two teams, as only Cayard/Liljedahl and Doyle/Infelise can mathematically win. The odds are on the most solid team in the series Doyle/Infelise. To oust them, Paul Cayard will have to win the race and Doyle/Infelise finish 3rd or worse. Regardless of the odds, the momentum is with the 1992 Louis Vuitton Cup winner and his crew, Olympic Champion Magnus Liljedahl, who has won the Bacardi Cup six times with different skippers, the last time just two years ago with Mark Mendelblatt (USA).
“We are just going out and try to do what we’ve been doing in the last few races,” said Paul Cayard (USA). “I think we found our groove, we have good speed, we just need to get a good start, the black flag will be up, and we'll just try to sail another great race”.
“It’s pretty helpful to have had a solid week,” responded Eric Doyle. “We’ll just start and always know where Paul is and if we get ahead it’s going to be a long day for him on the beat. It’s going to be tough but it should be a fun race.”
Tomorrow, Saturday March 8th, is the last day of the Bacardi Invitational Regatta and another 1100 hours start is scheduled for everyone. A few hours later the winners will be known, and the Star Class will crown its 92nd Bacardi Cup Champion, as another team is recorded in the history of this amazing event that started in 1927.