Photo Credit: FRIED ELLIOTT / friedbits.com
Race Day 5 at the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta featured one race for the Star and three races for the J/70 fleets. Another day of perfect conditions, but a few upsets on the leader board as the overnight leaders in both fleets were knocked down the pegging.
So far, Biscayne Bay has thrown up a complete mix of weather conditions, pushing teams to deliver their best across light to strong breeze and under a scorching sun to cloud cover. No day has been the same and so far no one team has dominated.
Hubert Merkelbach from Germany, President of the International Star Class, reflected on the event so far, saying, “Biscayne Bay gives everyone a chance to familiarize with all kinds of weather and wind and wave conditions. The fleet of Star boats is proving that this place is unique so we are very happy to be here. This is one of the best places in the world to sail and I recommend everybody to come again next year for Bacardi Cup”.
The Bacardi party nights continue, as the focus today turns to giving thanks to the numerous volunteers who make the event possible. Following on from the traditional Bacardi Cup Happy Hour at Coral Reef Yacht Club, an appreciation party was hosted at Shake a Leg Miami for the Race Committee and all volunteers.
All change in the Star Class as Italy’s Diego Negri / Sergio Lambertenghi leap to the top of the leader board at the 91st Bacardi Cup. With the discard kicking in after race 5, their 11th place in race 3 is wiped out and scorecard boosted by a 2nd place in today’s race. The pair has overtaken defending World Champions Eivind Melleby / Joshua Revkinwho drop to second overall, and sit neck and neck on a tiebreak of 14 points with Robert Scheidt / Brian Fatih in third and Lars Grael / Samuel Gonclaves in fourth. Nail bitingly close, as these renowned sailors dig deep to deliver their optimum performances.
The world’s best are racing in the Star Class, and today’s race track belonged to Lars Grael / Samuel Gonclaves, Bacardi Cup winners in 2014 and 2015, whose phenomenal boat speed pushed them to the first mark with massive gains over the rest of the fleet.
“Today was a very happy day for us in terms of results, because we managed to start on the windward side of the starting line, so we wanted to go right since the beginning”,commented Grael on the pair’s race strategy. “So we had a good start, we could clear very fast and after the start I think we had very good boat speed and were pointing very high, and we managed to get some good puffs from right and a few ones from the left. Once you are first at the first mark of course the race gets much easier, because you sail clean”.
The Italian partnership of Negri / Lambertenghi applied pressure to the Brazilians on the first downwind leg, and again attacked on the second downwind forcing the two teams into an upwind battle, with Negri / Lambertenghi tacking on the Brazilians at every opportunity.
Grael recounted the final stages of the race, saying, “At the end we got some pressure on the left, so of course once we were sailing in front the race gets much easier! We always try to win, but the problem is not only ourselves, but everyone is trying to. But we have to do the best race we can”, continued Grael in reference to Saturday’s decider, “But of course Diego is protecting a 4 point lead which is strategically good for him, and he has been sailing very consistent this regatta. Robert Scheidt and Eivind Melleby of course are big challengers for the title. We have to do our best considering we have a 37th in the first race, so we cannot afford to have too much risk so we fall too many positions”.
Of note, each of the wins from the five races has been claimed by a different team, as every partnership finds their particular groove in the varying conditions. In theory, going into Saturday’s podium deciding race, any of the top seven teams has a punt at the medals. In practice, it is likely to be a battle royal between the top four teams, as 2nd through to 4th are tied on points, with the leaders holding a narrow 4 point advantage.
Star Class - Results after Race 5:
1. Diego Negri / Sergio Lambertenghi (ITA) - 10 pts
2. Eivind Melleby (NOR) / Joshua Revkin (USA) - 14 pts
3. Robert Scheidt (BRA) / Brian Fatih (USA) - 14 pts
4. Lars Grael / Samuel Gonclaves (BRA) - 14 pts
5. Paul Cayard / Mark Strube (USA) - 21 pts
6. Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise (USA) - 23 pts
7. Xavier Rohart / Sebastien Guidoux (FRA) - 26 pts
8. Iain Percy / Andres Ekstrom (GBR) - 32 pts
9. Augie Diaz (USA) / Bruno Prada (BRA) - 36 pts
10. Peter O'Leary / Robert O'Leary (IRL) - 41 pts
Racing on Saturday March 10th features one race for the Star Class with a scheduled start of 10:55 hours.
Over one hundred and twenty teams from 20 nations are competing in the Star and J/70 fleets: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Ukraine and United States.