BACARDÍ Winter Series Event 2 welcomes over fifty teams for Miami showdown

Miami, January 26-28, 2024 – The organizers of the Bacardi Winter Series 2023/2024 are set to welcome a stellar line up of over fifty J/70 and Melges 24 teams to Shake-A-Leg in Miami this weekend, January 26-28.
Bacardi Winter Series 2 (BWS2) marks the second of a three-event series for the J/70 and Melges 24, which culminates at the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta (BCIR) in March 2024.

Upping the pace downwind with the J/70 fleet

Eddie Cutillas of Bacardi USA said, “Consistently, the Bacardi series draws the biggest names in the sailing world.  “Sailors appreciate the elite competition and the stunning Miami location. Racing on the complex and demanding waters of Biscayne Bay against so many of the world’s best is a truly a test of fortitude. We anticipate an incredible three days of competition and camaraderie. Shoreside teams can kick back and enjoy our renowned Bacardi hospitality and lively parties.”

With numerous highly skilled sailors sharing an uncompromising desire to win, predicting who will pull off the surprises over the nine scheduled races on Biscayne Bay is a challenge. Racing kicks off at 11:00 hrs. on Friday, January 26, with the Melges 24’s leading the way,  followed by the J/70’s. The Race Committee, provided by Coconut Grove Sailing Club, will ensure the smooth execution of the races, adding an extra layer of expertise to the event.
The wind forecast for Friday’s opening day looks to be set at 14-18 knots, offering more favorable weather compared to the formidable conditions faced at the opening event in December 2023.
Post-race, Bacardi, the Miami-based king of hospitality, will greet and host with great food, music and plenty of Bacardi rum.

J/70 racing on the complex and demanding waters of Biscayne Bay

David Jannetti’s team on ‘Very Odd’ hit the ground running and romped to a one-minute victory at December’s one-race opening event. However, BWS2 promises a very different dynamic with plenty of other teams joining the mix this time around.
Amongst the thirty-three-boat line-up will be current J/70 World Champion Charles Thompson’s aboard ‘Brutus III’. A fierce rivalry is set to unfold as Thompson once again clashes with Bruce Golison on ‘Midlife Crisis’ who secured the 2nd spot behind him at the J/70 Worlds.
The BWS2 marks their first encounter since, setting the stage for this compelling showdown. They, along with plenty of other teams, have the ability to deliver under pressure,  and all will be eager to make their mark as they build towards the BCIR finale.
Daniel Goldberg’s ‘Bazinga!’ finished 2nd behind Jannetti at Winter Series 1 and returns for another shot at success. Their best result to date at a Bacardi event is marked by their 2ndplace finish at the 2022 BCIR, ahead of ‘Brutus III’. 
Robert Hughes’ team on ‘Heartbreaker’ is another consistent presence among the frontrunners and will be looking to improve their 3rd place finish at last year’s event. ‘Heartbreaker’ has two-time J/70 World Champion and two-time US Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Jud Smith onboard. Smith’s recent triumph at the J70 Winter Series 2 earlier this month further solidifies the team’s competitive edge.

Melges 24 racing on the stunning waters of Biscayne Bay against the Miami city skyline

Melges 24 
After their single-race victory at the opening event, Andrea Pozzi’s ‘Bombarda’ team return to defend their bragging rights. We wait to see whether they will again unlock their go-fast set up or be unseated.
Fourteen of the teams from BWS1, including eight of the top ten finishers, return for BWS2. Nothing stands still in sailing, and there are plenty of seasoned teams making BWS2 their series debut. They race frequently, know each other’s strengths and what it takes to secure a podium finish. Racing will be fierce as the Melges 24’s top sailors vie for supremacy and to trump ‘Bombarda’.
Bruce Ayres’ team on ‘Monsoon’ missed BWS1 and enter the fray with their best most recent result being a noteworthy 4th place at the 2023 Melges 24 Worlds. Ayres finished ahead of Laura Grondin’s ‘Dark Energy‘ team by a slim margin. Switch that rivalry to making the right calls on the waters of Biscayne Bay, and respective form has seen their competitive balance closely matched. They regularly trade leaderboard places throughout the regattas. The upper hand at the 2023 BCIR went to Ayres, who finished 4th compared to Grondin’s 7th.
Cuyler Morris on ‘Dark Horse’ trailed ‘Bombarda’ at BWS1 to finish in 2nd place, with Grondin in third. Most recently Cuyler won the 2023 Melges 24 Atlantic Coast & Gulf Coast Championship.

 An intense battle between Dark Horse (863) and Bombarda (865)

Richard Reid’s ‘Zingara’ team are the reigning North American Champions and will be well up amongst the contenders as well. The well-known ‘Zenda Express’ will feature Eddie Cox steering, as usual helmsman Harry Melges IV focuses on NYYC American Magic duties. 
Canada’s Dan Berezin on ‘Surprise’ was the top placed Corinthian team, and returns for another shot. 
The Bacardi Invitational Winter Series 2 is the final chance for teams to measure themselves against competitors, before the facing each other at the finals during the Bacardi Invitational Regatta from March 6-9, 2024. There the J/70 and Melges 24 will be joined by the Snipe, VX One and Viper 640 classes. The historic Bacardi Cup for the Star Class will celebrate its 97th anniversary from March 3-9, 2024.

Text Credit: Luissa Smith
Photo Credits: Hannah Lee Noll

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January 27, 2024 Press Release, WS2