Tricky Day of Sailing on Opening Day at Bacardi Winter Series Event 2


A slow start to the opening race of the day for all fleets at Bacardi Winter Series event 2 on January 28, with the light fluky breeze ensuring the notorious Biscayne Bay race track lived up to its reputation.

Plenty of leader board shuffles saw teams jostle in the tricky and super shifty conditions, with three races for each of the J/70 and Melges 24 and six for the 69F fleets. Established contenders and new names made their mark on the leader board, which will see plenty of battles ahead over the weekend as Bobby Julien in the J/70, Peter Duncan in the Melges 24 and Jonas Warrer in the 69F attempt to hold onto their opening day glory.

Racing continues on January 29 in what is forecast to be a rough and tumble breeze of around 21 knots with gusts up to 30. Bring it on! Sunday, January 30, will see the breeze ease up.

Three J/70 races and three different winners. Consistency from Bobby Julien and team on ‘Dingbat’ advanced them from a double digit opening race finish to score a 2,4 and lead the fleet by 1 point over Richard Witzel on ‘Rowdy’, with David Jannetti’s ‘Very Odd’ 4 points behind in third.

“Today was a challenging day as it was a west wind and very, very shifty and puffy and, for a relatively new sailor, it was a tough day,” commented Bobby Julien.

“Thanks to the crew we took advantage of some of the shifts and we were reasonably strong downwind and it worked out alright.

‘Dingbat’ crew member Alec Anderson continued, “We didn’t have particularly good starts today, but in those conditions sometimes it’s not the end of the world. We were able to get our bow free and clean on all three and get relatively in phase and the boat was going well.”

Choosing the left hand side of the light wind track in race 1 gave a clear advantage, which rewarded Jim Vos on ‘Godzilla’ who read the shifts to hustle through the fleet and take the opening race win.

Race 2 saw the clouds roll in, the temperature drop and the breeze increase, slightly. After a general recall, the fleet navigated their way through a really challenging breeze, where playing the light wind shifts which traced super slow across the course was key.

Fresh from finishing the RORC Transatlantic Race on ‘Powerplay’, Peter Cunningham took the early lead, but couldn’t hold it as the conditions continued to drop to around 5 knots, oscillating 5-10 degrees. Those who read and played the shifts upwind triumphed as the pressure continually changed. Onto the second upwind and the fleet played the right side, with Robert Hughes’ ‘Heartbreaker’ going on to take the win, Bobby Julien in 2nd and Richard Witzel in 3rd.

Onto race 3 and Victor Cribb on ‘Victory’ claimed the early lead, but was overhauled by Witzel’s ‘Rowdy’ who took the bullet, ‘Victory’ in 2nd and ‘Heartbreaker’ finishing 3rd.

J/70 – Top 10 Provisional Results after 3 races

  1. Bobby Julien / Thomas Barrows / Alec Anderson / Chris Watters (USA 639) – 17 pts
  2. Richard Witzel / Tomas Dietrich / Carlos Robles / Jud Smith (USA 1562) – 18 pts
  3. David Jannetti / Travis Odenbach / Andy Horton / Kris Warner (USA 1513) – 22 pts
  4. Daniel Goldberg / Tomas Hornos / Lucas Calabrese / Ian Coleman (USA 84) – 22 pts
  5. Robert Hughes / Willem Van Way / Paul Goodison / Mark (USA 353) – 24 pts
  6. Jim Vos / Kevin Abbink / Steve Hunt / Allen McLashen (USA 1372) – 26 pts
  7. Peter Vessella / Phil Trinter / Mark Mendelblatt (USA 585) – 29 pts
  8. Victor Cribb / Griener Hobbs / Orrin Starr / Mac Agnese (USA 677) – 30 pts
  9. Trey Sheehan / Ron Weed / Brad Boston / Curtis Florence (USA 389) – 31 pts
  10. Al Minella / Rob Tanner / John Wallace / Nevin Snow (USA 684) – 33 pts

Peter Duncan reminded everyone of his versatility whatever the weather, to close the opening three race day in first overall with his crew on ‘Raza Mixta’.

“We had a great day today,” said Peter Duncan. “We had really nice crew work and a good tempo on board the boat.

“What we did right today was that we stayed in phase. We were tacking on shifts, and there were a fair amount of shifts going on out there, and we were lucky. The shifts are actually very interesting out on Biscayne Bay in a breeze like today, because the shifts are more dominated by the puffs and you need to stay in breeze. So we did a good job with that.

“It was a fun day, it was a beautiful day’s sailing and we are happy to be here.”

Race 1 was all about Harry Melges IV, grandson of iconic sailing personality Buddy Melges, and his crew on ‘Zenda Express’ who delivered a horizon job, leading race 1 from start to finish. Second to ‘Raza Mixta’ and third to Sandra Askew’s ‘Flying Jenny’ team.

Winner of last year’s Winter Series event 2 and the 2021 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta, Bora Gulari on ‘New England Ropes’ showcased his credentials in race 2, leading by around 6 boat lengths at the leeward gate. With all top 5 boats packed closely together and pushed hard by Peter Duncan, Gulari struggled to maintain his control in the neck and neck battle. On the final downwind, Duncan drove hard, securing his lane to extend over Gulari and take the win, with Michael Goldfarb on ‘WarCanoe’ in third.

Onto race 3 and the breeze demanded a change of pace and a fully hiked crew, with the race again looking set to belong to Duncan’s ‘Raza Mixta’ who led the first two legs. Heading back upwind, Peter Bergendahl’s ‘Wardance’ optimized their attack to take the advantage, with Megan Ratliff’s ‘Decorum’ close behind. As these two teams locked into their own battle, John Bailey’s Talisman’ claimed a tidy third place.

Melges 24 – Top 10 Provisional Results after 3 races

  1. Peter Duncan / Victor Diaz de Leon / Matt Pitsay / Erik Shampain / Morgan Trubovick (USA 829) – 7 pts
  2. Bora Gulari / Kyle Navin / Norman Berge / Ian Liberty / Dave Hughes (USA 820) – 13 pts
  3. John Bailey / Mike Buckley / John Bowden / Beth Whitener / Bear (USA 720) – 13 pts
  4. Michael Goldfarb / Jonny Goldsberry / Morten Henriksen / Matteo Ramian / Emory Williams (USA 825) – 15 pts
  5. Harry Melges IV / Finn Rowe / Ripley Shelley / Jeremy Wilmot / Kate O’Donnell (USA 866) – 19 pts
  6. Laura Grondin / Richard Peale / Taylor Canfield / Cole Brauer (USA 864) – 23 pts
  7. Sandra Askew / Nick Ford / Dave Shreiner / Allen Nakamisha / Reed Baldridge (USA 801) – 24 pts
  8. Peter Bergendahl / Scott Nixon / OJ O’Connell / Tim Ambrose / Spencer Dominguez (USA 798) – 25 pts
  9. Megan Ratliff / Hunter Ratliff / Katrina Williams / Halsey Richartz / Zac Hernandez (USA 805) – 25 pts
  10. Richard Reid / Rebecca Anderson / Goncalo Ribeiro / Brian Kamilar / Ian Sloan (CAN 853) – 27 pts

There was huge excitement to witness the debut appearance of the foiling 69F on Biscayne Bay, with its roster of high-profile young talent.

All six competing teams made their mark on the track, but ultimately the battle for glory was a duel between Denmark’s ‘Racing Yachts’ helmed by 2008 Olympic 49er gold medallist Jonas Warrer and Switzerland’s ‘Team Tilt’ helmed by Sebastian Shneiter, with Tokyo 2020 49er gold medallist Stuart Bithell on board. The day’s scorecard ended with 3 wins to ‘Racing Yachts’, 2 to ‘Team Tilt’ and 1 to Matteo Pilati driving ‘Fly Marga’ of Italy.

Despite the low winds, the 69F fleet were up and foiling, blasting their way round the track in short, sharp 9-10 minute races and hitting speeds of over 28 knots.

Racing the 69F is something quite new, as Eric Monez (ARG) crew on ‘The Yugs’, explained, “This is a completely different experience, because it is all about foiling and you have to fly. When you fly you are ok, and when you don’t fly you have a problem because everyone will pass you!

“The teamwork is very, very important. However, the boat is very easy to sail, it is not just for professionals and most people can sail it. It is fast, fun and a great experience.”

69F – Provisional Results after 6 races
1. Racing Yachts (DEN) – 104 pts
2. Team Tilt (SUI) – 101.5 pts
3. Fly Marga (ITA) – 96 pts
4. Convergence (USA) – 88 pts
5. The Yugs (ARG) – 84 pts
6. Main Squeeze (USA) – 82 pts

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January 28, 2022 Press Release, WS2