Monday, March 4, 2013

Bacardi Miami J/70 Preview

J/70s starting line off Florida (Miami, FL)– It's less than a week before the fourth annual running of BACARDI Miami Sailing Week. A hot list of competitors, great race management and the impossible-to-top winter sailing destination of Biscayne Bay combine with the hospitality Bacardi is known for to put on an outstanding event for one-design sailors from 13 nations who will compete in five classes, including the debut of the J/70 class now taking the world by storm!

After the Quantum Key West Race Week and the Sperry Topsider St Petersburg NOOD Regatta it's pretty self-evident the J/70 class is flying down the learning curve, both linearly (for some) as well as exponentially (for most).  Yes, for those near the top of the fleet it's a process of refinement and for those on the "exponential learning curve" it's a quick education on how to sail a very, very simple boat faster.

For many, it's boiling down to the basics, how to start effectively, sail a reasonable windward first leg, set the chute the first time without shrimping it, then staying in pressure to get down to the first downwind mark while making trade-offs between "planing mode" versus "soak mode". The jury is still out on this one, but even one-design sailing guru David Ullman from ULLMAN SAILS says soak vs plane mode is about 11-14 kts of TWS, "all depends on the wave train and angle."

J/70 one-design sailboats MonacoFor the Bacardi, there are many teams that can be considered contenders, with J/22, J/24, J/80 World Champions amongst the group, e.g. some of the world's best sailors.  One then can't forget those who've learned how to sail fast offshore and translate those experiences onto the short course. It's quite a remarkable cross-section of sailing experience that will be present for this year's J/70 debut in the Bacardi Regatta Miami.

For starters, there's "Tito Bacardi's favorite son"- Dick Stearns- a former STAR World Champion and Havana's "King of Sailors" and family. A long time ago, when you could travel to Havana, Cuba, a little kid named "Richie" followed in his Dad's footsteps and wished he could sail there, too. This coming week, Richie will be sailing with Amy Neill, of Chicago's NITEMARE fame (Melges 24, Melges 32, Farr 40, Santa Cruz 70), on their J/70 in one of the most dynamic one-design classes ever created.

J/70 one-design sailboat- sailing fast off Key WestChallenging them will be a "rogues gallery" of extraordinary competitors from across the spectrum of sailing from national to world champions in some of the word's most competitive classes. For starters, Joel Ronning from Minnesota aboard CATAPULT will be hoping to defend his first outing in the J/70 class at St Pete's NOOD Regatta.  Then, you have a J/24, Melges 24/32 champion in the form of Joe Woods from Torquay, England sailing RED taking a swing at the brass ring. Not far behind them will be a couple of rascals in the form of past J/24 World/ National Champions Tim Healy and Will Welles sailing together on RASCAL.  Giving the first two J/70 regatta winners a "run for the money" will be the following championship teams: RELATIVE OBSCURITY sailed by Peter Duncan and Tom Blackwell with Jud Smith (Etchells 22 World Champion); SAVASANA skippered by Brian Keane (J/80, J/105 Key West Champ and College All-American & Singlehanded champion); SPRING sailed by Dave Franzel (Corinthian's Champion at Key West Race Week); STAMPEDE sailed by some Texas guys who really know how to sail- the Loring/ Pasquinelli team (4th Key West and are J/80 North American champions); SUGAR DADDY sailed by Mark Ploch and Mike Bruno (Mark was first J/24 Midwinters Champion in 1978 and Mike is J/122 North American champion in 2009); and TORQEEDO has Rolf Schmidt and Juergen Waldheim showing up from Germany (famous one-design sailors from Berlin).

During the event sailors will enjoy the hospitality lounge, BACARDI Rum tastings, as well as the daily prize giving for the top-three finishers and the final awards dinner. The prestigious Coral Reef Yacht Club will coordinate on-water activities in collaboration with Biscayne Bay Yacht Club and Coconut Grove Sailing Club. The U.S. Sailing Center and Shake-A-Leg Miami will also support the event.
What it's like to sail a J/70 in a moderate breeze  For more Bacardi Miami Sailing Week information