Monday, March 18, 2013

SAVASANA Flies @ Bacardi Sailing Week

J/70 Brian Keane- Savasana sailing Bacardi Miami sailing week(Miami, Florida)- The J/70 class made a strong debut in Miami with twenty boats racing for top honors in the Bacardi Miami Sailing Week regatta. Teams participated from all across America, including two foreign entries from Germany and the United Kingdom! The Bacardi sponsors did a fabulous job hosting the event along with the three clubs that support the entire regatta (Biscayne Bay YC, Coconut Grove YC & Coral Reef YC).

The fact that Bacardi has perhaps at least a cosmic connection to the Weather Gods (e.g. plenty of red wine to offer Neptune), it was clear they were pleased and delivered near postcard-perfect sailing conditions for most of the regatta.  While practice Wednesday was truly blowing "dogs off chains", with gusts over 25 kts, Thursday's sailing provided one race in light air followed by two days of superb sailing (eight races alone Friday & Saturday) with plenty of sun, moderate shifty northerly breezes and light chop on aquamarine waters on Biscayne Bay.

In pole position with no finish worse than third to start the final day of the series, Brian Keane (Weston, Mass.) sailed SAVASANA to add two more wins to his score line to take the inaugural Bacardi Miami Sailing Week J/70 class win with a mere 13 points.

J/70s sailing Bacardi Miami sailing week“We learned a lot in Key West, tried new things here in Miami and things have worked out!,” said Keane. “Our goal was to be in the top-five and we did it. The J/70 class is the most exciting class in 10 years with top sailors; it’s the best fleet in North America right now; and winning Miami is a great accomplishment.”

Keane had the largest point cushion – 19 points – of any top finisher in the competing fleets across the entire Bacardi Cup Miami Sailing Regatta.  Peter Duncan (Rye, N.Y.), who won one of the day’s races, finished second overall with 32 points, beating Will Welles (Portsmouth, R.I.) in a standings tie-breaker. Joe Woods (Torquay, GBR) sailing RED with 43 points, and Brian Elliott (Sayville, N.Y.) onboard B-SQUARED with 47, complete the top-five.

The regatta started out on a slow note.  On the first day of racing, Mother Nature and the NOAA forecast clearly were not in-sync with one another and the Bacardi Chamber of Commerce! Although twenty J/70s made it across the starting line in their class debut at Bacardi Miami Sailing Week, eight did not make the time limit to cross the finish line and were scored accordingly.

Winning the first race, prophetically was the St Pete NOOD Regatta winner, Joel Ronning on CATAPULT.  "This boat works very well in light air,” said race winner Joel Ronning (Minneapolis, Minn.). “We're very excited about the J/70, it controls just perfect. I also like the fleet, it's very active and competition is great fun. We had tuned it up for light air and today it paid off. But I must say that yesterday we practiced in heavier air and I was very satisfied as well; it's enjoyable in both conditions. I'm looking forward to more racing."  On that first day, finishing second was Brian Keane (Weston, Mass.) on SAVASANA, followed by Joe Woods (Torquay, GBR) on RED, Bodo von der Wense (Wayne, Penn.) on TURBO DUCK and Juergen Waldheim (Berlin, GER) on TORQEEDO.

The second day of racing could only be described as "perfect".  A clear NNE breeze filled in blowing 8-13 kts all day with a light chop and the fleet could not have been more pleased; especially as the northeast USA was getting blasted again by yet another powerful northeaster snow-storm, blizzard with ginormously powerful 20-25 foot waves driven by 35-50 kt winds washing houses away on Cape Code and Boston beaches.

The 20-boat J/70 class managed to sail five races, allowing them to drop their worst race in calculating the overall points. Brian Keane (Weston, Mass.) SAVASANA sailed consistently and at that point in the series (with two wins) had nine points and the top position in the overall standings after finishes of 2-3-3-1-1-2. Will Welles (Portsmouth, R.I.) sailing with Key West Champion Tim Healy aboard on RASCAL won the final race of the day and had 13 points for second overall and a nine-point cushion over Joe Woods (Torquay, GBR). Brian Elliott (Sayville, N.Y.) on B-SQUARED also won a race, and was fourth overall with 25 points, followed by Peter Duncan (Rye, N.Y.) and Jud Smith with 26 points. Mark Ploch (Bronx, N.Y.) on SUGAR DADDY won the opening race of the day -- a strong recovery after not making the time limit in the first race of the series. He was sixth overall with 30 points.

The third and final day of the series again dawned with more northerly breezes with a mild front pushing through that generated 8-14 knot winds in gust cells under puffy dark clouds.  With three more races under their belts, the J/70 fleet could not have been more pleased as they sailed back to shore mid-afternoon, knowing they had all left all their energy out on the sunny, gorgeous azure waters of Biscayne Bay.

J/70 Bacardi girlsDuring the event sailors enjoyed the fabulous hospitality lounge, BACARDI Rum tastings, as well as the daily prize giving for the top-three finishers and the final awards dinner. This also included the BACARDI SKY BAR in Coral Gables at Bacardi USA HQ ... it's Bacardi Cup Party time!  A special exhibit of America’s Cup history and memorabilia featured the work of Rhode Island-based photographer Cory Silken in the North Hall of the Coconut Grove Convention Center. The prestigious Coral Reef Yacht Club coordinated 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 also supported the event. Kudos to all that made the event an enormous success, and to Bacardi's Andrea Falcone, to Coral Reef's Jane-Ann Pincus (J70 course PRO), Marc Pincus (Regatta Chair) and the Bischoff family (Connie, Rick, etc) for the J70 race committee boat- the famously green SEA SHELL!  For more J/70 Bacardi Miami Sailing Week sailing information