Tuesday, March 22, 2016

FLOJITO Tops J/70 BACARDI Miami Sailing Week

J/70s sailing off Miami, FL (Coconut Grove, FL)- The seventh annual BACARDI Miami Sailing Week (BMSW) presented by EFG Bank took place from March 10th to 13th in Miami, Florida with the fleet greeted by absolutely spectacular sailing conditions for all three days of the event.  The Biscayne Bay YC RC/PRO team were brilliant in their execution, setting courses before any of the teams made it to the starting area and were ready to start the fleet on-time every day.

The thirty-five boat J/70 fleet was thrilled to be the ONLY fleet that sailed on Thursday, the start of the regatta. With 20-27 kt easterly winds, it was full-on blasting into big, steep chop upwind and thrill-a-minute sleigh rides downwind!  By Friday and Saturday, the wind continued well into the 10—20 kts range with the breeze slowly veering into the southeast as had been forecasted for nearly a week beforehand.  The monster high-pressure system offshore of Cape Hatteras kept feeding the Florida shoreline with plenty of breeze and waves, much to the delight of the J/70 fleet.

J/70 sailboats- flying off Miami, FloridaTaking advantage of the challenging conditions with brilliant tactics (they went left every race upwind) and strong boatspeed, the current 2015 J/70 World Champion team, FLOJITO Y COOPERANDO skippered by Julian Fernandez Neckelmann, sailed an excellent series to win with 12 pts total, never finishing below third in any race.  His team consisted of multiple World Champion tactician, Bill Hardesty, working the mainsheet hard; Willem Van Waay, bowman extraordinaire; and Daniel Velaust- chief spinnaker trim.

After the first day of sailing three races, three teams seemed to have mastered the conditions.  Leading with a 2-1-2 scoreline was Fernandez’s FLOJITO crew.  They were followed by Carlo Alberini and his CALVI NETWORK team that posted a 1-2-3 for 6 points and Bob Hughes’s HEARTBREAKER finished the day in third place with a 4-3-1 record for 8 pts. Rounding out the top five were Alan Terhune’s DAZZLER in fourth place and Joel Ronning’s CATAPULT in fifth position.

J/70s cruising off Miami, FloridaHughes attributed their overall success and their Race 3 win to boat handling and communication. “Maintaining boat speed was the main focus today. Upwind we played with the jib leads a lot to help us power through all the chop. Downwind, we constantly communicated about puffs moving down the course and about moving efficiently through puffs and lulls when the pressure differentials were high. Also moving the body weight around the boat depending on the velocity was important to make sure the boat was always balanced from bow to stern.”

“One of our primary strategies for today was to make sure we set ourselves up on the starting line in a position that allowed us to sail fast forward for the first 5 minutes after the start without having to tack,” added Heartbreaker trimmer George Peet.

Leading the Corinthians after the first day was Heather Gregg & Joe Bardenheier’s MUSE with a 14-4-10 record for 28 pts.  Lying in second and third, respectively, were two Uruguayan teams from YC Punta del Este- Diego Garcia’s CHAPULIN and Aldo Centenaro (and family crew) on PURA JODA.

J/70 winners- Julian Fernandez- Flojito y CooperandoThe second day of racing brought more most excellent sailing conditions.  Three more races were sailed in moderate conditions, but with the challenge of figuring out when to go into planing mode, soak/displacement mode, or wing-n-wing mode downwind!  It was a tough tactical challenge to figure out which wind-streaks to choose and when to use which mode to your advantage!  Continuing their master of the conditions, the FLOJITO crew again went left off the start each time and went left on every leg upwind to score a 1-3-2 to maintain their firm grip at the top of the leaderboard.  Concurrently, Alberini’s CALVI NETWORK posted a 7-2-1 to also hang on to second place.  However, the balance of the top five went “topsy-turvy” rapidly.  With a 4-1-6, Peter Duncan’s RELATIVE OBSCURITY crew discovered FLOJITO’s formula and they, too, went left virtually every upwind leg to leap from 8th into third overall!  Next, Hughes’ HEARTBREAKER was still working on their “formula” for success, but somehow got it wrong, posting a 10-6-25 to drop into 4th place.  Ronning’s CATAPULT managed to sail a solid, consistent 3-7-9 to remain in fifth overall.

J/70 Corinthians winner- MUSEIn the Corinthians division, Gregg & Bardenheier’s MUSE sailed another consistent day to hold onto the lead with the same two Uruguayan teams following them, Garcia’s CHAPULIN in 2nd and Centenaro’s PURA JODA in 3rd.

The third and final day on Saturday dawned with a forecast for moderate winds diminishing into the 8-12 kts range by early afternoon.  The Biscayne Bay YC RC/PRO wisely decided to run two quick races and send the fleet in for awards and packing up their boats. By winning the first race of the day, Fernandez’s FLOJITO crew celebrated and took DNS in the last race, sailing home to celebrate their well-deserved victory.  In the end, there were no changes in the top five standings despite two more races sailed.  Alberini’s CALVI NETWORK finished 2nd followed by Duncan’s RELATIVE OBSCURITY 3rd, Hughes’ HEARTBREAKER 4th and Ronning’s CATAPULT 5th.  The same held true for the Corinthians division, with Gregg/ Bardenheier’s MUSE winning followed by Garcia’s CHAPULIN in the silver and Centenaro’s PURA JODA taking the bronze.

The Bacardi Miami Sailing Week hosts did an excellent job of running and managing the event.  Blessed with gorgeous weather and wind conditions, virtually everyone on the water went home smiling with a Bacardi rum & coke in hand.  They also produced great photos with the help of famous Newport photographer Cory Silken.  And, their video productions were excellent from Icarus Sailing Media. Here is a sampling of those sailing videos below.
Summary- J/70s @ Bacardi Miami Sailing Week   Day 1   Day 2   Day 3   Sailing photo credits- Cory Silken/ Bacardi Miami Sailing Week   For more BACARDI Miami Sailing Week information