Monday, March 20, 2017

Duncan Triumphs @ Bacardi Sailing Week Regatta

J/70s sailing Bacardi Miami Sailing Week (Coconut Grove, FL)- This year’s Bacardi regatta took place from March 9th to 11th, hosted by the triumvirate of Biscayne Bay sailing clubs- Coral Reef YC, Biscayne Bay YC, and Coconut Grove SC.  The regatta conditions were challenging for all, for both sailors as well as the RC/PRO’s on each circle.

The thirty-six boats from seven nations (USA, Argentina, United Kingdom, Monaco, Brazil, Poland, & Uruguay) that participated in event were treated to a challenging combination of light to moderate conditions that never seemed to fall into the “normal” tactical/ strategic patterns many sailors are accustomed to on Biscayne Bay.

J/70s sailin on Biscayne BayThe three days of racing saw mostly light winds from the Eastern to Southerly quadrants, with enormous wind streaks and massive holes characterizing the dynamics of the race course.  According to many, the “middle was death”, you either had to pick one corner or another and try to control (or stay in touch) with your grouping.  The standings changed dramatically for one day to another.  In the end, it was the team on RELATIVE OBSCURITY that prevailed in the tough conditions, a very talented team that was led by owner/skipper Peter Duncan and renowned sailors like “Moose” McClintock from Newport, RI, Willem Van Waay from San Diego, CA and Victor Diaz DeLeon from Caracas, Venezuela.  Smart. Light. Fast. They were a hard combination to beat!

J/70s sailing off start at Bacardi MiamiChasing them hard all weekend were leading teams from both American coasts, with the Europeans and South Americans having a rough time divining what was happening on the course.  In the end, it was a talented group of College All-American sailors on TEAM VINEYARD VINES that took the silver six points back- John & Molly Baxter with Mark Ivey and Jake Ledow.  Taking third one point in arrears was a superstar crew from Southern California on-board MIDLIFE CRISIS, led by Bruce Golison with crew of Steve Hunt, Jeff Reynolds and Eric Shampain.  The balance of the top five include Mary Kullman’s NEW WAVE team from Tampa Bay, including Alex Shafer, Steve Liebel, and Megan Hislop in fourth place.  Fifth was secured by Brian Keane’s SAVASANA crew from Buzzards Bay, MA- Tom Barous, Stew McNay and Juan Weed.

Bruce Golison's Midlife Crisis sailing Bacardi MiamiIt was a very talented fleet that saw several leading teams with skipper/tacticians of America’s Cup contenders, Olympic Games Medallists, World Champions and European Champions that did not finish in the top ten overall.  Such is the state of the J/70 class today, the world’s great equalizer.  As Bob Fisher (and his friend Jack Knights) at Yachts & Yachting magazine in the United Kingdom once said about the J/24- “it’s a Laser with a lid”!  So simple, that many top teams can get it up to speed extremely quickly and be competitive.”

For some perspective, here is a “Note to Self” for many teams that sailed the Bacardi: “at some point in this regatta, I crossed ahead of an Olympic Medallist (470, Soling, Star) or World Champion (Star, Etchells 22, Farr 40, Melges 24, Melges 20, Melges 32, J/24, J/22, J/70, J/80, Lightning, 470, 420, Soling, Rainbow, Sonar, etc) or World Champion Match Racers (#1 in both Open and Women) or World Champion Team Racers.” In other words, it was a deeply talented fleet that rewarded those teams that made fewer mistakes.

Coral Reef YC Youth Sailing TeamThe event also marked the second qualifier for the U.S. J/70 Youth Championship.  The qualifying Coral Reef YC Youth Team was comprised of the following youth sailors (from left to right)- Ivan Schestopalov (skipper), Shawn Harvey (main/tactician), Clay Snyder (kite trimmer), Claudia Loiacono (Jib Trimmer), and Jack Johansson (crew/ tactics).  Claudia had this to say about their experience:

“The Coral Reef Youth Sailing Team and the crew of the Sail22/ Harken Headknockers would like to thank you for sponsoring us in the Bacardi Miami Sailing Week.  It was our first time racing a small keelboat and we are really excited to sail in the J/70 Youth Nationals in August!

As high school seniors, our sailing experience has been primarily, if not exclusively, in dinghies. Our challenges in sailing the J/70 were understanding the dynamics of having five people on the boat, focusing on our individual jobs and learning to trust each other to do the same.  We also learned a lot about tuning to different conditions and enjoyed sailing in a much more competitive fleet.  The skills learned will definitely advance our sailing careers and help us all keep competing in more advanced fleets.  Thank you for the wonderful opportunity this past weekend.  We really enjoyed sailing the J/70.”

Congratulations to them as they will be sailing in the U.S. J/70 Youths in Newport, RI this summer in the middle of August representing Coral Reef YC!  For more Bacardi Miami Sailing Week information Add to Flipboard Magazine.