Etchells Begin Annual Winter Endurance Test
Published on December 2nd, 2015
Formerly known as The Jaguar Cup Series, the 2016 Etchells Biscayne Bay Series kicks off in Miami this weekend with the Louis Piana Cup (Dec. 5-6). Hosted by Etchells Fleet 20 and the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, the four regatta series, spread out over four weekends between December and March, brings together many of the best Etchells sailors in the world.
With fifty-nine boats entered in the Louis Piana Cup, many former Etchells world champions are expected on the starting line on beautiful Biscayne Bay. Winner of the just completed world championships in Hong Kong, Jon McClean, Skip Dieball, and Jeff Eiber, head that list. They will face off against two-time world champ Bruce Burton (1986 & 1987) along with Dirk Kneulman (1998), and Marvin Beckman (2013). Also participating are Jud Smith (2006), sailing with Peter Duncan, and Andy Beadsworth (2007), sailing with Seamus McHugh.
The remainder of the fleet is liberally sprinkled with sailing rock stars and experienced Etchells drivers with multiple victories under their belts. Steve Benjamin, a newcomer to the class last year, was a close second to Dieball and McLean in Hong Kong. Tony Rey will again join up with George Andreadis, and Shannon Bush, with Brad Boston and Curt Oetking, is always competitive.
Other boats to watch include Senet Bischoff and Ben Kinney on their boat, KGB and Jeff Madrigali who is sailing with Andrew Cumming. Argyle Campbell, last year’s series overall winner, will miss the first regatta, but will likely be in the hunt for another title. In all, thirteen of last year’s top fifteen boats return to battle it out.
A new PRO will debut for this series. Former Etchells World Champion, Stuart Childerly will step in for Davey Brennan. He will be assisted by the highly experienced Biscayne Bay Yacht Club Race Committee, and we look forward to the usually well managed races.
The conditions on Biscayne Bay can vary over the course of four regattas. While the weather usually cooperates, providing warm temperatures and wind velocities in the mid-teens—real chamber of commerce conditions–things can get ugly too.
In January 2010, the Sid Doren (second stop of the series) was held just after the passage of a strong cold front. Temperatures dipped into the high 30s with gusts well over 20 knots. That was the year the local iguana population was decimated as they froze and fell from the trees.
Regardless of the weather, sailing on Biscayne can be tricky. An unexpected, quirky shift can turn the entire fleet upside down. With that in mind, the 2016 Etchells Biscayne Bay Series proves to be a quality winter endurance test without the hardship of winter.
Report by John Payne.