Strong cast at Bacardi Winter Series

Published on January 21st, 2020

As event 2 of the 2019/2020 Bacardi Invitational Winter Series unfolds January 23-26, many of the world’s top Melges 24 and J/70 sailors will resume their battle for supremacy on the waters of Biscayne Bay in Miami.

In December 2019, the first of this three event series featured forty boats across the Melges 24 and J/70 fleets, coming from Brazil, Canada, Germany and the USA, with a climb to fifty-three entries for this weekend’s event and three new nations: Great Britain, Italy and Mexico.

Nine windward/leeward races are scheduled for the Melges 24 fleet who kicks off their race program on January 24, with the J/70 fleet taking to the race track the next day for a six race series. The breeze set to be light and fickle as the regatta kicks off, building to a different race track over the weekend with an expected 11-13 knots forecast.

A mixed weather system in December’s event 1, with big breeze followed by light airs, saw a dramatic win in the Melges 24 fleet delivered from the crew on Warcanoe skippered by Michael Goldfarb, who converted a one point deficit to the leaders in the final race to clinch victory on a tiebreak advantage. Consistency across the six races earned them an all-top 7 scorecard. They return for another slice of the action and aspirations of repeat race track glory at event 2.

Goldfarb and crew will be part of a twenty-eight boat Melges 24 fleet who will battle it out at event 2 in what will be an interesting fleet dynamic, including the defending 2018/2019 champions and World silver medalists Bruce Ayres and his team on Monsoon with America’s Cupper Mike Buckley on board. Minimizing risk on the light wind opening day will be key, as racing is set to be more a game of mental strategy than physical, and likely to reward those with local knowledge, particularly factoring in the current.

Also likely to be tough to beat are Kevin Welch and his team on Mikey, with Olympic silver medalist and America’s Cup sailor Jeff Madrigali at the helm, who after finishing second in event 1 went on to wrap up a successful year by being crowned Melges 24 National Ranking Champions.

The J/70 to beat is the team on Surge skippered by Ryan McKillen, who showcased their tenacity to bounce back after a mid-series shocker to claim the win in December. They are just one of twenty-five talented teams making the trip to Miami to stake out front of fleet finishes in a fight that will be finely balanced.

Amongst those strong on talent are Jeff Janov on Minor Threat, racing with a crew of Dave Ullman, Ben Mercer and Doug McLean, all highly experienced in getting results in under-powered wind conditions. Minor Threat finished second in December, just two points behind Surge. Trey Sheehan and crew on Hooligan also proved their ability to nail fluky breeze wins back in December, scoring two bullets in light pressure to finish third overall.

Joel Ronning and his team on Catapult, who won event 2 of last year’s Winter Series and claimed the J/70 World Championships silver medal in September 2019, struggled to balance out an up and down scorecard in event 1. They finished in 6th place, so will be eyeing a return to form and upgrade to their leader board placing.

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The second edition of the Bacardi Invitational Winter Series 2019-20 features two events for the Melges 24 and J/70 fleets on December 14-15 and January 25-26 in Miami, FL. Following on from the Bacardi Winter Series, the Melges 24 and J/70 teams will be invited to return to Miami and join the Viper 640 and Star class sailors for the Bacardi Invitational Regatta and iconic 93rd Bacardi Cup from March 1-7, 2020.

Source: Sara Zanobini

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