Scaled down Bacardi Cup for 2021

Published on March 7th, 2021

The 2021 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta will welcome over 75 teams for racing on March 8-13 in Miami, FL.

Due to COVID-19, the pandemic has forced a scaled down regatta with local restrictions on entry levels and fleet quotas limiting racing to the Star Class, J/70, and Melges 24. These imposed standards have excluded the Viper 640 and VX One fleets in 2021.

First held in 1927 in Cuba, the iconic Bacardi Cup is steeped in history and has grown year on year in partnership with BACARDÍ® rum, who has been the proud patron and organizer since the regatta’s inception. Ranking as one of the world’s oldest and most esteemed sailing regattas, the Bacardi Cup has been a constant over the past nine decades since the first edition back in 1927.

Eddie Cutillas of Bacardi USA, commented, “Although it hasn’t been easy to pull off this year’s event, Bacardi is immensely proud to host the 94th Bacardi Cup and 2021 Bacardi Invitational Regatta and I applaud everyone for working so closely together to follow the COVID-19 protocols and deliver a safe event for all. We expect to return to our usual hospitality and entertainment next year, so save the date as 2022 is going to be one heck of a party!”

The event has a new format for 2021 with multiple protocols and safety measures to keep everyone safe. The usual shore-side social events have been cancelled.

As always plenty have their eyes on the main prizes and returning to defend their 2020 titles are Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Bruno Prada (BRA) in the Star Class and Bora Gulari (USA) and his team in the Melges 24 Class.

Kusznierewicz/Prada made winning the 93rd Bacardi Cup look easy, seizing victory with a race to spare, after which Kusznierewicz declared it ‘his perfect regatta’. They were chased hard by Augie Diaz, who for this year’s mission to displace the defenders has partnered up with Pedro Truche, who finished 5th last year with Paul Cayard. Local hero Diaz is massively experienced in sniffing out the breeze and Biscayne Bay current, but has yet to see his name etched in history on the iconic Bacardi Cup.

Strong contenders Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise won the warm-up at the Star Mid-winters last month ahead of Diaz, and won the 92nd Bacardi Cup in 2019 over Kusznierewicz. But touché, as Kusznierewicz/ Prada won the 2019 Star Worlds, with Diaz in 2nd, whilst Diaz won gold at the 2016 Worlds. And so it goes on in the highly talented Star fleet.

Honoring its history, the Bacardi Cup remains firmly loyal to the initial concept of an event for all, with the sport’s luminaries, Olympic medalists, World Champions, and America’s Cup legends on the same starting line as talented enthusiasts and weekend warriors.

There is everything to play for with numerous well-known faces amongst the thirty teams taking on one traditional long race per day in the high octane battle for supremacy at the 94th Bacardi Cup and earn the honour of drinking BACARDÍ® rum from the winners’ trophy.

In the J/70 fleet, multiple teams hold impressive pedigrees in this well-honed pack who know each other well. Past J/70 World Champion Joel Ronning on ‘Catapult’ has to be a front runner with back to back wins in 2019 and 2018, although he dropped to 4th last year. In 2020 and 2019, Ryan McKillen and his team on ‘Surge’ had to settle for second place and will want the top step.

Their target is firmly in sight, with a win at the recent Bacardi Winter Series 2, with new crew on board in the form of Olympian Lucas Calabrese, who may be the component to secure an upgrade. Always sitting high up the leader board is Brian Keane, although he posted an errant 22nd last year, but previously placed 7th and 3rd and well as securing top five finishes at the J/70 Worlds. Pamela Rose and her team on Rosebud have been steadily advancing up the leader board, rounding out Bacardi Winter Series 2 in 3rd place, and clearly have the skill to stake their claim on the podium.

Amongst the favourites aiming to displace Gulari in the Melges 24 Class are both the 2nd and 3rd placed teams from 2020, with ‘Raza Mixta’ driven by Peter Duncan and ‘Shaka’ helmed by KC Shannon. Gulari launches his defense fresh from a win at the Bacardi Winter Series 2, where another strong contender Laura Grondin and her team on Dark Energy were one point back in second place, with Duncan in third.

Grondin is one of four women skippers in the fleet, from a provisional entry list of twenty-four boats, each of whom will pounce on every opportunity to be out front. Bruce Ayres and his team on ‘Monsoon’ have featured on the podium at the past three Melges 24 Worlds, and will be right up in the hunt too.

During the Bacardi Cup there will be a special tribute to honour the life and legacy of James ‘Ding’ Schoonmaker who passed away on January 19, 2021. It was the special friendship between Ding, Tito Argamasilla Bacardi, and Frank Zagarino who in 1962 brought the Bacardi Cup to Miami from Cuba, thus saving this unique and special regatta.

The Star Class challenge for the 94th Bacardi Cup kicks off on March 8 with a 6-race series of one traditional endurance race per day through March 13. Racing for the J/70 and Melges 24 gets underway March 11-13 with three races scheduled per day for a total of nine races. Race activities are managed by Coral Reef Yacht Club, in collaboration with Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, US Sailing Center, and Shake-a-Leg Miami.

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Source: Luissa Smith

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