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Bacardi Invitational Winter Series in Miami Weekend 2 - Preview

by Sara Zanobini 23 Jan 10:44 GMT 23-26 January 2020
Bacardi Invitational Winter Series in Miami day 2 © Kathleen Tocke

Event 2 of the Bacardi Invitational Winter Series will unfold on the waters of Biscayne Bay, Miami, from 23-26 January 2020 as many of the world's top Melges 24 and J/70 sailors resume their battle for supremacy.

In December 2019, the first of this three event series featured forty boats across the Melges 24 and J/70 fleets, spanning 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.

Hosted at Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, nine windward/leeward races are scheduled for the Melges 24 who kick off their race programme on 24 January, with the J/70 fleet taking to the race track on 25 January for a six race series. The breeze set to be light and fickle on Friday, 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 and they return for another slice of the action and aspirations of repeat race track glory at event 2.

They 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 medallists 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 medallist 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 the first ever Melges 24 National Ranking Champions.

The J/70 to overhaul this weekend 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 the talent count are Jeff Janov on Minor Threat, racing with an impressive crew of Dave Ullman, Ben Mercer and Doug McLean who are 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.

Supported by the legendary Bacardi Rum brand, teams will enjoy the renowned Bacardi Happy Hour cocktails as well as Sailors' parties and memorable shore-side hospitality for a fully immersive race and post-race experience.

The 2019/2020 season marks the second edition of the Bacardi Invitational Winter Series which features the two events in Miami for the Melges 24 and J/70 fleets and culminates with the finale at the renowned Bacardi Invitational Regatta. Embracing the iconic Bacardi Cup which is dedicated to the Star Class, the Bacardi Invitational Regatta also welcomes the best of the best to Miami with racing for the Melges 24, J/70, Viper 640 and kite foiling classes from 1-7 March 2020.

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