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Bacardi Winter Series 2023/2024 Event 2 in Miami, USA - Overall

by Luissa Smith 29 Jan 00:16 GMT January 26-28, 2024
J/70: Top billing to ‘Catapult' with Joel Ronning / Victor Diaz de Leon / Patrick Wilson / Morgan Trubovich during Bacardi Winter Series 2023/2024 Event 2 in Miami, USA © Hannah Lee Noll

Three days of exceptional sailing conditions on Biscayne Bay, January 26-28, made the Bacardi Winter Series 2 a dream event. Maintaining their overnight position 'Kingspoke' topped the Melges 24 leaderboard and 'Catapult' advanced to victory in the J/70.

On a stunner of a sunny day in Miami, two races shaped the final podium in a variable and shifty 8-16 knot breeze. Racing was postponed ahead of the second race to wait for a wind shift to settle, which given the time limit was the final of the series. Bacardi Winter Series 2 wrapped up with the usual epic Bacardi sailing soirée and prize-giving celebrations at Shake-A-Leg Miami.

Teams now turn their focus to the BCIR, March 6-9, 2024. Registration is under way and entries have already tipped over one hundred for the J/70, Melges 24, Snipe, Viper 640 and VX One. The iconic Bacardi Cup celebrates its 97th anniversary from March 3-9, with more than sixty Star teams so far confirmed.

"My heartfelt congratulations to the winners," said Eddie Cutillas, Bacardi USA. "On behalf of Bacardi, thank you all for being here. You, the sailors, are the essence of the event and we really value your support.

"I look forward to seeing you back in Miami in a few weeks for our annual celebration of world class racing and friendship at the grand finale of the series, the Bacardi Invitational Regatta."


With just one point separating the top two teams, 'Brutus III' and 'Catapult', going into today the outcome was way too hard to call.

Despite a disappointing start in the first race, the J/70 World Champions on 'Brutus III' hunted down their opponents to claw their way up through the pack to finish 5th, five places ahead of Joel Ronning's 'Catapult'. David Jannetti's 'Very Odd' team knocked out a disappointing 15th place, to rule themselves out of contention for first or second.

Onto the final race and in 2-points striking distance of 'Brutus III', 'Catapult' wasn't missing victory without a fight. While 'Brutus III' and 'Catapult' locked into their battle, Robert Hughes and his 'Heartbreaker' team got to work straight away. They took the lead at the first downwind gate to claim the win and escalate themselves up from leaderboard 13th to 9th overall.

Behind, a 13th place finish gave BWS2 series glory to 'Catapult', with 'Brutus III' in second and 'Very Odd' in third. 'Catapult' raced a super-consistent series, pushing through some tough opposition to be on top of the podium.

"This feels good," said Ronning. "It feels good to be recognised by my friends and we worked really hard at this. I am honored to have won and I am also thrilled with my team. They did a great job."

The racetrack wasn't easy, as Ronning explained, "It was really very confused out there today. It was very challenging as there was a shift every three minutes or so."

Speaking on the event atmosphere, Ronning added, "It is a wonderful fleet of people, and the community is really awesome. This Bacardi group is outstanding. It attracts some of the best J/70 sailors in the world. I love it, the competition is very high."

There is certainly unfinished business amongst these world-class teams, which will resume at the Bacardi Invitational Regatta.

Zachary Segal and his team on USA1154 were the top placed Corinthian team in 20th overall.

J/70 Overall Results: (top five, 8 races)

1. Joel Ronning / Victor Diaz de Leon / Patrick Wilson / Morgan Trubovich (USA 65) - 29 pts
2. Charles Thompson / Elisabeth Whitener / Chris Grube / Benjamin Saxton / Tom Mallindine (GBR 1123) - 39 pts
3. David Jannetti / Travis Odenbach / Willem Van Waay / Andy Horton (USA 1513) - 45 pts
4. Peter Vessella / Mark Mendelblatt / Karl Anderson / Brett Davis (USA 1437) - 57 pts
5. John Brim / Greiner Hobbs / Scott Ewing / Ed Lebens (USA 1150) - 58 pts

Melges 24

With just an 11-point spread between the leading five Melges 24 teams at the start of the day, the racing offered plenty of possibilities.

Bruce Ayres and his 'Monsoon' team opened strong, securing the first race win and narrowing the gap to just 4 points between the top three as they headed into the final race. Bora Gulari's 'Kingspoke' remained in pole but had a job ahead to control Alec Anderson driving 'Sentinel' and 'Monsoon', made harder in the shifty and unpredictable breeze.

In the second race, 'Monsoon' once again led the fleet, before 'Kingspoke' surged ahead at the first gate. Going into the final upwind, the pressure intensified as the top five boats were neck and neck. By the finish, their race order mirrored their final leaderboard positions. 'Kingspoke' never let up, sealing the deal to win race 8 with a substantial lead and claim BWS2 victory.

Carlos Robles, tactician on 'Kingspoke', reflected on their day, "Today was hard because we had to control a couple of boats and it was really shifty, and strange I would call it, so it was a hard day. It was really variable and kept us on our toes.

Speaking on the challenge of sailing their own race versus controlling others, he added, "It is a hard balance, because the moment you start focusing on other boats too much you forget about the big picture, and you end up going the wrong way or you end up getting out of phase.

"The team did a great job, they're all great guys. We went the right way most of the time and we had good wheels, the boat was going fast, the guys were doing a great job."

Regarding racing alongside Bora, Robles smiled saying, "Bora is awesome. He is laser focused. He is a really hard worker, pushing every day to get faster and he is very knowledgeable, so it is good to be next to him and learning from him too."

Repeating their form from BWS1, Canada's Dan Berezin and crew on 'Surprise' finished 15th as the top placed Corinthian team.

Melges 24 Overall Results: (top five, 8 races)

1. Bora Gulari / Norman Berge / Nick Ford / Carlos Robles / Charlie Smythe (USA 820) - 19 pts
2. Alec Anderson / Haiden Stapleton / Willy McBride / Jackson Benvenuti / Grant Janov (USA 856) - 23 pts
3. Bruce Ayres / Tomas Dietrich / Edward Hackney / Pearl Lattanzi / Jeremy Wilmot (USA 851) - 25 pts
4. Laura Grondin / Taylor Canfield / Federico Michetti / Ian Liberty / Mark Ivey (USA 864) - 40 pts
5. Peter-David Karrié / Alessandro Franci / Niccolò Bianchi / Saverio Cigliano / Carlo Hmeliak (GER 859) - 47 pts

Special thanks to Bacardi, Shake-A-Leg Miami, the Coconut Grove Sailing Club for providing the Race Committee and event support, along with event partners Quantum Sails, SailFlow, Sail 22 and Nautical Ventures.

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