The 2021-22 Bacardi Winter Series was held December 18-19 with nearly forty boats across the J/70 and Melges 24 fleets. As well as event glory for Bacardi Winter Series Event 1, points accumulate towards Bacardi Winter Series Event 2 (January 28-30) and on to the series finale, the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta (March 6-12).
J/70 (Top 5 of 17; 6 races, 1 discard)
1. Rowdy, Richard Witzel/ Carlos Robles/ Mark Gauthier/ Jud Smith, USA – 2 -1 -3 -5 -2 -; 13
2. Powerplay, Peter Cunningham/ Chris Rast/ Willem van Waay/ Tony Rey, CAY – 1 -3 -4 -2 -7 -; 17
3. Victory, Victor Cribb/ Greiner Hobbs/ John Wallace/ Orin Star, USA – 4 -5 -1 -3 - -6; 19
4. ReggaeShark Racing, Ed Lebens/ Ian Barrows/ Conner Harding/ Malcom Lamphere, USA – [10/SCP] -6 -2 -7 -3 -2; 20
5. Bazinga!, Daniel Goldberg/ Lucas Calabrese/ Tomas Hornos/ Kristen Berry, USA – 8 -2 -6 -1 -6 -; 23
Melges 24 (Top 5 of 20; 6 races, 1 discard)
1. Dark Energy, Laura Grondin/ Taylor Canfield/ Scott Ewing/ Rich Peale/ Cole Brauer, USA – 2 -3 -1 -1 - -2; 9
2. Nefeli, Peter Karrié/ Niccolo Bianchi/ Alessandro Saettone/ Alessandro Franci/ Saverio Cigliano, GER – 1 -1 -7 -4 -1 -; 14
3. Pacific Yankee, Drew Freides/ Charlie Smythe/ Morgan Reeser/ Federico Michetti/ Lara Poljsak, USA –  -4 -3 -3 -8 -1; 19
4. Monsoon, Bruce Ayres/ Tomas Dietrich/ Chelsea Simms/ Edward Hackney/ Jeremy Wilmot, USA – 5 -5 -2 -5 - -4; 21
5. Lucky Dog, Travis Weisleder/ John Bowden/ Hayden Goodrick/ Mark Mendleblatt, USA – 3 -6 - -7 -3 -7; 26
Event report from racing on December 19:
A gorgeous morning greeted teams on Biscayne Bay but it was an altogether different race track compared to yesterday with a light breeze coming in from the south-south east and most of the chop dissipated.
The twenty-boat Melges 24 fleet was in sequence for their first race of the day, when the wind shifted and the Race Committee postponed waiting for the wind to stabilize. Three races later and three different teams claimed victory on an unpredictable track which saw the left side favoured and some right to left current at the windward mark.
Ultimately the only change in the leader board top 3 at the end of the day compared to the start was Drew Freides and his team on ‘Pacific Yankee’, who managed to overhaul Bruce Ayres on ‘Monsoon’ to claim third overall by 2 points.
The bullet in the first race of the day went to ‘Team Energy’ skippered by Laura Grondin who managed the competition skilfully to maintain a safe lead around the track and hold onto first overall. Peter Karrie and his Italian line-up on ‘Nefeli’ took out the race 5 win to stay in second overall going into the concluding race. On to race 6 and the breeze stayed light, with Drew Freides on ‘Pacific Yankee’ taking a convincing win, with the rest of the fleet compacted behind, to wrap up in third overall.
Overall victory went to Laura Grondin from a solid scorecard of 2,3,1,1,5,2, by 5 points over ‘Nefeli’ in second.
“As we were sailing in today I think the thing I was most proud of was how well I and the entire team responded to the varying conditions we dealt with,” reflected Laura Grondin. “High wind speeds, low wind speeds, no chop, chop and a squall that came through!”
“I’ll be frank, the squall actually helped us,” grinned Grondin. “We turned out to be in the right position and we just took off downwind and even though it was absolutely pouring rain I have to say it was the most fun I had the entire weekend.
“With Taylor Canfield, Scott Ewing, Cole Brauer and Rich Peale on board, we just have a fantastic team that really understands how to make those mode changes. If I were to point to one single thing on our success this weekend, that would be it.”
In the 17-boat J/70 fleet, ‘Bazinga’ helmed by Daniel Goldberg (USA) delivered a change of form to day 1, easily winning race 4.
As the day unfolded, the sun came out, the breeze increased and there was a change of guard on the track featuring the young team on ‘Project Number 49’, who put in a powerful performance to win races 5 and 6 and close the event in 7th overall.
“It was a little bit different from yesterday, the breeze came from the south which is a little interesting for Miami,” said Max Lopez crew on ‘Project Number 49’. “We had a bad first race and we won the last two. The trick was getting off the line and getting on the long tack. We had some pretty aggressive left shifts come in and we are able to start really pointing the boat towards the mark up the course. That’s really what happened for us, that was the key.
“Then it was more just staying ahead, staying between the competition and the mark and keeping the boat going as fast as possible. Really nice to finish on Sunday with a 1,1 in Miami sailing.”
None of the overall top three from day one managed to repeat their front of fleet finishes, but their overnight points advantage and consistent form today saw them hold tight to the same top three podium places. Richard Witzel helming ‘Rowdy’ took out a 5,2,12 scorecard to claim overall victory,
“What can I say, Bacardi, Miami – the perfect way to spend the week before Christmas,” said a super happy Richard Witzel. “It’s my first time sailing the Bacardi Winter Series and I must say it is one of my favourite events that I have ever done.
“The venue is spectacular, the hospitality is spectacular, the sailing conditions were amazing. We had a good variety. Yesterday was really windy and today a lot of ups and downs with the velocity, a lot of shifts, very challenging sailing conditions. But that’s what makes it fun.”
The 2021-22 Bacardi Invitational Winter Series is held for J/70 and the Melges 24 fleets on December 18-19 in Miami, FL. The three event series on Biscayne Bay returns January 28-30 with the finale on March 9-12. Also racing in March are the VX One, Viper 640, and Persico 69F classes. Additionally, the Star Class will headline the historic Bacardi Cup, one of the world’s oldest sailing events, which celebrates its 95th anniversary on March 6-12, 2022. – Details