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Cork's O'Leary Brothers Eye Top Ten at Bacardi Cup

7th March 2019
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Robert (left) and Nicholas O'Leary at the Coral Reef Yacht Club, hosts of this week's Bacardi Cup in Miami Robert (left) and Nicholas O'Leary at the Coral Reef Yacht Club, hosts of this week's Bacardi Cup in Miami Photo: Martina Orsini

Cork Harbour pair Nicholas and Robert O'Leary have moved up to 11th overall after the second raced sailed of the 2019 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta in Miami yesterday.

The new Baltimore Sailing Club combination are the only Irish crew competing in the Star class in Florida but as Afloat.ie previously reported their father Anthony will be racing in the Viper class at the same venue starting today.

Results are here

As the fleet departed from the Coral Reef Yacht Club, day three of the 92nd Bacardi Cup delivered a brisk northerly breeze day under a clear blue sky and bright light.

A 15/18 knot breeze from the north-east, with very choppy seas gave an exhilarating if challenging ride for the 64 teams, with one bent mast the only recorded damage. The Committee hoisted the AP flag to wait for the wind to settle and a little after midday the starting sequence began with U flag up for security reasons.

After a rough upwind leg, Norway’s World Champion Eivind Melleby with his American crew Josh Revkin were the first to round the mark, followed by Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise (USA), both chased hard by Paul Cayard/Magnus Liljedahl (USA). The iconic partnership of Cayard/Liljedahl knocked out a fantastic and fast paced downwind leg, accelerating to be first at the gate, leaving Melleby/Revin second and Olympic Champion Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Frithjof Kleen (GER) still pushing hard in third.

Making their break, the newly formed Kusznierewicz/Kleen team opted for the right side of the upwind leg and eased into the lead, extending their margin further on the second downwind leg, with Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise now in second, and Cayard/Liljedahl third. Moving into the fifth and last leg, Kusznierewicz/Kleen controlled their lead, whilst behind Cayard/Liljedahl advanced to second, passing Doyle/Infelise who had to be satisfied with a 4th place finish. But their consistent two-race scorecard of 3,4 rewarded Doyle/Infelise at the top of the leaderboard and the team to now oust.

“It would have been nicer to keep the lead and win a bullet for Magnus’ birthday,” grinned Paul Cayard. “But it was very shifty out there and we had to battle with some very good sailors. Second is good, we are pleased with the result and look forward to tomorrow.”

“Winning always feels nice,” reflected Mateusz Kusznierewicz after their dominance. “We missed Race 1 yesterday for being UFD, so today was our first day racing together and it was fun. I liked sailing with Frithjof and in these great conditions.”

Tomorrow PRO Carl Schellbach will aim for two races for the Star fleet by starting an hour earlier at 11:00. Embarking on their first race day on Biscayne Bay will be the other classes invited to the Bacardi Invitational Regatta, as the J/70 fleet appears here for its second consecutive year, the Melges 24 returns after a short break and the Viper 640 and Flying Tigers 7.5 fleet make their debut at this the best sailing week in Miami.

Plenty of talent in the J/70 including defending title holder Joel Ronning (USA) on Catapult, and his rival Brian Keane (USA) on Savasana. Also eyeing the podium will be 2018 J/70 Worlds gold medal winning crew Lucas Calabrese, who features on the starting line in Miami as a key component of the team on the USA’s Mr Pitiful, skippered by Kevin Downey. Calabrese was also part of the silver medal J/70 team at last year’s Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta, so brings plenty of experience to the race track. Add to that Calabrese’s bronze medal in the 470 at the 2012 Olympic Games, eleven years after being crowned Optimist World Champion, and you have a player who knows how to succeed under pressure.

The 2018 Worlds bronze medallists are the class act to watch in the Melges 24 fleet. Under the super-competent eyes of Bruce Ayres, they are brimming with confidence fresh from wrapping up their second consecutive Melges 24 Winter Series win in Miami at the start of this year.

Whilst Canadian teams dominate the Flying Tiger 7.5 entry list, with 6 teams from Oakville taking to the race track, the leaderboard is wide open as to who will secure victory. Over in the 19-boat Viper 640 fleet competition is also hard to forecast, but eyes for sure will be on Brad Boston (CAN) and his team on Jackpot who wrapped up victory at last year’s North Americans, and also well up in the mix will be Mary Ewenson who finished third.

An 11:00 start is scheduled for all fleets tomorrow on Biscayne Bay. The Star fleet is targeting races 3 and 4 of the Bacardi Cup, while J/70, Melges24, Viper 640 and Flying Tigers 7.5 will face their first three races of the series. The weather forecast should see a return to classic Miami conditions, embracing the usual warm temperatures and steady mid-range breeze.

Published in Star
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