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O'Learys Fifth in Star & Viper 640 Classes of Bacardi Invitational Regatta

11th March 2022
Anthony O'Leary, Clive O'Shea and Neal Fulcher  competing in the Viper 640 Antix on the first day of the Bacardi Invitational Regatta in Miami
nthony O'Leary, Clive O'Shea and Neal Fulcher competing in the Viper 640 Antix on the first day of the Bacardi Invitational Regatta in Miami

Miami, USA turned on another beautiful sailing day – brilliant breeze, sparkling turquoise waters and warm weather – as the Star Class was joined by the full line-up of one-design classes at the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta on Thursday, March 10.

Biscayne Bay was a spectacular vista, packed with boats that have converged on Miami from around the world. The Star contested the traditional one race, with three races wrapped up for each of the J/70, Melges 24, Viper 640 and VX One. The 69F, which made its BCIR debut, completed six races.

Cork's Peter and Robert O'Leary were tenth in the Star race, a result that puts them fifth overall. Their father, Anthony, racing in the Viper 640 with Clive O'Shea and Neil Fulcher is also lying fifth.

Across the race courses, the breeze tracked from 10-18 knots, with the overcast morning giving way to sunshine. The forecast has so far delivered perfect race conditions and looks set to remain game on for Friday, March 11.

Post-race another keenly anticipated Bacardi happy hour got underway at Shake-A-Leg Miami, giving the perfect atmosphere to unwind and enjoy a glass of rum.

Star Class

Racing got underway in a 10 knot breeze and very similar conditions to Wednesday. A couple of rain showers either side of the course for the second windward leg yanked the breeze, forcing a change of course.

Jack Jennings (USA) and Pedro Trouche (BRA) got to work straight away on ‘Pied Piper’, conjuring up more of yesterday’s magic to call the race track tune, lead from start to finish and claim another win. They shift up to leader board 4th and sit just one point adrift of Diego Negri/Sergio Lambertenghi, who finished the race immediately behind and retain 3rd overall.

“I feel really glad with the way we are sailing,” said Trouche. “We are feeling good with our routine. Every day in the morning we have breakfast together, briefing for the day and then we go out as early as we can, doing some practice. So it is working out, yeh.”

Defending Bacardi Cup Champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada hold firm as series leaders, but again struggled further back in the pack. Unlike yesterday, they couldn’t chip through and had to settle for a 6th place finish. Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise crossed the line in 4th place and hold firm in 2nd overall.

The race discard kicked in which, though not impacting the order of the top three, has shuffled places behind and compressed the points a little closer, making tomorrow’s race a challenge for control of the podium places ahead of Saturday’s concluding race.

Provisional Top 5 Results – after 4 races

1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz / Bruno Prada (POL 8548) - 4 pts

2. Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise (USA 8423) - 8 pts

3. Diego Negri / Sergio Lambertenghi (ITA 8567) - 10 pts

4. Jack Jennings / Pedro Trouche (USA 8464) - 11 pts

5. Peter O'Leary / Robert O'Leary (IRL 8465) - 14 pts

J/70 Class

Three races of around fifty-five minutes were completed in 13-18 knots of breeze and superb planning conditions. With so much depth in performance, racing was close around the track, but the clear frontrunners scoring 1,3,2 to lead the J/70 fleet are Paul Ward (GBR) and his team of Charlie Cumbley/Elliot Willis/Matt Howard on ‘Eat Sleep J Repeat’

Explaining their consistency, Ward said, “We’ve had a couple of really good days training. It is really, really nice conditions out here and we have felt really, really quick. We were going quick upwind, Elliott was doing a great job with the trim and then downwind Matt was getting a really good workout on the kite. We were just fast pretty much every direction, so it was a good day today.”

“Our plan was clean starts, get to the right-hand side and it seemed to pay off quite nicely,” continued Cumbley. “It always looked better the further you nudged that way for the most part.”

Race wins also went to Mexico’s Ignacio Perez and team on ‘Zaguero’, and the USA’s Bobby Julien with his crew on ‘Dingbat’. Mixed fortunes for Ed Lebens (USA) on ‘Reggae Shark’, who scored a masterful 2,2, before being knocked back to a 27th place finish in race 3.

Winning in Miami is always tricky as teams face the challenging and notoriously unpredictable race track, and in a thirty-nine boat fleet packed with talent, there is everything to play for.

Provisional Top 5 Results – after 3 races

1. Paul Ward / Charlie Cumbley / Elliot Willis / Matt Howard (GBR 1127) - 6 pts

2. Ignacio Perez / Santiago Perez / Juan Ignacio Perez / Moritz Spitzauer (MEX 1323) – 14 pts

3. Bobby Julien / Alec Anderson / Will Felder / Chris Waters / Sam Loughborough (USA 639) - 19 pts

4. Charles Thompson / Craig Burlton / Ben Saxton / Chris Grube (GBR 1123) - 20 pts

5. Peter Cunningham / Tony Rey / Bernardo Freitas / Marc Gothier (CAY 1310) - 21 pts

Melges 24 Class

Getting into groove straight away for the 9-race series was 2021 and 2020 BCIR champion Bora Gulari (USA) with his team on ‘Powered by Moms’. He followed up with a 4th in race 2, but then Gulari and two other boats were over the line for the start of race 3, so will need the discard to kick in after race 6 to get back in the frame.

Back-to-back 2nd places finishes pitches Brian Porter’s ‘Full Throttle’ in front.

“It’s always great to come down to Miami and it is super exciting to be back at the Bacardi regatta this year”, said RJ Porter, son of Brian.

“We just came from Wisconsin where it was snowing yesterday, so great to be in the warmer weather. Competition was very tough out there, so being that consistent was very good for us. We’ve definitely got to take it race by race, get off the starting line that’s the most important thing, and just try not to get ourselves caught up in a corner.”

Drew Freides on ‘Pacific Yankee’ took the race 2 win, with race 3 in the hands of Travis Weisleder on ‘Lucky Dog’.

Racing on ‘Pacific Yankee’, Morgan Reeser, the 1992 Olympic silver medallist in the 470, was brimming after the day, saying, “I am probably the luckiest person in the world today! An amazing day, nice and warm, no foul weather gear needed and the rest of my team is so good.”

Explaining their race strategy, Reeser said, “When it is from the south, there is no land in the way, the shifts aren’t that big, so it is mostly boat speed. So the key is just clear lanes. Early in the day some storm clouds probably right better than left, then later in the day it turned into a sea breeze and it was left better than right. Just go fast, which was awesome.”

Provisional Top 5 Results – after 3 races

1. Brian Porter / RJ Porter / Bri Porter / Matt Woodworth (USA 849) - 6 pts

2. Drew Freides / Charlie Smythe / Morgan Reeser / Federico Michetti / Lara Poljsak (USA 865) - 12 pts

3. Harry Melges IV / Finn Rowe / Ripley Shelley / Carlos Robles / Nick Muller (USA 866) - 13 pts

4. Travis Weisleder / John Bowden / Hayden Goodrick / Mark Mendleblatt (USA 858) - 18 pts

5. Bruce Ayres / Kate O’Donnell / Ted Hackney / Thomas Dietrich / Jeremy Wilmot (USA 851) - 20 pts

Viper 640 Class

Front of fleet results were spread around, with a fairly even performance amongst the top boats on day one.

Three races down and their 1,3,4 scorecard gives ‘Vellamo’ helmed by Colin Santangelo the advantage, with Caterpillar’ helmed by Peter Ill 3 points back. ‘Evil Hiss’ who finished 2nd in 2020, under the expert helm of Mary Ewenson raced a solid series, picking up a win in race 2 to end the day in 3rd.

Escaping from the snow in Ottawa is Canada’s ‘Jackpot’ skippered by Brad Boston, who have only recently started sailing together and compete for the first time in Miami. Crew member Quentin Gallon grinned, “We are loving the sunshine and loving the people!”

“We had a phenomenal breeze all day,” continued Gallon on their fifth overall. “Awesome races. As we sailed throughout the day we just got better. We found our starts were our key thing, just bow down and power on. We are a little heavy crew, so we figured we could hike out the boat and really keep it powered up upwind. That worked great for us.”

The team finished 2nd in the last race 3 of the day, as Gallon explained, “On our last race we were doing great upwind and downwind it was all about the communication in the boat and finding the breeze. It was really key for us building as a team and we are excited for the next couple of days.”

Provisional Top 5 Results – after 3 races

1. 277 USA 277 Caterpillar Viper 640 Peter Ill / Stephen Sparkman / Maxwell Plarr 1 4 5 10.0
2. 297 USA 297 Evil Hiss Viper 640 Mary Ewenson / Mark Zagol / Jane Moore / Max Vinocur 3 1 8 12.0
3. 246 USA 246 Strategery XI Viper 640 Cam Farrah / Cliff Farrah / Eric Heilshorn 2 8 3 13.0
4. 294 Doyle Sailmakers CAN 294 Wadjet Viper 640 Van Sheppard / Quinton Gallon / Brad Sheppard 5 7 2 14.0
5. 296 USA 296 Antix Viper 640 Anthony O Leary / Clive O Shea / Neal Fulcher 6 2 7 15.0

VX One Class

2022 year marks the largest VX One fleet yet in Miami, with twenty-five new and returning teams.

Establishing themselves in the game early on and getting on the scoresheet with a 6th place and two race wins are Austin Powers/Monica Morgan on ‘Tudo Bem’, who lead by a one-point advantage. Kaitlyn Liebel/Mark Liebel racing ‘Another Bad Idea’ won the opener, following up with a 6,2 to place 2nd overall.

“This is the biggest fleet of VXs,” commented Hayden Bennett, who finished 2nd at the recently held VX One Mid-Winters and sits in 7th overall. “Flat water, big breeze, warm weather, you can’t really complain about too much.

“Miami always puts on a good show, so we always have nice competitive racing. It’s obviously great to mingle in with the other fleets, the social events are always perfect, the few days we are here is always a blast.”

Provisional Top 5 Results – after 3 races

1. Austin Powers / Monica Morgan (USA 296) - 8 pts

2. Kaitlyn Liebel / Mark Liebel / Jordan Wiggins (USA 313) - 9 pts

3. Kevin Northrop / Max Albert / Andrew Brennan (USA 306) - 11 pts

4. Tim Pitts / Tim Desmond (ISV 286) - 13 pts

5. Jim Ward / Jeff Eiber / Monica Wilson (USA 275) - 14 pts

69F Class

The fully-foiling 69F three-person monohull made a spectacular debut at BCIR, flying at speeds of up 28 knots in the 14 knots of breeze.

Six races down and four wins to the ‘Miami Yacht Club’ Team puts them in pole, with Brian Higgins driving, crewed by Pietro de Luca and Nicolas Aragones. A race win to ‘Sail America’, helmed by nineteen-year-old Gavin Ball with siblings Pearl and JP Lattanzi places them in second. Third to ‘Clean Sailors Youth Racing’ skippered by Lukas Hesse who claimed the race 5 win.

“Every time we sail the 69F we are learning by the second,” said Hesse. “Reaching starts, single laps of a square course, and anything up to nine races in a day. It’s full-on, very intense and very good fun.”

The 69F contests an open format, so there is no limit on the number of races and all to count, putting the pressure on a consistent performance race after race

Racing continues Friday, March 11, with one race for the Star, three races for each of the J/70, Melges 24, Viper 640 and VX One, and an open race schedule for the 69F.

Full results here

Published in Star
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The Star keelboat is a 6.9 metres (23 ft) one-design racing keelboat for two people designed by Francis Sweisguth in 1910.

The Star was an Olympic keelboat class from 1932 through to 2012, the last year keelboats appeared at the Summer Olympics at which Ireland's representatives were Peter O'Leary and David Burrows.

Ireland has performed well in the class internationally thanks to some Olympic campaigns including a bronze medal at the Star World Championships in 2000, won by Mark Mansfield and David O'Brien.

The boat is sloop-rigged, with a mainsail larger in proportional size than any other boat of its length. Unlike most modern racing boats, it does not use a spinnaker when sailing downwind. Instead, when running downwind a whisker pole is used to hold the jib out to windward for correct wind flow.

Early Stars were built from wood, but modern boats are of fibreglass and carbon construction.

The boat must weigh at least 671 kg (1,479 lb) with a maximum total sail area of 26.5 m2 (285 sq ft).

The Star class pioneered an unusual circular boom vang track, which allows the vang to effectively hold the boom down even when the boom is turned far outboard on a downwind run.

Another notable aspect of Star sailing is the extreme hiking position adopted by the crew and at times the helmsman, who normally use a harness to help hang low off the windward side of the boat with only their lower legs inside.

At A Glance – Star Specifications

Designer Francis Sweisguth
Year 1910
Crew 2 (Skipper + Crew)
S + 1.5 C ≤ 250 kg (550 lb)[1]
Draft 1.016 m (3 ft 4 in)
Hull Type keelboat
Hull weight ≥ 671 kg (1,479 lb)
(including keel)
LOA 6.922 m (22 ft 9 in)
LWL 4.724 m (15 ft 6 in)
Beam 1.734 m (5 ft 8 in) at deck
1.372 m (4 ft 6 in) at chine
Hull appendages
Keel/board type bulb keel
401.5 ± 7 kg (885 ± 15 lb)
Rig
Rig type sloop
Mast length 9.652 m (31 ft 8 in)
Sails
Mainsail area 20.5 m2 (221 sq ft)
Jib/genoa area  6.0 m2 (65 sq ft)
Upwind sail area ≤ 26.5 m2 (285 sq ft)

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