Regatta Reports
The best floats to the top - from Seahorse Magazine
By Magnus Liljedahl - 2000 Olympic gold medallist and 2002 Bacardi Cup winner
Apr 22, 2003, 10:22

The 2003 Bacardi Cup may well have been the most competitive in the Cup¹s 76-year history. 110 Star boats from 20 different countries competed under fabulous conditions on Biscayne Bay in early March.

The depth of the fleet was awesome, with a huge number of champions from many different classes. Once again it was hosted by the Coral Reef Yacht Club, and Commodore Ed Cabassa and race committee chairman Rich Raymond made sure that each and every one felt welcomed as they ran a near-flawless event. The mid-week awards ceremony and the final awards banquet were additionally sparked by the presence of Tito Bacardi, whose enthusiasm and support make this event possible.

The Star class is where the world¹s best sailors come to find out who is who in the sailing world. However, some of the big-name America¹s Cup contenders are still missing: I wish they would join our class so we can find out how good they really are!

The 2003 Star World Champions, Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell, along with several ex-Finn sailors, have taken the class to a new level. The lowered weight limit has opened up the door for true athleticism and power sailing. Peter Bromby stated midway through the regatta, “The Brits have Reynolds’ speed upwind and Grael’s downwind performance.” This is hard to beat, believe me.

In this new world order no team should have a vision of winning if not fully committed to strength and fitness training. The Brits’ upwind performance includes considerable straight leg hiking, and downhill the skipper and crew adjust their trim smoothly and silently while cutting high or low on any given wave.

The Brits showed dominance from the start of the regatta, but there were several rival teams who remained in contention. However the black flag did diminish the hopes of teams like Paul Cayard/Phil Trinter, and the Z-flag scrambled the scores further.

The sixth and final race
Picture perfect conditions on Biscayne Bay, with southerly breeze around 15kt and extreme heat. The start was scheduled an hour earlier than the previous days to give everyone extra time to load up and still get to the awards banquet on Virginia Key.

The conditions favoured the Brits, always fast in solid pressure. Percy/Mitchell had a good chance of winning and so becoming the first Europeans to win the Bacardi Cup, but Bromby/Siese (BER), Loof/Ekström (SWE) and Diaz/Strube (USA) were all within striking distance. If any of those teams won the race, the world champions had to finish no worse than 14th, 16th or 17th respectively. Not likely, but possible in this huge fleet.

Peter Bromby
Several starting attempts took us around an hour, with Bromby/Siese very aggressive every time. Their consistency throughout the week, with all their finishes in the top 10, allowed them to take the extra risk. Pete [Bromby] knew that to claim their second Bacardi Cup they would probably need a win in the last race if they were to put 14 boats between them and the Brits.

Reynolds and I got a pretty good start toward the pin. For the first time in the regatta we had the Brits on our hip and a grand opportunity to see what we could do. We drag-raced on starboard out towards the left. The Brits had to leave, but came back shortly. We still couldn¹t see the weather mark, so flipped to port.

Cayard/Trinter seemed in control of the race as they tacked pretty much right in front of us. I anticipated a tack, but Reynolds had realised we were on the lay line and instead he ducked low. We lost some distance and a short while later we had to take some transoms, one of them being the Brits. Obviously none of them had seen the mark yet (it was later determined that the first leg was skewed). Diaz/Strube were furthest to the left and subsequently lost the most, especially as the breeze drifted right...

The Bermudans had their best first beat of the regatta. After a good start they were able to find some good lanes early on, taking them towards the right. According to Pete, one of the key moments occurred towards the end of the beat as they were barely able to lee-bow Loof/Ekström on a tack to port. But they made it stick and forced the 2001 world champion away.

Bromby/Siese were able to clear most of the starboard tackers but the Swedes ended up in trouble. One boat lost its mast, also damaging the rigging of the Swedes who completed penalty turns but then had to withdraw at the bottom of the first run. Bromby/Siese got around the weather mark in third and immediately started to count boats. If the math would hold, they would win the regatta. While the Bermudans were able to pass one boat, the Brits were too far back to pose a real threat. The conditions were simply too stable and the quality of the fleet too good for a gigantic comeback. Bromby/Siese held on to win their second Bacardi Cup.

What makes Bromby so good? Well, having competed against “Bird” for the past decade, I have to appreciate his loose attitude and mellow style. He looks as if he is out of shape but he fools everyone. He is a big fellow with huge lungs and a big heart who knows when to relax.

Bromby dominated the 2003 Biscayne Bay season in a big way, winning the Miami OCR in very shifty and difficult conditions. Crewing for Joe Bainton, he went on to win the 2003 Master¹s Regatta, which traditionally determines the best crew, and now once again he has won the Bacardi Cup. While he is the Man, Martin Siese may very well have the best Bacardi-winning percentage out of all competitors, posting two wins and a third in three attempts. Congratulations to both of you.

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