Bacardi Cup
March 6 - 11, 2017
Miami, Florida

2017 Eastern Hemisphere Championship
June 1 - 4, 2017
Viareggio, Italy

2017 Western Hemisphere Championship
June 13 - 18, 2017
Cleveland, Ohio USA

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Bacardi Cup History - 1994 Report by Tammy Rubin

For one week in March, the stars always shine in Miami at the Bacardi Cup – the Star Class that is. The 67th Bacardi Cup was held March 6-11 at the Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami’s coconut Grove and, as expected, it was the perfect combination of world class sailing and world class hospitality.

When 130 sailors representing 16 different nations assemble for a week of racing, you can expect a bit of variety, but at this year’s Bacardi Cup it was a virtual smorgasbord of age, expertise and competitiveness. Because Bacardi Cup is an open regatta and has a reputation for good times and good sailing, it attracts perhaps the most eclectic mix of competitors that any other single class event. World champions, Olympians, weekend enthusiasts, newcomers, and Star Class legends alike are welcome to compete against one another at the historic event which was first sailed in Havana, Cuba, in 1927 and moved to Miami in 1962.

 Consider a sample of teams in the 65 boat fleet – current Star Class World Champions Joe Londrigan and Phil Trinter of San Diego, 1992 Olympic gold medal winners Mark Reynolds and Hal Haenel, America’s Cup Skipper Paul Cayard and his crew Steve Erickson of San Diego – the usual suspects at any major international Star Class competition. And then there were sailors like G. Brooks and Austin B. Sperry, the father/son team from Menands, NY, who had to dig their Star out of several feet of snow before sojourning to Miami for their first Bacardi Cup. Austin was the youngest competitor at 15. With the Bacardi Cup boasting one of the largest Star Class masters divisions outside the Masters Regatta itself, Bill Kelleher of Bloomfield Hills, MI, was in good company as the oldest competitor at age 76. Bill, who has sailed Stars since building his first one in 1952, and his crew  Marty Calabrese (nearly 40 years Bill’s junior) of Canton, MI, were in Miami to sail the legendary Bacardi Cup. The fleet certainly was an interesting one, and in the Bacardi Cup tradition there would be a perfect balance of heated competition and good sailing fun in the he six-race regatta which allows the discard of the worst finish. 

The regatta got off to a slow start on Sunday, and by the looks of things, power napping and sunbathing adrift on scenic Biscayne Bay were the activities of choice. The fleet took heart and nobody seemed to mid the lack of wind or the postponement – especially not those visiting Miami from colder, less sunny climates. For the Northeasterners, Midwesterners, Canadians, Irish, English and Russians, it had been a perfect day on the bay.

 Monday’s light winds were marked improvement and it looked like getting two races in would be no surprise, but the day’s results would be. In the first race, Bermuda’s Peter Bromby and his crew, Lee White, came from behind for a comfortable win, and after two races, were in third place with finishes 1-13. Cayard/ Erickson had 2-4 and shared the lead with England’s Glyn Charles and his crew, Tom McWilliam of Ireland, who were the surprise story of the day (and the talk of the evening’s daiquiri party).

Charles, who although boasts impressive sailing credentials including 1988 Lasers British National Champion, skipper in last year’s Admiral’s Cup and an accomplished Solings career, had first sailed a Star just three days prior to Bacardi Cup. Charles and McWilliam, who crewed a Star for Ireland in the 1992 Olympics, were racing in a chartered boat and seemed to be at the Bacardi more for the fun than anything else. “We were more shocked than anyone,” admitted Charles who initially planned his trip to Miami for a fifty-foot regatta that ended up being canceled.

The leaders were beginning to emerge. Bromby/ White were still in good position with 1-13-5 for the lead, Charles/ McWilliam continued to impress in second with 4-2-14, Cayard/Erickson were holding on in fourth position with 2-4-17 and five time Bacardi Cup winner and former Star World Champion Vince Brun and crew, Mike Dorgan, both of San Diego, were in third place overall with 10-5-7.

By Wednesday the winds were up to 12-14 knots, with continued clear and sunny skies for the fourth race of the regatta. Howie Shiebler of San Francisco and his crew, Tom Olsen of East Dennis, MA, captured first place and moved from fifth to second overall with finishes of 7-11-6-1. Bermudians Bromby/ White finishes second and continued to lead with 1-13-5-2. It was a hat trick for Macdonald/Macdonald, who with 25-3-3-3, were in seventh place overall. Wright/ Cook moved up one position to eighth place overall with 35-1-2-5 but, factoring the discard, were actually tied for first with Bromby/White.  Cayard/ Erickson maintained fourth position with 2-4-17-9 and Reynolds/ Haenel continued their climb with PMS-10-1-6.

Wednesday’s mid-week awards ceremony was held at the newly-renovated Coral Reef Yacht Club, where in the tradition of Bacardi Cup, there was an abundance of good food and good spirits (both emotional and drinkable). Even with the regatta two-thirds over there was still a large pack of top contenders, and with a front expected Thursday and Friday, the exchange in conditions could alter the standings considerably. Clearly that wasn’t on anyone’s mind as the party went on. Understandably, enjoying Bacardi Cup is just as important as winning Bacardi Cup.

Thursday’s winds were about par for the week at about 14 knots and it was obvious that the predicted front would hit on Friday. That seemed to suit the Canadians, Macdonald/Macdonald, just fine. Their impressive [25]-3-3-1 finishes put them at the top going into the final race. Threatening the Macdonalds’ lead were Wright/Cook with [35]-1-2-5-6 in second, Bromby/White with 1-[13]-5-2-9 for third, and Reynolds/ Haenel in fourth with [PMS]-10-1-6-4.

The wind had been light and shifty all week, but by Friday morning it was screaming out of the northwest at 20-25 knots and win or lose, the Stars were ready to rock and roll. The big wind lovers got their chance, and although the Stars are generally pushed to their limit at 25 knots, everyone seemed to be going for it on the final day of the regatta. After a strenuous 10.5 mile course, Vince Brun and Mike Dorgan surfed across the finish line to win the last race, ending their week in sixth place with 10-5-7-11-[13]-1.

The Macdonalds’ finished 9th in the final race, but were clear winners overall with [25]-3-3-3-1-9. “I knew we had a pretty good chance, even though we don’t sail well in heavy wind,” commented skipper Ross Macdonald, who is the 1992 Olympic Bronze medal winner in Star Class. Already planning to return next year to defend their title, crew Bruce Macdonald, who limits his competitive sailing added that, “Bacardi is regarded by the Canadian Sailing Association as a prestige event and, by any sailor’s standards, it is not one to miss.”

 Happily placing third were Bromby/White with 1-[13]-5-2-9-6. “For us to go home second having been surrounded by Olympic medalists and World Champions – we’re very happy.” The 1993 Bacardi Cup Champions Wright/Cook finished fourth overall with [35]-1-2-5-6-16 and Shiebler/Olsen took fifth with 7-11-6-1-[PMS]-7.

There were kudos all around at Friday night’s awards banquet which was held under a tent between Bacardi’s two landmark buildings in downtown Miami. Thanks went to the staff and the Coral Reef Yacht Club and the U.S. Sailing Center for choreographing the sizable event; to the race committee under the direction of chairman Dr. Bill Smoak and the Cup’s first ever international jury for their fair and timely rulings’ to the generous sponsor whose decades of commitment have made Bacardi Cup one of the most inspiring regattas ever; to the outstanding group of men and women sailors who provided a week of world class sailing and the sportsmanship, and to Mother Nature for a week of perfect weather. The Stars sure did shine in Miami.

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