Ready to go at the 2021 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta
March 6, 2021 - Miami, FL, USA - by Luissa Smith - Every year the Bacardi Cup and Bacardi Invitational Regatta attract a dazzling mix of professional rock star racers and super-talented Corinthian teams from around the globe. They are drawn to the stunning location, world class racing and fantastic hospitality, which guarantee an atmosphere perfectly epitomizing the spirit of sailing. For 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced a scaled down regatta, with local restrictions on entry levels and fleet quotas limiting racing to the Star Class, J/70 and Melges 24. The Viper 640 and VX One fleets have kindly stepped back and will re-join the racing in 2022.
First held in 1927 in Cuba, the iconic Bacardi Cup is steeped in history and has grown year on year in partnership with BACARDÍ® rum, who has been the proud patron and organizer since the regatta's inception. Ranking as one of the world's oldest and most esteemed sailing regattas, the Bacardi Cup has been a constant over the past nine decades, serving up sailing in the revered Star Class that has put teams and spectators on the edge of their seats with awe-inspiring race track action. Despite the event's relaxed atmosphere and nostalgia, staking your place on the Bacardi Cup leader board remains as competitive as ever and the challenge for victory is as tough as the first edition back in 1927.
Eddie Cutillas of Bacardi USA, commented, "Although it hasn't been easy to pull off this year's event, Bacardi is immensely proud to host the 94th Bacardi Cup and 2021 Bacardi Invitational Regatta and I applaud everyone for working so closely together to follow the Covid-19 protocols and deliver a safe event for all. We expect to return to our usual hospitality and entertainment next year, so save the date as 2022 is going to be one heck of a party!"
Current travel restrictions and limits on fleet size have kept many at home, so we have a new look entry line up featuring only a few international faces who have been able to travel to join the mainly USA based teams. The commitment of sailors in making the journey to Miami demonstrates the huge popularity of the regatta and the Organizing Committee is very grateful for everyone's participation.
"After a difficult past 12 months we are thrilled to welcome teams back to the 2021 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta," commented Sara Zanobini, Event Director. "The Organizing Committee thanks all the teams who have been able to enter this year and we appreciate your commitment to sail despite the challenges. The event has a new format for 2021 as we have adapted to Covid-19, introducing multiple protocols and safety measures in our aim to keep everyone safe, which means there will be none of the usual shore-side social events, although sailors still get to enjoy BACARDÍ® rum with daily cocktail kits to take home. We are very proud to be amongst the few major sailing events to take place this year and we are proof events can be held safely. We expect teams' energy and focus will all be on the racing and we are super excited to see how the leader board shapes up."
As always plenty have their eyes on the main prizes and returning to defend their 2020 titles are Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Bruno Prada (BRA) in the Star Class and Bora Gulari (USA) and his team in the Melges 24 Class.
Amongst the favorites aiming to displace Gulari in the Melges 24 Class are both the 2nd and 3rd placed teams from 2020, with 'Raza Mixta' driven by Peter Duncan and 'Shaka' helmed by KC Shannon. Gulari launches his defence fresh from a win at the Bacardi Winter Series 2, where another strong contender Laura Grondin and her team on Dark Energy were one point back in second place, with Duncan in third. Grondin is one of four women skippers in the fleet, from a provisional entry list of twenty-four boats, each of whom will pounce on every opportunity to be out front. Bruce Ayres and his team on 'Monsoon' have featured on the podium at the past three Melges 24 Worlds, and will be right up in the hunt too.
"Whilst the event this year will be a bit different, the stunning Biscayne Bay is sure to deliver its usual brilliance and close racing," added Regatta Chairman Mark Pincus. "I know everyone is ready for some exciting sailing and are hotly anticipating their return to the race track. We are really pleased to welcome teams to our annual celebration of sailing and friendship.
During the Bacardi Cup there will be a special tribute to honor the life and legacy of James 'Ding' Schoonmaker who passed away on 19 January 2021. We owe it to the special friendship between Ding, Tito Argamasilla Bacardi and Frank Zagarino who in 1962 brought the Bacardi Cup to Miami from Cuba, thus saving our unique and special regatta.
The Star Class challenge for the 94th Bacardi Cup kicks off on Monday 8 March, with a 6-race series of one traditional endurance race per day through until Saturday 13 March.
Racing for the J/70 and Melges 24 gets under way from 11-13 March with 3 races scheduled per day for a total of 9 races. Race activities are managed by Coral Reef Yacht Club, in collaboration with Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, US Sailing Center and Shake-a-Leg Miami.
TWO DOWN, ONE TO GO
With two events complete, Gulari and Grondin are tied in first and second with equal points. Third and fourth place holders respectively, Brown and Boho also find themselves headed into the March event with much to prove as they too share equal points. Duncan is currently seated in fifth, only one slim point ahead of Shannon.
Despite not racing in Event No. 2, U.S. Melges 24 Class President Megan Ratliff’s Decorum maintains her overall Corinthian lead on the Winter Series Ranking, just ahead of Stanley and Holst.