February 6, 2023 (Miami, FL) – With gale warnings along the Florida coast on Saturday, it was an easy decision for the race committee to cancel the first day of racing for Florida States, the third regatta in the Bay of Biscayne Regatta Series and another pre-world event preparing sailors for the AON Etchells World Championships in April.
Among the 47 boats present, 5 countries and 15 states were represented. So, with so much travel from these dedicated sailors, the race committee was under added pressure to deliver quality racing. “After talking to many sailors, trainers and skippers after the morning competitor briefing, I couldn’t find any who thought retirement was the wrong thing to do,” race director Dave Brennan said. “It’s always good to have consensus with the decisions you make.”
A few boats braved the weather on Saturday to go training, but most of the sailors who had also taken part in the Piana Cup catch-up regatta the day before took the opportunity to preserve their equipment as the winds constantly blew above 30 knots.
The race committee amended the sailing instructions for Sunday to send sailors an hour earlier for a 1000 start with a target of getting three races before the 1400 start cutoff. , competitors started the day under rainy skies in a westerly-southwesterly breeze in the upper teens. Eventually the rain subsided and three races were completed, but not before the rain returned for the dock race.
So far in the winter series there have been 11 races with 10 different winners showing just how close this fleet is. As the only winner of two of those races and Friday’s Piana Cup, Jose Fuentes said; “What we have here are some of the best sailors in the world, so the top 20 is hyper competitive and a thumbs up game.” Fuentes finished 9th on Sunday.
It was a tiebreaker that determined the Florida State champion. Peter Duncan’s Oatmeal tied with Thomas Carruthers’ Louise on 11 points, with Duncan taking the trophy by virtue of a victory in the second race. Just one point behind to complete the podium were Jim Cunningham and the crew of Lifted.
When asked how he managed to stay so consistent in a fleet, Duncan credited it initially. “We got off the line well for the 3 races and then stayed out of trouble and had good speed as well.
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Andrew Palfrey, who is also part of the Oatmeal team, added: “It was quite a difficult day with the clouds, the wind shifts and the biblical rain, but it was also wonderful. We kind of managed to set it up as well as anyone today.
After the race, Thomas Carruthers paid tribute to his tactician, double world champion, Bill Hardesty, and his trimmer, Jeff Reynolds, but also to his competition and the race committee. “We said not to go near the clouds. We were lucky in that we had three good starts so we could get into the best mark and then you work from there. Duncan deserved this victory. He came back bigger. He came back huge.
“The race committee has been very rough in these first three races and I hope it will come back strong for the Worlds.”
The next event will be the Mid-Winter Championships February 24-26 at Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, followed by the North American Championships hosted by the Coral Reef Yacht Club March 15-19, 2023. The 2023 AON World Championships will take place in April. 16 – 21, 2023 where 80 boats from around the world plan to attend.
Hadley Hege contributed reporting for this article. More photos can be found on our website.
Florida States Results (Sunday): https://yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=15438
Etchells (One Design – 47 Boats)
1. Oatmeal, USA1453, Peter Duncan / Mark Mendelblatt / Andrew Palfrey – 7 – 1 – 3; 11
2. Louise, US1481, Thomas Carruthers / Bill Hardesty / Jeff Reynolds – 5-4-2; 11
3. Levé, USA1504, Jim Cunningham / Steve Hunt / Erik Shampain / Serena Vilage – 3 – 3 – 6; 12
4. American Baby, USA1454, George Francisco / Chris Larson / Chuck Norris – 4 – 5 – 9; 18
5. STELLA BLUE, USA1427, Stephen Benjamin / Ian Liberty / Dave Hughes / Greiner Hobbs – 2 – 12 – 10; 24
Caramba wins the Piana Cup
The Louis Piana Cup was stalled in December for lack of wind, but after a quick survey of the fleet the sailors agreed to try again the day before Florida States. 47 boats set off on Biscayne Bay on a sunny Friday morning for three races.
“We had a nice chamber of commerce; today,” said class meteorologist Chelsea Carlson of Sea-Tactics. “After a short delay of 30 minutes for the wind to fully fill, the race committee was able to launch 3 consecutive races in a rising southerly breeze up to 10-12 kt. Tomorrow will be a different story, with a cold front bringing 20-30 knots of NE and squalls that will make for a different ball game.
In the end, it was Caramba, the crew of Jose Fuentes, who took the lead with 19 points. After a 15th-place finish in the first race, they overcame that setback to qualify for third and first place.
“15th in this fleet is not a bad ending. What we have here are some of the best sailors in the world, so the top 20 is hyper competitive and a game of thumbs. Our tactician [Tony Rey] makes the perfect call for starts and connecting pressure points around the course for the 2nd and 3rd runs, which translates to staying ahead if you have good speed. Lots of shifting and not afraid to be aggressive when it counts. I owe it to my crew who were beyond reproach,” he continued. Wilson Stout is on the foredeck and Marc Gauthier is trimming the jib.
Piana Cup results (Friday): https://www.yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=15436
Etchells (One Design – 48 Boats)
1. Caramba, USA1296, Jose Fuentes / Marc Gauthier / Tony Rey / Wilson Stout – 15 – 3 – 1; 19
2. Veracity, USA1477, John Sommi / Victor Diaz de Leon / Beccy Anderson / Will Ryan – 12 – 6 – 3; 21
3. Tquila, IRL1425, James Mchugh / Luis Doreste / David Vera – 4 – 1 – 17; 22
4. Louise, US1481, Thomas Carruthers / Bill Hardesty / Jeff Reynolds – 3 – 2 – 18; 23
5. Rebel, USA1419, Scott Kaufman / Gonzalo Ribero / Hugo Rocha / Chris Grube – 8 – 9 – 7; 24