Well. Well. Well. What have we here? By the looks of things, an almighty tussle is emerging in the Star Class for the overall bragging rights in the Bacardi Cup. Coming in to a hot stream of form, right when it matters most, is Jack Jennings from the USA sailing with Pedro Trouche from Brazil who proved that yesterday’s win was anything but a flash in the pan.
Interestingly, having listened to their off-water interviews, it’s all about making little improvements, smoothing out the boat handling and course management. There’s lessons for us all in there and I have to say, Jack is an extremely cool customer with intelligence and talent beaming from every pore and Pedro has such a calming Brazilian air about him that you can see why the dynamic is working so well. A more frightening and devastatingly effective combination you’d be hard to find elsewhere in our sport.
The Jennings / Trouche train was untouchable today. Straight off the start line in a true 10 knots with the right paying, they held their line and lane, eking in a high point mode that is just so hard to counter, called the shifts up the first beat to perfection, gapped Eric Doyle at the death into the first windward mark and were never headed again.
Holding speed and position downwind against this fleet of Olympians, Cup winners and world champions is probably one of the hardest things to do in our sport. Such is the talent. Such is the class. Such is the experience. It’s almost an impossibility against sailors who have more tricks up their sleeve than Marvin the Magnificent. But Jack and Pedro not only clung on but extended. That’s truly remarkable and they’ve certainly found the tune and the kinetics to seed serious doubt in the top three. This is a mighty challenge for the podium places and one that the sailing world will be glued to, going into Friday’s race before the decider on Saturday.
The Bacardi Invitational Regatta absolutely came alive today as all the Melges 24’s, J70’s, Viper what-nots and Persico 69Fs joined this fabulous celebration of our sport. For as far as the eye could see, boats filled out across Biscayne Bay all expertly marshalled and corralled by the first class team and volunteers of the Coral Reef Yacht Club.
We bang on in England about having top rank sailing events but this is next-level stuff that oozes all-American efficiency, class and glamour combined with a sponsor, Bacardi, that dreams are made of. Awesome race management and an apres-sail scene to die for. I’m doing it next year come hell or high water.
So at the top end of the Stars, and you’ll have to indulge me for majoring on them (I can’t help it), we still have Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Bruno Prada sitting pretty after a tough fought sixth place today where they just couldn’t wriggle through.
Eric Doyle (yes he of North Sails) and Payson Infelise are sitting pretty in second after discard with a very consistent run of results whilst the current world champions, Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi (I keep on spelling that ‘Lamborghini’) are the ones most at risk of a podium re-shuffle as Jack and Pedro nip at their heels.
Another bullet today would rocket them into very serious contention for the Bacardi Cup so the pressure is all on. But you wouldn’t know it listening to Pedro: “I feel really glad with the way we are sailing. 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, yeah.”
This is how a championship should be. This is everything. Two races to decide the Bacardi Cup and it’s all to play for. The bookies still have Mateusz and Bruno. I still have them to do it. But the odds are shortening by the minute.
Biscayne Bay is ‘Pressure City’ now for one of the biggest prizes in our sport and the dockside chatter reflects the tension that’s so tangible that you can almost touch it. The weather Gods are playing ball. The racetrack is perfect. What a fabulous finale to the Bacardi Cup we have in store.
Who are you cheering for?