Tradition has it that the winner of the Bacardi Cup, sips from the Bacardi Cup. And for Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Bruno Prada, they could be forgiven for being drunk on success. Two more thoroughly deserving winners, you’d be hard to find in sailing. As ambassadors for our sport who command the highest respect amongst their peers, Mateusz and Bruno are peerless and rapidly gaining legend status. With the final race cancelled due to an adverse forecast that would have sent the fleet out into mast-breaking, pointless conditions, they record a stunning three-in-a-row as the first consistent team to do so in the 95-year history of the Bacardi. And they did it with humility and discipline.
“Firstly, we love this sport,” explained Mateusz. “Secondly, what could I do today? Golf, shopping, staying on shore, going to the restaurant – no, not my style. I love sailing and…we also have a lot of respect, and we want to show this respect to the regatta organisers and the other sailors.”
That’s the humility and it’s the hallmark of Poland’s greatest sailor but to find the discipline you have to dive into his LinkedIn feed and it’s here amidst the translation from Polish to English that you see just how serious Mateusz takes winning and the inspiration that he finds to motivate himself to excellence:
“It is good that from the beginning of the regatta we focused on ourselves and not on our rivals. The first two races we won gave us the advantage and showed that we would be fighting for the win. In the third race we had a beautiful come back and 2nd place. But on the fourth day of the regatta it was uninteresting. 6th place after a poor start worried me. All the more so because the most dangerous competitors were ahead of us.“
“And then another excellent athlete, 6-time World Champion Marcin Rudawski, fell to my aid like from the sky. Marcin sends inspirational newsletters every week. This week he wrote about (self-)discipline. That’s what I needed! Introduce discipline into the system of our starts and tactical decisions. The result was a fantastic 2nd place in the fifth race, which we sealed the victory in the Bacardi Cup!“
And if you are wondering who Marcin Rudawski is who Mateusz credits with giving him the boost, well he’s a Laser sailing genius that won the Radial World Championships in 2017 and 2016 plus a whole string of European and National titles. Interesting that he now inspires arguably the greatest sailor on the planet today.
But that’s very much the mark of this highly intelligent, gold medal winning, superstar of our sport. He’s on alert to any positive vibes or the edge that gives him that 1% extra. And again, that’s where Mateusz’s humility comes in. I would suggest he thinks more about sailing and the mental game and prepares harder than anyone out there – and in the Star fleet that’s saying something. Teams have been tuning up on Biscayne Bay for weeks – three-boat tuning seems to be the go-to these days – as the athletes at the top took advantage of the warm breezes and crystal waters to kick-start their 2022 season. All the big guns were there – Cayard, Doyle, Negri, Melleby, O’Leary, Diaz, Szabo to name just a few and right the way down the fleet there’s talent to burn.
This is a big win. This is a serious marker and high-water point in our sport, so just for the sake of posterity – here’s all three winners’ photos from 2020, 2021 and 2022 to mark this astonishing, and possibly unrepeatable feat:
But let me dwell no more, sadly, on the Star class, my favourite boat hands-down, and cast further afield into the Bacardi Invitational Regatta and I do so on the advice of a dear friend and esteemed member of the RORC who contacted me today to point out the notable successes by British sailors in the J70s and one truly, truly inspirational result…
Let’s start with the winners and the grinners – the outstanding boat of the week was Paul Ward’s ‘Eat, Sleep, J, Repeat’ who are serial winners on the J70 tour. North Sails’ One Design Manager in the UK, Charlie Cumbley, was onboard (don’t forget my jib Charlie) as usual alongside Elliot Willis and Matt Howard who scored remarkably consistently with a couple of bullets, a second and two thirds to pretty much dominate this tricky fleet. Charles Thompson’s ‘Brutus III’ was the next top Brit on the podium in third sailing with some serious talent in Chris Grube, Ben Saxton and Craig Burlton. Great to see the Union Jack flying high in Miami but….
The stand-out award, and probably the most inspirational man in our sport at the moment, 82-year old Peter Cunningham – yes he of Powerplay fame – was lurking in 10th place overall, proving yet again that age is just a number. I truly, wholeheartedly take my hat off to Peter and I very much hope that he shows up on the Laser Grand Masters circuit just to put us all to shame. Brilliant stuff – keep doing it Peter, your sailing fans are legion and it’s remarkable to see you having so much fun and just doing so darned well. Brilliant..
The Melges 24s meanwhile were white hot on Biscayne Bay. Any fleet that has the likes of Bora Gulari, Harry Melges, Brian Porter, Morgan Reeser and Charlie Smythe in the top ten is going to be competitive. Amazing how these superb sportsboats attract real superstars of the game and it was the ever-popular and hugely likeable Bora who took the chocolates, recording three bullets along the way – hard to do at this level. Great win.
So the Bacardi Cup draws to a close and I have to say, it’s been an absolute pleasure to wake up every morning and review the first class footage on Instagram, replay the official video on YouTube and then have privileged access to the photo library of the peerless Martina Orsini.
Everything about the Bacardi Invitational screams excellence and it’s a huge credit to the team behind the scenes and on the water from the quite beautiful Coral Reef Yacht Club. If the photos and videos haven’t inspired you, then I’m sorry, there’s not a lot more our sport can do for you. This is the pinnacle of Corinthian yachting run by the best organisers in world sailing at one of the finest clubs on the planet. I have to visit.
And what of Bacardi? Well, what magnificent, generous, supportive sponsors. The social scene looked epic and enticing and the goodwill towards the brand is unquestioned. Bacardi support this, the most magical event on sailing’s calendar and from afar, thousands of miles away in rainy England, I can almost feel the vibe of the event. It’s a remarkable sponsorship and we are so lucky to have their support. It’s an event that you put to the top of the bucket-list and by the looks of the smiles on the faces of the competitors, its success is guaranteed for years to come. Thank you Bacardi USA. Genius sponsorship.
Can you just imagine what the 100th anniversary will be like? Mark that date in the diary. I’ll see you there…And just to leave you with a Star photo, here’s my pick from an incredible library where it’s akin to picking your favourite child – Mateusz and Bruno winning at a canter. Awesome: