Double-header weekend for Etchells Sailors in Miami

February 6, 2023 (Miami, FL) – With Gale Warnings up and down the Floridian coastline on Saturday, it was an easy decision for the Race Committee to call off the first day of racing for Florida States, the third regatta in the Biscayne Bay Regatta Series and another pre-worlds event warming up sailors for the AON Etchells World Championships in April.

Among the 47 boats in attendance, 5 countries and 15 states were represented. So with so much travel from these dedicated sailors, the Race Committee was under extra pressure to deliver quality racing. “After chatting with numerous sailors, coaches, and skippers after the morning Competitor’s briefing, I didn’t have one who thought abandoning was the wrong thing to do,” said Principal Race Officer Dave Brennan. “It’s always good having consensus with the decisions that you make.”

A few boats did brave the weather Saturday to go train, but most sailors who had also participated in the previous day’s Piana Cup make-up regatta, took the chance to preserve their gear while the winds consistently gusted over 30 knots.

The Race Committee modified the Sailing Instructions for Sunday to send the sailors out an hour earlier for a 1000 start with a goal to get three races in before the 1400 start cutoff. Bundled up in foul weather gear, competitors started the day under rainy skies in a west-southwest breeze in the upper teens. Eventually the rain subsided and three races were completed but not before the rain returned for the race to the dock.

So far in the winter series, there have been 11 races with 10 different winners demonstrating just how close this fleet is. As the only winner of two of those races and also Friday’s Piana Cup, Jose Fuentes stated; “What we have here is some of the best sailors in the world so top 20 is hyper competitive and a game of inches.” Fuentes finished 9th on Sunday.

First Place in Florida States: Peter Duncan / Mark Mendelblatt / Andrew Palfrey. Photo by Nic Brunk
First Place in Florida States: Peter Duncan / Mark Mendelblatt / Andrew Palfrey. Photo by Nic Brunk

It was a tie breaker that determined the Floridian State Champion. Peter Duncan’s Oatmeal tied with Thomas Carruthers’ Louise both with 11 points with Duncan taking the trophy due a win in the second race. Just a point behind rounding out the podium was was Jim Cunningham and the Lifted crew.

When asked how he managed to stay so consistent in a fleet, Duncan attributed it to starting. “We got off the line well all 3 races and then stayed out of trouble and had also had good speed.”

Andrew Palfrey, also part of the Oatmeal crew, added “It was quite a challenging day with the clouds and the wind shifts and the biblical rain but, it was also wonderful. We sort of managed to put it together as well as anyone today.”

Second Place in Florida States: Thomas Carruthers / Bill Hardesty / Jeff Reynolds. Photo by Nic Brunk
Second Place in Florida States: Thomas Carruthers / Bill Hardesty / Jeff Reynolds. Photo by Nic Brunk

After racing, Thomas Carruthers’ gave credit to his tactian, two-time world champion, Bill Hardesty, and his trimmer, Jeff Reynolds but also his competiton and the Race Committee. “We said don’t go near any clouds. We were lucky in the fact that we had three good starts so we could get into the top mark and then you just work from there. Duncan deserved that win. He came back bigger. He came back huge.

“The Race Committee has been dealt a very bad hand in these first three races and I’m hoping it comes back in spades for the Worlds.”

The next event will be the Mid-Winters Championships February 24-26 right back at the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club followed by the North American Championships hosted by Coral Reef Yacht Club March 15-19, 2023. The 2023 AON World Championships will be held April 16 – 21, 2023 where 80 boats from around the world are planning to attend.

Hadley Hege contributed reporting to this article. More photos can be found on our website.

Florida States (Sunday) Results:

Etchells (One Design – 47 Boats)

  1. Oatmeal, USA1453, Peter Duncan / Mark Mendelblatt / Andrew Palfrey – 7 – 1 – 3 ; 11
  2. Louise, USA1481, Thomas Carruthers / Bill Hardesty / Jeff Reynolds – 5 – 4 – 2 ; 11
  3. Lifted, 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
Photo from Caramba crew: Tony Rey, Wilson Stout, Jose Fuentes, and Marc Gauthier
Photo from Caramba crew: Tony Rey, Wilson Stout, Jose Fuentes, and Marc Gauthier

Caramba takes Piana Cup

The Louis Piana Cup was stalled in December due to lack of wind, but after a quick poll of the fleet, the sailors agreed to try again the day before Florida States. 47 boats took to the starting line on Biscayne Bay on a sunny Friday morning for three races.

“We had a beautiful ‘chamber of commerce; day today,” said class Meteorologist Chelsea Carlson of Sea-Tactics. “After a short 30-minute postponement for wind to fully fill, the Race Committee was able to get 3 races off back to back in a building south breeze up to 10-12 kt. Tomorrow will be a different story, with a cold front bringing in NE 20-30 knots and squalls making it a different ball game.”

At the end of the day, it was Caramba, Jose Fuentes’ crew who rose to the top with 19 points. After a 15th in the first race, they overcame that setback to go on to a third and a first-place finish.

Piana Cup - Photo: Peter Vanderlaan
Piana Cup – Photo: Peter Vanderlaan

“15th in this fleet is not a bad finish. What we have here is some of the best sailors in the world, so the top 20 is hyper-competitive and a game of inches. Our tactician [Tony Rey] made the perfect call for starts and connecting the pressure points around the course for 2nd and third races which translates into staying in front if you have good speed. Lots of gear changes and not afraid to be aggressive when it counts. Owe it to my crew who was flawless,” he continued. Wilson Stout is on the foredeck and Marc Gauthier is trimming the jib.

Piana Cup - Photo Nic Brunk
Piana Cup – Photo Nic Brunk

Piana Cup (Friday) Results:

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, USA1481, 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

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