Friday, March 06, 2009

Stellar Start for the Acura Miami Grand Prix

The 2009 Acura Miami Grand Prix kicked off in perfect style. An international fleet of 42 boats from 7 countries and 14 states completed three races in outstanding conditions in the waters off South Beach.

Pieter Taselaar’s Melges 32 Bliksem and Niklas Zennstrom’s TP52 RAN each jumped out ahead in their respective classes, winning all three races. The Italian Farr 40 Nerone also has a solid 6 point lead after winning the first 2 races followed by a second.

Start of the Farr40 race. Miami, 5 March 2009. Photo copyright Tim Wilkes

“It was a really good day for us, with two firsts and a second, how can you do any better than that?” said skipper Massimo Mezzaroma. “We are very happy with the results. The crew worked really well downwind together.”

Sitting second behind Nerone is Barking Mad, skippered by former World Champion and last year’s Acura Grand Prix winner Jim Richardson of Newport, RI. Barking Mad is followed closely by Giovanni Maspero’s Joe Fly.

In the 19-boat Melges 32 class, Bliksem made a statement taking three bullets on this first day of racing.

“Our starts today were better than they normally are. At the gun we were sailing at full speed and we had more options.” said owner Pieter Taselaar.

In second place with 9 points is Jim Swartz’s Q (Edgartown, MA), followed closely by John Kilroy’s Samba Pa Ti (San Francisco, CA). Mike Carroll’s New Wave had an uncharacteristic off day and saw her 24 point lead for the Acura Grand Prix Championship Trophy shrink to a mere 7 points over Joe Woods’ Red who finished fourth for the day. The Grand Prix Trophy goes to the winner, based on lowest cumulative points, for the Melges 32 Gold Cup, Key West and Miami.

In a strong UK showing, IRC 1, comprised of 4 TP52’s, is led by Niklas Zennstrom’s RAN from Hamble, GBR with Charles Dunstone’s Rio of Cowes, GBR in second. The Russian entry Synergy, owned by Sergey Pichugin, is close behind, just one point out of second.

There is tight racing in IRC 2 as well. Jim Bishop’s J44 Gold Digger out of Jamestown, RI and Philippe Paturel’s Archambault 40 Ciao of Halifax, Nova Scotia are tied for first with 6 points. Daniel Woolery’s King 40 Soozal lies in third, one point back.

Principal Race Officer Dave Brennan, coming off a successful stint as PRO for the Etchells Jaguar Series, and his highly-respected team of race officials, gave the competitors what they came for…a fantastic day of racing in ideal southern Florida conditions.

“What a great start to the week,” commented Event Director Peter Craig, “With the breeze at 15-20 knots, temperatures touching on 70 degrees and three exciting races, it was a great way to get the racing started off South Beach.”

Action in the four-day event continues on Friday with organizers planning to conduct two races. The 10-race series, being held on a course set just off the north end of Key Biscayne, concludes on Sunday.

Acura Miami Grand Prix Results - provisional after 3 races
Farr 40 (12 entries)
1, Nerone, Massimo Mezzaroma, Punta Ala, Italy, 1-1-2=4
2, Barking Mad, James Richardson, Newport, R.I., 6-3-1=10
3, Joe Fly, Giovanni Maspero, Como, Italy, 2-5-4=11

Melges 32 (19 entries)
1, Bliksem, Pieter Taselaar, St Inigoes, M.D., 1-1-1=3
2, Q, Jim Swartz, Edgartown, M.A., 4-2-3avg=9
3, Samba Pa Ti, John Kilroy, San Francisco, C.A., 2-6-3=11

IRC 1 (4 entries)
1, RAN, Niklas Zennstrom, Hamble, GBR, 1-1-1=3
2, Rio, Charles Dunstone, Cowes, GBR, 2-2-3=7
3, Synergy, Sergey Pichugin, Moscow, RUS, 3-3-2=8

IRC 2 (7 entries)
1, Gold Digger, J/44, James Bishop, Jamestown, R.I., 3-2-1=6
2, Ciao, AC 40, Philippe Paturel, Halifax, CAN, 1-3-2=6
3, Soozal, King 40, Daniel Woolery, Pt Richmond, C.A., 2-1-4=7


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