A thrilling final day, Sunday, December 18, saw the racetrack shaken and stirred at the opening event of the 2022/2023 Bacardi Regatta Series on Biscayne Bay, Miami. Despite mixed fortunes for some, the overnight leaders after Saturday’s three races continued to serve up their best, with victory going to Richard Witzel’s Rowdy team in the J/70. From distant lightning and thunder in the morning, the weather eased to a steady breeze of 7-11 knots for the opening race, before veering to the north-northeast and building to 12-14 knots and a choppy sea for the final two, to complete the six-race series. With back-to-back race wins from Saturday, Witzel’s Rowdy was the team to beat, if indeed anyone could. They briefly let John Heaton’s Empeiria and Fernando Perez Ontiveros’ Black Mamba get ahead in race 4, before Rowdy netted another win in race 5 to make their dominance clear cut, securing event victory without needing to sail the final race. A thrilled Carlos Robles, tactician on Rowdy, said, “We had a great weekend, we sailed well and most of the times went the right way and had good speed, so it was good for us. I think mainly this year we have done a lot of sailing as a team together, so we have been training a lot, and as a team we are sharp and that showed. Each one of us has our own roles, and we work well together. It’s a good start to the year. We see it as a new season, and it is always good to start strong.” Speaking on the team dynamic, Robles continued, “It is great to sail with these guys. Obviously, a legend like Jud Smith is always great to be around; you always learn something, so I am lucky to be part of that. And also with Tommy trimming, he did a great job this weekend, and obviously Rich making everything happen, it is always good to work with him.” It was a particularly emotional outcome for Rowdy’s trimmer Tomas ‘Tommy’ Dietrich from Argentina, who wore his nation’s football shirt and crossed the finish line to victory literally at the same time as Argentina won the FIFA World Cup 2022. Empeiria also put on a stunning delivery, finishing second in race 5 as they sought to defend their second overall. Now holding a 15-point margin over the third placed team, their silver spot on the podium was assured, leaving the tussle for third between John Brim’s Rimette and Black Mamba, who were separated by just two points going into race 6. David Jannetti’s Very Odd led race 6 for the first half, before Black Mamba took a smart tactical call and geared up from third place in the fleet, to overtake, win the race and carve out third place on the podium. Fernando Perez Ontiveros, owner of Black Mamba, commented, “There were a lot of changes in that last race. We ended up rounding third for the last upwind and then our call was to do an early gybe and wing. We managed to sustain a very good lane all the way downwind. There were three boats that were to weather of us, and in the end, we were very happy to win the last race.” Robert Hughes’ team on Heartbreaker crossed the line in second, with Very Odd dropping to third. A nod to the teenagers on Grom Squad, who continued to perform phenomenally on what marked their sixth time in a J/70. They were stoked to count two top 10 finishes and wrap up their first ever J/70 event in 14th overall. The top J/70 Corinthian team was Henry Filter’s Wild Child in 15th overall.
J/70 Final Top 10 results – after 6 races

  1. Richard Witzel/Jud Smith/Carlos Robles/Tomas Dietrich (USA 1562) – 7 pts
  2. John Heaton/Will Felder/Zeke Horowitz/Zac Mason (USA 169) – 10 pts
  3. Fernando Perez Ontiveros/Gonçalo Ribeiro/Bernardo Freitas/River Paquin (MEX 1152) – 21 pts
  4. John Brim/Ian Liberty/John Wallace/Greiner Hobbs (USA 1150) – 22 pts
  5. Robert Hughes/Marc Gauthier/Willem Van Way/Manu Weiller (USA 353) – 27 pts
  6. David Jannetti/Travis Odenbach/Kris Werner/Andy Horton (USA 1513) – 29 pts
  7. Zachary Segal/Dillon/Blake Cabassa/Ashton Hamerlin (USA 1154) – 38 pts
  8. Callisto Racing/James Murray/Will Howard/Steven Leuck/Bill Hardesty (USA 152) – 39 pts
  9. Daniel Goldberg/Tomas Hornos/Patrick Norris/Fernando Gwozdz (USA 84) – 42 pts
  10. Trey Sheehan/Brad Boston/Curtis Florence/Orrin Starr (USA 389) – 44 pts

Celebrations continued ashore at the Bacardi Happy Hour, followed by the prize-giving at Shake-A-Leg-Miami (SALM). Thanks to SALM who hosted the Bacardi Winter Series Event 1 and Coconut Grove Sailing Club who provided the race management team. For complete event/Series details, visit https://www.yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=15465.

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