Stars on the water compete for Bacardi Cup

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Canadian Star teams sail against the world's best off Miami Beach in March


Bermuda's Peter Bromby and veteran Star Class crew Magnus Liljedahl of Miami won the 2009 Bacardi Cup Star Class Regatta Friday March 13th on Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida. Bromby and Liljedahl sailed to victory on the final race in the six race regatta to finish with a commanding six-point lead over Floridian Mark Mendelblatt, the 2005 Bacardi Cup champion, and crew Bruno Prada (BRA) who finished second overall.
The Bacardi Cup Regatta, hosted by the Coral Reef Yacht Club on Miami's Key Biscayne, attracted sailors from around the world. There were 128 sailors in 64 teams representing 15 countries competed in the race. Eight of the competitors were from Canada including four-time Olympian Hans Fogh and the Queen City Yacht Club (Toronto Island) team of Terry Hofkitchner and Jeff Imai.
According to Queen City Yacht Club Vice-Commodore and Diver Magazine photographer Pat Whetung, the reason that Great Lake Canadian sailors take part in the annual race is because they are using Star Class boats. "Star boats have been around many many decades and have been an Olympic class for years. QCYC has the largest fleet of stars on Lake Ontario," explained Whetung. "There were 6 current members from our club on the water down here - with a few others who have been members in the past"
"As for us racer chasers - we couldn't ask for more entertainment," she continued. The racing, dining, weather and venue have been fabulous - no wonder the regatta is well attended by 'rock star' competitors as well as novices."
As for the winner of the Regatta, Bromby took an early lead on the left side of the fleet following a very strong start and held the lead at each of the first three marks. He rounded the fourth mark in second place behind seven-time Bacardi Cup Champion Mark Reynolds of San Diego, sailing this week with crew Hal Haenel, but regained the lead on the final leg to capture both the Day Six victory and his third Bacardi Cup championship.
"Every time we needed some extra horsepower, we seemed to find it today," said Bromby. "We were keeping an eye on Mendelblatt. If he would have taken control of us, things would have been very different. Our strategy was to cover him throughout the race."
Added Liljedahl, "We attacked [Mendelblatt] at the start, tripped him a few more times, and sucker-punched him a couple times at the end. We just needed to stay ahead of him today."
Rounding out the overall top five were New Yorker Rick Merriman and crew Phil Trinter; Switzerland's Olympic Star sailor Flavio Marazzi and crew Petter Pedersen (NOR); and veteran Star sailor Paul Cayard, who has finished second in the Bacardi Cup four times, with crew Austin Sperry, the 2008 Olympian representing the United States in the Star Class.
"Our start was a disaster," said 2003 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Augie Diaz. Half way up the first weather leg, we had an opportunity to come across, but we got greedy. Had we gone toward the fleet, we might have been in the top 20. For us, it was combination of sailing badly and a bad start. Bromby, however, was on fire this week; he is very deserving of this victory."
"I came in not knowing what to expect," added Clay Bischoff, a Star Class up-and-comer and winner of the 2009 ISAF Team Racing World Championship with Team USA in Australia. "I came to learn as much as I could, regardless of the scores and standings. Growing up in Miami, seeing this bay, and being around a group of great guys willing to pass down their knowledge created just a perfect atmosphere for me as a young sailor. I can't wait to come back to the Bacardi Cup."
This was the 82nd running of the Bacardi Cup Star Class Regatta, one of the most competitive Star Class events in the world. . What started out as a three-day event with less than 10 boats in Havana, Cuba in 1927, remains one of the few sporting events in which weekend enthusiasts have the opportunity to compete head on with Olympians and Star World Champions. Mr and Mrs Tito Bacardi - fourth generation family members - presided over the race.
Canada's best finish at the regatta was a 14th made by Terry Hofkitchner and Jeff Imai of QCYC.


Cutline: Peter Bromby, helm in boat number 54 checking the wind and current before the race. Photograph by Pat Whetung. Bermuda's Peter Bromby, the winner of the regatta checks the scoreboard with Toronto's Jeff Imai and Terry Hofkitchner (Queen City Yacht Club). Photograph by Pat Whetung

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