Brazilian defending champions Lars Grael and Samuel Goncalves spent this week’s 88th Bacardi Cup nipping at the heels of countrymen Jorge Joao Zarif and Bruno Prada, who led the Star-class regatta from beginning to end.
But Grael — a two-time Olympic bronze medalist — and his crew sailed into the lead among the 55-boat fleet on the third leg of Saturday’s final race on Biscayne Bay and stayed there, leaving Zarif and Prada back in sixth and overall runners-up.
The reward for Grael and Goncalves was to drink rum from the silver Trofeo Bacardi for the second year in a row at the awards gala Saturday evening in Coconut Grove’s Kennedy Park.
The 2000 Olympic gold medal team of Mark Reynolds of San Diego and Magnus Liljedahl of Miami sailed their worst race of the series Saturday to finish 15th. But the Americans’ overall score gave them third place overall.
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Another Brazilian team, Alessandro Pascolato and Henry Boening, came in fourth, followed by Miami skipper Augie Diaz and crew Arnis Baltins in fifth.
“We knew it would be tough with four guys with a chance of winning the championship,” Grael said. “It’s a very good feeling for sure.”
The Bacardi Cup, held from last Monday through Saturday, was the marquee event of Miami Sailing Week presented by EFG Bank. Four other one-design classes joined the Stars on the bay Thursday through Saturday.
In the 45-boat J/70 fleet, the Brazilian team on Bruschetta, skippered by Mauricio Santa Cruz, beat Mexico’s Flojito y Cooperando, skippered by Julian Fernandez Neckelmann, by two points.
“We did not have a good start, but we sailed well. The wind changed a lot. It was difficult,” Santa Cruz said.
“We are training for the world championships, so we are very happy.”
In the 32-boat Viper 640 class, Jackpot — skippered by Canada’s Brad Boston — also scored a two-point win over runner-up Ghost Panda, skippered by Peter Beardsley of Brooklyn, New York
The 22-boat VX One series was a tiebreaker with skipper John Potter of Beaufort, South Carolina, on VX 1 squeaking by Flash Rider, skippered by Philip Norris of Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Miami’s Taylor Canfield on US One scored a wire-to-wire victory in the new M32 catamaran class with seven boats.
Sailing conditions on Biscayne Bay were nearly perfect throughout the week, except for Friday when winds grew shifty and then finally died in midafternoon. For Saturday’s finale, breezes picked up steadily out of the north throughout the day.
“We’re always excited to come to Miami because it’s 80 degrees for two weeks,” Boston said. “This is a really well-run regatta, a nice community.”