South Florida Has Been Busy With the Bacardi Invitational and West Marine US Open Series
It was a busy winter and early spring down in South Florida as the Bacardi Invitational and West Marine US Open series saw scores of boats doing battle off Clearwater and Fort Lauderdale and on the shallow waters of Miami’s Biscayne Bay. As in years past, the six regattas making up the two series featured many of the world’s top sailors competing aboard such established one-designs as the J/70, Laser, 470 and Megles 24, as well as the venerable Star. Equally fun, was the way these two series also offered a glimpse of sailing’s future, with a number of brand-new boat types in the mix.
There’s been a bit of a revolution, for example, in Olympic sailing of late, with a whole new kind of sailboat taking the stage. Gone are skiffs like the Finn and the keelboats of old. Newly arrived are the iQFOiL (a full-foiling sailboard) and the FormulaKite full-foiling kiteboard, both of which took part in the U.S. Open Series, as did the full-foiling Nacra 17 class, an Olympic class in 2020. Can we all just take out a moment to reflect on how cool these things are? How incredible it is to contemplate fleets of sailors flying over the water aboard wind-powered vessels that in many cases weigh less than they do? Granted the fleets on this side of the Atlantic remain small. But they’re only going to get bigger, better and ever more exciting as time goes by.
Then there’s the Persico 69F full-foiling one-design skiff making its North American debut this week at the second of the three Bacardi Winter Series regattas, which began in late December and concluded in mid-March. Nine international teams took part, including a pair of U.S. squads from the James Island and Saint Francis yacht clubs.
Capable of speeds of 30 knots and more, the all-carbon one-design 69F has an LOA of 22ft 8in, races with a crew of three or four and comes complete with hiking racks for maximum fun afloat. Even in the lighter winds marking the second day of Event 2 in the Bacardi series, the boats had little problem reaching speeds in excess of 28 knots.
“This is a completely different experience because it is all about foiling and you have to fly,” said Argentinian sailor Eric Monez, one of the crew aboard sixth-place finisher, The Yugs. “When you fly you are okay, and when you don’t fly you have a problem because everyone will pass you! The teamwork is very, very important. However, the boat is very easy to sail, it is not just for professionals and most people can sail it. It is fast, fun and a great experience.”
Can’t wait to see this kind of sailboat racing come to the rest of North America. For now, a four-stage Cup series of regattas will be taking place in Europe this year, starting later this month and finishing up in October. For details on both the boat the upcoming European series, go to 69fsailing.com. For details on the US Open Sailing Series to go usopen.ussailing.org. For more on the Bacardi Winter Series, go bacardiinvitational.com.