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Sail Scene – Florida

Hot racing the rule at Miami Grand Prix

There was no slam-dunk choice for the Boat of the Week honoree at the 2008 Acura Miami Grand Prix, held March 6-9. All four classes were hotly contested throughout the regatta.

Colm Barrington and his crew aboard Flash Glove counted all first- and second-place finishes and did not need to sail the final race en route to winning IRC 1 class in convincing fashion.

Andy Fisher skippered Bandit to a hard-earned victory in IRC 2, which had four different leaders over the course of the four-day regatta.

Michael Illbruck and the Pinta team led at the end of each day in Melges 32, an amazing feat considering it was the German skipper’s second regatta in the highly competitive class.

Ultimately, the three-part criteria that officials with Premiere Racing use to select the Acura Trophy winner favored the Farr 40 Barking Mad, owned by Jim Richardson of Newport, R.I. They won three of 10 races and overcame some double-digit results to capture the closest, most competitive class at Acura Miami Grand Prix.

Barking Mad was one of three entries to hold the daily lead in the 28-boat class. Richardson’s team was second after Day 1, fell to fifth after Day 2, then regained the overall lead after Day 3. Barking Mad had to work right up until the bitter end to hold that lead, clawing its way back from 25th to 17th in the last race in order to secure a four-point victory over Mascalzone Latino. Warpath, sailed by the father-son team of Fred and Steve Howe, took third just one point behind Mascalzone. The Italian entry, skippered by Vincenzo Onorato, put the pressure on by placing second in Race 10 and was winning the regatta when Barking Mad rounded the last downwind mark at the tail end of the fleet.

“Going down the last run I told the team, ‘We’re not winning,’ and I ask [trimmer] Skip Baxter what he thought I should do,” Barking Mad tactician Terry Hutchinson said. “Skip said, ‘If I were you, I’d get some leverage to that right side.’ We went hard right, passed about seven boats on the last beat and breathed a huge sigh of relief.”

Richardson and company are hot, having won all three winter regattas in Farr 40 class. The part-time Boston resident got a gorilla off his back by winning both Key West and Miami for the first time in 11 trips to capture the Acura Grand Prix Championship in Farr 40. That trophy goes to the boat with the best combined score at the two international events organized by Premiere Racing.

Railey earns bronze at the Princess Sofia

U.S. Olympic Team member Zach Railey of Clearwater, Fla., earned a spot on the podium in the Finn class at the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, in mid-March.

Going into the last race of this International Sailing Federation Grade 2 event, Railey was in danger of losing his third-place position. Railey has previously said he likes pressure situations and he proved himself in the last race. The necessity was to keep tabs on his closest competitor, Sweden’s Daniel Birgmark, and Railey controlled the results by keeping the Swede directly behind him for the whole race. By finishing that race in eighth with Birgmark in ninth, Railey clinched the bronze medal at this season’s kickoff regatta.

The Princess Sofia Trophy Regatta represents the beginning of the European sailing circuit and hosted more than 900 sailors in 11 classes, including 46 Finns from 25 countries.

Britain’s Ben Ainslie, three-time Olympic medalist, handily won the regatta before the last race and was followed by Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic of Croatia.

 The United States had notable finishes in three other classes at the Princess Sofia Trophy Regatta. In the Yngling class, Team Seven of Sally Barkow, Deb Capozzi and Carrie Howe came in fifth place out of 16 boats, only one point out of fourth place. Andrew Campbell finished ninth in the 107-boat Laser fleet, and the 49er team of Tim Wadlow and Chris Rast finished 12th of 52 boats, just one point out of 11th place.