In laws regain overall lead at Star Bacardi Cup

The father and son-in-law tandem of John Dane and crew Austin Sperry, sailing out of Gulfport, Mississippi, won Wednesday’s fourth race at the 2006 Bacardi Cup Star Class Regatta on the waters of Biscayne Bay.

With many of the overall leaders faltering on day four, Dane and Sperry regain the overall lead heading into the final two races of the regatta. They had lost the overall lead yesterday with a 17th place finish, and hope to be able to drop that race in their quest for what would be the first Trofeo Bacardi for both sailors.

Sailors drop their worst finish of the regatta, such that the teams’ best five races will be used to determine the overall winner.

Dane and Sperry were among a large group of boats that elected to attack the left side of the course on today’s first run. Shifty 18-20 mile-per-hour winds and choppy waters carried the duo to an early lead rounding the windward mark.

Once out in front, Dane and Sperry leveraged strong winds again on the left side to build a commanding 10-boat-length lead at the second mark, substantially ahead of their nearest competitors, Poland’s Mateusz Kusznierewicz and crew Dominick Zycki, who finished fourth Wednesday and climb to third in the overall standings, and the Brazilian team of Robert Scheidt, who has dominated Laser class sailing for more than a decade, and his crew Bruno Prada.

On the final run, the Brazilian team led a group of three boats to within two boat lengths of Dane and Sperry, and finished second, moving them to fourth overall. Three-time Olympian Jali Makila and crew Erkki Heinonen of Finland finished third as the Polish team dropped to a fourth place finish.

“We were on the right side yesterday, but the wind filled in on the left, so we missed the first shift and had to fight our way back from the middle of the fleet,” said Dane. “Today, we thought there would also be more breeze to the left and protected the left side of the course. Turns out that was the place to be in both velocity and direction.”

Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Mark Reynolds of San Diego and crew Christian Finnsgard, the overall leaders going into the fourth race, finished 27th today and fall to fifth overall, while the Portuguese team of Afonso Domingos and Bernardo Santos, the 2004 BACARDI Cup champions, finished 9th today and climb to second overall.

More than 90 teams representing 19 countries are competing in the 79th Bacardi Cup Star Class Regatta, one of the most competitive and highly anticipated Star Class events in the world.

The Bacardi Cup Star Class Regatta is co-hosted by the Coral Reef Yacht Club and the US Sailing Centre, both based in Coconut Grove, and is sponsored by Bacardi USA. First sailed in Havana in 1927, it is one of the few Cuban-born sporting events to survive today in the United States.

Results (after 4 of 6 races)

1 John Dane/Austin Sperry MS 3 1 17 1 22.00

2 Afonso Domingos/Bernardo Santos POR 10 9 10 9 38.00

3 Mateusz Kusznierewicz/ Dominick Zycki POL 6 25 6 4 41.00pts

4 Robert Scheidt/ Bruno Prada BRA 34 4 4 2 44.00

5 Mark Reynolds/ Christian Finnsgard CA 1 5 12 27 45.00

6 Mark Mendelblatt/ Mark Strube FL 24 11 8 6 49.00

7 Iain Murray/Andrew Palfrey AUS 5 28 9 8 50.00

8 Rick Merriman/Rick Peters CA 7 10 15 31 63.00

9 Peter Vessella/Darrell Hiatt CA 26 14 14 10 64.00

10 Andy Beadsworth/ David Carr GBR 43 19 1 16 79.00