Mark Reynolds and Magnus Liljedahl proved too much for the 65-fleet field in the opening race of the 74th Annual Bacardi Cup Star-Class Regatta.
The duo won Sunday afternoon's 2.5-mile race in what Liljedahl called ideal racing conditions in Miami's Biscayne Bay. With wind gusts as high as 18 knots, the pair led from the first windward mark by 30 seconds and never looked back, winning the opening race over Australia's Colin Beashel and David Giles.
Since winning in Sydney, Reynolds and Liljedahl have been on a roll of sorts. In addition to winning Olympic gold, they were named the Rolex Yachtsmen of the Year and won the 2000 World Championship. It is no secret that the pair is the team to beat at the Bacardi Cup.
"It is kind of flattering, but we've done well for so long that people always are going to be aiming for us," Reynolds said. "You have a lot of the top racers in the world here at the Bacardi Cup and the class is only getting better." "We have good teamwork and all the ingredients we need to succeed - and one of them is a little bit of luck," Liljedahl said. "We started in the pin end, the left side, which we thought was favored. We were a little concerned when we saw that we were all alone."
Always attracting the world's top Star Class sailors, this year's Bacardi Cup features 65 teams from around the world, including some of the top names in sailing. Brazilians Torben Grael and Marcelo Ferreina, Olympic bronze medalists behind Reynolds and Liljedahl, finished fourth on Sunday. Paul Cayard, who won the 1997-98 Whitbred Round the World Race, finished third Sunday with his crew, Hal Haenel. Cayard, an America's Cup veteran, said a miscalculation of the "right wind" at the race's start caused a slow start Sunday. "We were deep after the start and our goal was to get into the top 10," Cayard said. "Once I saw only two boats in front of us, I was very pleased to come through the way we did."