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6 March 2009, 10:47 am
Stellar Start for the Acura Miami Grand Prix
Ciao! blasts downwind
Big gusts led to long surfs in today's Acura Miami Grand Prix

Acura Miami Grand Prix 2009
Miami, Florida, USA

The 2009 Acura Miami Grand Prix kicked off in perfect style as the international fleet of 42 boats from seven countries and 14 states completing three races in outstanding conditions in the waters off South Beach.
Pieter TASELAAR's Melges 32 Bliksem and Niklas Zennstrom's TP52 RAN each jumped out ahead in their respective classes, winning all three races. The Italian Farr 40 Nerone also has a solid six point lead after winning the first two races followed by a second.

"It was a really good day for us, with two firsts and a second, how can you do any better than that?" said skipper Massimo MEZZAROMA. "We are very happy with the results. The crew worked really well downwind together."

Sitting second behind Nerone is Barking Mad, skippered by former World Champion and last year's Acura Grand Prix winner Jim RICHARDSON of Newport, Rhode Island. Barking Mad is followed closely by Giovanni MASPERO's Joe Fly.

In the 19-boat Melges 32 class, Bliksem made a statement taking three bullets on this first day of racing. "Our starts today were better than they normally are. At the gun we were sailing at full speed and we had more options," said owner Pieter TASELAAR.

In second place with nine points is Jim SWARTZ'S Q, followed closely by John KILROY's Samba Pa Ti. Mike CARROLL's New Wave had an uncharacteristic off day and saw her 24 point lead for the Acura Grand Prix Championship Trophy shrink to a mere seven points over Joe WOODS' Red who finished fourth for the day. The Grand Prix Trophy goes to the winner, based on lowest cumulative points, for the Melges 32 Gold Cup, Key West and Miami.

In a strong UK showing, IRC 1, comprised of 4 TP52's, is led by Niklas ZENNSTROM's RAN from Hamble, with Charles DUNSTONE's Rio of Cowes, GBR in second. The Russian entry Synergy, owned by Sergey PICHUGIN, is close behind, just one point out of second.

There is tight racing in IRC 2 as well. Jim BISHOP's J44 Gold Digger out of Jamestown, and Philippe PATUREL's Archambault 40 Ciao of Halifax, Nova Scotia are tied for first with six points. Daniel WOOLERY's King 40 Soozal lies in third, one point back.

Principal Race Officer Dave BRENNAN, coming off a successful stint as PRO for the Etchells Jaguar Series, and his highly-respected team of race officials, gave the competitors what they came for…a fantastic day of racing in ideal southern Florida conditions.

"What a great start to the week," commented Event Director Peter CRAIG, "With the breeze at 15-20 knots, temperatures touching on 70 degrees and three exciting races, it was a great way to get the racing started off South Beach."

Action in the four-day event continues on Friday with organizers planning to conduct two races. The 10-race series, being held on a course set just off the north end of Key Biscayne, concludes on Sunday.
Jeanne Kleene
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