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9 March 2009, 10:40 am
Resounding Triumphs At 2009 Acura Miami Grand Prix
Bliksem in action
Bliksem triumphed in the Melges 32 fleet

Acura Miami Grand Prix 2009
Miami, Florida, USA

In a real rarity and a true testament to outstanding sailing, winners of all four classes at the Acura Miami Grand Prix went wire-to-wire.
Ran (IRC 1), Soozal (IRC 2), Nerone (Farr 40) and Bliksem (Melges 32) all led from start to finish, a remarkable feat, but they hadn't clinched going into the final day and all sailed every race.

Competition was tight in all four classes of this powerhouse fleet of 42 boats from seven countries, but the Farr 40 was deemed to be the most competitive and that earned Nerone the Acura Boat of the Week honour. The Italian entry won six of 10 races, an almost unheard of achievement in the professional-laden Farr 40 class. Skipper Massimo MEZZAROMA (ITA) and crew finished the series in style, getting the gun in both races yesterday to extend its lead on runner-up Goombay Smash of Doug DOUGLASS (USA).

"To win such a great regatta and get Boat of the Week as well, I don't know how we can beat this result," MEZZAROMA said. "We had great karma on the boat and the whole crew was on its game."

America's Cup veteran Vasco VASCOTTO (ITA) called tactics on Nerone, which also won this regatta in 2000 and 2003. "We love Miami. For some reason, our boat and team performs very well here. We have never had this many firsts in one event… it really is unbelievable. We were very, very fast downwind and I think that was a big key."

Pieter TASELAAR (USA) and his crew aboard Bliksem drew serious consideration for Boat of the Week after putting forth an impressive performance in the very tough Melges 32 class. TASELAAR opened the regatta with three straight bullets and never looked back despite being pushed the whole way by Samba Pa Ti of John KILROY (USA) and Red of Joe WOODS (GBR).

"Once you get the lead there is a lot of pressure to stay ahead. We just had to stay calm and sail our own race," TASELAAR said. "We had good teamwork, good boat-handling and good tactics."

Jeremy WILMOT (AUS), a member of the intercollegiate dinghy team at powerhouse St. Mary's College of Maryland, called tactics on Bliksem. The Australian native was skipper of the Morning Light program and served notice he will make a fine professional one day.

"Jeremy was just awesome this week. He is a young guy, but a real natural talent. He sees shifts about a minute before the competition, which was a huge advantage for us."

It marked the first Melges 32 class victory in seven attempts for TASELAAR, a Netherlands native who now lives St. Inigoes, MD. Nathan WILMOT (AUS), who captured an Olympic gold medal as skipper for the Australian 470 team in Qingdao, China, lent his expertise to the team as trimmer.

"We are extremely excited. We really focused on this regatta and put in a lot of effort. It is very rewarding to see all that preparation pay off," TASELAAR said.

Owner Dan WOOLERY (USA) and close friend Scott EASOM (USA) spent a year gearing up to sail Soozal in the two winter regattas organized by Premiere Racing. The King 40, designed by Mark MILLS and built by Summit Yachts, has proven a real rocket ship by capturing IRC 2 class at both Acura Key West 2009 and the Acura Miami Grand Prix.

"This has been a year-long project to get this boat the way we wanted, and it was all about doing well on this Florida circuit. We feel wonderful right now because we have met all our goals," WOOLERY said. "It's just a great design by Mark MILLS. We had one heck of a boat and terrific crew work, which is a nice combination."

Veteran professional Robbie HAINES (USA) called tactics on Soozal and drew high praise from WOOLERY. "Robbie was excellent as usual. He is just a wizard at calling the shifts and deserves a lot of credit for our success. It doesn't do any good to go fast if you're on the wrong side of the course," he said.

Ran, owned by Niklas ZENNSTROM of Great Britain, won seven races and finished second or third in the others en route to victory in IRC 1. America's Cup veteran and match racing standout Thierry PEPONNET (FRA) called tactics on Ran, which edged fellow TP52 Rio by five points.

"We had really fantastic conditions here in Miami this week. It was sunny and windy every day, which made for fun and exciting racing," PEPONNET said. "We are very happy with the performance of our team. Everyone did their job well and we made very few mistakes."

Ran was a double winner yesterday as it also captured the Acura Grand Prix Championship Trophy, awarded to the boat with the best combined performance in Key West and Miami. ZENNSTROM's team won six of 10 races in taking IRC 1 class at Acura Key West 2009 as well.

"We had very good competition with Rio here and in Key West. It was like match racing. They have a good team and really pushed us hard," PEPONNET said.

Joe Fly, an Italian boat owned by Giovanni MASPERO, earned the Acura Grand Prix Championship in the Farr 40 class after placing second in Key West and third in Miami. New Wave, co-owned by Michael CARROLL and Marty KULLMAN (USA), took the honours in Melges 32 class thanks to a fourth in Key West and a fifth in Miami.

"It is quite an honour to win the Acura Grand Prix Championship as it speaks to consistency at three great events. The competition in Melges 32 class in Key West and Miami was the best we have ever seen so naturally we are ecstatic," CARROLL said.

Temperatures in the 80s, sunny skies and winds that never dipped below double digits made the 2009 Acura Miami Grand Prix one of the best in recent memory. "I don't know if I have ever seen so many happy faces leaving a regatta," event director Peter CRAIG said. "The weather was phenomenal, the race committee work was outstanding and the competition in all four classes was very, very good. All the owners I spoke with are looking forward to coming back."

Results - click here

Bill Wagner
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