Despite the duo's seventh place in the day's final race of the six day series, PEPPER and GILES held on to their first place overall to win the coveted Trofeo Bacardi in one of the most prestigious Star Class events in the world.
Sweden's Fredrik LOOF and Anders EKSTROM, reigning Rolex Miami Olympic Class Regatta champions, finished third in the final race and climbed to second in the overall standings.
German sailors Matthias MILLER and crew Manuel VOIGT won Friday's day six race, just ahead of their countrymen Marc PICKEL and crew Ingo BORKOWSKI, who took second place honours. With their day six victory, MILLER and VOIGT edge out Bermuda's Peter BROMBY, a two-time Bacardi Cup champion, and crew Bill MCNIVEN for sixth place in the final standings, while PICKEL and BORKOWSKI finish the regatta in fifth overall.
Poland's Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ, the 1996 Olympic gold medallist in the Finn, and crew Dominik ZYCKI finished 11th on Friday and drop to third in the final standings, while Australia's Iain MURRAYand crew Andrew PALFREY finished fourth Friday and remain in fourth overall.
KUSZNIEREWICZ and ZYCKI failed to pick up an early shift and fell outside the top ten at the first windward mark; they would not recover. With the Polish duo out of contention, PEPPER and GILES followed LOOF and EKSTROM closely on the right side of the course, tacking and jibing almost simultaneously on every subsequent leg.
LOOF and EKSTROM led at the third mark, followed closely by PEPPER and GILES, although both boats would be overtaken by a late charge from the fleet. At the fourth and final mark, five boats separated the overall leaders, but LOOF and EKSTROM simply could not put any additional boats between them.
|The winners in action
© Ingrid Abery/hotcapers.com
'When [LOOF] and I were in the lead, I thought it would be easier, but all of a sudden, the pressure came off and we were swallowed up by a bunch of other guys,' said PEPPER. 'That's when it started getting tricky. It was a tough, long race. To win a Bacardi Cup is special. [GILES] has seen so many other people drink from that cup; now it's our turn,' he added.
The prestigious Trofeo Bacardi was presented to the winners dockside where skipper, crew and Jose 'Tito' Argamasilla BACARDI, the retired former vice president of public relations at Bacardi U.S.A., Inc., drank Bacardi Rum from the Cup in an annual tradition that dates back to the first Bacardi Cup Regatta sailed in Cuba in the 1927.
GILES was presented with the 'Tito Bacardi' Cup, a special cup that was created last year to honour the crew of the winning team.
More than 75 teams representing 23 countries competed in the 80th 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 U.S. Sailing Center, both based in Coconut Grove, and is sponsored by BACARDI U.S.A., Inc.