Skippers, crew and race committee have descended on Miami Beach Marina for the 62nd Acura SORC, turning a normally staid parking lot into a hub of activity for one of the premier participatory race weeks in the United States.
More than 75 boats are preparing to race off Miami Beach, with the Farr 40, IMS and PHRF classes taking to the water on Thursday and all remaining classes joining the action on Friday.
In the Farr 40 class, two-time defending champion John Kilroy, Jr.'s Samba Pa Ti of Malibu, CA, will face stiff competition from more than 20 yachts including the 2002 Farr 40 World Champion Steve Phillips', Le Renard out of Arnold, MD, and two-time Acura SORC runner-up Jim Richardson's Barking Mad of Boston.
Additionally, Vincente Onorato, head of the Mascalzone Latino Italian challenge for America's Cup 2003, is in town with Breeze, and ISAF Vice-President George Andreadis of Greece who finished 3rd last year will be on his boat Atalanti XII, whilst Hasso Plattner, CEO of SAP AG, will be racing on his boat Morning Glory.
Assisting Kilroy in his quest for a "three-peat" is world-renowned sailor Paul Cayard, calling tactics. "Paul and I have been sailing together off-and-on for a number of years, whenever schedules allow. He's a great guy, a great personality and a lot of fun to have on the boat,"
said Kilroy. "I've always said, win or lose, you haven't had a good regatta if you haven't had fun."
Kilroy knows that he faces a difficult challenge this year in his quest to keep the Acura SORC Farr 40 crown, and doesn't diminish the value of a little good luck. "There's another good strong, fleet this year. Coming off the World Championships and Key West Race Week all the boats and crews are tuned up and sailing well. Two years ago, when we won by a quarter point (over Barking Mad) my wife was pregnant with our first child. She's pregnant again this year so hopefully that will be another lucky charm for us."
Kilroy, like many others, savors coming to Miami. "Miami is a great venue for sailing and the Acura SORC race committee always does a great job. Actually, I'd like to see the Farr 40s sail more in Miami - its easier to get to than some other places and we do more racing here in half the time and at half the expense than we do at Key West Race Week."
Another fan of the sailing conditions in Miami is Principal Race Office (PRO) Peter Reggio who for the past several months served in the same capacity for the Louis Vuitton Cup, the challenger series for America's Cup 2003 held off Auckland, New Zealand. "The Hauraki Gulf is very tricky and inconsistent, in short a minefield, and the antithesis of the waters off Miami. Miami is great for sailing, generally you get consistent breezes."
It is Reggio's fifth time as PRO at the Acura SORC and he predicts another fine week of sailing, "Tomorrow looks absolutely brilliant, we're going to try and get in three races and get the regatta off to a good start."
Boats will leave Miami Beach Marina at 8:30 a.m. Thursday with an anticipated 10:00 a.m. start time for the first race.