By Don Bedford
If you’ve never taken the opportunity to sail the Southern Circuit, you have deprived yourself of some of the best Snipe racing there is. Our own fleet captain (Eric Heim) ventured southeast to sail the whole circuit of Clearwater and Miami with Don Bedford joining him in sunny Nassau.
In Clearwater Florida, the Mid-Winters fleet of 20+ boats saw some challenging conditions and top-notch sailing. This regatta has been known to attract top talent from the east coast as well as from over seas and this year was no different. The breeze was on for this regatta and it took a number of boats out of play on the last day. The top two positions were claimed by Brazilians Bruno Bethlem and Mario Sergio de Jesus Jr, with Augie Diaz of Miami taking third. Eric sailed with Terra (Super Crew) Lee Berlinski and finished 7th.
The Miami Don Q Regatta certainly did not disappoint this year with nearly 40 boats competing on Biscayne Bay. With lighter and shiftier breezes than Clearwater, the Miami fleet was more mixed with no boat with all finishes in the top 5. Miami’s Ernesto Rodriguez of Miami toped Bruno Bethlem in the last race to win the regatta. This time Eric sailed with Alan Capellin and finish 11th.
Then on to Nassau with a smaller than usual fleet. It seems that the US has increased fees for returning boats and this took a hit on the numbers but certainly had no impact on the venue nor the conditions. Two regattas are sailed in Nassau, the Bacardi Cup with 3 races and the Gamblin with 5 races, all sailed over 4 days. Yes, a civilized schedule of two races per day with a lunch break between each race. Well, that was the schedule.
Boats shipped from Miami had some difficulty getting through Bahamian customs and didn’t show-up until the day of racing. This gave the fleet time to help work on some of the borrowed Snipes in the yard (yes, there are only Snipes in their yard) as well as help off-load the boats coming off the Betty-K – the ship used to transport boats from the US. So, we had to settle with two back-to-back races in light, shifty winds from the West that ended the day in nearly a 3-way tie for first. But, that didn’t have any impact on the Bacardi Party hosted at the sailing club. While not as rowdy as years past it was still huge fun!
Day two had more breeze blowing from the West and showed our own Don & Eric wining the first regatta. Their next race was tough as they couldn’t buy a shift and finished with a 5th. That night was the Commodore’s Party at a fine estate on the water overlooking the bay and Paradise Island. Seriously, you’ve never been to this regatta – why?
The fleet gathered for the 3rd day with more wind, now from the South. Some hiking and great tactical sailing ended the day with again the top 4 boats within 3 points. That night’s entertainments was at past SCIRA commodore Jimmie/Lori Lowe’s house that also offered a tour of his garage containing a Jag and two Porsches being restored.
The last day was breeze on – this is why you come to Nassau (ok, one of the many reasons). The heaviest teams had the advantage as it was full hiking up wind and surfing/planing down wind. Birger Jansen sailing with his daughter Jeanette managed two firsts to take top honors with Don/Eric taking two seconds. Birger also won the combined scores to win the Zimmerman overall trophy for the Southern Circuit. Do yourself a favor, start looking at how to get yourself to Snipe Paradise in 2014