Star Midwinter Championship - Cayard takes the win in Miami

Cayard Rounds Bottom Mark in Race 9
Meredith Block / Star Winter Series
At the Star Midwinter Championship in Miami, America’s Cup skipper and Sailing Hall of Fame member Paul Cayard returned to the class he loved, and it showed today; the 55-year old San Franciscan stayed calm, cool and collected in the hot Sunday sun as he sailed to a solid second-place finish in today’s only race. Cayard and Australian crew Rodney Hagebols’ performance was enough to give them a 9-point victory over California’s Jim Buckingham; 2-time Olympian Cayard earned the second-ever Star Midwinter Championship title despite a tough start to the 7-race series.

This was only Cayard’s second regatta since returning to the Star Class last month; after failing to break the top ten at last month’s Star Sailors League final in the Bahamas, Cayard has finally ‘come home’ with a regatta win at the fourth event in Miami’s Star Winter Series Presented By EFG. Cayard was all smiles as he accepted the Star Midwinter trophy. 'Wherever my voyages take me, I’m always happiest when I’m back in the Star Class,' he said.

Cayard Accepts First Place - 2014 EFG International Midwinters day 4
Meredith Block / Star Winter Series

Race Officer Rich Raymond tried three times to get the final race off in just six knots of wind from due North on Sunday morning, finally hoisting the black flag in an effort to rein in some of the more zealous Star skippers. The fleet finally started clear of the line, with 25 year-old Tomas Hornos winning the boat end and sailing straight into increasing pressure and a massive right shift, allowing Hornos and crew Josh Revkin to nearly lay the top mark on their first tack. With 23-year old Philip Carlson and crew Chris Lanza at the opposite end of the starting line, the first shift ended the battle that had been raging all week between the two Junior (25 or under) skippers. 'We decided to sail our own race rather than going for Tomas at the start, and we were down with some of the leaders, including Diaz, so we felt OK about our decision,' said Carlson.

Hornos Leads Fleet Race 9 - 2014 EFG International Midwinters day 4
Meredith Block / Star Winter Series

That decision would put Carlson, Diaz, and quite a few other front runners at the back of the pack by the first windward mark. Hornos was excited to claim the Junior trophy. 'It’s great to have these battles between the young skippers like Philip and me; we want more 20 and 30 year olds to step up to the challenge of competing in the Star Class, and we’re both proof that you don’t need to be old, rich, or heavy to do well and have a great time in one of the world’s legendary racing boats.'

Caught out on the wrong side of that first shift, Diaz was frustrated with his start. 'We had two goals going into the last race: Protect the left, and stay near our competition,' said Diaz. 'We accomplished the first goal, but not the second.' Both second place Jim Buckingham (sailing with Olympic medalist and local sailing hero Magnus Liljedahl) and Cayard sailed away to the top right side while Diaz fought for a top 15 position at the mark. Buckingham would trail Hornos in second place for much of the race, but it was Cayard who fought from eighth position at the first mark all the way past Buckingham to claim second by the finish. 'We really thought we’d get Tomas, but when we gybed into the center of the course on the final run, he and Cayard both found a little more pressure and a little more current, dropping us back to third,' said Buckingham.

Buckingham’s third place locked up second for the Midwinter Championship, but more importantly, it gave him a one-point lead over Augie Diaz/Arnie Baltins in the all-important Star Winter Series overall points score with just one event to go. 'We won’t have the luxury of dropping any results since we missed the last event [the Series Score is the sum of the top four of the five schedule regattas], but with the Midwinters counting double, we’re in a good position going into the final regatta next month,' said Buckingham. It will be winner-take-all between Buckingham and Diaz; Augie won the inaugural Series Trophy by a landslide last year, but those days are over according to ‘Buck’. 'Augie’s already got his name up there, and we can’t have the Star Winter Series being the 'Augie Diaz Perpetual Trophy!' he joked.

Grael Accepts Ceremonial Flag-2014 EFG International Midwinters day 4
Meredith Block / Star Winter Series

Brazilian standout Lars Grael had a memorable week in Miami, despite giving up the lead he had after a double-bullet performance on day one and eventually failing to reach the podium by just one point. The new Star Class President accepted the ceremonial flag from outgoing President Bill Allen at Friday night’s banquet dinner, and he said that the Miami series bodes well for the future of the class. 'Olympics or no Olympics is not an issue; for sure there are changes ahead, but with events like this one and others around the world, it is a very exciting time to be at the head of the Star Class,' said Grael. Stu Hebb was equally enthused. 'Each event has seen growth this year, not just in number but especially the level of competition, with eight nations represented here by some of the best sailors in the world,' said the Miami-based founder of the Star Winter Series. 'One thing is for sure: If you want to test yourself against the best keelboat racers in the world, the Star Class is still where you come.'

The overall series title will be decided during February 8-9’s Walker Cup, the final event in the Star Winter Series Presented by EFG, when another star-studded fleet will descend on Miami for the 2-day, five race regatta.

Grael Rounds Mark - 2014 EFG International Midwinters day 4
Meredith Block / Star Winter Series

Hornos Accepts Junior Award - 2014 EFG International Midwinters day 4
Meredith Block / Star Winter Series

Buckingham Accepts Second Place - 2014 EFG International Midwinters day 4
Meredith Block / Star Winter Series

Vasili Gureyev Accepts Grand Masters Trophy - 2014 EFG International Midwinters- Day 4
Meredith Block / Star Winter Series

Star Midwinter Championship Results, Final

1. Paul Cayard / Rodney Hagebols , USA - 6, 4, 2, 5, 5, 1, 2, ; 25
2. Jim Buckingham / Magnus Liljedahl , USA - 3, 6, 6, 6, 3, 7, 3, ; 34
3. Augie Diaz / Arnis Baltins , USA - 2, 2, 7, 4, 1, 16, 12, ; 44
4. Lars Grael / Samuel Goncalves , BRA - 1, 1, 8, 14, 2, 8, 11, ; 45
5. Peter Vessella / Phil Trinter , USA - 14, 3, 1, 9, 9, 3, 10, ; 49
6. Vasyl Gureyev / Vitali Kushnir , UKR - 16, 7, 10, 2, 10, 4, 4, ; 53
7. Pied Piper, Jack Jennings / Brian Sharp , USA - 4, 8, 3, 1, 12, 10, 16, ; 54
8. Star, Arthur Anosov / Valentin Veytsman , USA - 11, 11, 5, 12, 4, 6, 9, ; 58
9. Tom Loefstedt / Jesper Sundman , SWE - 15, 5, 4, 8, 13, 17, 6, ; 68
10. Larry Whipple / Austin Sperry , USA - 8, 15, 9, 10, 8, 14, 8, ; 72
11. Tomas Hornos / Josh Revkin , USA - 9, 16, 15, 7, 14, 15, 1, ; 77
12. Brian Cramer / Cam Lymburner , CAN - 5, 9, 12, 3, 11, 18, 19, ; 77
13. William Swigart / Brian Fatih , Hong Kong - 7, 17, 19, 15, 7, 11, 7, ; 83
14. Alberto Zanetti / Edward Morey , ARG - 10, 10, 13, 17, 19, 12, 14, ; 95
15. Philip Carlson / Chris Lanza , SWE - 12, 13, 14, 13, 20, 5, 21, ; 98
16. Admar Gonzaga Neto / André Serpa , BRA - 13, 12, 27/DNF, 11, 15, 20, 5, ; 103
17. Peter McChesney / Shane Zwingelberg , USA - 17, 18, 18, 16, 6, 2, 27/DNF, ; 104
18. Stuart Hebb / Mike Wolfs , USA - 18, 14, 11, 20, 16, 9, 25, ; 113
19. Jerry Wendt / Michael Nichol , CAN - 21, 19, 16, 18, 18, 13, 20, ; 125
20. Peter Costa / Ted Lavery , USA - 23, 25, 20, 23, 17, 23, 13, ; 144
21. Robert Teitge / Keith Gardner , USA - 19, 20, 22, 24, 23, 24, 15, ; 147
22. Mike Phinney / Rick Burgess , USA - 20, 21, 17, 21, 21, 25, 24, ; 149
23. Barbara Beigel-Vosbury / Laura Beigel , USA - 22, 23, 23, 19, 25, 19, 23, ; 154
24. Frederico Viegas / Renato Moura , BRA - 24, 22, 24, 25, 22, 22, 17, ; 156
25. Chiarella / Bill Gottling , USA - 25, 24, 21, 22, 26, 26, 22, ; 166
26. Lothar Geilen / Adrian Farina , USA - 26, 26, 27/DNC, 27/DNC, 24, 21, 18, ; 1

Event website
http://www.sail-world.com/118345