Tough start for Cutler in Miami
Alec Cutler and Hedgehog Sailing did some soul searching after getting their title defence off to an inauspicious start on day one of the Miami Melges 32 Winter Regatta in Florida yesterday.
The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club skipper and crew struggled to come to terms with the fluky five to thirteen knot westerly breezes that kept teams guessing around the 1.3 mile racetrack.
“It was just incredibly shifty and patchy from the west of Miami,” Cutler said. “The wind was coming straight off land and you ended up having massive shifts.”
In the end, the past J-22 world champion had to be content with finishes of eighth, ninth and second that left his team in seventh spot on the leader board after three of a scheduled eight races.
“Today was a bit crazy and I do not think we are real happy,” Cutler said.
“We had three races we were not proud of and that was pretty upsetting. I think we would have been happy with two top five finishes and something we have to throw out so we were off the mark there.”
Swiss team Robertissima led the world class thirteen boat fleet overnight by a nine-point margin over second placed team Argo from USA. In third is another American boat, Samba Pa Ti, a further point off the lead pace.
Cutler and crew got off to a wobbly start in the first race but managed to claw their way up to eighth on the first beat.
But the team's fortunes took another dreaded turn for the worst on the final approach to the leeward gate.
“We passed three boats on the run and found ourselves tied with Robertissima at the leeward mark,” Cutler explained.
“They went to one gate and we went to the other and then the wind shifted and we ended up losing five boats just picking one gate over the other. We were on the wrong side of the shift and lost about five boats in about thirty seconds.”
Any hopes Cutler had of rebounding in the second race were dashed on the first leg as the skipper once again found himself on the wrong side of a shift and was pushed to the back of the fleet where he remained the rest of the way.
However, the local sailor managed to finish the day strongly with a second-place finish in the third race that went some way towards lifting team morale, if only just.
“The last start we won at the pin end and stayed on phase with the shifts and went up the left side, which had been paying and rounded the windward mark in third,” Cutler said.
“We then ground down and gybed inside the guy in second and passed him. The wind then came in hard from the right and we ended up with a bit of follow the leader for the rest of that race.”
Robertissima, Samba Pa Ti and Swing, the Japanese entry, all recorded firsts on the day.