Southernmost to South Beach: 'Are You Goin' to Miami?'
by Bill Wagner
When Michael Brennan heard Premiere Racing was taking over management of the
annual winter regatta held off Miami, he didn't hesitate to register his
Transpac 52 Sjambok.
"That was a very important aspect of my decision-making because I
know Premiere organizes great regattas," said Brennan, an Annapolis
resident. "I think Premiere brings immediate credibility to the event.
Sailors want good racing, and Peter Craig and his people provide it."
Brennan isn't the only owner excited about Acura Miami Race Week 2005,
being held March 10-13. Premiere Racing's involvement has breathed new life
into the event formerly known as the Southern Ocean Racing Conference (SORC).
A south Florida tradition founded in 1941, SORC enjoyed a rich history and
created sailing legends during its heyday. However, the regatta has
experienced decreasing participation the past decade with last year's 59
entries the lowest ever.
After much reflection, the five founding yacht clubs (Biscayne Bay, Coral
Reef, Lauderdale, Miami, Nassau) discontinued their management of SORC and
in April reached an agreement with Premiere Racing to produce a new event.
"I think bringing Premiere Racing onboard will make a huge difference and
hopefully take the regatta to another level," said Craig Speck, owner of
the Swan 45 Vim. "Our class feels there will be better organization and
logistics. Miami has the potential to become a big-time event just like Key
West and Peter Craig is the right man to nurture that potential."
Speck expects 5 or 6 Swan 45s to attend Acura Miami Race Week and said the
regatta will be part of the class championship series. Brennan believes
there will be at least four Transpac 52s in Miami and said it made sense to
eventually add the event to the class circuit.
"It's one of the regattas we talked about and put on the list when
this class was coming together," Brennan said.
Premiere Racing established the ideal model for running an international
week-long regatta with Key West, now in its 18th year. Craig will bring the
same elements to Miami, beginning with proven principal race officers such
as Ken Legler and Dave Brennan.
"Boat owners, sponsors and the sailing industry have come to expect top
quality at our events and we intend to apply all that we have learned and
experienced to make Acura Miami Race Week an equally outstanding event,"
Enthusiasm seems to be high for Acura Miami Race Week and early indications
are that entries will be double a year ago. Tink Chambers of Farr
International gauges there will be at least 10 Farr 40s and 10
Mumm 30s while Fiona Brown of the Melges 24 class association
indicates there will be 15-20 of those rocket ships in Miami. One of
the larger classes that does not compete at Key West is Etchells with
20-30 expected to attend.
Craig has addressed many of the issues that hampered SORC, beginning with
the timing. A poll of owners found the previous date was too close to Key
West so Craig created a seven-week lag between the events.
"That certainly makes it easier on the crew. These folks have jobs and
families and taking vacation from both to do two long regattas in the span
of a month just did not work out," said Richard Bergmann, owner of the
J/105 Zuni Bear.
Bergmann makes no bones about it, he was not returning to SORC in its
previous form. He and other J/105 owners were pleased to hear Premiere
Racing was taking over, which is why the class should have 18 entries for
Acura Miami Race Week.
"We are all jazzed about it and glad Peter is looking closely at the
things that caused problems in the past," said Bergmann, a San Diego
resident. Zuni Bear is one of at least five California boats that
will travel from Key West to Miami.
Miami Beach Marina will remain the official site of the regatta, but
there will now be two racing venues. Larger boats will compete on two ocean
courses while smaller boats such as the Melges 24s, Etchells and J/24s will
duel on Biscayne Bay out of the Shake-A-Leg sailing facility in
Coconut Grove. Parties for both venues will be held immediately after racing
so sailors can enjoy the Miami nightlife.
"The on-water and shore-side standards of Key West will be applied to
Miami," said Craig, noting the retention of Acura as title sponsor is
"Going forward, we are committed to growing this Miami-based regatta to
the same high-quality sailors have come to expect from Key West. This
legendary event has played a meaningful role in our sport over the years and
we want to steadily raise the standard of excellence and make Miami Race
Week a fixture on the international sailing calendar."
RACE WEEK 2005
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