Steady breeze powers 16 boats in Miami-Nassau race
A total of 116 sailors on 16 boats, driven by steady breezes and a will to win, battled it out in the 176-mile Miami-Nassau race in November vying for a chance to take home the coveted Nassau Cup.
When it was all over, the sought-after silver symbol of success went to Denali, a 55′ Ker skippered by Michael D’Amelio of the Boston Yacht Club with a crew of 13. Second to cross the line was Ocean Warrior, winner of the Abaco Half Hull for the best performance by a Bahamian boat. Lenjohn Van der Wel, with two round the world races under his belt, and a journey from South Africa to The Bahamas, helmed the Class 40′, finishing just over four hours behind D’Amelio’s 55-footer that took top honors after finishing the race in 17 hours, 23 minutes and 55 seconds – a fast race 11 hours ahead of the last of the fleet, but a time that left the all-time record of 14 hours, 26 minutes and 39 seconds untouched.
Conditions were nearly perfect for a downwind run from the time the boats left Government Cut in Miami at 11:00 a.m. on November 10. Steady northwesterly winds pushed the fleet toward Nassau. They crossed the Gulf Stream, slid past the landmark lighthouses of Great Isaacs Cay and Great Sturrup and created a colorful spectacle with all sails flying – spinnakers, mains, small jibs and bloopers – as they crossed the finish line in Nassau Harbour, Denali coming in under a moon and starlit sky with an official race committee boat waiting at 4:28 a.m.
Achilles Keel, a First 45′ skippered by Andrew Pike, the other Bahamian entry, crossed the finish line last with a race time of 28 hours, 35 minutes, but Pike called it “a great race, great fun.”
The historic event, first sailed in 1934 and one of the oldest ocean races in the northern hemisphere, was sailed under the auspices of the Bahamas Sailing Association (BSA) with the support of the Ministry of Tourism. The race is managed by the Southern Ocean Racing Conference and co-hosted by the Nassau Yacht Club, the Coral Reef Yacht Club in Miami, and the Fort Lauderdale Yacht Club.