Miami1

Is this heaven? No son, it’s Biscayne Bay in March.

Things are about to get hot in the Viper 640 class, with two Miami regattas in Miami this week, culminating in the EFG Bank Viper 640 Pan-American Championship held during BACARDI Miami Sailing Week, one of the Class’s major championships. The 30+ Vipers expected in attendance mark the Class’s largest participation of the six years that Vipers have been traveling south to get out of the snow. “It’s not easy to get all of the good guys in one place,” noted past Class President Peter Beardsley. “But the draw of racing in Miami in March gets a lot of the top teams together. “

Indeed, the event will be a meeting of the hottest teams in the class along with sailors from 12 states and 6 countries. Defending Pan-American Champion Phil and Wendy Lotz went undefeated in their Viper in 2014, capturing titles in Miami, Charleston, and Newport. The team on Viper 155 Arethusa was unable to travel to Long Beach for the Class’s epic 2014 North American Championship, which was won by 2013 Miami champ Brad Boston and his veteran Jackpot team, who missed

Expect 4-time North American champ Brad Boston and his Jackpot team to be in the mix this week.

Expect 4-time North American champ Brad Boston and his Jackpot team to be in the mix this week.

the 2014 Miami title to Lotz by a single point. Jackpot also won the 2014 HPDO. Beardsley has won his last three Viper events, including the coveted Sarasota Winter Circuit title. A dozen of the teams expected on the starting line earned podium places at major Viper class events in 2014, including teams with past success in Miami, like Bermudian Somers Kempe, who placed second at the 2010 North Americans in Biscayne Bay.

Of course, Miami always brings a wild card each year in the international qualifiers from the EFG Bank Pan-American qualifiers, held around the world. This year, there are four teams hailing from England and Ireland sailing new boats provided by manufacturer and sponsor Rondar Raceboats. While most of the international qualifiers are short on Viper 640 experience, they are champions in a variety of other dinghy, sportboat and keelboat classes, and are expected to mix it up with the top of the fleet, including 1985 Laser World Champion Lawrence Crispin from Stone Sailing Club in Chelmsford, England, and 2014 All Ireland Sailing Champion Anthony O’Leary.

Somers Kempe and company from  Bermuda have the experience in breezy conditions.

Somers Kempe and company from Bermuda have the experience in breezy conditions.

While the racing expects to be hot, the party should be hotter things to the long-time support of BACARDI, along with a couple of Class dinners and a power reach known as the “Miami Scorch” during Tuesday afternoon’s practice session to No Name Harbor for a raft-up and lunch at Boater’s Grill.

EFG Bank and the Viper 640 class sponsor a number of qualifying events leading up to the Pan-American Championship, with the top 20% of the fleet at each qualifier earning a single point that is not discardable toward its series score at the championship, the next 20% two points, and so on. Teams who failed to compete in a qualifier score seven points that are not discardable. The final qualifier was sailed March 1-2 in Miami for the EFG Winter Cup,  with 20 teams shaking out the winter cobwebs in the sun. Over 100 different Viper teams participated in at least one qualifying event in 2014, and the Class continues to grow in North America, Bermuda, Australia and Europe.

The Viper 640s will be posting daily updates on the Class website and in the forums. Results will be updated in real time at http://www.yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=1222   More information on the BACARDI Miami Sailing Week is available at www.MiamiSailingWeek.com

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