The fourth day
dawned bright and sunny—perfect spectator weather, but not so great for the
sailors: There was so little wind a swimmer could have made better time on the
reaches. But if the race was short on wind, it was long on tactics. Coming into
the last (windward) leg, Menkart was third, trailing two other boats on port
tack. It was then that he decided to take a gamble; he broke away from the lead
boats, veering onto starboard tack, in hopes of getting a fresh breeze. In the
light air, he calculated, the risk was worth it. His calculation paid off, and
he swept ahead to victory.
Menkart and Kavle
were perhaps proudest of their next day's finish, an eighth. A sudden wind
shift left many boats in the lurch, and at the first mark Menkart found himself
two-thirds of the way back in the pack. Said Kavle, "Andy is always so laid
back. A lot of people get very edgy at this level of competition, but he'll
never raise his voice. We rounded that mark in 40th place, and he was as calm
as if we were on top. 'O.K.,' he said, 'now we have to work.' " They did
work, and made it to the top 10 on the next two legs. Melges was not so
fortunate and ended up 28th.
By the sixth and
last day Menkart held a solid lead. Melges, hanging on in second place, had one
last shot, but his chances were slim and dropped to zero when 50-knot winds
canceled that final race.
Menkart and Melges, third-place finisher Peter Wright said: "Buddy has
talent flowing everywhere. He can just pick up a boat and do well. But I was
impressed with how hard Menkart had worked. He was prepared for all conditions.
He definitely deserved to win. He's not necessarily the most talented sailor,
but he works twice as hard as everyone else."
When the Bacardi
Cup was over, Melges was back at the Coral Reef clubhouse, just a small-town
guy from Zenda, Wis., having a drink, having a great time with his crew, his
wife, his friends. Sailors came and went in the bar, laughing, shaking their
heads, trading stories. But Menkart, the winner, again, had little time for
stories. There was still work to do, and he was out in back, packing up his
boat. Tools in hand, he went carefully over Star 6910. Slowly he unfastened the
mast, gently easing it down as the sound of talk and laughter came drifting
from the festivities.