Star Sailors League Finals in Nassau
Jorge Zarif and Pedro Trouche are the winners of the 2018 edition
For a second time a Brazilian crew claimed victory in the Star Sailors League Finals, but on this occasion it was not the bookies’ choice. Olympic legend Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening were favourites going into this event and completely dominated the last four days of Qualifier rounds off Nassau, but today it was Jorge Zarif and Pedro Trouche who won every stage. Aged 26 and 27 respectively, Zarif, the reigning Star World Champion and 2013 Finn Gold Cup winner, and Trouche, are the first crew younger than 40 to win the annual event that aims to determine the top ‘star’ of the sailing world.
“We are surprised we had this kind of dominance, because the level is so high,” admitted Zarif. “We sailed our best today. We gave 100%, hiking and pumping the whole time and that definitely made the difference. It is a privilege to be here and a privilege to beat those guys.”
Racing today took place under an overcast sky with the course moved back inside Nassau’s Montague Bay. The brisk easterly was blowing directly into the Bay with gusts at times reaching 20 knots.
The day kicked off with the eight quarter-finallists doing battle. Zarif and Trouche won this with the bottom three – Paul Cayard/Arthur Lopes, Lars Grael/Samuel Goncalves and Freddy Lööf/Edoardo Natucci eliminated; Cayard so dominant yesterday hampered after picking up a penalty on the first beat.
The young Brazilians next won the Semi Finals. In this Mark Mendelblatt/Brian Fatih, whose second place at the end of the Qualifiers yesterday had fast tracked them directly to the Semis, lost out despite finishing the race overlapped with Norway’s Eivind Melleby and Joshua Revkin. Mendelblatt and Fatih, the two time Star Sailors League Finals winners, were eliminated along with French duo Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot and Polish Olympic legend Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Życki.
Up the first beat of the Final, Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening made what the Olympic sailing star admitted was in retrospect a mistake: he tacked on Italian-German duo Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen, instead of having continued on to the right to take on his fellow countrymen. In the end the two teams fought it out for second and third spot, with Scheidt/Boening crossing the line ahead of Negri/Kleen.
“If we had crossed and gone all the way to him, then we would have got the leftie, but they are decisions you have to make in a second,” admitted Scheidt. He added of the winners and his compatriots: “They fully deserved today. They won three races by a large margin. They were fast and sailing well both upwind and downwind. Jorge has a bright future ahead of him.”
While Paul Cayard managed to turn on the afterburners yesterday having made rig adjustments the previous night, so Zarif and Trouche also had given their slender spar and rigging a thorough going-through last night. Zarif said this made all the difference:
“We had good starts, with great upwind speed and that made the job less difficult. We could put ourselves into a position where we could control the fleet a lot of the time.”
While they had speed, it had also been a huge physical effort for the young Brazilians: “We hiked super hard and we pumped super hard and that made a difference today. I am super tired now.”
While this was Zarif’s fourth participation in the Star Sailors League Finals, this was his crew Pedro Trouche’s first. Remarkably it was also the first time he and Zarif had sailed together, although they have known each other since they trained together in the Laser in 2005.
Zarif’s World Championship winning crew Guilherme de Almeida was tied up this week with his wedding. “It is the biggest thing I have won,” admitted Trouche, who next intends to compete in February’s inaugural Star Junior World Championship in Miami. “I have never sailed at a level like this before. It is the first time I have beaten Robert [Scheidt]. That is a nice feeling! He is a legend. I am very happy.”
For winning the Star Sailors League Finals, Zarif and Trouche not only gained the credo of beating many of the world’s top sailors, but also won US$ 40,000 of the total US$ 200,000 prize pot.
Highlights video on finals day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoiL03nd080&feature=youtu.be
Star Sailors League Finals – 4 boats raced the final
1st BRA Jorge Zarif and Pedro Trouche
2nd BRA Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening
3rd ITA Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen
4th NOR Eivind Melleby and Joshua Revkin
USA Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih – Out In Semi-final
POL Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki – Out In Semi-final
FRA Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot – Out In Semi-final
SWE Freddy Lööf and Edoardo Natucci – Out In Quarter final
USA Paul Cayard and Arthur Lopes – Out In Quarter final
BRA Lars Grael and Samuel Gonçalves – Out In Quarter final
HUN Zsombor Berecz and Michael Maier – Out In Quarter final
Day 2 – Star Sailors League Finals in Nassau
Racing at this sixth edition of the Star Sailors League Finals got off to a dramatic first day of competition in Nassau, with four races held, four different winners and a last race in which a squall brought driving rain and 25 knot gusts that claimed one rig and caused one man overboard.
In a 10-12 knot northerly Brazil started strongly with Olympic legends Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening claiming the first race and Lars Grael and Samuel Gonçalves the second.
“We made a good choice starting at the race committee and tacking to the right – we had a very good puff on the right to cross the fleet,” explained double Olympic medallist Grael, who performance here is all the more remarkable as he has just one leg. “Once you are ahead you have a margin to protect and the sailing gets much easier, whereas if you get stuck in the crowd it is very tough.”
Mark Mendelblatt, historically the Star Sailors League Finals’ most successful helm, sailing with his regular crew Brian Fatih, relieved Poland’s Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Życki of the lead in race three. The American recounted his race: “We took the line bias, which was pin-favoured, and managed to get across the fleet pretty early. We got a little rightie at the end and rounded third and at the bottom we chose the right gate, which was the correct one. Then we were able to get to the right of Mateusz at the top of the second beat when the big rightie came in and that got us around him and we were able to hold on down the run. In this fleet when you get ahead, it makes the race a lot easier…”
Hamish Pepper loses his mast – c Gilles Morelle
A front had been forecast to arrive in the afternoon and this finally stuck half way through the final race, when the skies darkened, rain began plummeting and breeze kicking up a sharp chop. Despite this Miami’s Augie Diaz, this year’s Star European Champion, made it look easy.
“We kept thinking the right would come in like that,” Diaz explained. “We had a great start at the committee boat and were first boat off the line. We held for a little bit and then as soon as we felt we had a little phase to go right on, we went hard right and then it was a case of the rich getting richer. But Cayard went all the way left and he came in second at the top mark!”
As the squall hit, Diaz said they had had such a lead that played it safe by reaching downwind, a technique making it easier to gybe.
Meanwhile Grael admitted he was slightly surprised to have finished this race fifth. “We were in the worst position. We broached when we gybed, but then made a good run. It was very puffy and some moments we got a little bit scared about sinking the boat – but it was under control!”
Others were not so fortunate. On the last run the rig broke on Hamish Pepper and Steve Mitchell’s boat, meanwhile one of the race favourites fell out of his boat at the top mark: Diego Negri, sailing here with defending champion Frithjof Kleen as crew, received a penalty at the top mark and while carrying out their turn coincided a gust hit, causing Negri to be ejected from the cockpit. Fortunately the Italian Olympic veteran managed to hang to first the rudder and then the main, but by the time he had been hauled back on board, they had dropped to last place. Despite this they ended the day third overall.
After four races and with one discard applied, Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening lead the Star Sailors League Finals by two points, the Brazilians having won the first race.
“We started at the pin and chose the left side of the course and the shift went our way,” explained Scheidt of that race. “If you can go around the top mark in the top three, life gets a lot easier. It was a tough day. It was quite shifty with flat water and towards the end of the day we had the big right shift with the wind increasing.
“We managed to climb back from some bad situations, which was good, but we still need more boat speed upwind and we had bad starts in two races. The level is very high and it is difficult to do everything well. We are happy – we’ll keep chipping away, but with four races a day a lot of things can happen. You see guys breaking masts and it is very easy to start over early and risk too much at the start.”
The forecast for tomorrow is for the northeasterly wind to resume. “Hopefully we’ll get more waves which will make things more interesting, especially downwind,” concluded Scheidt.
Racing for the full fleet runs through the Qualifiers until Friday, followed on Saturday with the Quarter Final, Semi Final and Final Races. Winner of the Qualifiers fast tracks directly to the Final Race, while second place heads directly to the Semi Final. Those that finish the Qualifiers in third to tenth places, get to race in the Quarter Finals. The top five Quarter Finallists progress through to the Semi Final. The top three from the Semi Finals join the winner of the Qualifiers in the Finals.
Winner of the Star Sailors League Finals receives US$ 40,000 from a prize pot of US$ 200,000.
Daily highlights video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS6tJANRfc4&feature=youtu.be
Star Sailors League – Finals – after 4 races, 1 discard
1st BRA Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening 6 pts
2nd USA Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih 8 pts
3rd ITA Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen 13 pts
4th USA Augie Diaz and Bruno Prada 15 pts
5th POL Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki 15 pts
6th NOR Eivind Melleby and Joshua Revkin 19 pts
7th BRA Jorge Zarif and Pedro Trouche 24 pts
8th BRA Lars Grael and Samuel Gonçalves 25 pts
9th SWE Freddy Lööf and Edoardo Natucci 25 pts
10th USA George Szabo and Roger Cheer 29 pts
11th ITA Francesco Bruni and Nando Colaninno 30 pts
12th USA Paul Cayard and Arthur Lopes 31 pts
13th FRA Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot 31 pts
14th CRO Tonci Stipanovic and Frederico Melo 35 pts
15th CYP Pavlos Kontides and Markus Koy 35 pts
16th FRA Kevin Peponnet and Mark Strube 35 pts
17th HUN Zsombor Berecz and Michael Maier 38 pts
18th NZL Hamish Pepper and Steve Mitchell 40 pts
19th SWE Max Salminen and Johan Tillander 41 pts
20th ITA Guido Gallinaro and Kilian Weise 45 pts
21st CRO Šime Fantela and Antonio Arapovic 46 pts
22nd ITA Ruggero Tita and Enrico Voltolini 55 pts
23rd CZE Ondrej Teplý and Antonis Tsotras 60 pts
24th GBR Iain Percy and Anders Ekström DNC pts
25th RUS Georgy Shayduko and Vitalii Kushnir DNC pts
From wily old sea dogs to the latest fresh-faced talent – the top talent in our sport will take to the warm, azure blue waters of Nassau’s Montagu Bay this week for the Star Sailors League Finals, to determine the ‘star’ of sailing.
The breadth of the field this year is exceptional. Across the 25 teams and 50 sailors are 21 Olympic sailing medals and some of the greatest Olympic sailors of all time, such as Brazil’s Robert Scheidt, one of only three people ever to win five Olympic sailing medals, to Britain’s Iain Percy who holds two golds and a silver.
Percy is competing at the Star Sailors League Finals for the very first time and following the tragic loss of his long term crew Andrew Simpson, will sail with an old on-the-water adversary of his and Bart’s – Swede Anders Ekström, himself the Beijing Star Olympic bronze medallist and World Champion with Freddy Lööf. Lööf, another triple Olympic medallist and the last gold medallist in the Star class is back, this time sailing with Italy’s Edoardo Natucci, a previous winner of the Star Sailors League Finals with George Szabo in 2015. Unusually, Lööf’s London 2012 gold medal-winning crew is also competing here but as a helm – Max Salminen competed at Rio 2016 in the Finn and was 2017 World Champion in the heavyweight Men’s singlehander.
Others from the generation of sailors who made the transition from the Laser or the Finn to the Star during the 2000s include New Zealand’s Hamish Pepper, who was World Champion in the former Olympic keelboat in 2006 (sailing here with the 2002 Star World Champion, Britain’s Steve Mitchell). France’s Xavier Rohart, the Athens 2004 Star bronze medallist is back once again with Pierre-Alexis Ponsot. Although he never coaxed out an Olympic medal, the USA’s Mark Mendelblatt returns as the Star Sailors League Finals’ most successful competitor having a 3-1-1-3 record here with his London 2012 crew Brian Fatih.
Always making the top 10 here in Nassau, having competed in every edition of the Star Sailors League Finals, is Poland’s Mateusz Kusznierewicz, a two time Finn Olympic medallist, sailing as usual with Dominik Życki. Taking time off from his duties as helmsman for the latest Luna Rossa America’s Cup challenge is Francesco Bruni, sailing here with Nando Colaninno and hoping to improve on his 10th place finish last year. Also in this group is Norway’s Eivind Melleby, last year’s Star World Champion, sailing with the USA’s Joshua Revkin.
One of the strongest entries is likely to be Italian three time Olympian Diego Negri. The present leader of the Star Sailors League ranking ahead of Robert Scheidt and Paul Cayard, Negri has as his crew German Frithjof Kleen, who won Star Sailors League Final last year with Paul Goodison.
Kleen comes to Nassau race fit from the Star class’ Commodores Cup in Miami and also having spent the year coaching and training up new Star boat sailors out of the Star Sailors League training centre he runs in Riva del Garda. Many competitors have passed through the centre this year.
“This time I think the old Star sailors will really have to watch out, because the young guys coming through are not only fantastic sailors, but this time they are also prepared,” Kleen warns. “Those who haven’t trained are going to look very stupid!” As to sailing with Negri, Kleen says they ran a successful campaign in 2012-2013. “I know him very well – both his good and bad sides! He always made it through the round robins. We know our boat and our sails – all these variables are knocked out. Now it is all about us, but it will be tough as it is every year.”
Since its inception the Star Sailors League has also invited the top of the latest crop of Olympic sailors but this year has surpassed itself with five champions fresh from the Hempel Sailing World Championships in Aarhus: Rio 470 gold medallist turned 49er World Champion Šime Fantela and Laser silver medallist and two time World Champion Pavlos Kontides and the reigning 470, Finn and Nacra 17 World Champions, respectively Kevin Peponnet, Zsombor Berecz and Ruggero Tita.
For both Fantela and Kontides this will be their second time at the Star Sailors League Finals. Kontides, who is Cyprus’ only ever Olympic medallist (in any sport), is in with a particularly good chance, sailing with one of the most experienced and successful Star boat crew in German three time European champion, Markus Koy. “It is a great feeling to be able to compete against the sailing legends, the people I grew up looking at, admiring and getting inspiration from, who helped me to set my goals and dreams high. Having the chance to be on the same start line as them is fantastic,” said Kontides.
As to whether it is intimidating crossing swords with heroes like Robert Scheidt and Iain Percy, Kontides continues: “We are all sailing at a very high level and it is boat-on-boat. Of course you have to respect the rules and the best one will win. For us, not being from the Star class, it is not easy to know what to expect. We are not familiar with how well we will be able to perform or how badly.”
According to Kontides, Paul Goodison’s victory in 2017 has given hope to competitors who are not Star veterans. Nonetheless the learning curve remains steep: “You make steps forwards fast. When there is some breeze and you have to hike more, it is easier for the Laser sailors to have good steering technique and it is much easier if you make a slightly mistake to accelerate the boat back up again. In light winds it is harder and you need more experience. It is easy to slow the boat down, but then it takes longer to get it back up to speed.”
This year the Star Sailors League also features its youngest ever skipper in Guido Gallinaro, the 17-year-old Laser Radial Youth World and European Championship from Italy.
While hopes are being placed on the young blades, in fact some of the top results in recent major Star events have come from the more ‘experienced’ end of the age spectrum. 64-year-old Augie Diaz was this year’s Star European champion and two years ago was World Champion, sailing with Brazilian legend Bruno Prada, who has two Olympic Star medals from when he sailed with Robert Scheidt.
Similarly sailing legend Paul Cayard is back for his fifth Star Sailors League Finals, very much at the top of his game, having finished third at this year’s Star Worlds with Brazilian crew Arthur Lopes. Among his numerous accolades winning the Star Worlds 30 years ago remains one of Cayard’s proudest achievements.
“I have put a lot of time into the Star starting with the Star Sailors League last year – I had a good result and that encouraged me to try hard,” says the 59-year-old former Whitbread Round the World Race winner and America’s Cup veteran. “I bought a P-star, because I was a little slow downwind in the Finals last year, which has helped me a bit. I feel pretty good. Every year there are some new faces and they are all quality sailors. To be invited here you have to be an Olympic medallist or a World Champion or have some credentials for sure.
“The Star Sailors League Finals is the most unique, exceptionally good event in sailing in a long, long time. Everything from the format, the quality of the sailors to the concept of being able to race against a great Laser sailor or Franck Cammas, a great offshore sailor [who competed in 2017] or Xavier Rohart who is 105kg – you can only do that in the Star class. It is the perfect boat for that.
“You see everything here, but before this happens, the SSL provides training for the people who don’t know the Star so it cultivates and nurtures sailing. The format where we have a constant knock-out on the last day is easy for the public to understand. In fact everything the public can’t understand has been done away with.”
Racing for the full fleet continues through the Qualifiers (from Tuesday until Friday), concluding on Saturday with the Quarter Final, Semi Final and Final Races. Winner of the Qualifiers fast tracks directly to the Final Race, while second place heads directly to the Semi Final. Those that finish the Qualifiers in third to tenth places, get to race in the Quarter Finals. The top five Quarter Finallists progress through to the Semi Final. The top three from the Semi Finals join the winner of the Qualifiers in the Finals. The winner of the Star Sailors League Finals receives US$ 40,000 from a prize pot of US$ 200,000.
You can follow all the action live and for free, streamed on the internet with expert commentary from special studio guests. On the water, the latest in hi-tech camera technology, as well as Virtual Eye 3D Graphics, will provide thrilling viewing. If you have a website and are interested in embedding the live video stream please contact us.
Follow us on the official website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to be updated regularly on the Star Sailors League’s major event of the year.
2018 Star Sailors Legue Finals – Entries
Iain Percy (GBR) – Anders Ekström (SWE)
Šime Fantela (CRO) – Antonio Arapovic (CRO)
Robert Scheidt (BRA) – Henry Boenig (BRA)
Freddy Lööf (SWE ) – Edoardo Natucci (ITA)
Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) – Dominik Zycki (POL)
Max Salminen (SWE) – Johan Tillander (SWE)
Paul Cayard (USA) – Arthur Lopes (BRA)
Diego Negri (ITA) – Frithjof Kleen (GER)
Pavlos Kontides (CYP) – Markus Koy (GER)
Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) – Frederico Melo (POR)
Gerogy Shayduko (RUS) – Vitalii Kushnir (UKR)
Lars Grael (BRA) – Samuel Gonçalves (BRA)
Xavier Rohart (FRA) – Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (FRA)
Jorge Zarif (BRA) – Pedro Trouche (BRA)
Ruggero Tita (ITA ) – Enrico Voltolini (ITA)
Zsombor Berecz (HUN) – Michael Maier (CZE)
Kevin Peponnet (FRA) – Mark Strube (USA)
Hamish Pepper (NZL) – Steve Mitchell (GBR)
Francesco Bruni (ITA) – Nando Colaninno (ITA)
Mark Mendelblatt (USA) – Brian Fatih (USA)
Eivind Melleby (NOR) – Joshua Revkin (USA)
Geroge Szabo (USA) – Roger Cheer (CAN)
Augie Diaz (USA) – Bruno Prada (BRA)
Ondrej Teplý (CZE ) – Antonis Tsotras (GRE)
Guido Gallinaro (ITA) – Kilian Weise (GER)
Star Sailors League Finals 2018 © SSL
An elite gathering of 25 star-studded teams will be competing at the 2018 SSL Finals in the Bahamas next month, including 15 wildcards drawn from many corners of the world of high-level sailing.
Last year’s one-second victory by International Moth World Champion Paul Goodison in the winner-takes-all final race showed that a wildcard invitee can prevail over the Star boat veterans. This will bring great hope to the Laser sailors (Goodison was the 2008 Laser Olympic Champion) such as Pavlos Kontides from Cyprus, the London 2012 Olympic silver medallist, the 2017 and 2018 World Champion and this year’s Rolex World Sailor of the Year.
Kontides’ friend and training partner Tonci Stipanovic from Croatia narrowly missed out on Olympic gold at Rio 2016, but the Olympic silver medallist and two-time European Champion clearly has the talent to do a ‘Goodison’ at this year’s contest in Nassau.
Italy’s Francesco Bruni and New Zealand’s Hamish Pepper also did their time in the Laser before moving into the Star class, both representing their nation at the Olympics and in the America’s Cup, including victory for Pepper in the 2000 Cup in Auckland. Pepper is a former Star World Champion who will relish the short-course challenge in the SSL Finals.
Georgy Shayduko won an Olympic silver medal at the 1996 Games for Russia, competing in the three-man Soling keelboat, a class in which he also won two world titles. At 56 years old, he’s one of the older competitors in the line-up but will be keen to show the younger guns how it’s done.
This event will be the first time the three medal winning skippers from London 2012, the last Games in which the Star appeared as the Olympic keelboat, will line up against each other since that epic showdown in Weymouth six years ago. The gold-medal winning skipper Freddy Lööf will be racing, although not with his former winning crew Max Salminen, who takes the helm of his own Star boat in Nassau and will be keen to show his old team mate a thing or two about how to steer this challenging and technical boat. Salminen has gone on to forge a successful career in the Finn including victory at last year’s World Championships and only narrowly missing out on defending his title in Aarhus earlier this season.
Another of Lööf’s medal-winning crews from his Star days, Anders Ekström, will be crewing for Iain Percy, Great Britain’s silver medallist from London 2012 who makes an emotional return to the Star class, a boat he has found it difficult to come back to after losing his former crew and best friend Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson following a tragic accident during the build-up to the 2013 America’s Cup. The bronze medallists from London 2012 are also here, five-time Olympic medallist and Brazilian legend Robert Scheidt being crewed in Nassau by Henry Boening, while Scheidt’s former crew Bruno Prada is crewing for Augie Diaz, a Star World and European Champion from the USA.
Young sailors and first-time world championship winners in their respective Olympic classes – for example Kevin Peponnet (470, France), Zsombor Berecz (Finn, Hungary) and Ruggero Tita (Nacra 17, Italy) – will get the opportunity to line up against some of the big names who earned their fame years ago. Brazilian sailor Lars Grael is a two-time Olympic medallist while Paul Cayard has succeeded at almost every level of the sport, from representing the USA at the Olympics, winning a Star world title, skippering numerous America’s Cup campaigns and winning the Whitbread Round the World Race more than 20 years ago.
Other ones to watch include this year’s surprise 49er World Champion Šime Fantela, the reigning 470 Olympic Champion from Croatia who proved himself very capable of winning races the last time he was invited to the SSL. And last but not least, the most successful team in the short history of SSL competition, Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih of the USA, who seem to relish this sudden-death knockout format.
After four days of qualification rounds for all 25 crews, the competition goes into the knockout stages on Saturday, December the 8th. Single races decide who survives and who is heading for the dock. The last four teams will contest a thrilling final race, the first to finish will be the winner of the 2018 SSL Finals and take home the lion’s share of the $200,000 Prize Purse.
You can join all the action live and free streaming on internet with expert commentary from special studio guests. On the water, the latest in hi-tech camera technology, as well as Virtual Eye 3D Graphics, will provide thrilling viewing.
1 Iain Percy (GBR) – Anders Ekström (SWE)
2 Šime Fantela (CRO) – Antonio Arapovic (CRO)
3 Robert Scheidt (BRA) – Henry Boenig (BRA)
4 Freddy Lööf (SWE) – Edoardo Natucci (ITA)
5 Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) – Dominik Zycki (POL)
6 Max Salminen (SWE) – Johan Tillander (SWE)
7 Paul Cayard (USA) – Arthur Lopes (BRA)
8 Diego Negri (ITA) – Frithjof Kleen (GER)
9 Pavlos Kontides (CYP) – Markus Koy (GER)
10 Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) – Frederico Melo (POR)
11 Gerogy Shayduko (RUS) – Vitalii Kushnir (UKR)
12 Lars Grael (BRA) – Samuel Gonçalves (BRA)
13 Xavier Rohart (FRA) – Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (FRA)
14 Jorge Zarif (BRA) – Pedro Trouche (BRA)
15 Ruggero Tita (ITA) – Enrico Voltolini (ITA)
16 Zsombor Berecz (HUN) – Michael Maier (CZE)
17 Kevin Peponnet (FRA) – Mark Strube (USA)
18 Hamish Pepper (NZL) – Steve Mitchell (GBR)
19 Francesco Bruni (ITA) – Nando Colaninno (ITA)
20 Mark Mendelblatt (USA) – Brian Fatih (USA)
21 Eivind Melleby (NOR) – Joshua Revkin (USA)
22 Geroge Szabo (USA) – Roger Cheer (CAN)
23 Augie Diaz (USA) – Bruno Prada (BRA)
24 Ondrej Teplý (CZE) – Antonis Tsotras (GRE)
25 Guido Gallinaro (ITA) – Kilian Weise (GER)
tech2 and Kleenmaid had a great round of the SuperFoiler Grand Prix in Busselton. – photo © Andrea Francolini
Two West Australian skippers have steered their teams to the podium in their home regatta with Perth’s Luke Parkinson (tech2) and Steve Thomas (Pavement) climbing onto the Busselton dais alongside Kleenmaid. tech2 secured a third victory of the regatta to claim the outright win by the slenderest of margins over Pavement.
“I loved the opportunity to be back sailing in WA over the weekend. We had a full range of conditions and this win puts us in great shape for the final in Sydney,” said Busselton’s victorious skipper Luke Parkinson – who thrust tech2 to the top for the very first time.
“It has been a pleasure to sail in such a beautiful location, extremely tight racing it went all the way to the last run of the last race. I am really excited for the Grand Final in Sydney,” said tech2’s mainsheet hand Ayden Menzies.
In what was the most hotly contested regatta to date, Pavement finished four points behind in second.
“Pretty cool for WA to get on top at the home venue. I guess we had a lot of local knowledge,” said Pavement skipper and second on the podium Steve Thomas, “We were stoked to get second – it was a really close race between us and Kleenmaid.”
The regatta also witnessed the breakthrough podium for Olivia Price, Harry Morton and Josh McKnight – who missed out on claiming overall points by just one win. “As a team we’ve been playing the long game, slowly developing our techniques with Sydney being the end goal so this was a really important regatta for us to peak at,” said Kleenmaid mainsheet hand Josh McKnight.
The wash-up is Euroflex’s stranglehold on the championship has slipped after her last placed finish, although her star crew of Nathan Outteridge, Iain Jensen and Glenn Ashby still hold a two-point lead over tech2. It sets up a thrilling climax to the opening series with the Expr3ss! SuperFoiler Grand Final – Sydney from 23 to 25 March, 2018, to decide the first winner of the Ben Lexcen Trophy.
Euroflex – 19 pts
Tech2 – 17 pts
Pavement – 16 pts
Record Point – 12 pts
iD Intranet – 11 pts
Kleenmaid – 10 pts
Star Sailors League Final in Nassau
With racing taking place in a balmy, near perfect 15 knots on Nassau’s Montagu Bay, the ‘take no prisoners’ shoot out on the last day of the Star Sailors League Final saw the fleet narrow to seven teams after the Quarter Finals and to four after the Semis. Finally this left the finals being contested by France’s Xavier Rohart/Pierre-Alexis Ponsot, Britain’s Paul Goodison sailing with German Frithjof Kleen, Brazil’s Robert Scheidt/Henry Boening and the USA’s Mark Mendelblatt/Brian Fatih, the latter crew having ‘fast tracked’ straight through after decisively winning the qualifiers yesterday.
In the final race, Mendelblatt/Fatih led off the line and all the boats heading out to the left. Goodison/Kleen benefitted on the right and coming into the weather mark just squeaked in ahead of the Americans. At the second top mark rounding the Anglo-German duo looked marginally more secure but with veins of breeze coming down the course, the outcome was still far from decided. On the final approach to the finish line, Scheidt/Boening closed, rolling in with more pressure and on some good waves as Goodison/Kleen looked slow. However at the very last moment Goodison/Kleen picked up speed to win by a metre. It was a suitable ending to this ultimate ‘champion of champions’ regatta, where the winners gets to walk away with US$ 40,000 of a US$ 200,000 total prize purse.
Goodison described the final seconds: “I was desperate to soak low to come into towards the pin end (of the finish line) and Frida (Frithjof Kleen) was going ‘You’re Going Too Slow, You’re Going Too Slow – Come Up!’. So there was a little panic. It was a little too close for comfort.” Kleen added: “It is always super hard to protect yourself from Robert Scheidt because he is the best downwind sailor in the world and he caught us up quite well…”
In fact the two time Moth World Champion and his burly Star veteran crewman had become experts at photo finishes having had a similar experience in the Semi-Finals. On that occasion they were in a must-win battle against Germans Philipp Buhl and Markus Koy: The winner progressing to the final, the loser eliminated. Winning that particular race within a race had been especially important for Kleen. “I was working hard to catch the Germans in the Semi-Final! You could see the difference between us – we were rolling more and that helped us,” he observed.
Despite losing the final, Robert Scheidt said it had been a great race. “A lot happened – position changes, tacking on each other, penalties – and then we had a photo finish. We managed to do a good gybe on the inside and we got a little bit more pressure so that when we converged, I thought at one stage that we had got those guys. But in the end I couldn’t go low because I was blocked by the race committee boat. They deserved it and for us to be part of that was really exciting.”
It was interesting to note that three of the four finalists were former Laser sailors who competed at Athens Olympics in 2004. On that occasion Scheidt claimed gold, Goodison was fourth and Mendleblatt seventh. Throughout the Qualifiers this week, Mendelblatt and Fatih had been the stand-out crew but perhaps suffered from coming into the Finals cold whereas the other teams had already warmed up in the quarter finals and semis.
Goodison was delighted by the outcome: “I am over the moon – I didn’t expect this at all.” Given today’s slightly breezier conditions, the smart money had been on the Star veterans, rather than a newbie to the class like him. “This morning we had a look at the trophy and I saw Bart’s name on it (the late Andrew Simpson, who won Star Gold in Beijing 2008 as part of the British Olympic team with Goodison) and Frida mentioned that the top crew got the Andrew Simpson Trophy. Somewhere up there I am sure Bart was smiling on us and making us hike a little bit harder. It is a great honour to race against these guys and I feel so happy to have won and I feel so grateful to have had Frida who has been my mentor, my pain in the ass, my everything for the last 10 days.”
And what will he do with his share of the prize money? “Well, I have a new Moth being built, but I think my family might get some better Christmas presents this year!” concluded the two time Moth World Champion, Laser Olympic gold medallist and now Star Sailors League champion.
Tonight’s celebration will continue at the Nassau Yacht Club with a Gala Dinner, where Dennis Conner will hand out the prizes to the athletes – who will be wearing their Star Sailors League official blazers, kindly supplied by Think Pink.
The sixth edition of the Star Sailors League Finals will take place once again in Nassau, the Bahamas, from December 3rd to 8th 2018.
Highlights of finals of Star Sailors League
Day 4 of the Star Sailors League Finals
After three more races today on Nassau’s Montagu Bay, the full 11 Qualifier races of the Star Sailors League Final were completed to determine which ten of the 25 teams would progress through to tomorrow’s final rounds, when the US$ 200,000 prize pot will be distributed.
There was upset in the first race when another of the Star newbies won, beating the old hands of the former Olympic keelboat class. British Nacra 17 World Champion Ben Saxton, sailing with former Star World Champion Steve Mitchell, managed to hang on to their lead after winning the pin at the start and then fending off a persistent challenge from overall leaders the USA’s Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih.
“We were one boat length ahead for the whole race,” said Saxton. “On the second beat we only crossed ahead of Mark and Brian by two metres – it was awesomely close racing. Then on the last run we had the Poles, Paul Goodison and Mark/Brian alongside of us and it could have gone any way. It was a pretty big celebration when we finished.”
Italian Star veterans Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi claimed the second race, their first bullet of the Qualifiers. But significant to the points tally was four teams being called OCS. This start line error would ultimately contribute to Brazil’s Lars Grael/Samuel Goncalves and London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Freddie Lööf and Bruno Prada from making it past the Qualifiers.
After race two it was time for the teams to get their calculators out, to determine who would make it into the all-important top ten and would continuing and the 15 teams heading home. At this point 10th place was held by Italians Francesco Bruni/Nando Colaninno with France’s Xavier Rohart/Pierre-Alexis Ponsot seven points ahead of them, while a further five teams were all still in with a good chance, up to nine points behind. These included Lööf/Prada and Norwegian reigning Star World Champion, Eivind Melleby/Joshua Revkin.
The day had got off badly for Bruni/Colaninno, in the sixth when they got out of bed, but dropping to 10th going into the final race.
“We couldn’t get our head around the shifts and we are not very fast downwind,” admitted Bruni, adding that with too many boats to cover they just had to sail their best.
“On the final run we knew that Lööf was behind and Lars [Grael] wasn’t in the top three, so it would be pretty close between us and the Norwegians.”
Finally on the last run it came together: “We just pushed hard and finally we had one good downwind where we passed four boats.” Melleby/Revkin’s sixth place to their eighth was enough and Bruni/Colaninno were able to hang on to tenth securing their place in tomorrow’s racing, albeit tied on points with Saxton/Mitchell. “We are very happy,” said a beaming Bruni.
The day became a British double win with Laser gold medallist and two time Moth World Champion Paul Goodison, sailing with German Star veteran Frithjof Kleen, claiming the final Qualifier race. This left them in fifth place overall.
Coming out on top is the class act of the 2017 Star Sailors League Finals – Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih. The American defending champions posted a 4-2-4 making them top scoring boat of the day and leaving them 19 points clear of early leaders Brazilian Olympic veteran Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening. Having won the Qualifiers Mendelblatt/Fatih are fast-tracked straight through to the Finals while Scheidt-Boening bypass the Quarter Finals and move directly to the Semi-Finals.
The remaining eight boats, from third placed Negri/Lambertenghi down, will compete in the single Quarter Finals race tomorrow, starting at 1100. Five then go through to join Scheidt/Boening in the Semi Finals. The top three from this join Mendelblatt/Fatih in the Finals, the winner of which will be crowned the 2017 Star Sailors League champion.
1 Mendelblatt/Brian Fatih — Straight to Finals
2 Robert Scheidt/Henry Boening — bypass to Semi-Finals
3 Diego Negri/Sergio Lambertenghi
4 Paul Cayard/Phil Trinter
5 Paul Goodison/Frithjof Kleen
6 Xavier Rohart/Pierre-Alexis Ponsot
7 Philipp Buhl/Markus Koy
8 Mateusz Kusznierewicz
9 Ben Saxton/Steve Mitchell
10 Francesco Bruni/Nando Colaninno
Highlight video of day 4
Day 3 of the Star Sailors League Finals
Despite a second light day that perhaps should have favoured the lighter crews, US heavyweights Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih posted a solid 1-2 on day three of the Star Sailor’s League Final off Nassau to take the lead overall.
In truth, the US occupation of the top spot was equally down to the impressively consistent Brazilian Olympic legend Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening vacating it after an uncharacteristic error when they hooked the weather mark and had to carry out a penalty turn in today’s second race. This resulted in a 19th place finish and, despite discarding this, the Brazilians are now second, trailing Mendelblatt/Fatih by eight points.
“It was a great day – I am very happy with it. We survived the light air and then some, so that was good,” said a beaming Mendelblatt. “Brian has good movement in the boat, which is key as the big guy [ie crew]. You have to heel the boat right and always be moving with the pressure and the waves. He did a great job of keeping the boat powered up at the right angle. It felt good.”
While they are leading, Mendelblatt was not resting on his laurels, with up to three more races to go tomorrow in the culmination of the Qualifier round, after which all but the top ten are eliminated.
The first race got away successfully under a black flag on its second attempt. This still caused Poles Kusznierewicz/Zycki and the two veteran crews of Szabo/Natucci and Diaz/Sperry to be disqualified – especially costly for the Poles, who were OCS in yesterday’s second race.
With the start line committee-boat favoured, Mendelblatt/Fatih started conservatively by the committee boat and headed out to the right. The lead shifted between the sides of the course with the US team reaching the top mark third behind Franck Cammas and Mark Strube – an impressive performance by Cammas, the French Volvo Ocean Race winner, America’s Cup skipper but Star boat newbie. After a long battle on the final run with the two Italian crews Francesco Bruni/Nando Colaninno and Diego Negri/Sergio Lambertenghi, the Americans found better pressure to roll past their rivals to take their third bullet of the Star Sailors League Finals.
Aside from Mendelblatt/Fatih, the day belonged to the two Italian teams. Francesco Bruni has been out of the Star class for more than a decade, his previous campaign including a seventh place at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Coming into the Star Sailors League Finals he had had just one day of training and yet today he managed to post a 4-1.
In the latter race Brazilian Olympic legend Torben Grael and Guilherme de Almeida had made the best of the start – leaping ahead after tacking on a favourable left hand shift. However it was Bruni/Colaninno who read the conditions the best and were first to the top mark. Bruni said he was pleased with how they had positioned themselves, such as not going all the way to the port layline coming into the top mark.
“We made a good balance between risk and reward.”
This had also paid in the first race when on the first run they had held on starboard longer after everyone had gybed, a move that took them from sixth-seventh to level with the leaders coming into the leeward gate.
“The only bad part of the day was the last part of the first race when we went from first to fourth.” This Bruni attributed to his lack of experiencing of free pumping which was permitted as the wind marginally increased on that leg.
Fellow countrymen Diego Negri/Sergio Lambertenghi were the third stand-out performer of the day posting two thirds, leaving them third overall.
Young German Laser sailor Philipp Buhl continued to shine today on board with old Star boat hand, Markus Koy. Their 9-5 today elevated them to fifth place overall, an outstanding performance considering Buhl has had only five days of training in the former Olympic keelboat before the Finals.
Tomorrow up to three races can be held in this Qualifier round and all of the 25 crews will be gunning to make the top 10 that will enable them to progress through to the final rounds of racing on Saturday.
Highlight video of day 3
Paul Cayard & Phil Trinter on Day 2 © Gilles Morelle / Star Sailors League
Day two of the Star Sailors League Finals in Nassau
A lighter, longer, hotter second day of racing at the Star Sailors League Finals in Nassau, was one of mixed fortunes for the 25 crews competing for the US$ 200,000 prize purse in this international ‘Champion of Champions’ contest.
Italy’s two time World Championship runners-up Diego Negri/Sergio Lambertenghi were the lowest scorers today, while Star newbies, German Laser sailor Philipp Buhl and British Nacra 17 World Champion Ben Saxton, put in stand-out performances with their respective crews, towering Markus Koy and former Star World Champion Steve Mitchell.
US veterans Paul Cayard/Phil Trinter scored two bullets in the first and last races. Yet after this generally high scoring day, Brazilian Olympic legend Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening showed ultra-resilience retaining their lead, two points ahead of Mark Mendelblatt/Brian Fatih.
While two races were held yesterday, today there were four, the start time coming forward to 1100 hrs. The easterly started off lighter at nine knots, dropping to seven for the final race by which time an evil grey rain cloud was veering the wind.
Cayard was pleased with his and Phil Trinter’s two bullets, but less so about his race three 20th.
“We had some kelp round the keel right off the start and weren’t fast, which was strange because we are very fast. Then I made a bad tactical choice to go to the layline on starboard instead of tacking early.”
The Volvo Ocean Race/Louis Vuitton Cup winner was particularly pleased by how their pace downwind has improved.
“On Saturday we were getting our butts kicked. Now we are holding our own. If you can get to the weather mark in good shape and hold your own downwind, you are going to sail good races.”
In the fourth Cayard/Trinter, one of the most experienced crews competing, led at the first top mark rounding only to be rolled downwind by Ben Saxton/Steve Mitchell. The Brits led through the leeward gate only to be overhauled by the Americans on the second beat but still managed to hold second at the finish.
“We were struggling with speed downwind, but today we held our own, which meant we could put a race together,” explained Saxton.
He added they were almost more pleased with today’s second and third races when they successfully fought back from deep starts. After this they finally got a good start, up by the committee boat.
“We punched forwards off the line and then just led the bunch back from the left and tacked in and got a good lane,” said Saxton of the final race.
As to how it feels to be in the Star Sailors League finalists, Saxton adds: “It is an honour to line up against them. I am here because I can raise my game. It is wicked to see how these people put beats together. You can always learn off them.”
Ben Saxton & Steve Mitchell- Day 2 – photo © Carlo Borlenghi
While Saxton came close to winning race four, another 27-year-old Rio 2016 Olympian, Philipp Buhl had successfully claimed the race before. The German crew had been third around the top mark behind two Italian boats – Negri/Lambertenghi and America’s Cup tactician Francesco Bruni/Nando Colaninno. Buhl/Koy had pulled into the lead ahead of Negri/Lambertenghi at the second top mark rounding and held on to the finish.
“I thought I would struggle a bit more, but I’ve been sailing with confidence, maybe because we are sailing above my expectations,”said Buhl.
“I regard it as a super privilege to be invited to race against all these legends. When we won race three I realised we could sail on the same level as Robert Scheidt. That’s something we can be proud of because he’s had two Olympic Star boat campaigns…”
His towering crew, Markus Koy observed that having an ex-Olympic Laser sailor as a Star helm is a bonus.
“They do more course changes and use every wave.”
Italy’s Diego Negri/Sergio Lambertenghi have yet to win a race but today’s two seconds (in races one and three) enabled them be the lowest scoring crew today.
“It was very positive for us and it gives us a bit confidence to do well in the next few days,” said Negri, a two time Star European Champion.
“Tomorrow and Friday conditions will be similar to today’s and then very breezy on the final day, Saturday. This will make it more important to win the Qualification and get a bye straight to the Final – as we did last year. In windy conditions you can get tired and the boat can be damaged easier.”
With five races left to go in the Qualification series, tomorrow three races are scheduled with a start at 1100hrs.
Highlights video day 2 of racing
2017 Star Sailors League Finals – Day 1 © Gilles Morelle
Star Sailors League Finals in Nassau, Bahamas
International sailing’s premier Champion of Champions event got underway in Nassau with the first two races of the Star Sailors League Finals. Racing took place on Montagu Bay, a stone’s throw from the Nassau Yacht Club, this week playing host to the 25 Star teams. Among the all-star cast of sailors here are not just luminaries of the former Olympic keelboat, but three Volvo Ocean Race winning skippers, two Jules Verne Trophy winning skippers, America’s Cup winners plus countless Olympic medallists and World Champions.
On the Bahamas’ holiday brochure blues waters, racing took place in a relatively stable 12-15 knots easterly with ‘free pumping’ permitted.
On the first beat of race one, the boats on the left looked good including old US hands Paul Cayard/Phil Trinter and Mark Mendelblatt/Brian Fatih, but also invited VIP’s like double Moth World Champion Paul Goodison sailing with German Star legend Frithjof Kleen. At the top mark defending champions Mendelblatt/Fatih shows some of their old magic pulling out a solid five boatlength lead with Goodison/Kleen sneaking ahead of Cayard/Trinter to round second. But on the runs, experience paid: Mendelblatt/Fatih held position claiming the first race, while Brazilian Olympic legend Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening outsailed Goodison/Kleen, relieving them of second coming into the line.
“I know Goodie from our Laser days – I think he has got a good set up and a good crew and a good boat,” observed Scheidt. He added that with invited sailors such as his old British rival the line-up here is the toughest to date.
Robert Scheidt & Henry Boening – photo © Carlo Borlenghi
Mendelblatt/Fatih were also showing great pace, finishing comfortably ahead of the chasing pack. “It was pretty good downwind – better than in years past,” said Mendelblatt. “It was unlimited rocking and pumping today. Some guys go really hard and other go smoother. We are one of the smoother teams. Some of the big Finns guys can put a lot into it.”
In the second race, the left also paid on the first beat with Goodison/Kleen putting in another great performance, squeeze in from the port layline at the top mark just inside of Xavier Rohart and his London 2012 crew Pierre-Alexis Ponsot with Poles Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Dominik Zycki third.
On the first run, the French held on starboard gybe and took the lead coming into the leeward gate with Mendelblatt/Fatih also rolling past Goodison/Kleen. Rohart/Ponsot kept their noses clean for the rest of the race which was not the case for many other, including the likes of Mendelblatt/Fatih and reigning Star World Champion, Norway’s Eivind Melleby, sailing here with the USA’s Joshua Revkin all of whom infringed at the top mark and had to carry out penalty turns. Ultimately the Poles claimed third with Scheidt/Boening managing second to finish the opening day leading overall by a point from Kusznierewicz/Zycki, but with just three points separating the top five.
“It was a match – we took the right decision to stay outside at the top mark,” said race two winning crew Pierre-Alexis Ponsot. “Then it was about finding a good space with the waves for the oouching and pumping. Upwind it was hard because it is very choppy so we had to hike very much.”
Fleet ashore on day 1 – photo © Carlo Borlenghi
Coming off the water with the biggest grin was definitely Goodison.
“They have all been sailing for years and I have only down 10 days total,” he said of the competition. Of rediscovering long lost muscle groups after his first ever Star races, he added:
“It is almost like the old Laser days when you were a bit out of practice and not quite fit enough at the beginning of the year. It is amazing to be out there racing with all these guys. I was very worried coming into this that we would be way off the pace. I am very fortunate that this is Frida’s boat (Kleen) and he has a good feel for the numbers. I do a little bit of the ‘feel’ stuff and he does general set-up. Downwind it is very much like sailing a Laser – just the rocking and steering, only I’m not as strong as some of the big guys and can’t pump as hard.”
Highlights video of day 1 of racing