The largest ever OK Dinghy event ever to be held outside Europe begins in just over 10 days in Auckland, New Zealand. The Symonite OK Dinghy World Championship has attracted 110 entries and is being held at Wakatere Boating Club on Auckland’s North Shore from 7-15 February.
The fleet is about as diverse and deep as any OK Dinghy fleet in recent years with former world champions, Olympic champions and America’s Cup stars all mixing it up in the huge fleet. Some will be sailing their first world championship, while some are well past 20 editions.
As well as the large number of entries from Australia and New Zealand, there are also entries from Britain, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Sweden and the USA. Containers of boats have arrived from Europe and Australia and are being unloaded ready for racing to start next week. The New Zealand National Championship is being held over the weekend of 2-3 February as a warm up for the world championship, with racing beginning on the 10 February.
Simon Probert, the commodore of Wakatere Boating Club, and also competing in the event, said, “The excitement is really starting to build. The first of the containers and the competitors have arrived and some have even been seen on the water. Wakatere is thrilled at the response of the local fleet and around the world at the chance to sail in New Zealand. To have a fleet of 110, or possibly more, is a testament to the growth we have seen locally over the last 10 years and also the strength and growth of the international fleet.”
“The Wakatere OK sailors are some of the friendliest you’ll meet anywhere and the team made sure we had people attending the OK Worlds and Europeans last year to talk to people about coming to New Zealand and joining us in our summer. We think that really made a difference in the numbers we have seen here for this regatta.”
“We have seen huge growth at our club where we have over 40 OKs registered with regular fleets of over 20 out for club racing.”
New Zealand has had its fair share of success at the World Championship over the past 55 years and has hosted the event on six occasions previously though the last time it was in Auckland was 1986. Kiwi sailors have lifted the title a total of 12 times, but only one of these, Greg Wilcox, will be sailing this year.
Wilcox, who was world champion in 2002, and later, served as President of the OK Dinghy Association (OKDIA), commented, “The level in the class at the moment is just huge. I think it will be a struggle just to make the top 10 this year. It is awesome that the class has attracted so many top sailors from other classes but it just makes our work on the water that much harder, but also that much more fun. How many other classes can you say you are racing alongside Olympic champions and America’s Cup winners?”
“OKDIA has put in a huge amount of effort over the last 5-10 years to really build the class and make it attractive to those who want quality, fun and sociable racing, against some of the best sailors in the world. And we have so many really good boat builders these days, that it makes the fleet far more attractive and accessible than 15-20 years ago.”
“I think part of the success has been down to the excellent choice of venues. We went to Barbados, and then last year to Warnemunde where we had 140 entries, and then Bandol for the Europeans, which was an astonishing success. After Auckland we have events lined up in Marstrand, Garda and Lyme Regis. It doesn’t look like I will be retiring any time soon.”
One of the top local sailors is Ben Morrison, who won the National title two years ago. He said, “With its friendly locals, great weather, beautiful scenery, and high public interest in sailing, New Zealand makes a great venue for a sailing contest.”
He thinks the OK Dinghy is popular because it offers traditional racing and is more accessible than many classes.
“As the foiling generation concentrates on achieving ever longer and more stable flight, there is still a place in many sailors’ hearts for traditional dinghy sailing with its ever-fascinating challenges of tactics, fitness, and boat-handling, and with the simple joy of easily rigging a boat that can sail in almost any conditions, wheeling it into the water and just going sailing.”
Matthew Mason made a name for himself in the Whitbread Round the World Race as well as being involved in six America’s Cup campaigns, including four wins. He is looking forward to the upcoming championship. “Getting back into dinghies after 40 years of not sailing a centreboarder keeps it real. I love the camaraderie of this class, it is like nothing else.”
The strong Kiwi team includes three-time Olympian, Dan Slater, who has been in the class for a few years now but yet to win a major event. Also from the home club, America’s Cup star, Rod Davis, has been putting in the hours, while current National champion Luke O’Connell from Worser Bay in Wellington will be looking to go one better than his silver medal in 2014. He also took bronze in 2017.
Probert concluded, “The Devonport community, Wakatere BC members and the NZ OK sailors are ready to welcome our visitors and we are all confident this will be a memorable Ok Worlds and pre-worlds fortnight with many new memories and stories to ad the legacy of the class.”
In Part 2 of this preview we will look at some more of the favourites who will be contesting the world title.
by Robert Deaves
The day that promised so much delivered like few events have done before them. With only 3 points separating Rory Hunter and Tom Trotman heading into the final race the atmosphere around the boat park was amazing as the whole fleet waited for the ever reliable Fremantle Doctor to come in.
After a postponement period of around an hour the fleet finally got away in about 12-14knots from the SW. With the starts proving so crucially important across the event the large spectator contingent had all eyes on where the contenders were starting. At the gun Trotman had a belter of a start with Hunter about 4th row and was then interfered with by a powerboat, it was an intense time however thankfully for Hunter the race was to be restarted due to a general recall.
The second start was under a black flag however and a similar start occurred with Trotman powering off the middle of the line, he was high and it was ballsy, however he put the foot down and was going for it, Hunter was slightly more conservative and a little further back off the line not wanting to blow the entire regatta on the final start. As they worked upwind Hunter was hanging on to Trotman with a piece of string and not letting him out of his sight. This allowed New Zealander Bruce Curson through to the lead, this was a big story in itself as he was in a battle to get on the podium and looking to displace Alexander Hoghiem from Norway. Tristan Brown and Brad Devine were also having great races in 2nd and 5th only to discover they had been black flagged at the start, this would prove extremely important as the boats turned downwind for the final time with Trotman holding a slender lead over Hunter and Hogheim was back in 7th.
The breeze was incredibly patchy down the final run and with Trotman splitting away from Hunter on the final run it looked as if the Aussie and a bunch of boats to the right were going to sail in front of Hunter anything could happen at this stage. Bruce Curson took the race win in emphatic fashion and turned his eyes to the action behind him, Pierre Leboucher enjoying the lighter conditions managed to slip inside Trotman pushing him back to 3rd and losing a valuable point on Hunter. There were then 3 boats out to the right who looked to be in puff although Hunter managed to sneak through by a matter of 10 seconds with a nervous gybe at the death.
This meant the podium didn’t change from overnight with Hunter finishing on 30pts, Trotman on 32pts and Alexander Hogheim just pipping Bruce Curson by 1point for 3rd place.
With 7 nations in the top 10 it was a truly special International event, in the other divisions Brad Devine claimed the masters trophy, son Tommy Devine took out the 6.9m rig, Elise Beavis is the number 1 female WASZP sailor in the world and Rory Hunter capped off an amazing event taking the U21 title as well!
Final Standtings after Race 12 with 2 discards (59 entries)
1st GBR 2681 Rory Hunter 4 – – 30 pts
2nd AUS 2453 Tom Trotman 3 – – 32 pts
3rd NOR 2315 Alexander Hogheim 6 – – 41 pts
4th NZL 2248 Bruce Curson 1 – – 42 pts
5th HUN 1 Tamas Szamody 13 – – 59 pts
6th AUS 2509 Tristan Brown BFD – – 63 pts
7th AUS 2506 Jon Holroyd 8 – – 80 pts
8th AUS 2025 Ben Gunther 15 – – 82 pts
9th HKG 2666 Nicolai Jacobsen 10 – – 85 pts
10th AUS 2507 Aaron De Longville 18 – – 88 pts
by Marc Ablett, Waszp Class
The International WASZP Games kicked off in style yesterday with the first ever International WASZP Slalom event streamed live into households around the world! This event has been a long time in the making with many test events used to get the format absolutely nailed.
64 competitors from 11 countries joined in the fun, with 17 races or flights held in 2hours it really is the 20/20 cricket version of sailing. Thrills, spills and epic racing in glamour Perth conditions made a sensational spectacle. Racing was conducted in Freshwater Bay right in front of the host club creating one of the best natural amphitheatres in the world, there were spectators on boats and in the clubs beer garden set up right above the race track providing an awesome experience for family and friends.
Racing started in around 12-15 knots from the SW perfect for foiling, the first round of 8 heats had all competitors competing with the top 4 in each heat moving through to the quarter finals, this gave everyone an opportunity to gauge the course and not necessarily needing to win but only needing to finish top 4 meaning you could sail conservatively enough to just get through.
The quarter finals claimed some big scalps with reigning Australian Nationals Champion Tom Trotman, runner up Rory Hunter and 5th placed Jack Abbott all succumbing to the pressure of this intense racing.
The fleet was also joined by a couple of gun sailors taking a break from their Sail GP and Americas Cup campaigns in Tom Johnson and Luke Parkinson, deciding only half an hour before the racing that they would enter the event. Due to the user friendly nature of the boats, they were rigged in 10 minutes and on the water. Having never sailed a WASZP didn’t seem to phase these guys as they have had significant experience across a lot of foiling classes and are at the top of the game. Both made it to the semi-finals which again is a great testament to the WASZP and its one-design nature. Tom managed to also get through to the final after having a big spill in the semi final only for Parko to have a swim and let him through to 4th position to just qualify for the finals series.
The Grand Final series was as exciting racing as you could imagine, with 8 boats from 5 countries qualifying it gave a great international feel. It was all to play for with former 470 Olympian Pierre Leboucher having a 1,2 in the best of 3 series to lead by 1pt from Tom Johnson who scored a 1,3. There was also a great battle looming for the 3rd place between Alexander Holgheim of Norway and Alex Mitchell-Barker from NZ only separated by a point also.
The last race was all to play for with Johnson taking the low road to the first mark with Leboucher not far behind, there was 8 boats all within about 50m of each other as they turned to go through the 2nd gate and it was still anyone’s game. Johnson however picked his angles the best to claim a sensational victory and win the overall International WASZP Slalom event, Leboucher was gunning for a 3rd place over the line only to capsize right before the finish finishing 7th letting Alex Mitchell-Barker through to 2nd place, Holgheim also nearly pipped Leboucher for 3rd finishing just 1pt behind.
In the final Johnson paid testament to the diversity in ages with young Mattias Coutts finishing 6th at just 14 years of age while John Holroyd finished 7th and being in his 40s. “To have pro sailors, mixing with gun youth and masters sailors, you just don’t get this in any other class”, Johnson stated.
by Marc Ablett
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
Final day of Star Sailors League Finals Qualifying
While the star performers today certainly were Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening and Paul Cayard, significant to more competitors was what was happening mid-fleet. For Friday was the final Qualifier races to be held at the Star Sailors League Finals in Nassau.
Crews finishing the Qualifiers in third to tenth positions would progress on to the Quarter Finals. From here the top five would go to the Semi-Finals and meet the second placed Qualifier finisher. The top three Semi-Finalists would then meet the winner of the Qualifiers in the Final. All these stages are single race affairs taking place on Saturday.
Sadly the 15 teams not making the top ten have been eliminated.
Four races were held today, on the same azure-coloured waters on the plateau off Montagu Bay as yesterday. Conditions with a 10-12 knot northeasterly and built to 15-18, shifting right for the fourth and final race.
Stand-out competitors were once again Olympic legend Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening. The Brazilian duo won three of the day’s four races. In eight out of the 11 races held during the Qualifiers, Scheidt and Boening have finished on the podium. This consistency caused them to finish Qualifiers 22 points ahead of Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih, with Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen in third.
“Yesterday we had a rig check and made a few adjustments,” said Scheidt. “The boat felt better and we were more confident with our speed. We had good starts too and picked the right spots, which put us in front right away. Then we had good speed – all those components together made a big difference. Henry did a great job in the manoeuvres and calling the wind. After we had two good races we felt confident and the rest of the day went really well.”
Paul Cayard and Brazilian Arthur Lopes found both an extra gear and a turbocharger, posting a 2-1-3-14. “We made a little adjustment to the mast last night, which turned out to be quite important and really made a big difference,” explained the Whitbread Round the World Race and Louis Vuitton Cup winner. “We were fast upwind. Perhaps through the confidence we were fast downwind as well.”
Both Cayard/Lopes and the Brazilians did well playing the top left today. “In the northeasterly breeze, that almost always pays and you have current with you,” said Cayard, who has raced here for some 40 years. “And you expect a geographical shift around Rose Island [the low-lying Bahama Island to weather of today’s course] in the morning, when the current is stronger.” Later in the day when the current reverses and the wind goes right, the opposite side can pay.
Today’s score elevated Cayard/Lopes from lowly 14th place to seventh place and into the Quarter Finals. “I am delighted,” continued Cayard. “It was frustrating how hard we were struggling over the first few days. To be fast in all four races today gave me a lot of confidence that we have resolved the problem.”
Around the vital 10th placed slot there were ‘snakes and ladders’. Among those on ‘ladders’ today were Swedish 2012 Star Olympic champion Freddie Lööf and Italian crew Edoardo Natucci. They started the day in 11th place but three results inside the top 10 left them eighth and with a berth in the Quarter Finals.
An OCS in today’s first race, caused Brazilian two time Olypmic medallist Lars Grael and Samuel Gonçalves, just to remain in the top 10. Not so lucky was Hungarian Finn Gold Cup winner Zsombor Berecz and his veteran Czech crew Michael Maier, who finished 11th despite being tied on points with Grael/Gonçalves.
Others packing their bags tonight include British three time Olympic medallist Iain Percy, racing here with Swedish Star bronze medallist, Anders Ekström. “It was very tiring, but really good fun,” said Percy.
11th hour business commitments sadly caused Percy to miss the first days of the regatta. Today they posted a 9-6-6-6. “I really enjoyed it, but we just turned up and were out of practice, but we didn’t find it frustrating which is nice. We were in the hunt and caught up when we were at the back. It feels great to be back in the boat, it keeps it real and keeps you sailing properly. I would love to come back next year.”
Others heading home include French 470 World Champion Kevin Peponnet, sailing this week with Star and America’s Cup veteran Mark Strube. “It is amazing to sail against these legends. They have shared a lot. I am really happy to be here and gain some knowledge of this boat.” However their performance today wasn’t ideal. “We broke the vang and the main sheet block.”
One of the great surprises has been the performance of Laser Radial Youth World and European Champion, Guido Gallinaro, and his German crew Kilian Weise. They finished the event 19th, their scoreline including an 8th yesterday – not bad for a 17-year-old. “It was a great experience for me,” said Gallinaro. “We had quite good races today. In one we were fourth at the top mark. It was a great week for us.”
Looking forward to tomorrow, Scheidt says they may have won the Qualifiers but now the competition starts afresh: “It doesn’t mean much. We are happy that we are in the Final, but we are going to sail against the best guys and we still have to win that race. It is going to be hard.”
Star Sailors League – Finals – After 11 races, 1 discard (provisional)
1st BRA Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening 33 pts
2nd USA Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih 55 pts
3rd BRA Jorge Zarif and Pedro Trouche 68 pts
4th POL Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki 75 pts
5th ITA Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen 78 pts
6th NOR Eivind Melleby and Joshua Revkin 81 pts
7th USA Paul Cayard and Arthur Lopes 94 pts
8th SWE Freddy Lööf and Edoardo Natucci 97 pts
9th FRA Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot 98 pts
10th HUN Zsombor Berecz and Michael Maier 99 pts
Event Qualification Cut-off
11th BRA Lars Grael and Samuel Gonçalves 100 pts
12th CRO Tonci Stipanovic and Frederico Melo 104 pts
13th ITA Francesco Bruni and Nando Colaninno 109 pts
14th NZL Hamish Pepper and Steve Mitchell 121 pts
15th SWE Max Salminen and Johan Tillander 129 pts
16th USA Augie Diaz and Bruno Prada 131 pts
17th USA George Szabo and Roger Cheer 137 pts
18th CYP Pavlos Kontides and Markus Koy 143 pts
19th CRO Šime Fantela and Antonio Arapovic 150 pts
20th ITA Guido Gallinaro and Kilian Weise 151 pts
21st FRA Kevin Peponnet and Mark Strube 176 pts
22nd GBR Iain Percy and Anders Ekström 183 pts
23rd CZE Ondrej Teplý and Antonis Tsotras 199 pts
24th ITA Ruggero Tita and Enrico Voltolini 206 pts
25th RUS Georgy Shayduko and Vitalii Kushnir 216 pts
Day 3 – Finals of the Star Sailors League in Nassau
Bahamas conditions set in on day three of the Star Sailors League Finals with 12-18 knots winds from the prevailing northeast-easterly direction. With this wind direction the race committee moved the course out of Montagu Bay, where there were bigger waves, with limited protection from the full force of the Atlantic.Despite being dominated by Olympic Finn sailors, the day ended with a new leader in Mark Mendelblatt and crew Brian Fatih, who now lead Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening by a mere point, going into the last day of the Qualifiers.Fatih, who has sailed with Mendelblatt since they teamed up for London 2012, observed:
“We’re fortunate to be in this position: Robert is an amazing sailor, the benchmark so if you can stay up with him, you’re happy.” However following their 15-4-4 score today, gaining the lead was a surprise.
“It was a struggle – we didn’t feel great on the boat. We weren’t terrible, it just wasn’t as smooth as normal.” However while today’s first race became their discard, Scheidt and Boening had to count their 12th in race two.It may also have been due to the more choppy conditions. “It was a battle trying to keep it in the groove downwind,” Fatih continued.
“Usually from this direction the left is pretty solid, but it was back and forth with some light spots.”
Top scoring helm today was Finn sailor, was Jorge Zarif, the 2013 Finn Gold Cup winner and this year’s Star World Champion, and Pedro Trouche, scoring 4-1-2 today elevated the young Brazilians into third overall.“In the free pumping conditions today – I am from the Finn and that is one of the most important things we do,” Zarif explained.
“We tried to pump and rock as much as we could, although you have to play the waves and shifts as well.”Their race win today came after taking the lead on the second beat after benefitting from a favourable shift on the left. “There was a huge shift there because of the geography,” said Zarif. “But in the third race there was a huge right. There weren’t any clouds saying that. Sometimes you have to follow your gut.
”Losing the race to Zarif was Kiwi-Anglo duo, Hamish Pepper and Steve Mitchell, who had done a fine job recovering from their dismasting in yesterday’s breezy last race.
“It required a bit of effort to tidy up the boat and get rid of all the damage and to find a rig suitable,” admitted Pepper. “We finished it off this morning and our timing pretty good.”Of their day Pepper, the 2006 Star World Champion, was pleased.
“We had two good races – an 8th and a second.” Of race two: “On the second beat we played the middle because it was getting shifty. There were a lot of gains and losses. You couldn’t protect both sides and in the end it favoured the guys on the left.
”This year’s Finn Gold Cup winner, Hungarian Zsombor Berecz posted today’s second best score – 3-6-9 with Czech four time Finn Masters World Champion Michael Maier as crew, leaving them 10th overall. This was despite not finishing yesterday’s last race when they broke a spreader, turning their mast to spaghetti, requiring them to fit a replacement overnight.
“On the water sometimes we had very good speed, but not always. We’ve only had five days on the boat …” said Berecz. “Downwind we were playing it quite safe. We didn’t put the mast forward enough, because we didn’t want to break it.
”Winner of today’s first race were Star veterans France’s Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot, who also benefitted from the left side of the first beat. They lead at the top mark and then were never challenged. “It is a good to have a good plan and to be able to run with it to the end, to play the shifts and be a little bit in front of the pack…it was really a text book race,” said Rohart.
While many found fortune on the top left of the course, in today’s final race Brazilian veteran Lars Grael and Samuel Gonçalves repeated their tactic from yesterday’s second race, by going hard right, with the same outcome – victory. This has raised them to seven overall.Tomorrow is the final day of Qualifiers at the Star Sailors League Finals and the target is to finish within the top 10 to progress through to Saturday’s Quarter Final. As Zarif observed:
“We have four races to go. It is a long way. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.” At present any of the top 22 teams could still make the cut.
The 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=8T-gbXQ_ZkI&feature=youtu.be
Star Sailors League Finals – after 7 races, 1 discard
1st USA Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih – 22 pts
2nd BRA Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening – 23 pts
3rd BRA Jorge Zarif and Pedro Trouche – 31 pts
4th ITA Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen – 32 pts
5th NOR Eivind Melleby and Joshua Revkin – 39 pts
6th POL Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki – 48 pts
7th BRA Lars Grael and Samuel Gonçalves – 51 pts
8th FRA Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot – 54 pts
9th USA Augie Diaz and Bruno Prada — 54 pts
10th HUN Zsombor Berecz and Michael Maier – 56 pts
11th SWE Freddy Lööf and Edoardo Natucci – 58 pts
12th CRO Tonci Stipanovic and Frederico Melo – 64 pts
13th NZL Hamish Pepper and Steve Mitchell – 70 pts
14th USA Paul Cayard and Arthur Lopes – 74 pts
15th SWE Max Salminen and Johan Tillander – 74 pts
16th CYP Pavlos Kontides and Markus Koy – 78 pts
17th USA George Szabo and Roger Cheer – 79 pts
18th ITA Francesco Bruni and Nando Colaninno – 81 pts
19th ITA Guido Gallinaro and Kilian Weise – 82 pts
20th CRO Šime Fantela and Antonio Arapovic – 90 pts
21st FRA Kevin Peponnet and Mark Strube – 93 pts
22nd ITA Ruggero Tita and Enrico Voltolini – 121 pts
23rd RUS Georgy Shayduko and Vitalii Kushnir – 126 pts
24th CZE Ondrej Teplý and Antonis Tsotras – 133 pts
25th GBR Iain Percy and Anders Ekström – 156 pts
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)
AUS 111 Glenn Ashby – photos © Gordon Upton / www.guppypix.com
A Class World Championships at Hervey Bay, Queensland
‘The odd thing is, it’s not usually like this here…’ How often do you hear that at a regatta from the locals eh? After losing two more days of sailing at the ‘A’ Cat Worlds in Hervey Bay on the lovely Fraser Coast, this time due to Northerly winds making it too unsafe to launch the rescue boats etc into the ‘Texel’ style breakers.
Even though they had officially got a championship after they had sailed six races for the series, the race committee, acknowledging the fact many had travelled thousands of miles to be there, finally managed to get in three races more on the last scheduled day of the event. And what races they were too!
The day started pretty calm, and with forecast 6-8 kt winds. The media boat zipped of to a nearby beauty spot, called with the typical no nonsense Australian parlance, Pelican Banks. Essentially a sandbank with pelicans on and reminiscent of a cartoon desert island minus that single palm tree, to do an interview about the upcoming day and including a subsequently erroneous weather forecast.
The start was delayed and hour or so, as the previous two days of onshore wind and associated waves had virtually removed the launching ramps onto the beach and turning them into little 2ft cliffs. But the organisers had quickly managed to mobilise some real engineers and all the bush engineers from amongst the sailors, together with volunteers and some local council guys to construct a new launch ramp to access the beach.
Eventually the boats sailed out to their start areas, and after the traditional wait race offices seem to enjoy the world over, the wind to decide to settle on a NW direction. The arrangement of the courses were such that spectators could conveniently watch the bottom of the Classic fleet and then motor over a few hundred yards to the top of the Open fleet. This is something that split course fleet class operators should take note of as it proved a very popular situation.
The Classics were first away, after a General Recall mainly due to the tide flow, and with the wind a nice 7-9 kts. Fleet overnight leader, ahead with a 7pt cushion, Andrew Landenberger (AUS 908) wasted no time in drawing ahead of Scott Anderson (AUS 31) with Alberto Farnassi (SWE 59) and the others following on to the left of the course towards the shore. But as the race progressed the wind slowly started to increase up a notch. Landy won his sixth bullet and Scotty his fourth second. Alberto was beaten by Graeme Parker (AUS 967) and Landy’s son, Andy Landenberger (AUS 300) – a name to watch for the future.
Peter Burling 7 & Blair Tuke 777 – photos © Gordon Upton / www.guppypix.com
Over on the Open fleet, also after a general recall and then a black flag that saw Joseph Randall (AUS 1014) and Todd Woods (CAN 66) getting DSQ. Tom Bojland (DEN 77) was rammed from behind resulting is his tiller bar breaking and causing him to turn, upon which he was then rammed in the side. The unhappy Dane was awarded average points for the last three races after the protest making him 33rd.
Unaware or unconcerned by all this drama, TNZL helm Peter Burling (NZL 7) blasted around the top mark ahead of Micha Heemskerk (NED 7), followed a minute later by series leader Glenn Ashby (AUS 111). Glenn had a 5pt lead from Mischa going into the race, so couldn’t let up the pace. By the second lap the trio had been joined by Bruce Mahoney (USA 311) in his highest position of the series so far, and this was how the finish positions were as Burling, clearly getting to grips with his boat and their new larger rudder winglets and started sailing like a monster. Glenn in third, then sailed straight over to his support boat and capsized. He’d had a board raking issue that took nearly all the time until the second start to fix. As other boats finished, their personal battles gained them or lost them valuable last day points.
Race two started in an increased 12-14 kt wind. And this was the moment that young kiwi Micha Wilkinson (NZL 96) made the ballsiest move seen in the whole regatta. He did a magnificent port flyer, from the pin end, right across the bows of all the America’s Cup and Olympic superstars, probably something he will wake up a 3am in a cold sweat thinking about later, but a magnificent thing to behold. It got him his best finish of ninth as a result.
Glenn, with his newly fixed boat, wasted no time in getting to the top first, in about 8 mins as usual. The sailors who have mastered the upwind foiling in this division really made big gains here. It was interesting to see the almost 15 deg less angle they were sailing compared to the non upwind foilers. But their speed, almost a third faster, easily made up for the lower angles. At the bottom of lap one, Glenn was fully in command again. Mischa, who had maybe listened to our Pelican Banks weather forecast, seemed to be struggling with his setup in the increasing winds, which was unfortunate, as, being described in the past as a ‘Big Old Unit’, he usually gets faster as the wind gets up.
photos © Gordon Upton / www.guppypix.com
At the line, Glenn was 2 mins ahead of Burling this time. Behind him was another ETNZ sailor Blair Tuke (NZL 777) who had regained his earlier week form. Darren Bundock (AUS 88) finished just ahead of Mischa this time and closely followed the Adam Beattie (AUS 14) in his best regatta finish of sixth.
A little further back Tom Johnson (AUS 1065) was closing in on the line after fighting to get past Stevie Brewin (AUS 4) and Bruce, had a lovely little crowd-pleaser of a capsize on his final fast gybe, 200 yards from the line allowing the others to slip past again. His displeasure was probably heard ashore.
So, came the final race of the 2018 Worlds. Glenn lead Mischa by a more comfortable 9 points. But still needed to stay on the dry side of the boat and finish in the top nine boats, so still couldn’t drop his guard. By now, the wind had gone up again, 15–19kts. Rather more than the pelicans on their bank been forecasting, and many boats had a lighter wind setup, such as less mast rake, so may have been powered up more than their sailors were.
At the first bottom mark, Glenn, who reached that in 14 mins, blasted around in the blustery conditions, but his boat had a little leap as he hardened up onto his upwind leg. But lap two he had lapped possibly 25% of the fleet, chased by Burling and Tuke with Mischa chasing hard in fourth. By the finish, he’d lapped most of the fleet to cross the line and perform his traditional hull flying victory dance. Burling and Tuke arrived a few minutes later, trailed by Mischa. As the rest of the fleet arrived, tired sailors flipped boats on gybes, others in the groups of two or three fought hard to arrive overlapped and foiling over the line, all glad to have taken part.
And, as usual, the sail back to the beach was even better. No least for some of the Classics, as they arrived from their further upwind race area. This, of course gave Landy and chance to show he was at least as fast downhill as many of the foilers, something he did with his characteristic big grin.
Winners at the Worlds – photos © Gordon Upton / www.guppypix.com
To sum up – this has been one of the classic ‘A’ Cat World Championships. Although half of the days were un-sailable due to too much/too little wind and the associated water states, is was hugely enjoyable for all. Yes, a few things got broken, but it was a hard fought Worlds in a cutting edge boat after all, and with the strongest fleet seen in many years by some margin. In the end, two characters dominated as we all expected. Landy in the Classic division, Glenn in the Open, but neither had it their own way all the time, no walk in the park for them. They had to fight this time to be the World Champions, and the class is all the better for that.
Now the circus moves on, next year to the slightly less warm, but definitely less turtle or shark-infested seas of the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy in the UK. And many Open division sailors here this year have realised that the foiling nirvana of Portland Harbour, with it’s smooth winds and flat water is what awaits them. Just pack those 3mm wetsuits guys and you’ll all be fine!
More information at www.a-cat.org
Martinique Flying Regatta at Ford de France, Martinique
Martinique Flying Regatta, the Caribbean’s first event solely for foiling boats, concluded with the two fastest from each of the six classes – GC32, KiteFoil, Windfoil, Moth, Flying Phantom and Onefly – lining up in the final of the Karibea Speed Challenge. This comprised a 0.4 mile long blast reach down a course off Fort Saint Louis, ending just off downtown Fort de France.
Demonstrating again that the KiteFoils are the fastest foiling boats here, the top two Kitefoilers Axel Mazella and Kieran Le Borgne were first and second respectively in the Karibea Speed Challenge, Mazella winning the first prize of a weekend for two at one of the Karibea Hotels on Martinique. The KiteFoils finished ahead of the GC32s, followed by the Moths and Windfoils together, and finally the Oneflys.
Over the last five days, the Kitefoilers sailed 12 races, including a 26 mile coastal ‘Raid’. Across all, Mazella maintained his perfect scoreline as Le Borgne finished second, ahead of Vendée Globe skipper Morgan Lagravière.
The Kitefoilers raced on a new course – three laps of a ‘classic’ triangle with windward, reaching and downwind legs. “It was really nice because the wind was less, 10-12 knots at the beginning, but then it got up to 15-16 knots, so we were able to use bigger kites. It was good to change equipment and compare with other guys,” said Mazella, whose top speed this week was 38 knots.
Proceedings started with four more match races between the GC32s, Franck Cammas’ Norauto and Team France Jeune, skippered by 23-year-old French three time youth match racing champion Robin Follin.
Alarmingly, Cammas had lost the lead on Thursday. “They raced well,” said Cammas of the youth team. “I had a new crew with young people.” Norauto reclaimed the lead after winning yesterday’s triple points scoring Raid. He followed this up winning all four races, showing better speed in this morning’s sub-10 knot winds.
“It is very good, as I expected,” said Cammas of Martinique Flying Regatta. “More GC32s will come next year, because it is good to have more events like this in good places, with good ambiance. The bay here may even be better than Lake Garda because the tactics are more open. Plus I really enjoyed the coastal race around Rocher du Diamant, where it was tricky with the waves. It was interesting, more open than windward-leewards.”
The Moth class turned into a two horse race over the last couple of days, with France’s Anthony Rezzoug relieving Swiss rival David Holenweg of the lead yesterday. In today’s two windward-leewards, Holenweg closed, but only by one point, not enough to regain the lead.
“I am so pleased!” said a beaming Rezzoug. “I have been sailing Moths for 100s of years and this is my first big victory. Today I won the first race, but the second was more difficult because I capsized right after the bear-away when I was in the middle of the pack.”
Swiss sailors took second and fourth place with the latter, former Whitbread Round the World Race crew and professional photographer, Philippe Schiller claiming the last race. “Today was much better than the beginning, when I kept capsizing,” he said. “I loved the reaching starts, because timing and speed have to be precise. I can sail very low downwind – every time I was leading at the bottom mark, but in the first race I capsized because I was too tight. It was very close with Aymeric [Arthaud] who was a point ahead of me.”
Of the event Schiller added: “I am always interested in events where there is wind. Plus to sail in 30°C air and water temperatures – you never feel cold! You couldn’t ask for more.”
The closest finish was in the Onefly, where Julien Villion managed to maintain his lead to win by a point from his usually dominant team mate Guillaume Pirouelle.
“It’s been strange because I have been struggling to be as fast as Guillaume, who has won all of the windward-leewards over the last three days,” admitted Villion. Pirouelle lost the series following his disappointing fifth in the triple points-scoring Raid.
This has been the first major event for the Moth-like one design singlehanders. Villion said they had made good progress. “You can see the improvement in the racing. The first day was a mess and today and yesterday were much better. I’d love to come back next year. This is the perfect place to sail foiling boats with flat water and warm weather.”
In the Windfoil class, there were two stand-out performers this week with both Trevor Caraes (nephew of Jules Verne Trophy winner and Vendee Globe PRO Jacques) and Thomas Lequesne never finishing off the podium. Lequesne closed dramatically when he won the coastal Raid yesterday, albeit just 10m ahead of his rival, but Caraes ended the event today six points clear.
“I am happy to win this first edition of this new race,”said Caraes. “It was a good event with wind every day. Today the wind wasn’t as strong, but it was still good and I conserved my first place overall, which was my objective.”
One of France’s powerful Olympic RS:X Women’s team, Hélène Noesmoen finished fifth overall in the Windfoil class. “It was an amazing event with lots of sailing and good weather every day – windy, sunny and warm. On the long distance yesterday, the landscape was amazing and the long waves were nice to surf. I have never sailed in waves like that.”
Martinique Flying Regatta has been created and is organised by Sirius Events in partnership with the Comité Martiniquais du Tourisme and the city of Fort de France city plus Corsair, Grand Port Maritime de Fort de France, Ligue de Voile de Martinique, direction de la mer).