Euroflex – 2018 Superfoiler Grand Prix, Geelong – © Andrea Francolini
SuperFoiler Grand Prix at Geelong
Glenn Ashby has praised his Euroflex team-mates Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen for vaulting him to victory and a clean sweep of his home regatta in Victoria.
“Hats off to the boys today. I don’t know how many kilometres of rope we would have moved today or how many thousands of times Nathan was pressing on those buttons (on the tiller),” said Glenn Ashby the winner of the SuperFoiler Grand Prix event in Geelong, “I am just stoked for the win and really happy for the boys.” The ‘dream team’ continued their winning ways in Victoria – extending their unbeaten run to 15 races in a row.
“It was awesome to do it in Geelong. We had a lot of knowledge from Glenny,” said Euroflex bowman Iain Jensen, “He knows just about everyone down here so it makes the victory even sweeter.”
Euroflex Skipper Nathan Outteridge has his eye on more glory, hoping that his team-mate can return the favour when it comes time to racing in New South Wales.
“We have been here in his home venue and it was really great to sail the way we did in front of his friends and family,” said the Olympic Gold medallist who knows the challenge is going to click up a gear on the Gold Coast, “The gap is closing and we expected that, they are incredibly difficult boats to sail.”
There were five races on a supercharged Sunday, with Euroflex scooping all of them. Although Pavement and tech2 showed shades of cracking the blue bolter’s so far impenetrable armour with both machines leading the races for long periods of time before being reigned in.
“We hit 33 knots out there, we were absolutely sending it. It’s just a matter of time before one of these boats finish over the top of Euroflex,” said Pavement helmsman and second-place finisher Steve Thomas.
Astoundingly the machine that missed an entire weekend of racing at the Adelaide regatta and needed major repairs to take to the start line in Geelong, tech2, was able to round out the podium. “We are stoked to be able to get through all the races and prove we’re mixing it up with the front group,” said tech2’s skipper Luke Parkinson who finished the regatta in third.
Euroflex leads the series (12 points) ahead of Pavement (9), tech2 (6), iD Intranet (6), Record Point (5) and Kleenmaid (5).
Wilson Marquinez are following the tradition of free-thinking Argentine designers ready to break the old moulds wherever they see opportunity.
Argentina’s track record for producing some of the world’s foremost yacht designers is underscored by the latest offering from the young Wilson Marquinez Design House: the MW680F.
At 6.80m this small, very light yet stable design bridges a gap in high-performance sportboats between the fastest class keelboat and a true foiling sportboat. With a crew of three, the 680F is low freeboard but decked over in the bow to shed water, has racks rather than trapezes for easier manoeuvres, a lifting 1.6m bulb keel, and 40m2 of sail to propel only 300kg in boat weight plus another 250kg in crew.
Getting around in this ‘wet mode’ the boat will be fast, but when fitted with adjustable V-foils it takes off like a rocket with boat speed projected to match wind speed over about 10kt of true wind. The rake of the T-rudder needed for foiling is pre-set for the wind conditions with the main foil being controlled to maintain longitudinal stability over the foiling range. Launched as a one-design, the MW680F features a single jib, one main and one asymmetric spinnaker that is shaped more like a Code 0.
‘We are excited about this boat,’ say designers Nahuel Wilson and Laureano Marquinez. ‘It has modes that make it fast, but also safe; it should interest the keelboat racer wanting to step up towards multihull-level performance but on a more familiar platform.’
When foiling territory is reached, research put into the aero package will make itself felt in terms of improving foiling range and giving the user a reasonable level of comfort in flight. For horsepower the team is now working closely with One Sails, testing different rig options in their virtual tunnel.
The MW680F is aimed at sportboat sailors who want to take a first step into foiling but without the drama of a large foiling cat. Just as the Waszp of Andrew McDougall is proving a huge sales hit among good sailors who want to fly a dinghy but lack the time and the considerable extra cash to make a Moth interesting, so the MW680F could do the same for keelboat sailors looking for something that is more challenging but also still ‘realistic’
Wilson and Marquinez honed their design and engineering skills on a range of diverse projects from chic cruiser-racers to production designs, Volvo 70s and superyachts, as well as working on foiling catamarans in the most recent America’s Cups. After training in naval architecture the pair worked with two other great Argentine designers, Javier Soto Acebal and Juan Kouyoumdjian.
‘We are very fortunate to have so many years of experience in such great design offices,’ says Marquinez. ‘Having the opportunity to be involved in so many different kinds of projects helped give us a clear view of the importance of investigating new design directions, as well as the awareness that simple but properly executed ideas can bring big steps forward, both in grand prix performance and enjoyment of regular day-to-day sailing.
‘It comes naturally to us to search for performance and style in design, which is of great importance to our clients. A boat that is beautiful brings to its owner a strong sense of pride and that means a lot to us too,’ Wilson adds.
‘With our projects we work in small teams, usually starting with the production of rough sail plans, hull shapes and appendages, deck layouts and structural arrangements,’ explains Marquinez. ‘We refine these using CFD tools, and consult professional sailors, sailmakers and rig specialists for more details on sails and spars.’
Marquinez says they learned early how a fully integrated approach to design and project management was key to complex projects like the VO70s (Groupama and Puma), the Wally 130 and Rambler 88 among others.
While Marquinez worked on Rambler, for 2013 Wilson focused on America’s Cup foiling, where the initial designs assumed displacement, not foiling mode, before massive retrofits were needed as the paradigm changed.
With Wilson being in San Francisco with Artemis, and Marquinez between the design office in Buenos Aires and Newport, RI, where Rambler was being built, efficient collaboration on tight timelines was essential.
‘There was not much time to retrofit the AC72 for foiling, it was a big challenge! But we learned a lot in that accelerated process,’ says Wilson.
For AC35, Wilson and Marquinez, now on their own, worked for Artemis supplying a variety of design services while also providing drawings that helped the Cup organiser’s (ACRM) own engineers define the structures in the new AC50.
With all this knowledge of cutting edge design, the two have since been approached to develop a wide variety of boat types, from a simple, but fun, local sportboat called the MW21, the fast MW27 cruiser-racer with a lifting keel intended for the shallow waters of Rio de la Plata, the no-compromise MW45 offshore racer (that adopts the latest foil technology), as well other sizes of potential new yachts, to a similar performance-only concept. For the free-thinking performance-driven yachtsman the Wilson Marquinez Vision is already proving attractive.
Published in Seahorse magazine, www.seahorsemagazine.com
Australian Glenn Ashby was recruited by Larry Ellison’s America’s Cup team to help tame the 90-foot beast that was to challenge for the 2010 America’s Cup. Ashby, already dominant in the Tornado, Formula 18, and A Class fleets, took the step in stride and now the 40 year old holds a 2017 America’s Cup victory alongside his Olympic Medal and 15 World Titles.
Here he writes how he did it:
Being up above the water is a surreal feeling. It’s a feeling of exhilaration. Almost hovering over the top of the water surface is so special. Only a small percentage of sailors around the world have ever been able to go foiling on a boat. It’s a riskier, more physically demanding type of sailing. You are on the knife’s edge.
The performance of foiling boats has really stepped up over the years. I’ve seen some pretty big spills. When you’re pioneering new engineering, technology, construction and designs, there’s a lot of finding out where the edge is. We don’t want anyone injured, but these boats certainly push everyone to their limits.
Fear and a foaming sea
I’m from Bendigo. My mum was into sailing and got my dad into it. As kids growing up, we’d go out to the local yacht club at the local lake, just mucking around with boats. Eventually I got onto the water myself at the age of seven. I started doing a bit of sailing and by the time I was 10, I had a passion for it.
I played a lot of sports but I just really enjoyed being outdoors. Some of my first memories are of being powered by the invisible force of the wind, getting pushed along the water. Being able to read the wind and control your boat is so rewarding. It’s a feeling of power and freedom.
When I was a kid, I never expected to make a career from sailing by any means. But one thing led to another and all of a sudden you find yourself skippering an America’s Cup team. I’ve come a long way.
My first boat cost $150. My second was about $180-$200. The sport was very grassroots and still is. You can still go down to the local club and get involved. It’s a bit of a misconception that sailing is an expensive sport.
That first boat was a Northbridge Junior – an eight-foot-long timber scow. It was quite shallow, almost like a flat windsurfer. We actually still have the boat. My parents restored it and it’s in my garage now, thirty-six years later. It’s a very special piece because it brings back a lot of good memories.
I won my first Victorian championship in that boat at the age of 10, down on Port Phillip Bay. That was my first ever race on salt water. I was absolutely shitting myself that day, sailing among big waves, big breeze and deep water. It was quite a daunting experience after growing up on the lake.
There were a lot of bigger kids competing in my age group, and they were quite comfortable sailing in the sea. I had to step up but I did. I managed to survive a couple of windy days and win the under-11 Victorian Championships. That was the start of my racing career. It gave me a massive buzz and was a great incentive to keep moving forward.
The wind in my sails
I was offered a sail-making apprenticeship at the age of 16. I was planning on going through school and becoming either a meteorologist or a surveyor but my parents encouraged me to seriously consider it, which I did.
It really set the scene for me getting more heavily involved in the sport. Sail-making provided me with a way to do some international travel at the age of 18 or 19 and eventually I was able to start my own sail-making business.
Sail-making has been wonderful to me. It’s been an incredible way for me to make an income. It’s also allowed me to get into boat-building and the Olympics and to travel to Europe every year from my early 20s. It’s given me a lifestyle that crosses work and sport.
As a sail maker, you’re working with your hands. You have to be innovative, pushing the envelope in design structure, learning as you go. All those skills you learn from a young age translate into bigger and faster boats and different projects.
When I was 18, my boss Greg Goodall offered to send me to the 1996 World Championships in Spain if I could beat him at a regatta in Newcastle. That certainly gave me a lot of incentive.
Everyone likes to get one over their boss and it was a tightly fought event. He might have called me a bugger when he lost the bet but it set the foundation for me to achieve what I did. I think Greg was happy to give me the chance to follow my dreams.
I went to a place called L’Estartit on the Costa Bravan coast in Spain. I was pretty young and gung-ho with my boat handling back then. I pushed pretty hard in tough conditions and managed to get around the course quicker than the rest. It’s pretty hard to believe, looking back.
I still chat with Greg to this day. He’s been a great mentor to me ever since those early sail-making days, and was a very accomplished sailor himself. He offered so much great knowledge and experience. It worked out well for him as well because the company sold lots of boats and sails.
Dealing with disappointment
Over the years, I’ve won 16 world championships. I won a silver medal with my sailing partner Darren Bundock at the Beijing Olympics on the Tornado Catamaran, but it was so disappointing we didn’t get the gold.
To this day, I’d love to make amends for that and try and get a gold medal. It feels like there’s something in my life that I didn’t quite achieve; it still haunts me every day.
We broke our mast rotation spanner in the medal race, which caused our mast to rotate uncontrollably in the final race. It was definitely a ‘crikey’ moment. We carried on and sailed as hard as we could, but it didn’t go our way. A couple of points ended up being the difference.
I think about it a lot still. I’m just super competitive. I hate coming second.
But that’s how it goes. We’re an equipment-based sport and a weather-related sport. You’ve got be able to compete in all conditions. You can do all the prep work and testing but nothing can prepare you for something like that. You have to wear it on the chin and just carry on.
One of the most disappointing periods of my life is not winning the 2013 America’s Cup with Team New Zealand in San Francisco after we led the series 8-1.
I was the wing trimmer on the AC72 Catamaran. Team USA had a good boat but they just weren’t sailing it very well in the early stages. We knew that if they could get their act together, they’d be hard to beat. Ultimately, they mowed us down and won the event. That’s sport.
Belief never went out of the team, even when they were making that comeback. We just knew we had to keep doing our best and hope for a bit of luck going our way. A lot of things didn’t.
Team New Zealand triumph
Team New Zealand learnt a whole lot of lessons out of that defeat that were implemented for this last America’s Cup. When we came back, we out-thought our opponents rather than out-spent them, which was a very satisfying feeling.
Bermuda was fantastic. All the team members were very excited to be there. We arrived late, on a tight time schedule. A lot of our equipment was still being built and sent across when the guys were testing and racing each other.
We were very much the lone wolf, on the back foot, right up until we got to Bermuda. We just kept believing and trusting in each other’s abilities. Departmentally we had the right group of people and we’d made the right decisions, so we just had to learn as much as we could as quickly as possible.
The design decisions we’d made as a group proved to be the right ones. We could have looked very stupid with our guys cycling and having the whole boat hydraulically operated. But it worked out very well and our opponents were proved wrong.
It was a very nice feeling to come away smelling like roses. I think we took more risks and managed our risk better than our opponents. When we learnt how to race the boat, those decisions gave us more horsepower and the ability to operate more functions at the one time.
The fact the wing control system was all hydraulic meant I could use basically an Xbox type controller with buttons and three joystick toggles to control all the wing’s functions, sheet and jib with one little control box rather than a rope on a winch. I could do that from either side of the boat and we could do a lot of manoeuvres our opponent couldn’t.
I was the wing trimmer and also the skipper of the team and ultimately as a group, we made better decisions and managed our risk versus reward well. It was a fantastic group of guys, a great sailing team and a great group of people. To be able to pull it off was a proud feeling.
At the end of the day, whether you’re sweeping the floors or the CEO, on the boat or off it – you’re an America’s Cup winner. That was incredible and a dream come true.
We had a nice celebration in Bermuda afterwards, with the team and the families. There were all sorts of celebrities and sponsors over there but for me it’s just about celebrating with your fellow teammates, the families and the kids. That’s the most important thing.
We were back in New Zealand within three days and there were huge celebrations in Auckland and around the country
After about a week of tickertape parades and touring, I got back home and pulled the caravan out of the garage. We loaded up the motorbike and windsurfers and bikes and surfboards and headed off for 10 weeks up through the centre of Australia, around through the Kimberley and down the West Coast. It was the best thing we ever did.
The greatest new show in town
The SuperFoiler Grand Prix in Australia will really push the boundaries and cutting edge of technology. The boats are designed to be fully foiling a lot of the time. Obviously, you need wind to power the boats and get them up on the foils, but in a good breeze the boats will be quite a handful to sail.
It’s going to be a big challenge for everybody but that’s what this type of sailing is all about – being agile, athletic, strong and very technical. It’s also about good boat handling and working well as a team.
The series is set up to emulate a lot of the fantastic things that the 18ft skiff races had going for them back in the day. In the 1990s, they were on TV during the lunch break of the Test cricket. That’s what first exposed a lot of the general public in Australia to sailing.
All the guys on board the boats back then were mic’d up and had head cams. It was revolutionary. They wore these great big helmets with cameras on top. They’d almost break your neck they were so heavy. But they provided a bird’s eye view of what was happening on board the boats, and really got people into sailing.
I think this SuperFoiler circuit is basically a modern-day version of that. It will be very exciting for the guys sailing the boats but also very media friendly, with a lot of different camera angles.
The series will visit some of the most iconic sailing venues in Australia, which will be great for the spectacle. It’s really set up for TV.
I’ll be sailing a boat called Euroflex with Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, who have both won gold and silver medals at the Olympics and competed with Artemis at the last two America’s Cups. They’ve been really good mates of mine for a very long time now and we are looking forward to a great summer of sailing at home here in Australia. We’re all pinching ourselves.
Published by Scuttlebutt on February 7th, 2018
Clean sweep of the event for the Dream Team on Euroflex © Andrea Francolini
The first ever leg of the SuperFoiler Grand Prix has been claimed in emphatic fashion by Euroflex, with iD Intranet and Pavement on the podium. The star-studded Euroflex crew of Nathan Outteridge, Iain Jensen and Glenn Ashby showed their superiority by claiming victory in all seven races on Adelaide’s Outer Harbour – taking the maximum points into the next regatta.
“Everyone has been on a steep learning curves these last couple of days and the race in Geelong is going to be a next level challenge,” said Euroflex’s Glenn Ashby.
The America’s Cup trio, who boast 24 world championships between them, were tested in the final race of the three-day regatta and trailed iD Intranet for the second time in as many days. But ultimately the class of Euroflex emerged, as they leapfrogged their way to victory.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the tight flat water venue in Adelaide, the hospitality and the weather, it has all been sensational.”
Record Point, who had a capsize on Saturday, continued their difficult run at the regatta after Tom Clout went overboard in the final race of the regatta.
“He clipped his leg on the rudder on the way through which is really not what you want to be doing, a little bit unlucky and not how we wanted to be finishing the event with one man down,” said Record Point’s Phil Robertson.
Clout, an experienced offshore sailor was recovered and continued racing. Leaving Record Point’s kiwi skipper promising to challenge again once racing lights up Victoria.
“We are just not getting it right now. We are not getting it synced up,” said Robertson, “We are fighters so we will be back.”
Euroflex netted 6 points from the Grand Prix Regatta, iD five, Pavement 4, Kleenmaid 3, Record Point 2 and tech2 1 heading into the second leg in Geelong.
This is what happened to tech2 on Saturday:
This was practice on Thursday:
The SuperFoiler Grand Prix is contested over five weekends at five iconic marine locations across Australia (South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales) from February 2018.
The first regatta was held on Adelaide’s Outer Harbour from February 2- 4. The Summer series will see the best sailors from around the world compete onboard six SuperFoiler’s for the Ben Lexcen Trophy.
Live-streaming will continue next week on Saturday and Sunday when the racing heads to Geelong at www.superfoiler.com
The first Australian WASZP Championships proved to me a monumental success with 35 boats and glamour conditions throughout the series, held at the Sorrento Sailing and Couta Boat Club.
Reigning WASZP Games champion Harry Mighell won the series convincingly from Jon Holroyd and another Sorrento local, Tom Trotman. Holroyd and Trotman were locked in a battle for second place and it would have been fantastic to get some racing in on the last day to break the deadlock but mother nature intervened and there was not enough wind to race.
From a Youth side of things it was great to see young Hugo Llewelyn improve dramatically during the regatta, giving the leaders a run for their money with a 2nd place in heat 4. In the Masters, Jon Holroyd sailed an extremely consistent event to claim 1st Master, followed by New Zealander Nick Olson who also had his moments of glory.
Of the Women, Sam England had some great races highlighted by a 4th place in heat 3 and Tess Lloyd improved out of sight over the 4 days and with minimal foiling experience before the event to finish every race and have some great results. It shows the future if very bright for women in the WASZP class.
The 6.9m rigs had some close racing, won by Jack Felsenshall who again pushed hard off minimal foiling time leading into the event. Also very creditable he made it to the Slalom final on a 6.9m rig, showing the versatility of this sail and a great product for lighter guys and girls in the class.
The Slalom racing was a significant highlight of the event with the final being a classic, won on the final gybe by Tom Brewer, there was only 10 seconds separating 1st and 6th in the 8 boat final. This is an event that will carry high prestige going forward and a favourite for the sailors.
The social side of the event was awesome with the beach culture vibe very much alive in the class, with the club putting on food each night after racing and eskies full of beers and soft drinks awarded to the boat of the day to be then shared with the competitors. For the families there was table tennis, beach volleyball and just having a swim on the beautiful beaches in the area. All in all it was a fantastic event with the people involved in this class taking it forwards at a rapid rate.
The class now looks forward to the European Championships from June 28 – to July 1 in Malcesine, Lake Garda and then next January 22 – 28 for the 2019 International WASZP Games in Perth, Western Australia, where 120+ WASZP’s will be expected.
Overall Results: (first three in each category)
1st Harry Mighell
2nd Jon Holyrod
3rd Tom Trotman
1st Hugo Llewellyn
2nd Lockie Dare
3rd Daniel Quinlan
1st Jon Holroyd
2nd Nick Olson
3rd Paul Fleming
1st Jack Felsenshall
2nd Daniel Quinlan
3rd Michael Parks
1st Sam England
2nd Tess Lloyd
1st Tom Brewer
2nd Jack Abbott
3rd Harry Mighell
Full Overall Results >>> http://sailingresults.net/sa/results/Overall.aspx?ID=80154.1.1
Video highlights of day: https://www.facebook.com/waszpgames/videos/242674726272503/
Video highlights of the Slalom race: https://www.facebook.com/lfsportsTV/videos/1680636895331119/
by Jonny Fullerton on behalf of the WASZP Class
Today was the first day of racing in the first ever Australian WASZP Championships. It was absolutely glamour conditions to showcase this new one design foiler that has taken the world by storm!
With 35 boats on the start line it was all to play for, just before the start the breeze kicked in to 15-18knots providing the ideal race track for these boats to showcase some of the most exciting racing seen. The windward leeward courses with gates at the top and the bottom perfectly set by the Sorrento Sailing and Couta Boat Club race committee provided many passing lanes for these foiling machines.
The one design nature of the class meant you could basically throw a blanket over the top 10 and little pockets of fleets developed with super tight racing across the fleet. One of the highlights was the first time to the bottom in race 2 where the top 6 boats approached the bottom mark together with the leaderboard shuffling across the race.
New Zealander Bruce Curson started the event really well with a 1st place to kick his Aussie counterparts into gear. Reigning WASZP Games champion Harry Mighell then jumped the fleet to win the final 2 races to take an overall lead in the championship. Jon Holroyd was the first Master and also had a ripping day sitting on the podium after day one with another Sorrento local Tom Trotman pushing to the front as well.
Sam England had a good day to be 8th overall and lead Tess Lloyd in the Women, while the rest of the fleet had some amazing rides with the top speed recorded up to 25 knots on the downwind.
The first flights of the Slalom were also completed after racing, with the format gaining some serious attention. We will look to slot the slalom in around the remaining championship racing and get our first Australian WASZP Slalom Champion.
Some tired but smiling WASZP Sailors came ashore and tucked into some pizzas and beers, with boat of the day winning an esky supplied by one of the regatta sponsors ‘Willow’ to share out with the rest of the fleet.
Day 2 is looking similar to day 1 before a heatwave hits over the weekend. The race committee will be looking to get another 3 championship races in, before the breeze becomes unstable over the weekend.
Video of day: https://www.facebook.com/waszpgames/videos/241639723042670/
Overall Results >>> http://sailingresults.net/sa/results/Overall.aspx?ID=80154.1.1
by Jonny Fullerton on behalf of the WASZP Class
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