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Regatta Report - 1995 World Championship, Laredo, Spain

1995 WORLD'S CHAMPIONSHIP, Laredo, Spain
The following three reports appeared in the 1996 Star Class Log and were transcribed by David Bolles
Complete results for 1995

A Perspective by Jose L. Doreste
We, all of the sailors, will remember the 1995 World Championship in Laredo, Spain, for many years. The hosting organizers expected medium-strong winds, waves and good temperatures - overall such did not happen. The week before the series the winds were so strong that it was impossible to go out for training. Some sailors tried it, like the Danes and they had problems to even return to the harbor.


Further wind problems took the big tent staged for event hospitality, which also took two masts of nearby boats as it blew away. Following this, the sailors made do with the low temperatures to gather where they could across the week. It was a difficult Championship with varied winds from varied directions. Winds from the land flowed from a huge mountain causing shifts and quickly changing speeds, which changed suddenly and sometimes even calmed completely. To add still more, we had some huge storms, like the one in the initial race that forced the Race Committee to cancel. It was a shame, as we were all on the last beat.


In the first completed race the wind calmed suddenly to finish the first beat. Only a few boats, like Hubert Raudaschl, Ross Macdonald and Pietro D'Ali, were able to round in good positions coming from the right. Like in most of the races, the majority was coming from the left. The race was a fight among Macdonald, D'Ali and Raudaschl, who finished in that order. In the final beat the wind died even more, with a big shift to the right to cause many boats to change up to thirty positions in this beat.


The second and third races were very similar. At times, the left side was very good, but still you had to he careful because sometimes there was less wind on that side than boats just 50 meters to windward of you. I lost eleven boats in just one beat and others lost even more. Christian Rasmussen managed to come from the left side in the first beat and round with the leading boats. He led the Championship with Ross Macdonald through three races.


The fourth race was like the others with strong, winds and huge waves. Colin Beashel took the lead early in the race, but a shift to the right on the second beat put Michael Hestbaek in front with enough distance to hold for the win. Hestbaek's poor first race together with a pms in the third race complicated the results for him in the Championship.


The International Jury in a strange decision canceled the next race. The Race Committee had problems with the ends of the starting line because of the high winds and huge waves. There were five starts with more than twenty boats eliminated to a Black Flag ruling, and finally after starting the race was abandoned during the second windward beat to problems with the mark. The international Jury accepted the fact that external conditions had influenced the boats out of the line.
The day the fifth and sixth races were to be held it looked so bad that we all expected to remain ashore. To our surprise, the Race Committee decided to go out, but before the start we could see that it would be a difficult sailing day and many boats returned to the harbor. Torben Grael was the fastest sailor on the reaches, taking enough distance to win the fifth race. Through the fifth race the fight narrowed to he between Beashel and Reynolds, who finished second and third.
We had a long wait until the Race Committee elected to start the final, sixth race as the second race of the day. The wind was blowing, so hard and the seas were running such huge waves that I was certain that they would send us home. Many boats had problems, so only thirty boats were able to make the start. The wind increased to close to 40 knots, which caused even more boats to leave the course, even Beashel with a chance to win, retired. Twenty-three boats finished the race in exceptionally tough conditions. Mark Reynolds finished second behind Torben to win the Championship. We were all happy with the result, because Mark and Hal sailed well and deserved the Gold Star. Congratulations!



The On and Off the Water Story by George T Szabo, III
On September 1, 1995 a group of San Diego Star sailors (Vince Brun, Eric Doyle, Joe Londrigan, Mark Reynolds and I) packed up their gear and headed off to the Atlantic coast of Spain for the Star World’s Championship. Everyone expected to have a fair weather regatta on the sunny coast of Spain. Things turned out a bit differently.


The best way to describe the sailing in Laredo is to tell you that every day was a four-bailer day. What I mean is that every day as we sailed out to the racecourse we would open up more bailers to keep water out as time went on. Every day before the start of the race we would have four bailers open. To describe the conditions another way, I realized something was wrong when I was analyzing the bottom hull shape of different Star boats between races.
My crew, Rick Peters, flew into Portugal at the end of the European's where he picked up our charter boat. To our surprise the boat carne complete with a 560 Mercedes. We arrived in Laredo five days early so that we could practice and tune our chartered boat. Unfortunately for each of file five days we were unable to practice because of too much wind. At the end of every, day we would look at the forecast for the next day and it would predict increased winds for the following day. To explain how windy it was, I should mention that their weather maps had flags all over them which would show wind direction and strength. To show the strength, each flag had cross hairs, triangles or a combination of' both. We began to worry when they added multiple triangles to the cross hairs. By the end of the third or fourth day the tent set up for the regatta functions was beginning to look a bit unstable. Eventually even the tent gave way and took out several Star masts, one of which was Mark Reynolds'.


So what do seventy star boat teams do when they can't go sailing? Other than getting their boats measured, people went to the go cart track and polished their boats. This was the cleanest fleet of star boats that I have ever seen. Eventually the wind subsided and we got off' a practice race and all went well.


On the morning of' race one, I spoke with the ferryboat captain who was taking us to our moored Star boat. His comment was that if the wind carne from the mountains that day then we would have our seven Beaufort winds (22-27, strong breeze. large waves begin to form; white foam crests are more begin to form; white foam crests are more extensive everywhere; there may be some spray, probable wave height 10 feet). I don't know how much that is exactly but it was a lot. With two legs to go in the race that day a GIANT black cloud descended over the cliffs and onto the racing area. Chuck Lewsadder and his crew Scott Zimmer said that they were knocked down so hard that their spreaders were in the water for some time. On our boat we had a very exciting reach. While going upwind we had to ease the jib to be able to turn the boat into a tack. At the peak of the wind, the boats that had taken down their mains were going faster upwind than those with mains. Eventually the race was cancelled because the committee couldn't hold a finish line.


The next day all was calm on the water except for on Eric Doyle's boat. Eric had just taken delivery on a brand new Lillia and had spent the last three days re-rigging it. Unfortunately not long after the start of the first race, Eric broke his tiller extension universal. According to an eyewitness Eric proceeded to take out his frustration by beating his mainsail with the now detached tiller extension. Ouch!


The next few days went off fairly well in the big seas and wind. Only one other race was canceled, this time because the weather mark would not hold.
Before race five, Joe Londrigan broke his outhaul and (according to Joe) he ended up swimming behind his boat in order to fix it. Also in race five, World Champion Ross Macdonald had to retire after the first reach because his boat was so full of water that he was afraid he would sink.


Race six was the most exciting. Not only was the championship on the line for several competitors but also the conditions were the most trying. Only 26 boats remained to start this race and only 17 finished. In thirty knots of wind and the race committee reporting puffs of forty, the last race was held with twenty-foot seas. We made it for the start but unfortunately our mast broke as we tacked around the first weather mark. A fitting on the spreader tip had failed. The funny part though was that after we had tacked and the rig had fallen over, Rick asked me why I wasn't bearing off around the mark to go onto the reach. He hadn't seen or heard the mast go over and there was so much wind that the boat was making the same amount of noise and was heeling just as much as if it had been up.


After the regatta was over we weren't the only people to walk over to the trashcan with our week-old sails. Some were joking that they were going to send their new sails back to the sailmaker since they didn't even last six days. 


At the end of it all the best team won. While accepting his trophy, Mark Reynolds was overcome with emotion as he recalled that his father had won this regatta many years before crewing for Dennis Conner, and that he, Mark, had been trying for quite some time to win this regatta. Hal Haenel mentioned that Spain had been very good to them.


They won the Gold Medal in Barcelona and now the World's in Laredo and they looked forward to coming back. There was a big celebration that night and the Star World’s Championship Cup was repeatedly refilled with Cutty Sark, but that is another story.

The Winner's Perspective by Mark Reynolds
Hal and I were fortunate enough to win the Star World’s this year. It's something that I have wanted for a long time, first trying for it in 1975 and 12 other times in-between. My first Star World's though was in 1958 when Lowell North brought the World’s to the San Diego Bay fleet. I was two years old and had my picture taken for a Buick ad for the regatta program. I remember many other World’s in San Diego as well as a few in Newport Beach, then Marstrand and finally Seattle when my father won as Dennis Conner's crew. Hal and I had finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th, but the Gold Star had eluded us. I would just like to say that it is a great honor to now be a Star World’s Champion— a very select group of sailors.


The Star World's were held in Laredo, Spain, site of the 1974 World's won by Tom Blackaller and Ron Anderson. We had 76 boats this time and you could say it was a heavy air regatta. The first attempt at the First race was cancelled on the last beat when moderate winds were interrupted by a squall that whipped the winds up to the mid 30's. We were disappointed as we were up near the front, especially due to the fact that we had to sail upwind anyway to sail in. The next day the first race was held in the only light winds of the regatta. There were some very major shifts stirring up the fleet a few times but last year's champs Ross Macdonald and Eric Jespersen were able to stay ahead of Pietro D'Ali to will. We were a bit too conservative on tile first beat (the leader came from the left corner and the 2nd place boat from the right corner) but were not totally upset with a 20th. Our 20th was a lot better than Hestbaek’s 42nd, Hagen's 48th, Andersen's 53rd or Doreste’s 58th. It looked like this could be tough sailing! The next day two races were held in strong winds of around 20 knots, bill still fairly shifty and puffy, as it was an offshore wind. The swell was large and about 45 degrees to the wind so it made sailing upwind quite different on each tack. We were fortunate to have a first and a third this day, making up for our opening 20th.


The rest of the races were in very similar conditions. It was usually favored to go left so boat speed was important off the line to keep clear air. In the fourth race, where we placed 8th we made the mistake of not going left enough and getting passed on the first beat and then we missed the right coming in a bit on the second beat. Despite this, our confidence was growing. We knew we had the speed so we didn't need to be overly aggressive on the starts anymore. The next race started with five general recalls with the black flag eliminating over 20 boats. The race was abandoned on the second beat up supposedly because of problems setting the next mark. We were in second place at the time so again it was a bit of a disappointment. It was even more of a disappointment when all of the boats that were black-flagged were put back into the race by the RC and Jury because the line ends were determined to be drifting.
 
The last day two races were held with winds at their strongest. The first race was between Colin Beashel / David Giles and us until Torben Grael / Marcelo Ferreira got to the right of both of us and stayed ahead to win the race. Going into the last race we had a one-point lead on Colin and 4 points on Torben. Soon after the start it was we and Colin that moved out in the lead going left with Torben clearing out to the right after a bad start. The right paid and Torben took the lead soon after the windward mark. We rounded fifth with Colin right behind. The reaches were wild, as the wind was very strong at this point. We rounded up a few times, but so did Colin. About halfway down the reach when the wind was probably getting close to 40 knots, Colin's mast came down. We still needed to pass at least one boat to beat Torben. About halfway up the next beat we moved into second place. The last windward leg seemed like it took forever. We had two big fears on this leg. One was that something would break as we got launched off the huge waves on port tack (the windward shrouds would go slack as we leaped off the waves and came crashing down). The other fear was that the RC would again abandon. There was a bit of attrition as the day went on, with only 23 boats finishing this race. We finally made it across the line in second position to win the Championship. After crossing the line a rainbow formed over the fleet, a fitting finish for a Gold Star event.