Photo Credit: FRIED ELLIOTT / friedbits.com

SSL Finals 2018

December 3 - 8, 2018

DISTRICT: ISCYRA

HOST

Nassau Yacht Club    
Nassau Bahamas

CONTACT

Media & Communication : Rachele Vitello
+39 328.21.40.680
Author: Rachele Vitello - December 01, 2018

An elite gathering of 25 star-studded teams will be competing at the 2018 SSL Finals in the Bahamas next month, including 15 wildcards drawn from many corners of the world of high-level sailing. 
 

Last year’s one-second victory by International Moth World Champion Paul Goodison in the winner-takes-all final race showed that a wildcard invitee can prevail over the Star boat veterans. This will bring great hope to the Laser sailors (Goodison was the 2008 Laser Olympic Champion) such as Pavlos Kontides from Cyprus, the London 2012 Olympic silver medallist, the 2017 and 2018 World Champion and this year’s Rolex World Sailor of the Year. 
 

Kontides’ friend and training partner Tonči Stipanović from Croatia narrowly missed out on Olympic gold at Rio 2016, but the Olympic silver medallist and two-time European Champion clearly has the talent to do a ‘Goodison’ at this year’s contest in Nassau. Italy’s Francesco Bruni and New Zealand’s Hamish Pepper also did their time in the Laser before moving into the Star class, both representing their nation at the Olympics and in the America’s Cup, including victory for Pepper in the 2000 Cup in Auckland. Pepper is a former Star World Champion who will relish the short-course challenge in the SSL Finals.

Georgy Shayduko won an Olympic silver medal at the 1996 Games for Russia, competing in the three-man Soling keelboat, a class in which he also won two world titles. At 56 years old, he’s one of the older competitors in the line-up but will be keen to show the younger guns how it’s done.
 

This event will be the first time the three medal winning skippers from London 2012, the last Games in which the Star appeared as the Olympic keelboat, will line up against each other since that epic showdown in Weymouth six years ago. The gold-medal winning skipper Freddy Lööf will be racing, although not with his former winning crew Max Salminen, who takes the helm of his own Star boat in Nassau and will be keen to show his old team mate a thing or two about how to steer this challenging and technical boat. Salminen has gone on to forge a successful career in the Finn including victory at last year’s World Championships and only narrowly missing out on defending his title in Aarhus earlier this season. 
 

Another of Lööf’s medal-winning crews from his Star days, Anders Ekström, will be crewing for Iain Percy, Great Britain’s silver medallist from London 2012 who makes an emotional return to the Star class, a boat he has found it difficult to come back to after losing his former crew and best friend Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson following a tragic accident during the build-up to the 2013 America’s Cup. The bronze medallists from London 2012 are also here, five-time Olympic medallist and Brazilian legend Robert Scheidt being crewed in Nassau by Henry Boening, while Scheidt’s former crew Bruno Prada is crewing for Augie Diaz, a Star World and European Champion from the USA.
 

Young sailors and first-time world championship winners in their respective Olympic classes - for example Kevin Peponnet (470, France), Zsombor Berecz (Finn, Hungary) and Ruggero Tita (Nacra 17, Italy) - will get the opportunity to line up against some of the big names who earned their fame years ago. Brazilian sailor Lars Grael is a two-time Olympic medallist while Paul Cayard has succeeded at almost every level of the sport, from representing the USA at the Olympics, winning aStar world title, skippering numerous America’s Cup campaigns and winning the Whitbread Round the World Race more than 20 years ago.
 

Other ones to watch include this year’s surprise 49er World Champion Šime Fantela, the reigning 470 Olympic Champion from Croatia who proved himself very capable of winning races the last time he was invited to the SSL. And last but not least, the most successful team in the short history of SSL competition, Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih of the USA, who seem to relish this sudden-death knockout format.
 

After four days of qualification rounds for all 25 crews, the competition goes into the knockout stages on Saturday, December the 8th. Single races decide who survives and who is heading for the dock. The last four teams will contest a thrilling final race, the first to finish will be the winner of the 2018 SSL Finals and take home the lion's share of the $200,000 Prize Purse.

You can join all the action live and free streaming on internet with expert commentary from special studio guests. On the water, the latest in hi-tech camera technology, as well as Virtual Eye 3D Graphics, will provide thrilling viewing.

Keep following us on the official website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to be updated on the Star Sailors League major event of the year hosted at Nassau Yacht Club.
 

Iain Percy (GBR) - Anders Ekström (SWE)
Šime Fantela (CRO) - Antonio Arapović (CRO)
Robert Scheidt (BRA) - Henry Boenig (BRA)
Freddy Lööf (SWE) - Edoardo Natucci (ITA)
Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) - Dominik Życki (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)
Tonči Stipanović (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)
Ondřej Teplý (CZE) - Antonis Tsotras (GRE)


starsailors.com
finals.starsailors.com

Author: Rachele Vitello / James Boyd - December 02, 2018

Among the stars gathered here in the Bahamas this week are stars of the stars. In terms of their results in past editions of the Star Sailor’s League Finals, top of the pile is American Mark Mendelblatt whose 1-3-1-3 score line makes him the most consistently successful competitor. However he is followed closely by Robert Scheidt with a 1-5-3-2.

Following his Star silver and bronze medals from Beijing and London respectively, the Brazilian Olympic legend is one of just three people ever to have won five Olympic sailing medals, alongside Ben Ainslie and fellow countryman Torben Grael. Scheidt has also been involved in the Star Sailors League since its inception shortly after the London 2012 Olympic Games. He also holds the kudos of having won the first ever edition of the Star Sailors League Finals back in 2013.

Five years on, is it time for Scheidt to win it again? “We are really excited to be here,” said Scheidt, looking his usual relaxed self, surrounded by the Star boats lined up on the dock outside Nassau Yacht Club. “We did the South American Championship three weeks ago to try to prepare a little bit and we showed up here three days before the regatta.” At the South Americans Scheidt won by a hair, taking gold on countback from fellow Star Sailors League Finals competitor, Lars Grael. In the incestuous world of Brazilian Star sailing, Scheidt was on that occasion sailing with Arthur Lopes, who is sailing in Nassau this week with Paul Cayard while Scheidt has Henry Boening back as his crew (Boening was seventh at this year’s South Americans with yet another helm), having sailed the last two editions of the Star Sailors League Finals with him.

So in five years how has the event progressed? “The level is amazing now,” continues Scheidt. “It is getting stronger every year - there is so much talent here. It is getting really tough to do well in this event! You have to really be on top of things and sail well to beat these guys. It is really exciting.”

The line-up for the 2018 Star Sailors League Finals includes five of the reigning Olympic classes World Champions, all crowned at this summer’s Hempel Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. However for the first time the generation beyond them is also represented, in the form this week of Guido Gallinaro, the 17-year-old Laser Radial Youth World and European Championship from Italy.

“It is great, because this format gives the chance to the young guys to come up and may be make it to the Final,” says Scheidt. “They can learn through the first few days and get faster during the week. It is great to see guys like Sime Fantela here and Guido – the young talent. The Star Sailors League gives a chance for these guys to learn the boat and to get better as Star sailors. And they are all really excited about it - they all want to come back next year.”

While winning a world title in an Olympic class gets you a ticket to the Star Sailors League Finals, so too does coming top ten in the rolling Star Sailors League ranking. In this Scheidt goes into the Star Sailors League Finals in second place, albeit more than 1000 points adrift of first placed Italian Diego Negri. “It is a very democratic format, because Star sailors can qualify through their ranking, so that also encourages people to race Stars more,” observes Scheidt.

As to the Brazilian’s prospects for the 2018 Star Sailors League Finals, he says: “For sure, preparation is still key – that’s sport. The guys who prepare better will start the regatta better and will have a better chance. We did what we could, given the time frame we had. We don’t feel 100% at the moment, but I think we will have our chances.”

According to Scheidt weather for the start of the event could be on the lighter side, but will improve over the course of the week.

The unique knock-out format for the event requires a marginally different approach. “With this different format the goal is to get through to the top ten and qualify for the Final, so you have to avoid the big mistakes, like OCSes and protests, or to try to make it to the Final and turn it on on the last day.

“It is a bit different because you don’t have to peak early in the regatta, winning races early on. The goal is to avoid the big mistakes early on. You just have to be consistent and be in the top 10. If you win the Series it is a bonus, as you make it directly into the Final race.”

For this year’s Star Sailors League, Scheidt is sailing his London 2012 boat. Was that lucky? “I would say so. We won the Worlds twice with it and got an Olympic medal at the Games in 2012 with it. It is great to sail the boat again after six years.”

Generally, looking back at the last five years of the Star Sailors League, Scheidt is grateful to its creator that the event exists. “Initially we suspected it wouldn’t happen but thanks to the determination of the SSL team, it all worked. They have made the Star Sailors League a real success and now it will grow even more, with more ideas for the future and a breakthrough in the exposure of the regatta, raising the profile of the sailors, prize money, giving a chance to young people to come and race and using great images of Nassau, etc - that is a strong package and we owe it all to the Star Sailors League. They worked really hard for this. There are not many people who spend their time and resources with such a pre-determined vision to make this such a success.”

 

by James Boyd - Sailing Intelligence

Author: Rachele Vitello / James Boyd - December 04, 2018

The wind failed to materialise on Nassau’s Montagu Bay for the opening day of the sixth Star Sailors League Finals. The Qualifiers for the 25 teams of the world’s best sailors will now begin tomorrow, with racing scheduled to start at 1100. Shortly after the AP over A flag was raised at 1330 EST, Regatta Chairman Paul Hutton explained: “On the race course there was nothing - the wind would come in with a few knots from the west, then the north, then nothing, then the south. It wasn’t sustained and directionally it was all over the place.”

Traditionally Star boats need around 5+ knots in order to race. “We have got a low pressure system west of us coming off the Florida coast and heading towards us. That is sucking all of the wind out the atmosphere,” Hutton continued. “The front is expected here tomorrow. As it gets close, there will be slightly stronger wind, then, as it passes, quite a lot of wind. We’ll see the wind swing into the north and then settle into the prevailing east. This doesn’t often happen in December, but it can.”

Ultra-experienced Star and America’s Cup sailor Mark Strube, racing here with French 470 World Champion Kevin Peponnet, said: “Usually in the Bahamas at this time of year you get easterly trade winds. I have been here for five Western Hemisphere Championships and five Star Sailors League Finals and we’ve never been skunked. Most of the time the Bahamas are 15-25 knots every day, sunny, beautiful seas, everything perfect.”

Brazilian Jorge Zarif, the reigning Star boat World Champion, who is back for his fourth Star Sailors League Finals, agreed with the race committee’s decision: “There is no wind at all. It would be impossible to sail a proper race or even get out to the race course. Tomorrow morning is not that good, but we should have good breeze in the afternoon and from then on we will have a great regatta.”

Strube also believes the rest of the week is looking fine. “We might have a few showers on Wednesday, but Thursday to Saturday looks like 14-18 knots - absolutely perfect.”

Paul Hutton concludes: “Like every year, the Star Sailors League Finals has a super-impressive line-up and we want to get them on the water racing.”

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.

Author: Rachele Vitello / James Boyd - December 03, 2018

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 world’s greatest sailor; 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 ChampionPavlos Kontides and the reigning 470, Finn and Nacra 17 World Champions, respectivelyKevin 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 withBrazilian 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.

Author: Rachele Vitello - December 04, 2018

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.


STAR SAILORS LEAGUE APP

iOS
https://itunes.apple.com/it/app/star-sailors-league/id1311165647?mt=8
Android
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.virtualeye.starsailorsleague


For photos, videos, results and to watch the live go to: 

starsailors.com

LIVE SCHEDULE & LINKS
Tuesday, Dec 4 - 12:30 Link
Wednesday, Dec 5 - 10:30 Link
Thursday, Dec 6 - 10:30 Link
Friday, Dec 7 - 10:30 Link
Saturday, Dec 8 - 10:30 Link
Author: Rachele Vitello / James Boyd - December 05, 2018

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…”

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.

Author: Rachele Vitello / James Boyd - December 07, 2018

While the star performers today certainly were Robert Scheidt/Henry Boening and Paul Cayard, significant to more competitors was what was happening mid-fleet. For today, Friday, the final Qualifier races were held at the Star Sailors League Finals in Nassau.

Crews finishing the Qualifier 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 Qualifer 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 tomorrow, 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 today’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 today, 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 werefast 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 London 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 feel 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.”
 

1Robert Scheidt (BRA)Henry Boening (BRA)33

2Mark Mendelblatt (USABrian Fatih (USA)55

3Diego Negri (ITA)Diego Negri (ITA)65.8

4Jorge Zarif (BRA)Pedro Trouche (BRA)68

5Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL)Dominik Zycki (POL)75

6Eivind Melleby (NOR)Joshua Revkin (USA)81

7Paul Cayard (USA)Arthur Lopes (BRA)94

8Fredrik Loof (SWE)Edoardo Natucci (ITA)97

9Xavier Rohart (FRA)Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (FRA)98

10Lars Grael (BRA)Samuel Gonçalves (BRA)99

Author: Rachele Vitello / James Boyd - December 08, 2018

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, arethe first crew younger than 40 to win the annual event that aims to determine thetop ‘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, butthey 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 Almeidawas 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. 
 

1Jorge Zarif (BRA)Pedro Trouche (BRA)

2Robert Scheidt (BRA)Henry Boening (BRA)

3Diego Negri (ITA)Frithjof Kleen (GER)

4Eivind Melleby (NOR)Joshua Revkin (USA)

5Mark Mendelblatt (USABrian Fatih (USA)

6Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL)Dominik Zycki (POL)

7Xavier Rohart (FRA)Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (FRA)

8Paul Cayard (USA)Arthur Lopes (BRA)

9Lars Grael (BRA)Samuel Gonçalves (BRA)

10Fredrik Loof (SWE)Edoardo Natucci (ITA)