Event Photos by Fried Elliott
The Star World Championship Decided without a Medal Round
The winds were up and down all week in Cascais, Portugal. Even from one race course to another the velocity varied by 10-20 knots. On the final scheduled day for racing in the Star Class, while wind conditions may have been within ranges for the class to sail, there was no safe way for the competitors to get out to a race course.
The crane operated throughout the day and one by one, boats were hoisted out of the water. First it was the Silver fleet boats and gradually the Gold fleet boats who didn’t think that they had a chance of qualifying their country for the Olympics in 2008 started to haul out. The wind did not abate during the afternoon. The television helicopter was in the air ready to film exciting races in survival conditions while the regatta organizers tried to work through all of the scheduling complications that excessive wind had wrought. Press conferences were called at regular intervals, and competitors and media alike watched the signal flags and awaited news.
Baseball caps, sun glasses, even boat parts flew and skittered across the boat yard. While some sailors packed up boats and others lounged around trying to make the afternoon go faster, a photo of past Star World Champions who were present at the regatta was organized.
Present and in the photo were (kneeling left to right) Xavier Rohart (2003 & 2005), Iain Percy (2002), Hamish Pepper (2006), Torben Grael (1990), Ross Macdonald (1994), Vince Brun (1986), (standing left to right) Carl Williams (2006), Steve Mitchell(2002), Pascal Rambeau (2003 & 2005), Marcello Ferreira(1990 & 1997), Hal Haenel (1995), Mark Reynolds (1995 & 2000), Magnus Liljedahl(2000), Freddie Loof (2001 & 2004) and Anders Ekstrom(2004). Attending the 2007 ISAF World Championships but not present for the photo were Ed Adams (1987) and Alexander Hagen (1982 & 1997).
Much later in the day, after all sailing except for the medal rounds had been cancelled and it looked as if the wind had abated a bit, the ten medal round contenders were sent out to the race course. While the water looked flatter from the shore, a clear indication of just how windy it was occurred when Marc Pickel’s hat blew off his head even before the German boat left the protection of the breakwater. No one attempted a jibe before the start. Spittle was blowing off the waves and the rooster tails that the Stars were leaving. The Stars went into sequence and all of the boats headed a great distance to starboard and downwind of the committee boat. With mains flogging, they struggled to stay upright and time their approach to the start. The race committee put up the abandonment flag and the competitors continued their slog toward the harbor, because none of them could bear down and the sails were flogging so much that they feared shredding them and breaking their rigs. Happily everybody was able to turn the corner into the basin without their masts toppling.
Brazilians Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada joined the fraternity of famous sailors who have won the prestigious Star World Championship title. The highest ranking International Star Class Yacht Racing Association (ISCYRA) member present, two time Star World Champion, Alexander Hagen informally welcomed Robert and Bruno to the “club” by presenting each with a Gold star on the dock. Following the ISAF medal ceremony, the International Star Class Yacht Racing Association (ISCYRA) World Championship Trophy was awarded. Names engraved on the base and the bowl of the trophy date all of the way back to 1923, when the trophy was won by W. Inslee and R. Nelson of Western Long Island Sound. The Mary Etchell’s Trophy, the trophy awarded to the winning crew at the Star Worlds, was presented to Bruno Prada of Brazil.
The top ten skippers and crew for the Star Class at the 2007 ISAF World Championships in Cascais, Portugal are:
1. Scheidt/Prada, BRA, 15;
2. Rohart/Rambeau, FRA,19;
3. Percy/Simpson, GBR, 25;
4. Pepper/Williams, NZL, 32;
5. Negri/Viale, ITA, 32;
6. Kusznierewicz/Zycki, POL, 44;
7. Pickel/Borkowski, GER, 52;
8. Loof/Ekstrom, SWE, 57;
9. Murray/Palfrey, AUS, 70;
10. Domingos/Santos, POR,73.
Eleven countries qualified to participate in the 2008 Olympics in Qingdao, China. The four remaining slots will be determined at the 2008 Star Class World Championship.
The countries that qualified from this event were Brazil, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Italy, Poland, Germany, Sweden, Australia, Portugal, and the United States. Star veterans Mark Reynolds and Hal Haenel of the United States, although not among the top eleven finishers, qualified the USA for the Olympics. Italy had two teams that beat the twelfth team from the USA. Only one Olympic slot was awarded per country. While the teams that qualified their countries for the Olympics sailed phenomenal regattas, many of them still must sail an Olympic trials regatta to win the honor to represent their country at the Olympics.
News from the Star fleet in Cascais - July 8, 2007
From the time that Irishmen Maxwell Treacy and Anthony Shanks crossed the line until the last boat was scored in the Silver fleet’s first race of the day, over ten minutes passed. Treacy/Shanks led a pack of five boats around the first weather mark as a port tack header hit the rest of the fleet that was nearing the top of the leg.
Treacy/Shanks led around the course and were followed by Argentineans Julio Labandeira and Enrique Della Torre throughout the race. The Ricks, Rick Merriman and Rick Peters were third in the race. As the wind dropped off during the last two legs, and the fleet got overrun by the top half of the Gold fleet positions behind the leaders got scrambled up a lot.
Teams who were scored with an OCS in the Silver fleet’s first race were Croatians Dan Lovrovic and his father, Marin Sr., Giullio Gatti and Sergio Lambertenghi and Lorenz Zimmerman and Michael Martin.
The Gold fleet started their first race nearly a leg and a half of the Silver fleet’s first start. Wind conditions throughout the day were up and down. Yesterday’s extreme light air did not return to the course, but crews had to pay attention to shifts, micro bursts and puffs that didn’t necessarily move down the course as fast as expected. The regatta leaders were fairly evenly spread across the line for the first start. Current within the washer machine made starting conditions difficult. The heartbreaker came for Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki when the pin’s anchor rode got caught between their skeg and rudder. By the time that they parted company with the pin, they trailed the fleet by 200 yards and about 2 minutes.
The Big Fella and Andrew Palfrey rounded the weather mark just ahead of Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson. Croatians, Marin Lovoric and Sinisa Milulicic were in third and Diego Negri and Gigi Viale were in fourth. The usual suspects were not far behind.
As the top of the Gold fleet got mixed up with the Silver fleet Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau took the lead. Murray/Palfrey hung tough throughout the race and Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada moved their way from twelfth around the first weather mark to seventh around the second weather mark to a 30-second lead by the time they reached the third weather mark. Their biggest gain came on the second run. Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams and Mark Reynolds and Hal Haenel also worked their way up through the fleet.
Current played a major factor during the many attempted starts of the Gold fleet’s second race. As you can imagine, the black flag came out and there were two general recalls under the black flag. Boats sent home for the day included: Pickel/Zycki, Grael/Ferreira, Dane/Sperry, Marazzi/Christen, Miller/Voigt, Stanjek/Koy and Szabo/Scott. At one point during the attempted starts, many competitors were so hot and the wind was so light that they took their spray tops off. By the time the actual race was started, they were suited up and ready for heavy air conditions again.
Probably the most aggressive starter on the line, Percy/Simpson rounded the weather mark first followed by Rohart/Rambeau, Bromby/McNiven and Kusznierewicz/Zycki. Percy/Simpson extended their lead throughout the race and they were so far ahead that the rest of the fleet could use them as a great judge of the conditions up to weather. Their win was as close to a horizon job as there has been in this regatta. Scheidt/Prada had a fantastic final run and passed Kusznierewicz/Zycki to take second. Rohart/Rambeau finished fourth and Negri/Viale finished fifth.
More Bad News
It just wasn’t Dan Lovroic and Marin Lovroic Sr.’s day. Their top section broke at the bottom of a beat and the two were towed home with the top of the main sail and the top section dangling by the halyard and flailing in the wind. Carl Anderson and Ed Morey had an unbelievable port-starboard incident at a weather mark. Thankfully there was no damage, because there was plenty of momentum. As they struggled to complete their second circle on the way to the offset mark, their boom hit the shroud of another boat. Imagine the anguish of doing two sets of circles over such a short distance.
The Silver fleet had a long day. Not only did they have to wait around for the Gold fleet to start their second race, the wind went light during their final race. To top it off, they sailed into the harbor a little before 9:00 in 40 knots of breeze! Maxwell Treacy and Anthony Shanks sailed snake eyes for the day. The Swiss team of Daniel and Beat Stegmeier finished the day with a 5,2. Merriman/Peters scored a 3,8. Benny Andersen and Morgens Just rolled a pair of sixes.
Going into the final day of racing two-time Star World Champions and Olympic Gold medalist skippers, Mark Reynolds and Torben Grael sit in 12th and 13th place with 80 and 83 points, respectively. Assuming that there is racing on Monday despite the weather forecast, expect the interesting dynamics to be among the Americans, Irish and Croatians as they vie for the final country qualifying slots.
Medal Round Contenders are:
1. Scheidt/Prada, BRA, 15;
2. Rohart/Rambeau, FRA,19;
3. Percy/Simpson, GBR, 25;
4. Pepper/Williams, NZL, 32;
5. Negri/Viale, ITA, 32;
6. Kusznierewicz/Zycki, POL, 44;
7. Pickel/Borkowski, GER, 52;
8. Loof/Ekstrom, SWE, 57;
9. Murray/Palfrey, AUS, 70;
10.Domingos/Santos, POR, 73.
Trying Conditions for All out on the Star Course at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships - July 7, 2007
The loud moan that Mateusz Kusznierwicz let out as he tried to approach the first weather mark from the port tack lay line and watched Ian Percy and a number of other boats coast around it, said it all. There was no need for translation. The winds and the current frustrated the Race Committee and the sailors alike. The fleet followed the Race Committee halfway to Lisbon before the winds turned on enough to start a race. Unfortunately the wind did not settle down for a while. It took an hour of fits and starts and going from being fully hiked to standing up in the boat searching for breeze, before the first race was called for both the Gold and the Silver Star fleets.
Racing finally looked promising for the US team as Andy Horton and Brad Nichol rounded the first weather mark first with Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams and fellow countrymen John Dane and Austin Sperry close on their tail. The regatta leaders, Scheidt/ Prada, Percy/ Simpson and Kusznierewicz/Zycki were well off the pace.
Horton/Nichol held a 15-second lead at the second weather mark, but split with Pepper/Williams and Dane/Sperry. Pepper/Williams and Dane/Sperry stayed left in a little more pressure and moved into the lead. Dane/Sperry and Pepper/Williams challenged each other all the way to the finish line while Horton/Nichol paid the price and slipped to 15th in the race. Dane/Sperry gave the US their first bullet of the regatta. Americans George Szabo and Andrew Scott and Percy/Simpson moved up through the fleet to finish third and fourth, respectively.
The silver fleet was in an equally unsettled and undiscriminating breeze. Their course was shifted to the right for the fleet’s second beat.
Following a general recall, the second start of the Gold fleet was held up so that the fleet’s start would not interfere with the Silver fleet’s run and leeward mark rounding. As the wind died, the natives got restless and started to make a lot of noise. Within minutes, both races were abandoned. So, with many hours on the water, only one race was sailed in the Gold fleet.
Irishman, Maxwell Treacy, when asked about the abandonment of the Silver fleet’s race said, “I was doing well, but that doesn’t mean anything.”
American, John Dane commented that “you hope that you have your horseshoe with you for good luck” out on that course. Dane’s win was not solely due to good luck. He used the knowledge that he gained through a general recall and abandoned start down at the pin end. Dane/Sperry played the current so that they set up high, dipped below the line and executed a perfect pin end start. He said that everyone was changing gears out on the course all of the time and noted that it is much more difficult to change gears in a Star than in many of the other boats out there. With running back stays and check stays and masts that are raked forward several degrees during downwind legs, there are a lot of adjustments to make throughout the race. Dane/Sperry are happy to have done well in today’s exhausting conditions and are trying hard to qualify the US for the Olympics in Qingdao.
Consistency Continues to be the Theme - July 5, 2007
Consistency continues to be the theme in the Star Class at the ISAF Sailing World Championships 2007 in Cascais, Portugal. Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada, Ian Percy and Andrew Simpson, Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau sailed two first, two second and two third place finishes, respectively today. Scheidt/Prada lead the regatta with 8 points following their discard. Two points behind them are the Frenchmen and the Englishmen follow by another two points.
An outgoing tide flowing against the swell and the wind made for difficult conditions for the start of the first race. With the benefit of a general recall and an abandoned start, Percy/Simpson nailed the start at the boat end of the line and led a small pack, which included Irishmen Maxwell Treacy and Anthony Shanks, to the right side of the course. Percy/Simpson led around the top mark with Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki following close behind. Pepper/Williams and Rohart/Rambeau had slighty better than mid-fleet mark roundings. While Percy/Simpson favored the right side of the course on the beat and the left side on the run, Rohart/Rambeau and Pepper/Williams played the shifts up the middle of the course and scrambled back to third and seventh place finishes, respectively. When asked about his recovery to a third place finish, Xavier Rohart sighed and said that "there were a lot of very good people in the yellow fleet today." Rohart sails conservatively and rarely bangs corners, so he was more than satisfied with his finishes.
Why fix something when it's not broken?
Percy/Simpson sailed a nearly identical first beat in the second race of the day. Kusznierewicz/Zycki rounded within striking distance. The pair of boats extended their leads on Rohart/Rambeau and the rest of the fleet.
Kuznierewicz/Zycki challenged Percy/Simpson throughout the race. On the third weather leg Percy/Simpson, who were to leeward and behind, took advantage of a right hand shift and were able to recapture the lead because Kusznierewicz/Zycki effectively over stood the weather mark. Pepper/Williams, Prof O'Connell and Ben Cooke, and Iain Murray and Andrew Palfrey sailed a pair of good races today in the yellow fleet in addition to the English, French and Poles.
Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada were on fire today. The Brazilians led around every mark except for the final weather mark of their second race of the day. As they sailed up the right side of the course Freddie Loof and Anders Ekstrom went on the attack. The Swedes sailed through the Brazilians lee with yet another right hand shift at the top of the beat. Scheidt/Prada took advantage of a little more pressure on the right during the run and a wind shadow that the Danish team of Benny Andersen and Morgens Just threw on Loof/Ekstrom, to skate into the lead and finish twenty seconds ahead of the Swedes and Danes.
The current, short chop and breeze fostered a number of collisions during the day. Portuguese sailors, Henrique Anjos and Afonso Marques lost their forestay during a
collision and had to retire from the first race and could not sail the second. The team is filing for redress. If redress is awarded then they will move up in the preliminary standings and be eligible to sail in the gold fleet for the remainder of the regatta. At the moment, the Fins, Staffan Lindberg and Erkki Heinonen, are straddling the gold/silver fleet line for the rest of the championship.
The biggest surprise for the day came from Marin Lovrovic Jr. and Mikulicic Sinisa of Croatia. Three of the four Croatians in the regatta are related. Marin Lovrovic Sr. is crewing for Marin Lovrovic Jr.'s younger brother, Dan. Up until about a year ago Jr. sailed with Sr. Jr. and Sinisa sailed a 6,2 in the blue fleet and are now in 16th for the regatta. Italians Francesco Bruni and Gilberto Nobili and Portuguese Afonso Domingos and Bernardo Santos each scored 11 points in today's two races.
Tomorrow is a lay day. It is a day for working on the boats, practice for some and golf for others, such as Bermudian Peter Bromby.
Are Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau on Their Way to Winning Their Third Star World Championship in Cascais?
July 4, 2007
France’s Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau sailed a stellar 1, 2 today during the third and fourth races of the 2007 Star World Championship in Cascais, Portugal. Sunny skies, a four to five foot short swell, chop and a shifty race course didn’t stop the pair from continuing to rack up impressive results.
Close on the heels of the 2003 and 2005 Star World Champions are Brazilians Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada. Robert and Bruno have not had a finish out of the top three since the 2006 Miami Olympic Classes Regatta, over a year and a half ago. At last year’s Star Worlds in San Francisco, Robert and Bruno finished second and Xavier and Pascal finished third behind New Zealanders Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams. While all have devoted a lot of time to practicing in Cascais, none will savor the taste of victory as much as Robert and Bruno.
Admittedly, we’re not even halfway through the regatta, and it may be premature to predict the victors. Four other teams, Italians Diego Negri and Luigi Vialle, Brits Ian Percy and Andrew Simpson, Germans Marc Pickel and Ingo Borkowski and Swedes Freddie Loof and Anders Ekstrom have managed post single digit scores for all of the races sailed thus far. Percy/Simpson recovered from an individual recall to a fifth place in the shifty conditions and Torben Grael’s muscle memory seems to have been completely restored as he and Marcelo Ferreira sailed a 6, 3 today.
Some of today’s more memorable sites out on the water were watching Portugal’s Alfonso Domingos and Bernardo Santos and two time Star World Champion skipper Alexander Hagen and crew, Firthjof Kleen come off a pin end start, catch the first shift and cross the fleet. The Portuguese fans let out cheers as Domingos/Santos rounded the first weather mark in first place.
We’ll need to come up with a name for a constellation that may never have been seen before – a cluster of four gold stars – Grael/Ferreira, Loof/Ekstrom, Pepper/Williams and Hagen/Kleen all rounded a weather mark in a pack and sailed most of their first race of the day in close formation. Julio Labandeira, the oldest competitor among all of the classes at the combined world championship, and crew Enrique Della Torre, finished 6th in their second race of the day.
In the press conference that followed today’s sailing, both Xavier Rohart and Robert Scheidt stressed how important getting a good start is in the Star fleet. The time elapsed from when the first boat rounds a mark until the last boat rounds the mark is often less than a minute and a half. It is very difficult to recover from a bad start and sail through the fleet. Percy/Williams managed to do so today, but some of their rivals were not as successful at clawing their way back to the top of these strong fleets.
Two more races will be sailed before the gold and silver fleets are determined. There are eighteen teams with between 50 and 70 points. A total of five races must be sailed before a race can be discarded. Some will be jubilant and others will be crestfallen when they return to the dock at the end of the third day of racing.
Consistency Accounts for a lot at the Cascais Worlds
July 3, 2007
After the first day of racing at the 2007 Star World Championship in Cascais, Portugal, the 2005 and 2006 world champions are tied for the lead. Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams, the reigning world champions, and Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau, the 2005 world championship team, each have 4 points following two races in a split fleet. Working with a thirty boat fleet and a shorter course than is usually sailed, Pepper/Williams, Rohart/Rambeau, and Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson of Great Britain, were able to pull off impressive starts, round the first weather mark in first place and extend their leads so that they finished with a notable gap behind them. In fact, Rohart/Rambeau won their race with more than a minute’s jump on second place finishers Italians Diego Negri and Gigi Vaile. Sailing consistently, each of today’s top ten teams have only single digit finishes.
Low clouds hung over the headlands and extended as far as the eye could see over the water. A small swell and 8-10 knots of breeze that picked up to the point that it whistled through the halyards of some of the spectator boats, prevailed throughout the day. According to Alfonso Domingos, currently ranked eighth by ISAF in the Star and a Cascais native, “the wind conditions that we saw today were normal given today’s cloud conditions.” Hamish Pepper and Ian Percy concurred that the conditions favored the right side of the course. All are a bit concerned about what are likely to be shifty conditions on the other courses that are tucked up closer to shore.
Six of today’s top finishing teams are among the top ten Star teams as ranked by ISAF. While many of the teams; such as Rohart/Rambeau, Negri/Viale, Scheidt/Prada, Kusznierewicz/Zycki and Pickel/Borkowski have been sailing as many ISAF ranking regattas as possible throughout the past year; others have put in a lot of time on the water, albeit not in a Star. The Pepper/Williams, Percy/Simpson, Horton/Nichol, Grael/ Ferriera, Bruni/ Nobili, Szabo/Scott and Mendleblatt/Liljedahl teams have had limited training and racing together in a Star because one or the other or both have been involved in America’s Cup campaigns. Always trying to perform their best among such talented competition, many skippers and crews dispensed with national alliances and practiced for the world championship with other Star skippers or crews who were waiting for their teammate's fate to be determined in Valencia. Alinghi’s victory today has sealed the fate for the last of those registered for the Star World Championship. Mark Mendelblatt, whose Star is in the water waiting for him, may be able to race in Cascais.
The Stars will sail another four races before it is determined who will be in the gold fleet, sailing for the world championship and to be among the top competitors to qualify their country for next year's Olympics in Qingdao, China.
Stars as Far as the Eye Can See
July 2, 2007
With seventy boats, one hundred and forty sailors, numerous sailing legends and awesome conditions, sailing history will be made this week. It is 6:00 pm in Cascais, Portugal and the boat yard is empty except for trailers. In the marina, Stars are lined up for as far as the eye can see.
Over 1,600 sailors have shipped their boats to Cascais, found housing, hired coaches and made countless sacrifices to attend the 2007 Combined Sailing World Championships. Making it to Cascais is an accomplishment in and of itself. Walking around this spectacular venue, one runs into some of the most accomplished sailors in the world; the highest concentration of which are right outside the media center at the Star class staging area.
This afternoon, I started to count the number of Star sailors at this world championship who have represented their country at the Olympics, placed among the top three in an Olympic class world championship regatta, or have been involved in an America’s Cup campaign. The list is staggering, and admittedly my list is incomplete, but this should give you a general idea of the caliber of the competition that will be vying to qualify their country for the 2008 Olympics and at the same time win this year’s world championship title.
Those who have represented their countries multiple times, in the Star class or any other class, at the Olympics: Torben Grael (6), Peter Bromby (4), Mark Reynolds (4), Xavier Rohart (4), Marcelo Ferreira (3), Mateusz Kusznierewicz (3), Hal Haenel (3), Iain Percy (2), Freddie Loof (2), Robert Scheidt (3) and there are at least six other skippers and crews who have been to the Olympics once.
Those who have won multiple gold medals at the Olympics: Torben Grael (2), Marcelo Ferreira (2), Mark Reynolds (2) and Robert Scheidt (2).
Those who have won multiple medals at the Olympics: Torben Grael (3), Marcelo Ferreira (3), Mateusz Kusnierewicz (2), Mark Reynolds (3), Hall Haenel (2) and Robert Scheidt (3).
Those who have won Olympic class world championships: Torben Grael (1), Marcelo Fereirra (2), Freddie Loof (2), Mark Reynolds (2), Xavier Rohart (2), Pascal Rambeau
(2), Robert Scheidt (6) and Hamish Pepper .
Those who have placed among the top three in the Finn Gold Cup: Mateusz Kusnierewicz (5), Freddie Loof (4), Andrew Simpson (2) and Xavier Rohart (2).
Those who have been involved in America’s Cup campaigns: Torben Grael, Iain Murray, Andrew Simpson, Andy Horton, Luca Modena, Francesco Bruni, Carl Williams, Andrew Scott and Mark Mendleblatt.
Those who have won an Olympic gold medal and are waiting for their skipper to arrive from the America’s Cup competition: Magnus Liljedahl.
Believe it or not, there is at least one Optimist world champion among the galaxy of talent that is heading out into the Atlantic for the first race of the world championships on Tuesday.
Cascais – There is a Galaxy of Talent Assembled Here
July 1, 2007
The sailing venue in Cascais is incomparable. A 17th century citadel sits up on the point and is surrounded by a café and shop lined promenade at sea level and a modern marina. While all of the Olympic classes have their designated areas along the half mile long promenade, everyone shares their favorite cafes. The sailboards have shaded racks. The Ynglings and the Stars have cranes that are operated around the clock. There are plenty of ramps and there is a ton of security. Hundreds of colorful RIBs are moored in clusters offshore waiting for their sailing teams to take to the water.
Beyond the historic beauty of Cascais, the wind conditions have been terrific. The tag line for the regatta is “the wind is calling”. For the past two weeks it would have been more appropriate to say, “the wind is whistling.” Winds on the inner of the five designated courses have been in the high teens to twenty plus- knot velocity. Outside, where the Stars have been practicing, the sea breeze has been in the twenties with gusts over thirty knots. Today, Sunday, was unusual. Swells that were spreader height on the Stars with a duration of about 14 seconds. The breeze was 10-12 knots throughout the early afternoon. Teams focused on making check stay and shroud adjustments in lighter conditions. Looking at the swells and the wave set, whoever has the most speed and pointing ability on port tack will do exceptionally well in the regatta.
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