District 20  Regatta Report

Wed Dec 4th, 2013 through Mon Dec 9th, 2013

2013 Star Sailors League


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Final results for 9 races, quarter final, semi final, and final

Reports by SSL - Alex d'Agosta
Day One
- Sunshine, 12-15 knots of perfect breeze in Nassau Bahamas where 4 regattas were held, one after the other, on the first day of the Star Sailors League Finals.

Italy's Diego Negri with Sergio Lambertenghi were the undisputed leaders of the first two races, while Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada claimed a great win in race three. Switzerland's Marazzi brothers tasted the success in the day's nail-biting, fourth race that was marked by a 5-boat photo finish.

In the opening regatta Scheidt and Prada went into a great start battle with Paul Cayard and Austin Sperry but the skipper from Gruppo Sportivo Fiamme Gialle got a clear lead just some minutes later. At the first top mark there were not many surprises in the rounding order: Negri, Mendelblatt, Scheidt, Kusznierewicz, Melleby, Rohart, Cayard, Marazzi, Polgar, Szabo. But the last upwind mark highlighted the debut of Tomas Hornos and Joshua Revkin, rookie of the year in the Star Sailors League Ranking, in the top ten of the fleet. The victory in race 1 was taken by Diego Negri, followed by Scheidt and Melleby.

Negri had another great start in race 2 and the majority of the fleet headed to the left of the race course, the favored side throughout the entire day. But the first leg will be mostly remembered from the people who followed the regatta live as they watched for the first time the American Hornos leading the fleet according to the official tracking service, followed by his compatriot Mendelblatt when fighting with Polgar, Rohart. The first mark was very crowded as the top 12 entered the turning area within few seconds. At that point Rohart and Stanjek where in front but before the second mark they were passed again by Negri. At the third mark Rohart and Stajek handed the lead to Negri and Mendeblatt came second.

Swiss Marazzi won the start of race 3 but Stanjek showed his strength again when rounding the weather mark in the dominating position. Leg 2 and 3 appeared to be following a similar pattern until Scheidt changed his pace and flew into a comfortable lead.

Competitors were very surprised to see such an exciting and aggressive fourth race of the day. The Dutch Postma made a big surprise staying for a long time at the lead of the fleet when probably the top tiers didn't expect there was room for a newcomer at the day 1. But it wasn't the only highlight of race 4: the last race will be remembered for a long thanks to a thrilling finish athletics-style when 5 boats approached the line in a compact bunch, crossing it within 2 seconds each other.

This is only the beginning of the Star Sailors League Finals, but is already a proof of the high level of competition that comes from merging Star legends with the unquestionable champions from Finn and Laser.

Day One report from Paul Cayard: Perfect Star sailing conditions were delivered in Nassau today. 8-12 knots from the east and sunshine made the sailing spectacular for this elite fleet.

Four races were held on Montague Bay at the east end of Nassau, each about 40 minutes. With just 18 boats on the track, and all of them very good, the racing was very tight.

For Austin and me it went about as predicted. We struggled at the corners and shifting gears. We had some good starts and decent speed at times. But we aren't consistent yet. Often it is just a matter of inches at the top mark that separates 4th from 12th. Same as it ever was.

We are currently 16th and need to be in the top 10 after Friday's racing. No doubt we will get better each day as I scrape a little more rust off.

Robert Scheidt (BRA) and Bruno Prada were at the top of the field today and that is really no surprise. The Italian, Diego Negri, sailed well to hold second overall and Mark Mendleblatt, the USA Star representative the London Olympics in 2012, sailed very consistently and is in 3rd.

When we hit the dock, Robert Scheidt says to me, "Four races was a bit too much, don't you think!" I said, "Did you just say that to me?" For those who don't know, Robert is the epitomy of fitness and just won the laser worlds last week for the 9th time. Anyway, after a few minutes I decided it made me feel good to hear even Robert say that, it was a long day!

Day Two - Scheidt continues to dominate Star Sailors League Finals.
Three races, light conditions but very close competition marked the second day at the Bahamas' first Star Sailors League Finals. Robert Scheidt was in commanding form, retaining the overall lead in the qualifying races with 11 points after seven races. Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi kept their second place (25 points) and Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih (26 points) preserved third, fending off the attack of Melleby (32), who climbed into 4th from yesterday's 5th. Following are Xavier Rohart (35), Mateusz Kusznierewicz (40) and Robert Stanjek (42).

In the opening race Negri won the pin end at the start and sailed upwind on the left side of the course, coming in first at the top mark, while Scheidt, in the middle of the line, didn't get a great start for the day. But the Brazilian superstar erased the gap just before the first bottom mark. In the third leg Scheidt chose not to cover the fleet, but his speed and correct route were enough to control a 30m advantage. In the meantime it was exciting to watch newcomers Postma and Maloney ahead of star medalists. The victory was taken by Scheidt after a super close fight with Negri, Mendelblatt and Cayard until the last meters.

At the beginning of race 6 an individual recall was unfortunately misunderstood from Wright and Szabo when the "guilty" was Postma, who continued his race for a while leading to a certain disqualification. In leg 1 Rohart took the lead and went into a very crowded mark rounding which the following three teams did simultaneously: Melleby, Hornos, and Stanjek. Rohart held on for first as well and Melleby for second. But Scheidt climbed at the third mark advancing 4 positions and concluding his race after Rohart and ahead of Melleby, Lobert, Polgar, Hornos, Mendelblatt, Maloney, Hestbaek and Stanjek.

The initial leg of race 7 had a big group going to the right and for many tacks Mateusz Kusznierewicz was in front of the fleet, rounding the weather mark in the lead. Later the Polish skipper couldn’t hold his momentum to defend his position when Scheidt swept ahead of his longtime rival into the lead. In the third leg Johannes Polgar caught the former Star World Champion, not giving him a chance for another dominant race as the German crossed the line first, celebrating a big resurgence after a poor beginning day.

Seven out of nine races now are completed and the highest ranked are not afraid of the top 10 cut as they are already mathematically qualified for Saturday's Finals.

Day two report from Paul Cayard:
Three races were held today in perfect conditions, once again. East winds of 10-14 knots and bright sunshine made for another postcard day in Nassau.

Austin and I got off to a good start with a fourth place in the first race of the day. We had a great start, good speed upwind so we were able to stay ahead of the heavy traffic.

In the next two races we made mistakes of various types and finished near the back each time. Those races were humbling.

The German team that was last after yesterday's racing had a 5, 5, 1 and moved up to 7th.

We are 17th overall, 9 points out of 10th place. It is all very tight. We have to put together two good races tomorrow and just see where the points fall.

It has been "jumping into the fire" for me to race in this elite regatta after a four year hiatus from the Star. But the upside is I am getting one hell if a tune-up for the Star regattas I plan on sailing next spring.

Day Three:
At the end of the day of racing under perfect conditions with ten to eleven knots from the south east, the fleet's ten finalists were decided: trailing the uncatchable Scheidt, the list comprises Mendelblatt, Negri, Rohart, Melleby, Stanjek, Kusznierewicz, Polgar, Diaz and Hestbaek. These ten skippers have qualified for the final phase of the inaugural edition of the Star Sailors League Finals underway in the Bahamas at Nassau, admittedly inspired by tennis' ATP ranking.

Following today's last two qualifying races, the ranking was shaken up right from the first positions, but only the first ten teams will qualify for the final phase's direct eliminations. As is done in Formula One, some teams will be excluded, but will receive a cash prize for their participation.

In the last two of the nine races run, unfortunately three of the guest stars saw their hopes of racing Saturday slip away, all because of Augie Diaz, well known as one of the best helmsmen in Miami and the Caribbean waters. Neither the Kiwi Laser ace Maloney, with a fourth in the last race, nor Cayard, second in the eighth race, will be sailing tomorrow. An irrefutable protagonist of the world sailing scene, with his last Star event in Athens in 2004, Cayard managed two bright results in any case. Another name missing from the finals is Flavio Marazzi, winner of the memorable fourth race with five boats finishing together. The two wild cards are also eliminated, at their first event in the Star this week, with a promising performance in the middle of the fleet: Ed Wright, one of the most successful Finn sailors after Ben Ainslie, and his French colleague Lobert, winner of a bronze medal in London, who up until yesterday seemed solidly in the top ten. George Szabo, having won a Star Worlds, was never really in the running in Nassau, and sixth was the best result for the rookie of the year Hornos. Last placed was Finn sailor PJ Postma who scored a second in the fourth regatta in a photo-finish.

In the last two races the fight was fierce even among the teams already qualified. Three starts were needed to get the first race off today, as the right fleet compressed the fleet at the committee boat. But not all sailors grabbed the opportunity, only some of the experts managed to exploit the shift. Hestbaek led for most of the first windward leg. But after rounding the windward mark, Mendelblatt and Cayard seemed to have taken control of the situation, but during the last downwind leg Scheidt incredibly managed to pass four boats including Maloney and the American team.

In the second race Scheidt was untouchable, and behind him the battle raged between Hestbaek and Mendelblatt. On the first leg and at the leeward gate the left was favoured, which was where Scheidt and Mendelblatt began to consolidate their lead over the fleet. But during the last beat, the Dane overtook the American Olympian champion and controlled him right to the finish, earning his best finish of the series and qualification to the finals.

Three direct elimination races are scheduled for Saturday. In the first, the quarter finals, all ten teams start. Only the first seven finishers will gain the semifinals, and the finals with just the top four from the semis.

Paul Cayard on Day Three
Two races were held today in 10-12 knots out of the east. Austin and I went into today's races at the back of the leader board, but had a good day and managed to climb up a few positions.

We got off to a great start leading race 1 around the first lap, losing the lead to Mark Mendleblatt at the second windward mark, and then regaining the lead only to be finally overhauled by the king, Robert Scheidt, on the final run.

At that point we were in 11th place, 5 points out of 10th, which we needed to be in in order to move on to tomorrows racing. We had a decent start in the second race but didn't do so well up the first beat and were near the back after the first lap. We tightened things up on the second lap and came home with a 13th.

That put us 12th overall, 8 points off the cut for the semi finals tomorrow. Honestly, I don't deserve to be better than 12th in this fleet right now and I didn't deserve to beat Robert in race 1 today. He works very hard to be as good as he is. There is no way a guy who hasn't sailed in 4 years should be able to walk into this class and win a race in this fleet. That's why I race Stars.

Since concluding the Cup last summer, it has been my plan to get back into the Star. I was thinking of starting out with some regattas in Miami this winter and working up to the Bacardi Cup in March. But I jumped in to the deep end instead and I am leaving Nassau better for it. I feel energized to be out competing again and looking forward to more soon.

I think the SSL is a great concept and Michel Niklaus has made an innovative step forward in sailing at the highest level. The format, having several "cuts" is exciting and tomorrow's semi-finals and finals races will be a first in sailing. Robert is definitely the torch bearer at the moment, however as the points get zero'd out at every stage, it will take just one good race by someone else to take the top prize of $40k.

Day Four: quarter finals, semi-finals and final:
In a gripping final day in which the tension ran high throughout, the Brazilian duo Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada delivered a fourth place in the quarter final and consecutive stunning victories in the semi final and grand final. Today they conquered the first edition of the Star Sailors League Finals in Bahamas in front of Mateuez Kusznierewicz with Dominik Zycki (POL) and Mark Mendelblatt with Brian Fatih (USA). On the side of the podium the Italians Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi (ITA).

We caught up with Robert Scheidt after the last race of the day.
Robert, how was your last day?
It was a very long day today with three races. We didn't have a very good first race as we finished fourth which was just enough to make us advance for the next stage, and then in the second and the third races we sailed really well. We had a good start, good speed downwind, a big fight with the Poles in the decider, but still we managed to hang on and win the last race which was amazing—you know it's great to come to the end of the week ahead and to win such an important regatta. There were only four boats at the end, so once two boats got a little advantage it's very hard for the other two to come into that fight because the second starts to protect the third and the third starts to protect the fourth. It's not like a normal fleet race that people risk and have more possibilities to recover, in this kind of race people are already looking at how to beat at least one boat. That is the mentality from the middle of the race on: we want to protect Matteo and Matteo is protecting the other two guys so it makes it hard if you're behind.

What's your secret to be so successful even if you didn't train in a Star since more than 1 year?
There are a number of factors together. I think because I already competed at a high level in many classes and coming to the decider day I'm confident because I've been there, I've done that many times, you know how you will react, you know you have to make the right decision at the right time. It's an experience game, it counts if you've been there many times, when the next time comes you already know how to behave, it gives you confidence and that's very important when you sail with confidence. Well it's hard to say but I would like to finish my career in Rio, compete in the games and that's my goal right now. I've already achieved a lot in sailing and I lift my hands to God because I had so many opportunities, first my family and then throughout all the way, great people who helped me like Luca, people like Bruno, who's been around me, and this really helps in the end, even in a single hander you win but behind you there's a team that you have to acknowledge. There's no one thing that I can say is the secret, it's many things together you know, a little bit of talent and a lot of hard work.>p? Who is your biggest longtime rival?
My biggest rival was Ben Ainslie, for sure, I had with him tough battles, he won one time in the Olympics, I won the second. It's been great, I hope I can have the chance to sail against him again, it would be great if he could join the circuit but it's up to him, he's now with the America's Cup, but I had many many tough battles with many guys, but if I have to point out one guy it was really tough to beat and he beat me many times as well, as well as I beat him, it was Ben.

Any America's Cup aspirations?
Yes, I have been interested (in the AC) but for some reason I always put the Olympic Games as my priority and then the chances that I had to sign for an AC was always overlapping with my Olympic campaigns and then I decided to do a serious campaign instead of doing things half and half.

Place Boat Skipper Crew Sail #: Fleet 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 - QF 11-SF 12-Final Total
1 2   Robert Scheidt   Bruno Prada   BRA 8456   GuB   2.0 4.0 1.0 3.0 1.0 2.0 2.0 1.0 1.0 4 1 1 13
2 17   Mateusz Kusznierewicz   Dominik Zycki   POL 8404   ISOL   4.0 14.0 4.0 6.0 12.0 11.0 3.0 8.0 9.0 6 4 2 57
3 15   Mark Mendelblatt   Brian Fatih   USA 8177   TaB   6.0 2.0 3.0 5.0 3.0 7.0 9.0 3.0 3.0 5 3 3 32
4 19   Diego Negri   Sergio Lambertenghi   ITA 8452   VE   1.0 1.0 6.0 9.0 2.0 13.0 6.0 15.0 11.0 7 2 4 49
5 11   Johannes Polgar   Markus Koy   GER 8442   Ess   11.0 15.0 17.0 15.0 5.0 5.0 1.0 11.0 4.0 2 5 --- 67
6 1   Xavier Rohart   Pierre Alexis Ponsot   FRA 8237   NI   7.0 6.0 5.0 10.0 6.0 1.0 11.0 17.0 5.0 1 6 --- 51
7 14   Robert Stanjek   Frithjof Kleen   GER 8340   BF   13.0 5.0 2.0 16.0 7.0 10.0 5.0 5.0 8.0 3 7 --- 55
8 8   Michael Hestbaek   Claus Olesen   DEN 8455   DF   5.0 11.0 12.0 17.0 16.0 9.0 16.0 6.0 2.0 8 --- --- 77
9 6   Eivind Melleby   Mark Strube   NOR 8317   NOR   3.0 8.0 10.0 4.0 14.0 3.0 4.0 12.0 7.0 9 --- --- 51.0001
10 16   Augie Diaz   John Von Schwarz   USA 8465   BisB   8.0 7.0 7.0 13.0 8.0 19.0 [OCS] 12.0 9.0 10.0 10 --- --- 74
11 99   Andy Maloney   Tyler Bjorn   NZL 8331   ISOL   17.0 12.0 11.0 7.0 11.0 8.0 14.0 4.0 15.0 --- --- --- 82
12 96   Paul Cayard   Austin Sperry   USA 8129   WSFB   9.0 16.0 14.0 12.0 4.0 15.0 18.0 2.0 13.0 --- --- --- 85
13 10   Flavio Marazzi   Renato Marazzi   SUI 8364   TB   14.0 18.0 13.0 1.0 13.0 14.0 15.0 10.0 6.0 --- --- --- 86
14 97   Ed Wright   Petter Morland Pedersen   GBR 8390   SO   10.0 9.0 15.0 14.0 15.0 12.0 7.0 7.0 12.0 --- --- --- 86.0001
15 95   Jonathan Lobert   Pascal Rambeau   FRA 8470     18.0 3.0 8.0 11.0 18.0 4.0 17.0 16.0 18.0 --- --- --- 95
16 18   George Szabo   Craig Moss   USA 8320   SDB   16.0 10.0 16.0 8.0 9.0 16.0 10.0 14.0 14.0 --- --- --- 97
17 39   Tomas Hornos   Jashua Revkin   USA 8229   BH   15.0 17.0 9.0 18.0 10.0 6.0 13.0 13.0 16.0 --- --- --- 99
18 98   Pieter-Jan Postma   Edoardo Natucci   NED 8479   LO   12.0 13.0 18.0 2.0 17.0 19.0 [OCS] 8.0 18.0 17.0 --- --- --- 105

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