Grael takes early lead at Star Midwinters

Published on January 9th, 2014

Miami, FL (January 9, 2014) – Brazilian Star skipper Lars Grael and crew Samuel Goncalves won both races today to open the 2014 Star Midwinter Championship, leading the 26-boat fleet representing eight nations, and including multiple world champions, America’s Cup stars, and Olympic medalists.

Grael says one of the keys to his performance was switching to a different mainsail. “We went to a fuller sail for the lighter conditions, and that helped us reach the top mark first in both races today,” said the Brazilian celebrity. Grael may have led early, but overall series leader Diaz pounced on him during the first downwind leg. “Augie was able to protect the right on the first run and get inside us at the mark, trading tacks with us all the way up the beat as he rounded just inside us at the final top mark as well,” Grael explained. Diaz, Grael, and California’s Jim Buckingham traded positions down the final run, with Grael pushing into the lead in the final 100 meters and taking the win.

In the second race of the day, Grael started later than the front runners, but his positioning was perfect. “We felt the right side would be strong, so we did what we needed to in order to win the boat end,” he said. The Brazilians were first to tack off to the right, and the ten-degree shift that followed translated to an instant lead for Grael and Goncalves. “We found ourselves with a small gap back to the second place boat, and in such a tricky race course, that enabled us to increase our lead at each mark,” he said. Grael would go on to win the five-leg race by more than 8 boat lengths, with Diaz once again coming behind. “Two wins in two races doesn’t happen very often in a regatta at this level so we are quite happy, but it is important to remain conservative and avoid any big scores, and that will be our focus going forward.”

The battle for the Junior Midwinter Champion continues where 2013 left off, with 25 year-old Thomas Hornos tied on points with 23-year old Swede Philip Carlson. Hornos took last year’s title by a slim 5 points after trading positions with Carlson the entire event, and this year, Carlson’s out for payback, with long time Miami fleet captain Chris Lanza as crew. “We’ve got the boat speed we need, but we kept putting ourselves on the wrong side of the shifts today,” said Carlson. “We’re confident we can pull it together if we can just get our boat in decent position on the course.”

Racing continues daily in the 7-race series through Sunday.

Day One Results (Top 10 of 26)
1.  Lars Grael / Samuel Goncalves , BRA – 1, 1, ; 2
2.  Augie Diaz / Arni Baltins , USA – 2, 2, ; 4
3.  Jim Buckingham / Magnus Liljedahl , USA – 3, 6, ; 9
4.  Paul Cayard / Rodney Hagebols , USA – 6, 4, ; 10
5.  Jack Jennings / Brian Sharp , USA – 4, 8, ; 12
6.  Brian Cramer / Cam Lymburner , CAN – 5, 9, ; 14
7. Peter Vessella / Phil Trinter , USA – 14, 3, ; 17
8.  Tom Loefstedt / Jesper Sundman , SWE – 15, 5, ; 20
9. Alberto Zanetti / Edward Morey , ARG – 10, 10, ; 20
10.  Arthur Anosov / Vaentin Veytsman , USA – 11, 11, ; 22

Click here for complete results.

Note: Edited version of event press release.

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