Cream rising at Star Sailors League Final
Published on December 6th, 2017
Nassau, Bahamas (December 6, 2017) – A lighter, longer, hotter second day of racing at the Star Sailors League Finals was one of mixed fortunes for the 25 teams competing for the US$ 200,000 prize purse in this international ‘Championship of Champions’ contest.
With four races today, Italy’s three time World Championship runners-up Diego Negri/Sergio Lambertenghi were the lowest scorers, while Star newbie skippers, German Laser sailor Philipp Buhl and British Nacra 17 World Champion Ben Saxton, put in stand-out performances with their respective crews, towering Markus Koy and former Star World Champion Steve Mitchell.
US veterans Paul Cayard/Phil Trinter scored two bullets in the first and last races. Yet after this generally high scoring day, Brazilian Olympic legend Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening showed ultra-resilience to retain their lead after six races, two points ahead of Mark Mendelblatt/Brian Fatih with Cayard/Trinter five points further back in third
The easterly started off lighter at nine knots, dropping to seven for the final race by which time an evil grey rain cloud was veering the wind. The lower wind strength limited the impact of the free pumping permitted on the downwind legs, which helped several of the teams that were struggling to keep up with the stronger offwind specialists.
Cayard was pleased with his and Phil Trinter’s two bullets, but less so about his race three 20th. “We had some kelp round the keel right off the start and weren’t fast, which was strange because we are very fast. Then I made a bad tactical choice to go to the layline on starboard instead of tacking early.”
The Volvo Ocean Race/Louis Vuitton Cup winner was particularly pleased by how their pace downwind has improved. “During training we were getting our butts kicked but now we are holding our own. If you can get to the weather mark in good shape and hold your own downwind, you are going to sail good races.”
In the fourth race, Cayard/Trinter, one of the most experienced crews competing, led at the first top mark rounding only to be rolled downwind by Ben Saxton/Steve Mitchell. The Brits led through the leeward gate only to be overhauled by the Americans on the second beat but still managed to hold second at the finish.
“We were struggling with speed downwind, but today we held our own, which meant we could put a race together,” explained Saxton. He added they were almost more pleased with today’s second and third races when they successfully fought back from deep starts. After this they finally got a good start, up by the committee boat. “We punched forwards off the line and then just led the bunch back from the left and tacked in and got a good lane,” said Saxton of the final race.
As to how it feels to be in the Star Sailors League finalists, Saxton adds: “It is an honour to line up against them. I am here because I can raise my game. It is wicked to see how these people put beats together. You can always learn off them.”
While Saxton came close to winning race four, another 27-year-old Rio 2016 Olympian, Philipp Buhl had successfully claimed the race before. The German crew had been third around the top mark behind two Italian boats – Negri/Lambertenghi and America’s Cup tactician Francesco Bruni/Nando Colaninno. Buhl/Koy had pulled into the lead ahead of Negri/Lambertenghi at the second top mark rounding and held on to the finish.
“I thought I would struggle a bit more, but I’ve been sailing with confidence, maybe because we are sailing above my expectations,” said Buhl. “I regard it as a super privilege to be invited to race against all these legends. When we won race three I realised we could sail on the same level as Robert Scheidt. That’s something we can be proud of because he’s had two Olympic Star boat campaigns…”
His towering crew, Markus Koy observed that having an ex-Olympic Laser sailor as a Star helm is a bonus. “They do more course changes and use every wave.”
Italy’s Diego Negri/Sergio Lambertenghi have yet to win a race but two seconds (in races one and three) enabled them be the lowest scoring crew today.
“It was very positive for us and it gives us confidence to do well in the next few days,” said Negri, a two time Star European Champion. “Tomorrow and Friday conditions will be similar to today’s and then very breezy on the final day, Saturday. This will make it more important to win the Qualification and get a bye straight to the Final – as we did last year. In windy conditions you can get tired and the boat can be damaged easier.”
With five races left to go in the Qualification series, tomorrow three races are scheduled with a start at 1100.
Racing is planned for December 5 to 9 with a $200,000 Prize Purse on the line.
The unique event format starts with four days of qualification races (maximum of 11) that advance the top ten teams to the final day of knockout races. From the qualifiers, the top team gets a bye to the Final, the runner-up goes to the Semi-Finals and teams from 3rd to 10th have to fight on yet one more race in the Quarter-Finals. The knock out rounds lead to the four-boat shootout in the Final.
The action is being streamed live on Internet with expert commentary and the latest in hi-tech camera technology and Virtual Eye 3D Graphics. To watch… click here.
Day Two Results (Top 10 of 25; 6 races)