Qualifying complete at Star Sailors League Finals

Published on December 5th, 2014

by Bob Fisher
Nassau, Bahamas (December 5, 2014) – The third day of racing in the Star Sailors League completed the qualifying stage; one skipper and crew are given a bye to the semi-finals and the next ten in the rankings go forward to the quarter-final race on Saturday. In the brisk breezes, and today they were at their briskest, topping 33 knots, the regular Star sailors are at a slight disadvantage because the “pumping, rocking and ooching rule has been repealed for this regatta.

Star Class Rule 35 normally forbids the practice and Star sailors are unused to being able to perform the extra-motion grabbing manoeuvres that are meat and drink to the Finn sailors regularly – and it shows. Why else in this star-studded fleet would three beginners to the class, Jorge Zarif (BRA), Giles Scott (GBR) and Ivan Gaspic (CRO) fill the 8th to 10th places in the series standing after six races?

The first two of the three races were held in the slack tide period and the seas were moderate. A broken jib sheet prevented the defending champions, Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada of Brazil from starting the first race. It allowed the Olympic champions, Freddy Loof and Anders Ekström of Sweden a clear run and they made best use of it.

Using the left hand side of the course on the first leg, in 22-25 knots of north-easterly breeze, to be second behind Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi of Italy at the first mark. But downwind the positions were reversed and from there Loof and Ekström extended their lead to record their first win of the day.

When the defending champions returned, they made their point, improving from third at the first mark to take the lead downwind and finish first, ahead of Loof and Ekström.

The gauntlet was down. Just one point separated the two at the top of the rankings after eight races. The last race had a special poignancy – whichever of them won would be able to rest for the first race on the morrow.

Loof and Ekström made no mistakes. After two general recalls, they first attacked the left side of the beat in the biggest seas of the day, as the tide had turned against the wind, and led around the weather mark. It took Scheidt and Prada a whole round more to move into second place, but try as they might, they could not pass the s Swedes who finished on top of the rankings.

The finals tomorrow will have three races – the first will see 10 boats lining out, the second 7 and the last just 4. Loof and Ekström will go forward directly to the semi-final of 7 boats. Consequently, the crews that qualified in 2nd to 11th positions will compete in the quarter-finals but only the best 6 will go forward to the semi. Then, only 4 will make it to the grand finale heat that will decide the overall winner.

Live streaming for the fourth and final day is on Saturday (Dec. 6) at 10:40am EST

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Photos by Gilles Martin-Raget

Background: Twenty elite teams have been invited to compete for a prize purse of $200,000 US. After three days of qualifying, the top 11 teams advance to the knockout rounds on the fourth and final day, with the top-ranked crew at the end of the event taking home $40,000 US.

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