Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih win Star Sailors League Finals
Published on December 6th, 2014
by Bob Fisher
Nassau, Bahamas (December 6, 2014) – The Star Sailors League has a champion. After four days of amazing racing on Montague Bay, there is a new champion and a few career records dented. The event proved an outstanding success.
After three days of qualifying, the top 11 teams from the elite field of 20 advanced to the knock out round today. The quarter-final race had 10 boats lining up, the semi-final race had 7 and the final race had just 4. The winner of the qualifying round – Swedes Freddy Loof and Anders Ekström – went directly to the semi-finals, while the crews that qualified in 2nd to 11th positions advanced to the quarter-finals, with the best 6 going forward to the semi. Then, only 4 will make it to the grand finale heat that will decide the overall winner.
Last year’s runners up, Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki of Poland were the early leaders in the quarter-finals, giving way to the defending champions Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada of Brazil on the run. But the Poles were back in front after some judicious use of the shifts in the 15 knot north-easterly breeze on the second windward leg and were able to hold it to the finish. Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih (USA) were second and third place went to the Finn world champion, Giles Scott (GBR) and Steve Milne.
Those eliminated were Croatians Ivan Gaspic and Ante Silic; Robert Syanjec and Claus Olesen together with fellow Germans, Johannes Polgar and Markus Koy; and Italians Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi.
The semi-final, to decide the final four, saw a start to finish leader in Mendelblatt and Fatih, with the Brazilian invitees Jorge Zarif and Henry Boening chasing hard. The other two finalists were Loof/Ekström and Kusznierewicz/Zycki.
The wind for the final, a six-leg race with 0.8 mile legs, had shifted more to the north but was anything but stable. Mendelblatt, trapped in the lee of Zarif, put in a port tack and headed away from Rose Island. It proved to be the winning move and he was soon followed by Kusznierewicz as well as Loof. Zarif persisted with the left hand side of the course, and it must be said, to his detriment.
On the third beat, Kusznierewicz sneaked ahead of the American at the top mark and led down the final leg. All four boats were close and positions changed frequently on this leg, which in the shifting wind had become a broad reach. With 200 metres to go, Kusznierewicz appeared to have it in control. Then Mendelblatt and Loof, coming in on a tighter reach, went through to leeward to take the first two places. The Pole, who was runner-up last year, finished third and the rookie, Zarif, was fourth.
Click here for interview with Mark Mendelblatt.
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.