SSL Lake Grand Slam greeted by La Bise

Published on September 9th, 2015

Grandson, Switzerland (September 9, 2015) – Challenging racing conditions produced a tactical first day of racing at the Star Sailors League Lake Grand Slam hosted by Cercle de la Voile de Grandson, Switzerland. Clouds rising above the Jura Mountains signified that the arrival of the chill northerly wind, known as La Bise, translated as ‘the kiss’ which funnels down the valley between the Jura Mountains and the Swiss Prealps.

The first two races were held in a gusty 12-16 knots of breeze but it wasn’t a lingering kiss, the last two races were fought out in a lighter flukier conditions, which tested the concentration and will power of the 68 teams from 22 different countries.

There were numerous general recalls disciplined by Black flag starts and notable offenders included Torben Grael & Guilherme De Almeida and Johannes Polgar & Markus Koy, both were adjudged to be on course side in Race 2. However the Brazilian duo scored two bullets today, and after counting a discard, are placed fourth after the first days racing.

Augie Diaz & Arnis Baltins from the USA top the leaderboard after four races having scored [8]-6-1-4. Augie & Arnie have been sailing together for about five years and consistent results in the top ten, boosted by a bullet in Race 3, has propelled the Americans to the top but only just. Gold Star, George Szabo racing with local expert, Patrick ‘The Duke’ Ducommun, is second by a single point. Reigning Star World Champions, Robert Stanjek & Frithjof Kleen, scored a 4-1 in the first two races to lead the championship but the lighter conditions did not seem to suit the German pair, scoring a 8-[30] in the final two races, to finish the day in third.

There are 22 teams from Switzerland racing in the regatta, Henrik Dannesboe & Jan Bonhoeffer were top Swiss team today and had an epic duel with Torben Grael & Guilherme De Almeida in the last race. Dannesboe & Bonhoeffer nailed the start and held off the Brazilian team for three legs. However, Grael & De Almeida out foxed the Swiss pair at the very last mark to take the gun pushing the Swiss team into second.

The SSL Lake Grand Slam has a different format to other regattas with a knock-out stage. After the three days of racing, 11 teams will progress. There are few surprises after the first day, with Gold and Silver Stars peppering the top of the leader board. However, the Croatian pair, Marin Misura & Tonko Barac, recovered from a 24th in Race 1, to post 12-3-10 and take 10th place after 4 races. Croatian Ivan Gašpić racing with American Josh Revkin, had a blip in Race 3 but scored 9-5-[37]-6 to take 7th place after the first day.

After 4 races 21 teams have scored top ten finishes, showing the strength in depth of this magnificent field, up to four races are scheduled for tomorrow. Action continues tomorrow with Race 5 scheduled to start at 09:30 (EST). With expert commentary from special studio guests, including Dennis Conner. On the water, the latest in hi-tech camera technology, as well as Virtual Eye 3D Graphics, will provide thrilling viewing. Armchair sailors can also join the race with Virtual Regatta.

300 guests enjoyed last night’s prestigious Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. IOC President, Thomas Bach attended the Press Conference in the presence of Olympic medallists, athletes, ISAF authorities and SSL representatives. “The Athletes and fellow Olympians in this room, are among the greatest in the sport of sailing, and have made a generous donation to the Olympic Museum that we are proud to showcase. I would like to thank SSL Honorary President, Dennis Conner, you are a true legend to sailing, not only for sharing your treasured possessions with us, but also your story and memories. A warm welcome to the Olympic family”.

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Report by Event Media

Michel Niklaus, SSL Coordination and Founder
“For us, the Opening Ceremony was a significant moment for the SSL. We celebrated the sailors in their home; the house of Sport,the Olympic Museum. The presence of IOC President, Thomas Bach, in front of all of these athletes for me represented the most important moment of the week!”

Augie Diaz
“We were very, very fortunate, we had great speed and I think we were able to get off the line on all four races, which will put us in the top 15/20 boats. I think Arnie (Baltins) and I did a nice job reading the wind and positioning ourselves at the right opportunities, not only to just maintain our position but actually gain on some boats. I like all sailing! This is a beautiful spot, today was a great day, it was challenging because there was a lot of wind shifts, but it was very good racing and yes I do love the lake. Arnie and I have a lot of fun sailing together, at this stage and at my age I sail for fun and that’s why I sail with guys like Bruno Prada. Bruno is a lot of fun on the water, he’s always cracking jokes on how old I am and when I fall in the water and Arnie is just a similar character, both great sailors and in fact I call it Prada-Baltins team: that’s the team I’m on!”

Torben Grael
“It was a good day on the water, very tough but brilliant. The wind is not easy here, it’s very shifty, but I like it that way. We had some great starts – for the Racing Committee one was even ‘too’ great – the boat is fast. Today was one of those days where everything fell into place – Black Flag aside. Guillerme (de Almeida) and I rarely have a chance to sail together – last time we were on a Star boat was at the European Championship in Gaeta four months ago and it didn’t go well. My wax statue at the Olympic Museum was a bit too young, I think.. But jokes aside, I am incredibly proud of having my wax statue at the Museum. When I started sailing I could have never imagined one day this could have happened.”

George Szabo
“It’s pretty neat coming here with all these good sailors, it’s awesome to see there’s not just Star sailors out there, seeing everyone else doing good as well. When it got a little lighter there are certain techniques which come into play, if you know what I mean, and when the breeze is up there are some strong guys out there! It was a long day and a different venue, so it’s definitely unique and neat for me. It’s a little tough, as you don’t know what conditions you are going to get, but this lake gave us some fantastic sailing today. It’s even more fun if you come here on a sailboat you haven’t sailed before, with a crew you don’t know, speaking in French, and you have another chore remembering what word to use for trim and ease, but it was fantastic.”

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