American-Swiss Duo win inaugural Star Sailors League Lake Grand Slam
Published on September 12th, 2015
Grandson, Switzerland (September 12, 2015) – American helm, George Szabo with Swiss crew Patrick Ducommun have won the inaugural Star Sailors League Lake Grand Slam, winning the final race to be crowned Swiss Open Champions and $25,000, a quarter of the $100,000 Prize Purse.
The win also earns the duo 3000 points towards their SSL ranking for the showcase event, the SSL Final in Nassau this December. During the four-boat final the lead changed hands three times and Szabo & Ducommun came from last place to take the lead on the final downwind leg. The win in the final was the first time the team had won any of the eleven races making up the SSL Lake Grand Slam event.
This morning, after a short delay waiting for the breeze to fill in, eleven teams sailed out onto Lake Neuchatel to contest the knock-out stages of the SSL Lake Grand Slam. Mark Mendelblatt & Brian Fatih were the winners of the 68-boat qualifying rounds and sat out the Quarter-final but were out gauging the conditions and sizing up the tactics of the opposition
Ivan Gaspic & Josh Revkin hit the line with the pace for the first race and in free air chose to stay in the middle of the lake, whilst the majority of the fleet headed for the Grandson shore line. All but Torben Grael & Guilherme De Almeida, who banged hard right, which seemed to pay for the Brazilian duo. However there was no holding back, Gaspic & Revkin who extended at the first top mark, to eventually win the race by a hefty margin. Torben Grael & Guilherme De Almeida were second with Augie Diaz & Arnis Baltins, pulling off a phenomenal second top mark rounding, to place third. Reigning Star World Champions, Robert Stanjek & Frithjof Kleen, had a solid race to place fourth and Laser sailor Jean-Baptiste Bernaz racing with his coach, Pascal Rambeau took fifth. For the crucial sixth place, to make the cut, George Szabo & Patrick Ducommun just squeezed out Polish Gold Star Mateusz Kusznierewicz & Dominik Zycki. Also eliminated were: Xavier Rohart & Stefano Lillia, Jorge Zarif & Bruno Prada and Johannes Polgar & Markus Koy.
With the breeze fading, the semi-final featured seven teams, with Mendelblatt & Fatih joining the six qualifiers. After a highly competitive start, four teams chose to take starboard tack to the Grandson shore and three on port towards the other side. Gaspic & Revkin read the conditions and played out some world class strategy in the light airs to win the race, the second in a row. Grael & De Almeida banged hard right again but it was a disastrous move, which they never recovered from. Szabo & Ducommun were fired up to take second place and Mendelblatt & Fatih took third in their opening race of the finals, after a terrific battle with Stanjek & Kleen. Diaz & Baltins, who had also chosen to go to the less favourable side were fifth but eliminated along with Bernaz & Rambeau and Grael & De Almeida.
SSL Lake Grand Slam Final
With a highly competitive start, Mendelblatt & Fatih were gassed out to the right and Stanjek & Kleen decided to go the same way. Szabo & Ducommun and Gaspic & Revkin chose the Grandson shore. Stanjek & Kleen looked to be the first to the top mark but a classic match race tactic by Mendelblatt & Fatih on starboard, forced Stanjek & Kleen about on final approach. Mendelblatt & Fatih led the final for the first downwind leg with Stanjek & Kleen looking to take their breeze. Gaspic & Revkin were some distance behind engaged with Szabo & Ducommun. Strategy on the last upwind leg proved to be decisive. The three leading yachts went for the right hand side but Szabo & Ducommun headed straight for the Cercle du Grandson Yacht Club, Patrick Ducommun home club. By the end of the final beat Szabo & Ducommun just made the top mark ahead of Mendelblatt & Fatih, the USA/Swiss team had gone from last to first. Stanjek & Kleen & Mendelblatt & Fatih battled behind as Szabo & Ducommun extended their lead. Gaspic & Revkin gybed at the spreader mark, throwing the dice but a winning move failed to materialise for the No.1 Finn sailor and the young Star sailor from Connecticut, USA. World Champions, Stanjek & Kleen won the battle for second place with reigning SSL Final winners, Mendelblatt & Fatih. Szabo & Ducommun took the gun, right outside the yacht club to a huge cheer from hundreds of spectators.