Harken Derm

Brazilians win Star Sailors League Finals

Published on December 8th, 2018

Nassau, Bahamas (December 8, 2018) – After 5 days of competition for 25 elite teams, the Star Sailors League Finals witnessed a Brazilian crew claiming victory for the second time, but on this occasion it was not the bookies’ choice.

Olympic legend Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening were favourites going into this event and completely dominated the last four days of Qualifier rounds on Montagu Bay, but today it was Jorge Zarif and Pedro Trouche who won every stage of the knock out rounds to take the title.

Aged 26 and 27 respectively, Zarif, the reigning Star World Champion and 2013 Finn Gold Cup winner, and Trouche, are the first crew younger than 40 to win the annual event that aims to determine the top ‘star’ of the sailing world.

“We are surprised we had this kind of dominance, because the level is so high,” admitted Zarif. “We sailed our best today. We gave 100%, hiking and pumping the whole time and that definitely made the difference. It is a privilege to be here and a privilege to beat those guys.”

Racing today for the top ten teams took place under an overcast sky with the course moved inside the bay due to a brisk easterly gusting at times to 20 knots.

The day kicked off with the eight quarter-finallists doing battle. Zarif and Trouche won this with the bottom three – Paul Cayard/Arthur Lopes, Lars Grael/Samuel Goncalves and Freddy Lööf/Edoardo Natucci eliminated; Cayard so dominant yesterday was hampered after picking up a penalty on the first beat.

The young Brazilians next won the 6-boat Semi Finals in which the top three would advance to the Finals. In this Mark Mendelblatt/Brian Fatih, whose second place at the end of the Qualifiers yesterday had fast tracked them directly to the Semis, lost out despite finishing the race overlapped with Eivind Melleby (NOR) and Joshua Revkin (USA).

Mendelblatt and Fatih, the two-time Star Sailors League Finals winners, were eliminated along with French duo Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot and Polish Olympic legend Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Życki.

The stage was now set for the 4-boat Finals that had Brazilians Robert Scheidt and Henry Boenig, which had automatically earned the Finals berth by winning the qualifiers, meet Zarif/ Trouche, Melleby Revkin and Diego Negri (ITA)/ Frithjof Kleen (GER) in the one race, winner take all format.

Up the first beat of the Final, Scheidt made what the Olympic sailing star admitted was in retrospect a mistake: he tacked on Italian-German duo Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen, instead of having continued on to the right to take on his fellow countrymen. In the end, the two teams fought it out for second and third spot, with Scheidt/ Boening crossing the line ahead of Negri/ Kleen.

“If we had crossed and gone all the way to him, then we would have got the leftie, but these are decisions you have to make in a second,” admitted Scheidt. He added of the winners and his compatriots: “They fully deserved today. They won three races by a large margin. They were fast and sailing well both upwind and downwind. Jorge has a bright future ahead of him.”

While Cayard managed to turn on the afterburners yesterday having made rig adjustments the previous night, Zarif and Trouche also had given their slender spar and rigging a thorough going-through last night. Zarif said this made all the difference: “We had good starts, with great upwind speed and that made the job less difficult. We could put ourselves into a position where we could control the fleet a lot of the time.”

While they had speed, it had also been a huge physical effort for the young Brazilians: “We hiked super hard and we pumped super hard and that made a difference today. I am super tired now.”

While this was Zarif’s fourth participation in the Star Sailors League Finals, this was his crew Pedro Trouche’s first. Remarkably, it was also the first time he and Zarif had sailed together, although they have known each other since they trained together in the Laser in 2005. Zarif’s World Championship winning crew Guilherme de Almeida was tied up this week with his wedding.

“It is the biggest thing I have won,” admitted Trouche, who next intends to compete in February’s inaugural Star Junior World Championship in Miami. “I have never sailed at a level like this before. It is the first time I have beaten Robert [Scheidt]. That is a nice feeling! He is a legend. I am very happy.”

The format had qualification rounds for all 25 crews on December 4 to 7, with the top ten advancing to the knockout stages with the Quarter Final, Semi Final and Final Races on December 8. The win by Zarif and Trouche earned them US$ 40,000 from a prize pot of US$ 200,000.

All the action was available live and free streaming on internet with expert commentary from special studio guests. To watch online… click here.

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Entry List:
Iain Percy (GBR) – Anders Ekström (SWE)
Šime Fantela (CRO) – Antonio Arapović (CRO)
Robert Scheidt (BRA) – Henry Boenig (BRA)
Freddy Lööf (SWE) – Edoardo Natucci (ITA)
Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) – Dominik Życki (POL)
Max Salminen (SWE) – Johan Tillander (SWE)
Paul Cayard (USA) – Arthur Lopes (BRA)
Diego Negri (ITA) – Frithjof Kleen (GER)
Pavlos Kontides (CYP) – Markus Koy (GER)
Tonči Stipanović (CRO) – Frederico Melo (POR)
Gerogy Shayduko (RUS) – Vitalii Kushnir (UKR)
Lars Grael (BRA) – Samuel Gonçalves (BRA)
Xavier Rohart (FRA) – Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (FRA)
Jorge Zarif (BRA) – Pedro Trouche (BRA)
Ruggero Tita (ITA) – Enrico Voltolini (ITA)
Zsombor Berecz (HUN) – Michael Maier (CZE)
Kevin Peponnet (FRA) – Mark Strube (USA)
Hamish Pepper (NZL) – Steve Mitchell (GBR)
Francesco Bruni (ITA) – Nando Colaninno (ITA)
Mark Mendelblatt (USA) – Brian Fatih (USA)
Eivind Melleby (NOR) – Joshua Revkin (USA)
Geroge Szabo (USA) – Roger Cheer (CAN)
Augie Diaz (USA) – Bruno Prada (BRA)
Ondřej Teplý (CZE) – Antonis Tsotras (GRE)
Guido Gallinaro (ITA) – Kilian Weise (GER)

About STAR SAILORS LEAGUE (SSL)
The Star Sailors League is a World Sailing Special Event that organises elite championships with substantial prize money to celebrate today’s heroes and to honour the legends of our sport. Our SSL Ranking, SSL Grand Slams and annual SSL Finals are inspired by tennis and give the public an exciting and easy to understand format for competition among individual athletes. Our SSL Nations Gold Cup is our biennial grand finale to crown the world’s top sailing nation. The SSL Nations Gold Cup uses the same nationality principles as the Olympic Games to provide a country against country championship like the World Cup in football. Star Sailors League shines the spotlight on the athletes and arouses the sporting passions of national pride.

Source: Rachele Vitello, SSL

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