Robert Scheidt leads Star Europeans
Published on May 15th, 2019
Rival del Garda, Italy (May 15, 2019) – The opening day of the first ever combined Star Sailors League Breeze Grand Slam and Star European Championships began with little-to-no breeze in the morning, but the reliable Ora wind dutifully arrived for two races in which local legend Robert Scheidt with crew Henry Boening (BRA) dominated the overcast day on Lake Garda.
With teams vying for a piece of the $100,000US prize pot, it became obvious that the right hand side of the course was favoured by most teams, with the majority of the fleet lining up at the committee boat end of the line jostling for space.
Clearly this was going to be a classic Garda race with teams vying to get away from the start line in space and be the first to tack at the cliffs on the right of the course, where the pressure was greatest and the wind funnels down the edge of the lake.
Paul Cayard (USA) with crew Arthur Lopes (BRA) timed their run in to the committee boat end to perfection and hit the line at pace. Closest to the committee boat, they also had the space to tack off to the favoured side of the course as, and when, they chose.
Italy’s Diegro Negri sailing with Frithjof Kleen (GER), and Roberto Benamati and Alberto Ambrosini (ITA) both also had strong starts at the committee boat end and got away towards the cliffs in the leading bunch. Five-time Olympic medalist Scheidt was also in the running with this leading pack.
Garda, when the Ora is blowing, can be something of a one-way track and today was no exception. The biggest challenge for the sailors was spotting the layline for the windward mark from a long way out with many losing places by going too far and overstanding.
Scheidt, long known for his downwind prowess was looking quick in these breezy conditions but the skies where starting to clear and the wind was moderating somewhat already. By the bottom mark the Brazilian had moved himself up to third and was hot on the heels of Cayard with Negri still holding on to the lead.
With few passing opportunities these three held onto their positions to the end, with Scheidt pushing on the downwind but not quite having the legs to get away from Cayard ahead.
With the afternoon wearing on, it was a short turnaround to race two but already the breeze was feeling much softer and, at the time of the second start gun at around 15:00, the wind had reduced to the early teens and the sun was finally breaking though the heavy cloud layer.
Once again it was Cayard who nailed the start getting to the committee boat again at speed and showing his America’s Cup skills.
Despite the moderating wind and the funneling effect at the cliffs being much reduced, it was still a fight for the right hand side of the course. Though for this race, with the windward mark moved it was a case of short tacking up the shore with a great many calls for water and shouts of ‘starboard’ echoing off the cliff walls.
One of these port/starboard incidents was, unfortunately very costly with Tom Lofstedt and Anders Ekstrom (SWE), and Gugliemo Danelon and Mattia Gazzetta (ITA) coming together, resulting in the loss of the latter’s rig – something more often seen on Stars going downwind in big breeze.
Once again it was a battle between Scheidt and Cayard near the front of the fleet, this time with Polish Star hero, Mateusz Kusznierewicz with Frederico Melo leading the charge to the first windward mark. And again Scheidt was looking quick downwind and was working hard to try and make the most of his pace on a downwind, which was almost exclusively sailed on port gybe and so limiting the tactical possibilities.
If there was to be an overriding narrative of the day’s sailing then it would be that Cayard was looking particularly strong on the upwinds and Scheidt a force to be reckoned with on the downwinds. That being the case, it was little surprise to see the American at the front of the fleet at the final windward mark of the day, but Scheidt closely followed him with another American, Eric Doyle and his crew Payson Infelise, having worked their way into the top three.
“On the last downwind we all gybed early and I went left, thinking I would protect that side,” explained Cayard after the finish. “But Robert [Schedit] and Eric [Doyle] found a bit more pressure than us and just sailed round the outside.” So it was, that the Brazilian picked up the second race to add to his third, with Doyle in second and Cayard in third.
“I’d say that was a pretty good day at the office,” Cayard said when ashore. “We were really happy with that start in the first race and it was great to do it again in the second too. Sometimes Garda can be a bit one sided on days like today so you really have to fight to be where you want.
“Robert [Scheidt] is one of the greatest downwind sailors in the world but I feel like we had enough to hold him at bay today. And I’ve always been strong upwind so we were happy with our speed there. We’ll see what the rest of the week holds…”
The qualifying series continues tomorrow to determine the top ten overall that advance for the final elimination series on May 19 to be crowned Star European and Sailors League Grand Slam Breeze champion.
Day One Results (Top 10 of 90; 2 races)
1. BRA Robert Scheidt/ Henry Boening, 4
2. USA Paul Cayard/ Arthur Lopes, 5
3. POL Mateusz Kusznierewicz/ Frederico Melo, 8
4. USA Eric Doyle/ Payson Infelise, 11
5. SWE Fredrik Lööf/ Brian Fatih, 17
6. FRA Xavier Rohart/ Pierre-Alexis Ponsot, 17
7. NOR Eivind Melleby/ Joshua Revkin, 20
8. USA Augie Diaz/ Bruno Prada, 23
9. RUS Alexey Zhivotovskiy/ Lev Shnyr, 27
10. GBR Ante Razmilovic/ Brian Hammersley, 32
The 2019 Star European Championship, held in conjunction with the Star Sailors League (SSL) Breeze Grand Slam, has attracted 94 teams to complete on May 15 to 19 in Riva del Garda, Italy.
With 22 nations represented, the field will be vying for not just the European title but also motivated by the 2,500 SSL Ranking points and the lion share of the $100,000 US prize pot. The ranking points determine the competitors that advance to the SSL Finals which last year offered a $200,000 US prize pot.
The format will follow the SSL template with a qualifying series that advance the top ten to a knock-out series that determines the champion.
Day One – May 15
Source: Rachele Vitello