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This Article Last Updated: Oct 14th, 2010 - 15:13:49 

The Star Class Olympic Fleet
By Melinda Berge
Jul 25, 2008, 19:40

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The Star and the Olympics
Star Class results at the Olympics
Video of 2008 Star Worlds
ISAF Olympic website

The Star made its Olympic debut in 1932 in Los Angeles. Originally scheduled as an exhibition, a sort of unofficial test of popularity, the Stars were eventually included as one of the regular classes on the 1932 Olympic program and their sailors stole the show. Three out of the four yachting events were won by Star skippers. Aside from the Star series (won by Gilbert Grey of New Orleans with Andrew Labino as crew), Frenchman Jacques Le Brun won the little single-handed one-design (Monotype) crown and Owen Churchill, of the USA, won the Eight Metres at the helm of Babe.

Seventy six years later, 16 teams will be competing in Stars at the 2008 Olympics at Qingdao, China. At the 2007 ISAF World Sailing Championships in Cascais, Portugal, teams representing Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, and the USA qualified for Qingdao. As the Olympic host country, China automatically got a berth.

The results of the 2008 Star World Championships determined the final four teams for the Olympic berths: Austria, Croatia, Ireland and Switzerland were added.

Following is a brief overview of the Star sailors who will be competing in Qingdao. They are the stars of Olympic sailing, with Olympic medals and championship titles in many classes including the Star, Finn and Laser. Many of them have participated in America’s Cups and are on team rosters for upcoming America’s Cup challenges.

The reigning Star World Champion skipper Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) was the 1999 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year for his spectacular performance in the Finn. The 2007 Star World Champion skipper, Robert Scheidt (BRA), was the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year in 2001 and 2004 for his exceptional performance in the Laser. This year Robert Scheidt is honored to be the Olympic flag bearer for Brazil at the Opening Ceremony in Beijing on August 8, 2008.

Photos by Fried Eliot.


Andrew Palfrey and Iain Murray
Iain Murray and Andrew Palfrey

Iain Murray’s Qingdao diet and exercise program has transformed him from Big Fella to a great cyclist. Despite winning numerous 18-foot skiff and Etchells World Championships and being involved with several Australian-based America’s Cup campaigns, this is Murray’s first Olympics. Always involved in the marine industry, Palfrey has been making sure that all of the logistics of doing a campaign from Down Under are taken care of. This is Palfrey’s first Olympics.

Murray Hitches Himself to a Star
Iain Murray plotting Beijing sailing conquest
Giant Trims his Sails to Keep Olympic Dream Alive

Murray and Palfrey are posting their news at www.sailing-dog.com. There is also a video of them at http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/?rn=4275465&ch=&cl=7754764&src=y7sports.


Hans Spitzauer and Christian Nehammer
Hans Spitzauer and Christian Nehammer

After finishing 24th at the 2007 ISAF World Championships, Hans Spitzhauer made sailing their full time jobs. Spitzauer, who finished 4th in the Finn in Savannah and has been to the Olympics three times already, knows what it takes to campaign the right way. Their coach, Alfred Pelinka, has dissected every aspect of their sailing and has been working closely with them this year. They posted a 5th in the Bacardi Cup and masterfully prevented another team that was beating them going into the final race of the 2008 World Championship from securing one of the final Olympic berths.

Star Class article on Spitzauer/Nehammer
Spitzauer/Nehammer um Olympia-Ticket

Spitzauer and Nehammer have a website in German at http://www.sail2peking.at.


Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada
Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada

Not only did Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada win the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships in the Men’s Keelboat last year to be crowned the Star World Champions but they won two other tough regattas that give a clear indication of how they will perform at the Olympics – the 2007 Pre-Olympic Regatta and the Star Rio de Janeiro Championship, which doubled as the Brazilian Trials. They were third at the 2008 Star World Championships in a borrowed boat. They are focused, strong and fantastic in every condition. Scheidt has two Olympic gold medals and one silver for his performances in the Laser at the Atlanta, Athens and Sydney Olympics, respectively. Scheidt will be the flag bearer for the Brazilian Olympic Team at the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing on August 8th.

Seahorse Magazine article on Scheidt/Prada
NBC Olympics article on Scheidt
Photo gallery on Robert Scheidt

Their news is posted at http://www.robertscheidt.com.br/. It is in Portuguese.


Honquan Li and He Wang
Honquan Li and He Wang

What a thrill to represent your country in the Olympics when you are a citizen of the host country! Li and Wang have made progress on their boat handling, equipment and tuning, but they have a long way to go to shift gears as well as the rest of the teams that have qualified for the Olympics. This is their Olympic debut.


Marin Lovrovic Jr. and Sinisa Mikulicic
Marin Lovrovic Jr. and Sinisa Mikulicic

The Lovrovics shared an Olympic dream and the entire family made it happen. Marin Jr. and Sinisa Mikulicic qualified Croatia for the Olympics for 2008. Marin Jr. says that it’s his younger brother, Dan’s turn in 2012. This is the first Olympic appearance for Lovrovic Jr. and Mikulicic. They are part of a ten-member Croatian Olympic sailing team, the largest Olympic sailing squad to ever represent Croatia at the Olympics.


Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau
Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau

They wear the gold star on their sail for their victories in the 2003 ISAF World Championship and their 2005 Star World Championship. These gentlemen are consistent. They sail with stock equipment. They are usually among the top pack at the first weather mark and their conservative sailing, impeccable fleet management skills and tactics enable them to hold their lead or pull into the top three. Rohart and Rambeau were the bronze medalists at the Athens Olympics. Rohart’s first Olympic appearance was in 2000 where he finished 5th in the Finn.

Article on Rohart/Rambeau
NBC Olympics article on Rohart
Photo gallery on Rohart/Rambeau
Dans la tęte de... XAVIER ROHART - LE STAR, C'EST LUI
Xavier Rohart Bio (French)

Rohart and Rambeau have their news at www.xavier-rohart.com.


Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson
Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson

Percy and Simpson came off America’s Cup campaigns, hopped into the Star and qualified Great Britain for the Olympics. They have spent a lot of time working on developing a Mader Star for the Olympic regatta in Qingdao and have demonstrated their speed, tactics and ability to put themselves in controlling situations since April’s 2008 World Championships. This is Percy’s third Olympic appearance. He won the gold medal in the Finn in 2000 and was 6th in the Star in 2004. Simpson started crewing for Percy as part of the Team Origin America’s Cup Team and started crewing in the Star in 2007. This is Simpson’s first Olympic competition, although he was always a strong competitor in the Finn class.

Andrew Simpson

Percy and Simpson have information on their preparations at www.skandiastar.com


Marc Pickel and Ingo Borkowski
Marc Pickel and Ingo Borkowski

Pickel/Borkowski qualified Germany for the Olympics in 2007 with a 7th place finish at the 2007 ISAF World Championships in Cascais, Portugal. They finished 5th at the 2008 Star World Championships in April and have been spending a lot of energy on building their custom designed P-Star. They are close training partners with Americans John Dane III and Austin Sperry and are being coached by two-time Olympic Gold medalist, Mark Reynolds. This is Borkowski’s second Olympic appearance. He has a silver medal from his performance at the Sydney Olympics in the Soling.

Peking 2008 - Pickel und Borkowski nach Peking

Pickel and Borkowski has their information posted at http://www.pinta-racing.com/star/index_eng.html in English and at http://www.pinta-racing.com/star/index_ger.html in German.


Peter O’Leary and Stephen Milne
Peter O’Leary and Stephen Milne
Article on O'Leary/Milne

Youngsters and newcomers to the Star Class, Peter O’Leary and Stephen Milne are on fire. They’ve spent the season trying to keep up with their training partners, Brits Ian Percy and Andrew Simpson, and have shown exceptional speed. They won the final race at the 2008 Star Worlds. O’Leary is from the famous Irish O’Leary sailing family and he was Ireland’s sailor of the year in 2007. Their nomination as the Olympic representatives in Qingdao is a clear signal that they are likely to be in Weymouth for the 2012 Games.


Diego Negri and Luigi Viale
Diego Negri and Luigi Viale

Diego Negri and Luigi Viale won a long and hotly contested Italian Olympic Trials and have had a series of good finishes this spring. Topping the list was their second place finish in the 2008 World Championship in Miami. This is Negri’s third Olympic regatta. He finished 8th and 13th in the Laser at the Sydney and Athens Olympics, respectively.

The Italians are posting news (in Italian) at www.negri-viale.it.


Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams
Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams

The 2006 Star World Champions had an impressive string of regattas in 2006-07. They are in good hands with coach, Rod Davis, who won the 2008 Star Masters Regatta. Pepper was 7th in the Lasers at the 2004 Olympics and has been involved in a number of America’s Cup campaigns. He is a member of BMW Oracle’s afterguard for the 33rd America’s Cup. Williams has joined BMW as a grinder.

Short bio on Hamish Pepper
Short Bio on Carl Williams

Pepper and Williams have an ongoing blog.


Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki
Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki

Kusznierewicz and Zycki go into the Olympics as the 2008 Star World Champions. This is Kusznierewicz’ fourth Olympic Regatta. He collected a gold medal in 1996 and a silver in 2004 in the Finn. He was 4th in the Finn at the Sydney Olympics. Zycki has been in the bow of the Star since Kusznierewicz started sailing a Star. Andy Zawieja has been their coach.

NBC Olympics article on Kusznierewicz
Photo gallery on Kusznierewicz

Mateusz and Domink are posting their updates in Polish at www.kusznierewicz.pl.


Afonso Domingos and Bernardo Santos Plantier
Afonso Domingos and Bernardo Santos Plantier

By winning the 2008 Bacardi Cup, Domingos and Santos are the only Europeans to have won it twice. This is Domingos’ second Olympic appearance. He was 7th in Sydney in the 49ers. Domingos has put on weight and has a bigger crew, in Santos, for this Olympics. They are training partners with the Polish Star sailors.


Flavio Marazzi and Enrico deMaria
Flavio Marazzi and Enrico deMaria

Marazzi has been designing a Star especially for a light air regatta in Qingdao. He’s perfected his boat and he and de Maria have had several performances that are testament to their speed. They led the Olympic Test Event in 2007 for quite a while and have sailed very well this year, including a 4th place finish at the 2008 World Championships. The team was 4th at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and has been obsessed with winning a medal ever since. Marazzi and his wife, Anouk, have just given birth to a baby girl.

Marazzi and de Maria have a website in German at http://www.marazzi-sailing.ch.


Fredrik Loof and Anders Ekstrom
Freddy Loof and Anders Ekstrom

Freddy Loof goes into his third Olympic regatta with bronze medal from Sydney in the Finn. He also is the 2001 and the 2004 Star World Champion helmsman and won the Finn Gold Cup in 1997 and 1999. This is Ekstrom’s second Olympics in the Star with Loof. The pair was 12th in Athens.


Austin Sperry and John Dane
John Dane III and Austin Sperry

At 58, John Dane III is the oldest member of USA’s Olympic Team and he is the oldest sailor at this Olympics. Unlike Ronald Reagan, he does want to exploit the youth and inexperience of his competitors. Austin Sperry was a training partner for Paul Cayard at the Athens Olympics and his athleticism and youthful exuberance are an interesting combination with Dane’s experience. They have fantastic upwind speed.

Summer Games Plus Article on Dane/Sperry
Seahorse Magazine article on Dane/Sperry
NBC Olympics article on Dane
NBC Olympics article on Sperry
Associated Press article on Dane/Sperry
Photo gallery of Dane/Sperry at the Bacardi Cup
ISAF article - John Dane lll - Launching Dreams of All Proportions

You can read about the Americans as they work towards the Games at www.austinsperry.com/blog

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