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

Szabo and Peters Win 2009 Star World Championship
By Lynn Fitzpatrick, WorldRegattas.com
Aug 8, 2009, 10:04

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Worlds photos by Fried Elliott
Photos by Johan Granath - skoda.se
Overall results to date.

Santoni/Toccoli (ITA) and Miller/Wenk (GER)


Day Seven
Varberg, Sweden (August 8, 2009) - George Szabo and Rick Peters (USA) won the 2009 Star World Championship with a third place finish in the final race of the series. Lars Grael and Ronald Seifert (BRA) won the race by a country mile and the Junior team from Argentina, Alejo Rigoni and Juan Pablo Percossi were second in the race.

Szabo/Peters won the Star Worlds with an average score of six points for the five races in their scoreline. The American team started to the left of a group of contenders for this year's title and played the shifts in the breeze that swung right as it faded. They bore away on the run in sixth place. After they sorted out their sheets and the whisker pole they could look around for their competition. They weren't trailing right behind. They weren't even in sight. Szabo/Peters merely had to stay clean for the rest of the race. Instead, they bettered their score and pulled into third place by the second windward mark.

Peters, who is always one for great lines said of their performance for the day and the week, "The other guys just haven't been to Varberg International Speedway enough. We were 54th the first day and we went the same way every day. We didn't change a thing."

As Szabo peeled off his spray top and guzzled down some water on the way back into the harbor, the accomplishment sunk in. Three weeks after he was born his parents had him in a Star boat and he started steering the boat when he was 16 years old. The Quantum sailmaker form San Diego said, "I've looked at all of the names on that trophy over the years and thought, 'how am I ever going to do that?'"

The team did not change their strategy over the week, nor did they change their sails. "Z4, P2," said Szabo. "Some people find their grove with other sails, but they don't find it across all wind conditions. We sailed with the same sails for the entire regatta and it worked just fine."

Lars Schmidt Grael and Ronald Seifert sailed as if they were leading everyone down to the 2010 Star World Championship in Rio de Janeiro. Talented in light air, Grael steered Seifert, with whom he has been sailing for only a few weeks, to a victory the likes of which are rarely seen. They were well over two minutes ahead of the young Argentineans, who clinched the Junior Champion title with their second place finish for the day.

Many of those who were in contention for the regatta sailed their discard race today. Peters had another message for them, "I can't believe they sailed themselves out of the race. They didn't go to last night's trophy presentation and they go what they deserve. I'll give them a hug anyway." Anticipating that all of the races for the World Championship would have been completed yesterday, VSS held a wonderful trophy presentation and dinner last night in which those collecting trophies also collected a lot of hugs from all of the club's junior volunteers who were on stage to present the awards.Anders Ekström, who had the week of his life sailing with Pelle Petterson, was the first to say how elated he was that Rick Peters won the Star World Championship. "I'm really excited for Rick. He deserves it. He has spent so many years driving Star boats around the world for everyone and has done such a great job at helping to develop his fleet. It's about time. Of course, I'm happy for George too. It has been a long time in coming for both of them."

Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk (NZL) sailed their discard in the final race and finished the regatta seven points behind Szabo/Peters. By winning today's race, Grael/Seifert moved into third place on a countback, tied with Alexander Schlonski and Firthjof Kleen (GER). "It's a good day for SDYC," said Andrew Campbell (USA), who like Szabo sails out of San Diego Yacht Club. Campbell sailed the regatta with Magnus Liljedahl. Campbell/Liljedahl were fifth for the series. Freddy Lööf and Johan Tillander (SWE), local favorites finished a respectable 6th and will have plenty of opportunities to go after Lööf's third Star World Championship title once again.

Alejo Rigoni and Juan Pablo Percossi (ARG) were the top Junior team in the regatta and finished 9th. Andy Macdonald and Brian Fatih (USA), the top Masters, placed 14th; one point ahead of Mats Johansson and Leif Möller (SWE). Ingvar Krook and Henrik Hasselgren (SWE) topped the five other Grand Master teams. Pelle Petterson and Anders Ekström (SWE) beat out Sune Carlsson and Dan Anders Carlsson (SWE) for the Exalted Grand Masters title.

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Day Six H.P. Hylander waits for the wind
Varberg, Sweden (August 6, 2009) - H.P. Hylander was under more pressure today than each of the six teams that have a shot at winning the 2009 Star World Championship. There were zephyrs on the water in the morning when the Star fleet left the harbor and they danced around for hours.

Hylander, the PRO and Regatta Chairman, stood on the Race Committee boat with a Bluetooth phone in his ear, a radio in his hand, binoculars and a hockey puck draped around his neck. He had lots of helpers aboard the RC boat and wind scouts two miles to the south and to the west; the logical directions from which the wind would fill.

Sailors began to shed their neoprene as they baked in the hot Swedish sun.

Occasionally, Hylander's dialogue with his local weather scouts was broken up by calls to meteorologists.

Powerboats cut their engines and drifted.

Sailors took turns snoozing. No cloud formations took shape on any horizon.

When there was wind enough in the starting areas for the Stars to move, Hylander would hail the weather mark boat. Nothing.

Sailors started to hedge their bets and drift toward the Varberg shoreline.

Nothing.

One by one sails were taken down and rolled on decks.

Nothing.

Finally at 1600 the sailors were sent home for the day.

Said Exalted Grand Master, Pelle Petterson, when the racing was cancelled for the day, "This is wonderful. I get to sail a Star for another day."

A prize giving dinner is scheduled for 18:30 this evening and the final race of the 2009 Star World Championship will be sailed on Saturday or Sunday, whenever Hylander is satisfied that the 86-boat fleet can sail a fair race.

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Day Five:
Varberg, Sweden (August 6, 2009) - It was Robert Stanjek's and Markus Koy's (GER) turn to lead the 86-boat 2009 Star World Championship fleet around the race course. The fleet started under a black flag, lots of sunshine, flat water and wind that clocked right, right, right throughout the afternoon. Stanjek and Koy were on pins and needles trying to protect their position against fellow German teammates Jojo Plogar and Tim Kroeger; two-time Star World Champion, Alexander Hagen and Kai Falkentahl. Americans George Szabo and Rick Peters and Kiwis Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk were also a threat throughout the race.

The rest of the fleet was well behind the leading cluster of five, but some of the boats that took a couple of hitches to the left up the final beat threatened to scramble the standings. Big gains and big loses were the story of the day. The most significant come-backs on the day were made by the teams with gold stars who had placed extra emphasis on light air training last year in preparation for the Olympics in Qingdao, China. Swedish favorites, Freddy Lööf and Johan Tillander recovered from a low teens first mark rounding to seventh place. Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (POL) were barely in the top quarter of the fleet and recovered to sixth, and Xavier Rohart and Pierre Alexis Ponsot (FRA), who could easily count the boats behind them during the first weather mark rounding, pulled out a 14th.

"We are so happy," said Robert Stanjek following the race. "We didn't have any extra special speed. It was a very tactical race and we were fortunate that there was only one way to go on each upwind and downwind." Stanjek was also very happy for Jojo Polgar who finished second in the race and is in sixth overall going into the final race. "It was just like ideal Tornado sailing conditions," said Stanjek. "You hit the corner and do one tack. You can't afford to make unnecessary tacks in conditions like these."

The 2009 Star World Championship will be decided in the last race. The 2006 Star World Champion, Hamish Pepper and his crew, Craig Monk have a single point advantage over Americans George Szabo and Rick Peters and Swiss sailors, Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De Maria. Three points behind the Kiwis are the Swedes, Lööf/ Tillander. Andrew Campbell and Magnus Liljedahl (USA) and Polgar/Kroeger are less than 10 points behind the leaders. Pepper/Monk go into the final race with the most consistent scores and the lowest discard (11 points) and are assured of a finish of seventh or better overall.

Throughout the regatta, the Americans have shown strength as a team. They will line up for the deciding race in the series in third, fifth and eighth place overall. Andy Macdonald and Brian Fatih (USA) will have to have an exceptional race to make it into the top 10, but are in a close race against Mats Johansson and Leif Möller (SWE) to win the Masters Trophy.

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Day Four
Varberg, Sweden (August 5, 2009) - Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk have been teamed up since the Delta Lloyd Regatta earlier this spring and much of the time Pepper has been under the weather and Monk has been in wonderment about being back on the Olympic sailing circuit since competing in the Finn for New Zealand in the 1996 Olympics. Yesterday's day off from sailing meant rest and relaxation and they resuscitated the Kiwi Magic of 2006 and 2007 when Pepper won the San Francisco Star World Championship and was in the hunt at every regatta.

Pepper and Monk not only won today's first race, they also came out of the day atop the leaderboard following the completion of four races. They popped off the boat end of the starting line and took the express lane up the right hand side of the course with the current propelling them forward in flat (and shallower) water. Others, in the middle of the course, struggled against the current in the light air. The Kiwis followed Mark Mendelblatt and Mark Strube (USA) around the weather mark and overcame the Americans' 40-second lead on the run after Mendelblatt and Strube gybed toward the inside for what looked like more pressure. It was just the break that the Kiwis needed to take the lead and stay in a controlling position for the remainder of the race.

Following the race, Pepper said, "We sailed pretty conservatively today. It's easy to lose boats in this fleet and in these conditions."

The American team was quite pleased with their performance during the first race. Mendelblatt/Strube took second. George Szabo and Rick Peters were third and Andrew Campbell and Magnus Liljedahl were fourth.

The Germans had their day in the sunshine too. During the second race of the day, Race 4 of the series, the Germans had four boats in the top ten. Johannes Polgar and Tim Kroeger were fourth, Alex Schlonski and Frihjof Kleen were fifth, Matthias Miller and Benedikt Wenk were seventh and Johannes Babandererde and Timo Jacobs pulled out a ninth place finish in a race in which the pressure was up and down and the current continued to be a factor, albeit the breeze had filled to 8-10 knots in the afternoon sun.

Polgar/Kroeger were low point for the day with a 7, 4. Said Polgar, "We had a clear picture in our minds before we went out today. We also had two good starts." Polgar, who spent years sailing Tornados at an Olympic level and transferred into the Star this spring, said, "it is nice to finally be sailing with the leaders after being in another class for so long. I hope that Tim and I and the rest of the Germans can keep the good sailing alive through the remainder of the week."

The lead in Race 4 was passed from Xavier Rohart and Pierre Alexis Ponsot (FRA) to Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De Maria (SUI) during the second beat, and Marazzi/De Maria held on for the bullet. Marazzi/De Maria are in fourth place overall after four races, but are likely to be sitting pretty when teams are able to discard their worst race following the completion of five races. The Swiss have three finishes in the top three and one deep score.

Despite ending the day on a low note, Mendelblatt/Strube are in second overall and Andrew Campbell and Magnus Liljedahl are in third. Campbell, a rookie in the Star Class, is sailing with Liljedahl, an Olympic Gold Medalist and Star World Champion. Said Liljedahl earlier in the week, "I've sailed with fifteen Olympic medalists and I've already learned things from Andrew. He is incredibly calm and level-headed in a boat." Campbell agreed saying, "We're learning a lot from each other and every race is an improvement. It's a pleasure to sail with someone with so much experience and enthusiasm."

Race 5 of the 2009 Star World Championship in Varberg, Sweden is scheduled for Thursday, August 6, 2009.

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Day Three: Racing was canceled on August 4th due to lack of wind. Race 3 is scheduled for Wednesday, August 5th.

The warning signal for Race 3 is scheduled for 10:55 and the warning signal for Race 4 will be given as soon as possible after the completion of Race 3.

There is no change to the schedule for the Mid-week Trophy Presentation and Dinner on Tuesday evening.

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Varberg, Sweden (August 3, 2009) - An American team led around every mark of the second race of the 2009 Star World Championship. Mark Mendelblatt and Mark Strube (USA) suffered a little more heartbreak today as they watched their 100 + yard lead vanish during a second run on which the fleet experienced a bit of rotation, shiftiness and the crossing of a current line. While Mendelblatt/Strube went high on the run, George Szabo and Rick Peters (USA), Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De Maria (SUI) and Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) went low and found the passing lane. The three kept their jets on and played the right side up the final beat in 4-5 knots of lumpy swells and rainy gray conditions.

Scheidt/Prada approached the finish line from the starboard layline and tried to time shooting the line with the precision of Michael Phelps gliding into the wall, but Szabo/Peters were able to slowly chug across the finish line on port and pull off the win. In Szabo's words, "What a difference a day makes." He was quite pleased with the San Diego-like conditions and the win as opposed to his 54th yesterday.

Marazzi/De Maria showed independent thinking on the runs, around gates and up weather legs to move into fifth by the bottom of the first run and continue to hold their own while others slid or went into a free fall ahead of them.

Today's race got under way under a black flag following a long postponement on shore, an abandoned race due to a big shift immediately after the start, a general recall. Gray, wet, gloomy, chilly and limited visibility sum up the afternoon. Irish crew, Anthony Shanks, was emphatic and not sarcastic when he said, "you needed aids to navigation out there." The Swedish and Danish shorelines disappeared with the mist and the rain and many got disoriented with all of the shifts.

After two races, Marazzi/De Maria are leading by posting a predictably consistent 3, 3. Freddy Lööf and Johan Tillander parlayed a mid teens first beat into a fifth by the end of the race and remain in second place overall with a 2, 5 so far in the series. Mendelblatt/Strube are in third with 12 points. Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (POL) have settled into fourth place after posting a 12 for the day. Despite dropping from second at one point in today's race to ninth, Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk (NZL) are in fifth overall with 20 points.

Racing continues on Tuesday with the third race of the 2009 Star World Championship in Varberg, Sweden.

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Race One - August 2, 2009
Varberg, Sweden (August 2, 2009) - Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (POL) started off the 2009 Star World Championship the same way they began the 2008 Star World Championship. They finished with a bullet after getting off to a great pin end start, rounding the first weather mark in the lead, loosely covering the fleet and maintaining a margin of nearly a minute.

When Kusznierewicz was asked about the similarity between this year's start to the World Championship and last year's he said, "We'll see about tomorrow." Kusznierewicz/Zycki stunned everyone in 2008 when they won the second race of the World Championship series also.

Recapping the race Kusznierewicz commented, "It feels a bit surreal. We have taken such a long break that we're sticking to the basics and we see things more clearly. The race was not that simple, but it seemed simple in retrospect." The defending Star World Champions worked on their settings once they got out on the water and then focused on getting a good start. They were pretty confident with the current and the shore effect and didn't see any odd clouds that would affect the fleet radically. After punching out to an awesome pin end start, they held their lane and kept the lead.

Giving them a run for their money were local favorites, Freddy Lööf and Johan Tillander (SWE). The Swedes came from double digits at the end of the first of three laps and rumbled around the right leeward gate with speed while many of the other teams fought the waves and the current. Said Lööf, "We were fast downwind and we had pretty good upwind speed." Lööf also was releived to have racing under way, stating that the team had "a good buildup to racing with the family being here through Thursday and switching into racing mode on Friday."

The fight for third as the breeze fell from 12- 14 knots at the start to about 7 knots at the finish, was fierce. Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De Maria (SUI) scooped the two young German teams of Johannes Bambandererde and Timo Jacobs and Matthias Miller and Benedict Wenk on the final beat.

The top North American team was Mark Mendelblatt and Mark Strube (USA). After squirting out in the lead with Kuznierewicz/Zycki around the first weather mark the Americans gradually slid to eighth place in the 85-boat fleet.

Top ten:
1. Kusznierewicz/Zycki (POL)
2. Loof/Tillander (SWE)
3. Marazzi/DeMaria (SUI)
4. Banbandererde/Jacobs (GER)
5. Miller/Jacobs (GER)
6. Santoni/Toccoli (ITA)
7. Celon/Natucci (ITA)
8. Mendelblatt/Strube (USA)
9. Schlonski/Kleen (GER)
10. Johansso/Möller (SWE)

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Practice Race - August 1:
Less than 1/2 of fleet sails practice race in dying breeze

Varberg, Sweden (August 1, 2009) - Watch all four Brazilian teams at the 2009 Star World Championship, because they rounded the first weather mark of the Practice Race 1, 2, 3, 4. While you might expect Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada or maybe even Lars Grael and Ronald Siefert to have been in the lead, they weren't. Instead, Andre Mirsky and Marcello Jordao set the pace throughout the first, and only lap sailed of the light air race in lumpy seas. Horacio Carabelli and Ubiratan Matos rounded the top mark right behind Mirsky/Jordao. Scheidt/ Prada rounded third and Grael/Seifert were fourth.

At the bottom of the run Mirsky/Jordao passed the leeward gate ahead of Brian Cramer and Matt Johnson (CAN). Carabelli/Matos was third, and Scheidt/Prada and Grael/Seifert went into the left gate overlapped with Grael/Seifert on the outside. Rather than heading back up for another two laps and miss the Opening Ceremony, where ISAF Göran Petersson, declared open the 2009 Star World Championship, the boats headed toward the Varberg castle at the mouth of the inner harbor.

Who are Mirsky and Jordao? These members of the Rio de Janeiro fleet are sailing a Mader Star, and their years of sailing big boats together rewarded them second and third place finishes at the IMS World Championships in 2007 and 2008. This is their first Star championship together. Mirsky won his 2008 District Championship and won a Silver Star in 2007 and 2008. Jordao seems to be the Brazilians' utility Star crew and made regular appearances last year with Grael.

Carabelli/Matos are also members of the Rio fleet. Carabelli, a South American champion Snipe sailor in the 1980's and early 1990's, turned IMS sailor and Volvo Ocean Race sailor, is barely a month removed from winning the 2008/09 Volvo Ocean Race with Torben Grael aboard Ericsson 4. Matos is another Brazilian Star crew who has sailed with Brazil's best.

Grael holds leadership positions on an off of the racecourse. Not only has he been working on the Argo Challenge project that would field an America's Cup team comprised mainly of disabled sailors, in which he would be the skipper, he will be heading up a Brasil 1 Volvo Ocean Race for 2011/2012. You can that Brazilian Star sailors will populate the boat. Grael and Seifert have been teamed up for three weeks.

As for Scheidt, no introduction is needed for one of the World's all time best sailors. Prada has been with Scheidt throughout the pair's incredible Star career.

District 7 has produced a number of great Star sailors and Star World Champions over the years. As the 2010 Star World Championship in Rio grows closer, you can be sure that the fleet members will be training hard among themselves and welcoming sparring partners from all over the world. Many North American and European sailors are marking their calendars for November 24th-29thwhen the South American Championship takes place. Training with the Brazilians will continue right through the 2010 World Championship, which runs from January 12th-23rd.




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