Star European Championship Final Reports
By Lars Lantz and Jan Walker
Aug 12, 2005, 12:00
Overall results and report by Per Ekborg
Additional report by Jan Walker of Regatta Active Images and the photos:
Preview day, Day 1, Day 2, lay day, Day 4, Day 5.
Report by Lars Lantz:
Preview of the regatta
First day/Two Races
Second day/Races three and four
Third day/Race five
Day four: Swedes Lööf/ Ekström take Stars EC silver medals
Finishing third in the sixth and final race of the 2005 Star Class European Championship 2004 champions Lööf/ Ekström secured the silver medals when their main opponents, French pair Rohart/ Rambeau crossed the finishing line three positions further back.
Lööf/ Ekström were among the leading boats already at the first mark and easily managed to keep their position ahead of Rohart/ Rambeau who had to finish two positions ahead of the Swedes to reach the silver medals.
The 2005 World champions now had to settle for bronze medals, five points behind the Swedes.
Convincing winners of the final race were Germans Alexander Hagen/ Kay Falkenthal who were in the lead already after the first lap of the No. “3” upwind/ downwind course and from there had no problems increasing their lead to take the final gun.
Clear championship winners, already after the fifth race were Brits Ian Percy/ Steve Mitchell, who by wins in both 3rd and 4th races had established a lead in points which could not be reached.
Best home crew outside the medal positions were Johansson/ Möller who finishing 10th in the final race captured a final 10th position among the 67 boats competing in the championship
Third day: Percy/ Mitchell capture 2005 Star EC honours
The new Star Class European Champions are Brits Ian Percy and Steve Mitchell who, finishing in sixth position in the 5th race established a lead in points, which could not be reached by any of their main opponents.
In the morning the 67-boat fleet left the dock in a light, 6-knot westerly breeze, which before the start had built to 10 knots. The open sea of Kattegatt, west off Varberg showed light chop on top of customary swells along with a steady current, going north.
It took the race committee four starting attempts and two black flags to get the fleet off the line why a number of boats were forced to head for the shore.
The race was convincingly won by the Swiss brothers Daniel and Beat Stegmeier who chosed the right hand side of the course on the first upwind leg where a 10 degree shift from right took them to a clear lead which they gradually increased to the finishing line.
Second were French champions Rohart/ Rambeau who passed Polish Finn champions Kusznierewicz/ Zycki just before the finish line.
Italians Gatti/ Cristaldini gained their best placing of the week, finishing fourth.
2004 champions Lööf/ Ekström captured fifth position, loosing their chances for a total win but still remaining in the race for the silver or bronze medals.
The final 6th race of the championship will be sailed Friday, August 12th to decide the silver and bronze medals but certain gold medallists ashore the final EC day are Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell, UK.
Second Day/Races 3 and 4
The second racing day of the 2005 Star Europeans offered considerably stronger winds than the opening day when the time limit barely was held in the closing race.
On their way to the course the 67 crews could enjoy a fairly light NV breeze, which however within short increased to some 7- 10 m/s and even more in the gusts.
Due to a steady southerly current against the wind a steep chop was built on top of the swells, conditions that put both crews and boats to a test during the double races of the day. Not surprisingly a number of boats had to retire, both due to break-downs and collisions.
There was great excitement prior to the first start when Swedish championship defenders Lööf/ Ekström dropped their jib and had to climb the mast of the starting vessel to make the sail stay up.
Even bigger problems were suffered by the 2005 World Champions Rohart/ Rambeau who could not get their mainsail up at the start and therefore finally crossed the starting line in very last position. Triggered by this the multiple champions performed a remarkable recovery, throughout the race, finally reaching 14th position at the finish.
Except for heavy winds and steep sea both competitors and sailing committee were facing severe problems during several starting attempts with the steady current, which repeatedly pushed the fleet across the line to general recalls.
After several attempts the race committee finally chose to set the black flag which got the fleet on their way even if a number of premature starters suffred disqualification.
When their some of their main opponents suffered major problems the UK team of Percy/ Mitchell were not late to take advantage and sailed a consistent race earning them a clear win in the first race of the day.
Also US team Mendelblatt/ Strube appeared as potential winners when they captured a useful 2nd place to be added to their 1st from the opening race of the championship.
The Austrians Spitzauer/ Luzlbauer showed good speed and tactics finishing 3rd as their best placing so far in the regatta.
After their severe pre-start problems Swedes Lööf/ Ekström finally finished in 7th place.
Facing the second race of the day both winds and sea had built considerably why the race committee chosed triangle course ”O” which offered thrilling surfs to the many enthusiastic dinghy sailors which you nowadays find in the Star class.
That the conditions mentioned suited the prior race winners Percy/ Mitchell just fine which was obvious also in the second race which they won convincingly, taking a firm grip of the championship title.
The French pair Rohart/ Rambeau took immediate revenge for the preceding race when they passed Swedes Lööf/ Ekström just before the line capturing second place in the race
After four out of six races completed the championship lead is held by Brits Percy/ Mitchell but with a final worst race discard also Swedes Lööf/ Ekström and US team Mendelblatt/ Strube have a clear possibility for a championship win.
Most likely the following fifth race will be fully decisive for which of these crews that may challenge the leaders, Percy/ Mitchell for the championship title at stake.
Light opening day of 2005 Star Europeans
The opening day of the 2005 European Star Championship offered light and shifting breezes but the organisers, Varbergs Sailing Club finally managed to complete double races as scheduled.
Totally 67 entries representing 22 nations showed up on the starting line in the opening race which was started in a light, 2-4 m/s breeze with light chop on old swell in the open sea of Kattegatt, west of Varberg on the Swedish westcoast.
Not mentioned among the favourites the first race presented an interesting win by US Olympic Laser competitor Mark Mendelblatt and crew Mark Strube who convincingly won the race with 2005 World Champions Rohart/ Rambeau finishing second.
Further behind UK Olympic Finn Champion Ian Percy and Steve Mitchell made an impressive recovery from a 30th position at the first top mark to a final 5th position.
Swedish favourites and 2004 Champions, Fredrik Lööf and Anders Ekström finally captured third place after having topped the race during the first leg.
Among 17 Swedish home crews former Olympic team Johansson/ Möller sailed a consistent race, finishing in 8th place.
The second race of the day showed even lighter winds and combined with a steady one knot current the race winners finally managed to beat the time limit of 3,5 hours with just some 6 minutes to go.
Winners were Portuguese pair Domingos/ Santos who were among the leading boats, from the first mark but the lead frequently changed all way around the No. 3 upwind/ downwind course.
Close behind were German crews Schiffer/ Heutschel and initial leaders Hagen/ Falkenthal, who finished second and third respectively.
Best Swedish crew was Schröder/ Hemlin finishing 7th when favourites Lööf/ Ekström having a miserable start only reached 23rd; a race they simply will have to discard in order to remain contenders for yet another championship title.
In the lead after the first two races are the Portuguese pair Domingos/ Santos, 3 points ahead of Percy/ Mitchell and Austrians Spitzauer/ Luzlbauer in third position, another 8 points down.
Another double header is to be sailed the following day, Tuesday, August 9th, and 6 races total are scheduled to be sailed during five days of racing.
2005 Stars EC in Varberg attracts record number in entries
Facing the peak of European Star sailing in 2005 the organising club, Varbergs SS are proud and excited to present an entry list displaying a 21st century record breaking, impressive number of 76 EC entries, representing totally 22 nations.
Not unexpectedly Swedish entries are dominating in numbers closely followed by Germany and with few exceptions the entry list shows competitors from all of Europe as well as remote nations as India and Columbia.
"We are indeed happy to host a highly qualified fleet of this size; an interest which is both inspiring and confirms the trust put in our club as a championship organiser for the Star Class. As long as winds and weather may co- operate I am confident that we will carry out a successful championship series", says H- P Hylander; international regatta manager of Varbergs SS.
Among the top contenders for yet another EC title are the Swedes Lööf/ Ekström, who except for their EC victories in 2001 and 2002 also captured the EC and WC titles in the past 2004 season.
They however are likely to face tough competition from French multiple World Champions, Rohart/Rambeau, who captured yet another WC victory in February this year to their previous one from 2003. This French pair in recent years have displayed an impressive consistency, capturing medals at almost every WC event.
Other strong contenders for the EC title will be UK Olympic Finn medallist Ian Percy with crew Steve Mitchell; 2002 Star World champions who since have been close and fierce challengers to Lööf/ Ekström among the top Star teams.
The last time the Stars EC was sailed in Varberg in 1997, the championship title was captured by Olympic gold medallists to come, Reynolds/ Liljedahl. This time US representatives will be former North American Star and Snipe Champion George Zabo, sailing with Swedish 2001 WC championship crew, Christian Finnsgård as well as 2004 US Olympic Laser representative, Mark Mendelblatt, sailing with Zabo’s ordinary crew, Mark Strube.
Among the many Swedish entries are 70 year old Star veteran, Sune Carlsson who won his first, out of totally 6 national championships, already in 1954 and who has been racing the Star faithfully since, reaching a 1977 WC silver medal as a major success.
Another senior competitor is Swedish veteran Börje Larsson who has been racing the Star for almost half a century and who captured the EC title already in 1969. Both Sune Carlsson and Börje Larsson were among the competitors when the Stars EC first were hosted by Varbergs SS in 1966.
In terms of merits the 2005 EC entry list contains totally 9 Olympic representatives, 5 Worlds - but only 4 previous European champions so there definitely is a good possibility that the 2005 EC series may show a new championship winning crew.
The first out of a total of 6 races of the EC series will be sailed, Monday, August 8th and the championship series are planned to be completed on Friday, August 12th.
Regatta report by Jan Walker of Regatta Active Images:
Varberg is in a beautiful area of Sweden with a clarity of light that makes even "ordinary" scenes almost breathtaking. The regatta is being held at the town yacht club, which is on a point of land opposite the town and its famous old fortress/museum. Impressive facilities and above all lots of space! The event has been well organized, with dozens of cheerful volunteers to prevent problems and serve up vats of food when hungry sailors come back from the course. The Swedes have been wonderful, warm, welcoming, demonstrating their skill and experience in hosting this regatta.
On Sunday, the scheduled afternoon practice race was cancelled due to very threatening weather forecast and conditions. Then, as these things often happen, the weather cleared by the coast and some boats went out to practice. In the evening, opening ceremonies were held in town, complete with flag bearers and a band concert. This was followed indoors by a fine buffet and welcoming remarks from ISAF president Goran Petersson. Also attending was the legendary Pelle Petterson, industrial and yacht designer, sponsor, and Star sailor (world champion and two Olympic medals).
Monday August 8, was the first day of racing with two races scheduled. The weather looked quite threatening at first but gradually cleared to visually gorgeous conditions. The winds however were another story -- from the south rather than the usual northwest, becoming progressively lighter during the day and tricky in constant chop and current. The first beat of the second race took a full hour and it was not clear that the race would actually be completed within the time limit.
Tuesday, August 9, the second day, had two races scheduled. Very different conditions, with the wind back to its normal northwest direction and strong current left over from the earlier south winds. Two races were completed, with steadily increasing winds and seas. Sailors endured postponement, general recalls, and various stresses on their rigs. As the pictures show, the racing was fast and exhilarating with crowded noisy mark roundings.
After those challenges, people really needed the layday on Wednesday the 10th. The day was grey and quiet, with some heavy rain at times.
Thursday, August 11, brought the fifth race. This race is definitive because after it, people have a throwout and the positions clarify somewhat. The winds were moderate with big seas at an angle to the wind and strong currents underneath. The start featured three general recalls, one under black flag, before a successful start. At the end of the day, Percy & Mitchell had wrapped up first place in the championship and were able to sit out the final day of racing.
Friday, August 12, and the last race. Dull drizzly conditions in the morning, which didn't improve any as the day went along -- decreasing winds with increasing rain. Finally at the end of the day, there was some serious racing for the hoists under full downpour. Starting was a challenge today, with the race finally taking off on the sixth try after five general recalls, two of them under black flag. After five legs, Alexander Hagen won both the race and the Masters' title.
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