Photos courtesy of Amory Ross, Chris Ray, Erik Simonson and Fried Elliott.
Day Six report from Slade Communications for St. Francis YC: Hamish Pepper & Carl Williams Take NZ’s First Gold Star in the Wells Fargo Private Bank Star World Championships 2006
In a classic nail biting finish where one small wave would have made a difference to the points standing between those fighting to take home a gold star today, New Zealand won its first Star World Championship. The trophy went to skipper Hamish Pepper and crew Carl Williams, with 19 points on the board. Racing got underway just after noon in cold, gray and cloudy conditions, with the breeze a steady westerly of 10-12, with occasional puffs to 15 knots.
Brazilians Robert Scheidt and Bruno took second place (22 points), while defending champions Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau (FRA), took third place (23 points), Andy Horton and Brad Nichol (USA), took fourth (30 points), and Fredrik Loof and Ander Ekstrom (SWE), took fifth place (40 points).
For a country that hasn’t won a world championship in an Olympic class since 2002, today’s win was a huge victory for New Zealand. Dockside at the St Francis Yacht Club, the Blue Angels buzzing the club overhead with ceremonious good timing, an ecstatic Pepper said, “We’re absolutely excited, it’s fantastic! It’s been our week and we’re fortunate that it’s the world champs. They are great boats – an old design that have come through the years well and are challenging to sail. The people involved in the fleet are fantastic to be with and it’s a great atmosphere.”
Pepper is a relative newcomer to this fleet deep in talent and has only been sailing the Star since January. Williams has had a grand total of 35 days in the class but with Australian David Giles coaching the team they’ve come a long way in a short time.
The other Kiwi team Rohan Lord and Addy Miles, also relatively new to the class, performed tremendously taking 6th place overall in the 66-strong highly qualified fleet.
The venerable Mark Reynolds, two-time Olympic gold medalist in the Star, and competitor of well over 20 Star World Championship events, had a somewhat different ending to the regatta as his crew Hal Haenel left at 4am to join his wife who gave birth to a 9lb baby boy this morning. Stepping in for Haenel today was Magnus Liljedahal, with whom Reynolds won the Olympic gold in 2000.
“We were doing great this morning, crossing tacks with Iain Percy at the top of the fleet when three quarters of the way up the first beat we broke our headstay and so were done for the day. We were looking forward to a top 10 finish but you win some and lose some, that’s why we sail so many of these! Like other Olympic sports it’s getting tougher and tougher to do well in this fleet but we’ve been lucky with the Star in that we have talented people coming in from other classes – the Finn, the Laser, the 49’er – and they are all champions in those classes so the depth just keeps on going.”
For St Francis Yacht Club members Steve Gould and Greg Sieck, this wasn’t the week where local knowledge paid off out on the race course. Commented Sieck, “We had fun up but our performance has been up and down as it’s been tough, not the usual San Francisco conditions. We’ve been at this a long time, our boat’s wonderful but we don’t have a full program. We did make the first mark in first position on the first day which was great, we improved daily with today being our best. It was fantastic to be close to home and the club did a great job.”
Day Six report from Sail-World: Kiwis take the glory in Star Worlds
New Zealand’s Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams have taken the 2006 Wells Fargo World Star Championship being sailed in San Francisco.
The second New Zealand crew of Rohan Lord and Miles Addy have finished in a tie for fifth place, in the Olympic two man keelboat. which was broken in favour of today’s race winner Fredrik Loof and Anders Ekstrom (SWE).
As the Blue Angels practiced over the Berkeley Circle for the Air Show, the two Kiwi crews must have felt an angel on their respective shoulders as they picked their way through the toughest of the Olympic classes, containing some 20 World Champions and ten Olympic medalists.
The race today was a very close run thing with on the water observers reporting that just one point separated Pepper/Williams from the title with Xavier Rohart (FRA) and Robert Scheidt (BRA) all very much in contention.
Going up the final beat, Pepper and Williams sailed a very smart tactical race, although trailing Robert Scheidt and crew Bruno Prada. The New Zealanders stayed in close contact with the Brazilians mindful that there was just a seven point margin to be spent.
On the line Freddie Loof and Anders Ekstrom (SWE) were first, with Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell (GBR) making amends for a mare of a regatta by taking second place.
Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau (FRA), finished third and were the first home of the two competitors that were a serious threat to the Kiwi title.
Scheidt and Prada (BRA) were next home in fourth and then began the nervous wait for Pepper and Williams to cross the line. To cut a long story short, the Kiwis came in eighth, which gave them just three places to spare to avoid the tiebreaker, which they would have won on the basis of having two race wins.
However to underline the closeness of the finishing and the nervousness of the Kiwi spectators, Rohan Lord and Miles Addy crossed the line in 14th place, however there were six other Star boats within a length of the line and the finishing whistle was sounding near continuously.
The win for Pepper and Williams is one of the amazing stories of sailing that will outlive this regatta. Certainly for this scribe, the conversation with Hamish Pepper on Takapuna Beach in December last year, when he told Sail-World that he was going to start his Star boat campaign. Somehow it all seemed a little far-fetched. A thought that was echoed by Yachting NZ Olympic Director, Rod Davis, who was standing alongside. Davis commented 'plenty of people talk about doing a Star campaign, just get out and do it.'
Davis a long-time Star sailor, and with an Olympic Gold medal in the Soling keelboat (1984), and an Olympic Silver in the Star (1992), had some more advice for the yet-to-start campaign ' just remember that in Stars, for some reason, your first regatta is always your best and you won’t have another good one for some time. So stay at it!'
Fortunately Pepper and Williams were able to break the mould, and have had a string of top places in regattas this year, placing fourth in the Europeans in Lubeck, Germany earlier this year.
They have also made a meteoric rise up the ISAF rankings, starting just this year, and prior to the 2006 Worlds were ranked #3. having jumped 10 places on the previous edition.
For the New Zealand crew of Rohan Lord and Miles Addy, their sixth place finish is in the same quantum leap of Pepper and Williams, probably more so.
Although Lord does have some previous experience in the Star class, his was a new campaign, done with minimal budgets and privately financed. Two podium places in the firs two races set them up for the regatta, and their performance, in a fleet dripping with Olympic medals and World Championships was one that most can only dream about.
As 2000 Olympic Gold medalist in the Star class, Mark Reynolds, referring to Lord and Addy, commented to one observer at the end of the regatta 'where did those guys get their horsepower from?
Their performance in the 2006 Star Worlds will be sufficient to make the automatic qualification for the Yachting New Zealand Olympic Squad for 2007, and Lord and Addy will join Pepper and Williams for the first two boat Star campaign to be mounted by New Zealand.
Day Five Report by Slade Communications for St. Francis YC: Finally A Win For Swedes Loof & Ekstrom - Final day tomorrow will be exciting scramble among top four
Positions in the fleet begun to take final shape on Day 5 of the Wells Fargo Private Bank Star World Championships, hosted by the St Francis Yacht Club. However, it’s still tight at the head with the top four having a realistic chance of winning. The breeze today was light and shifty as it’s been all week, from the west 8-9 knots, smooth water and a slight ebb tide.
Fredrik Loof and Anders Ekstrom (SWE), took first place today, ahead of Jim Buckingham and Mike Dorgan (USA). Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) took third, while Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (POL) took fourth. Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams (NZ) were in fifth place.
Racing was superb out on the Berkeley Olympic Circle, with tight racing throughout between Buckingham and Loof, and defending champions Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau.
Commented Rohart, “It’s really tough racing. We missed a small wind shift on the second beat and dropped a few places. Everyone is working hard to be tighter. It’s so difficult to be clever all the time here. Guys like Robert, Hamish and Andy (Horton), are really clever with what’s going on with the wind here. I’m impressed with the level. We’re starting well, our speed is average and our downwind is really nice. The week’s not finished.”
Pepper and Williams are putting on an excellent performance, and look hard to beat, showing great skill at emerging from deep to lead. It’s an exciting time for New Zealand, a country just now delivering up Star sailors and already with two teams sitting in the top five places overall in the best show down of Star sailors that many present at this international regatta have ever witnessed.
Pepper said, “It’s been our week. Carl’s doing a great job downwind. We may not be in the best place at each mark but we’re focused on being consistent. In tricky conditions there are always options which we’ve been looking for. We’ve not made any big mistakes mind you, the top guys seldom make mistakes so it’s hard to put too much time on them. We’re just working at being conservative at the start and not too aggressive and slowly chip at it, working on speed and going the right way. Our boat speed’s as good as anyone’s.”
Scheidt is optimistic that his team has a chance at the gold star, “Hamish is in a very good position with an advantage but there are still 4 or 5 guys who have a chance of winning tomorrow, which makes it very exciting. We’ve been very consistent so far even though we didn’t expect such light winds. It’s been difficult racing, shifty and a challenging current. We’ve just been sailing with the wind and not taking too many chances, trying to make the right decisions and be in the right position.”
QUOTES FROM THE BOATS
Defending World Champion Xavier Rohart (FRA), 3rd overall:
“We came here struggling against time as our boat was late getting here and we’ve been getting used to the wind and current. We were here last year for 10 days for training which helped. What is really working well for us is the input we get from our coach. We are really working well as a team which is a major plus.”
Mike Dorgan (USA) 7th overall:
“We had a bad start believe it or not. We started next to Rohart and (Mark) Reynolds was above us just as our mainsheet came out of the cleat which immediately spat us out the back. We tacked 3 or 4 times and worked the middle. We were on starboard and with the current noticed that we were right on the lay so we pinched up a little and rounded in third – it should have been a disastrous first beat! We’re having fun because we were up sailing against two world champs today and we’re just weekend warriors with desk jobs and families. We’re from Southern California so we’re used to light and tricky conditions which it has been all week so we’re enjoying the conditions and all that’s happening at the Club here.”
Steve Mitchell (GBR), 31st overall:
“We looked good off the start and were in the top 5 heading for the top mark. We had gauged the tide wrong and over-stood the mark by a huge distance which put us back to about 40th so spent the rest of the race trying to catch up. It hasn’t been a good regatta for us. The problem as we see it is that there are pro sailors, pro judges, and just one pro race officer which is an issue when there’s a lot at stake like there is for many sailors here. The first two races this week were hard and there were plenty of gold stars getting low places. We should have had top results in the last two races but they were taken away by jury. It’s hard when we have a big team supporting us. We hope the wind blows tomorrow so we can at least take home one good race.”
Diego Negri (ITA), 17th overall:
“After rounding in the top five at marks 2 and 3, we dropped many places on the last run as we couldn’t find the right breeze. We stayed in the middle and couldn’t get out. At the last shift on the last run we had 8 boats pass us just 100 meters from the mark which is not funny. We’ve had a good regatta so far. We recently won the European Championships so we hoped to be in the top 10 here but I know now it’s not easy to do well in this group. We’re not feeling good about San Francisco conditions, we only had a little practice here. We’ve sailed the Star for less then a year and hope for the top 15 tomorrow.”
Day 5 report from Horton/Nichol:
It was another tricky day on San Francisco Bay with light winds and shifty conditions. Today we decided it was worth starting at the pin because it was fifteen degrees favored. We were the second boat from the pin, just over fellow America's Cup (Luna Rosa) teammate Torben Grail (BRA). We paced the Athens Gold Medalist for five minutes before tacking out to the right.
Having to tack and cross the fleet from the pin is a curious thing; either you are very fast, very lucky, very well liked, or shot out the back. We crossed eight boats (to whom we now owe crossings in the future) and made it to the right side of the course. The right paid off well, allowing us to round the weather mark in the top ten.
We held our position on the run and then next weather leg, playing the shifts and maximizing boatspeed. On the second run we held on starboard for a long time out from the mark before making two jibes on small shifts. We decided to hold course as we were on lay-line (the shortest course to the mark), but we watched as a pack of fifteen boats caught up to us to leeward and five boats caught up to us from weather.
We rounded the leeward mark in about 15th place, depending on how you count the huge overlaps of so many boats, and we were forced to round away from the pressure on the left side. It looked dismal for a while but we kept working the shifts on our side of the course and passed enough boats to finish ninth.
Day 4 Report by Slade Communications for St. Francis YC: RAIN, COLD AND LIGHT AIR
Hamish Pepper and crew Carl Williams (NZ) stole racing today, leading the rock star fleet around each mark to finish in first place overall in Day 4 of the Wells Fargo Private Bank Star World Championships. Fellow New Zealanders Rohan Lord and Miles Addy, while taking 11th today, move up the ladder to 2nd place overall.
Sailors were presented with the most challenging day thus far in the competition with gray skies, flat water, occasional rain and the lightest of air. The start was delayed while the St Francis Yacht Club race committee was forced to move marks to adjust for some significant shifts. The breeze never realized more than 8 knots from the west with lows of 3-5 knots during racing - tricky sailing even for the local guys.
With much at stake in this competition, there have been some serious disappointments during the starting sequence. Today saw a general recall at the first start and the second a Z-flag start. A number of teams were over early and penalized, subsequently knocking back some of top guys. Notably, Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell (GBR) whose request for redress related to an over early on Day 3 was denied; today they received a Z-flag penalty, dropping them to 31st overall. Andy Horton and Brad Nichol (USA) also received a Z-flag penalty and sending them from first to 6th overall.
Veteran Star sailor John Kostecki, in a coaching role this regatta was on the docks at the St Francis Yacht Club at day's end. "It's been unusual this week with the weather. It's not typical for San Francisco so there's been no real local advantage unfortunately," he laughed. "But you're still seeing all the good guys at the top."
Head of International Jury, Ralph Roberts, commented, "The biggest thing is that San Francisco is losing its image as a heavy weather venue. Everyone measured in their heavy weather sails because it purportedly never blows under 20 knots here. It's just been challenging for everyone however this is the best fleet I've ever seen. While it's been difficult, at the same time this contest is made for those who are training for Beijing." - Michelle Slade
Report from Sail-World": Pepper wins Race 4 in Star Worlds, Lord 11th
New Zealand's Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams have provisionally won the fourth race in the 2006 Wells Fargo Star Worlds being sailed on the Berkeley Circle in San Francisco.
The second New Zealand boat sailed by Rohan Lord and Miles Addy finished in 11th place after recovering from being in 40th place at the end of the first beat. Lord and Addy picked up on the run to be in 22nd place at the end of Leg 2.
Second home today was Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau (FRA) the 2004 Olympic Bronze medalists in the Star. They were a massive three and a half minutes behind Pepper and Williams.
Most of the others in the top five overall, save for the two Kiwis and 2004 Olympic Gold medalist Robert Scheidt (BRA) finished well down the fleet. Scheidt (BRA)finished eight, today.
The discard race does not cut in until after five races have been sailed, and the points outcome after four races is that the two New Zealand crews are on top of the table - tied on points, but with Pepper and Williams being ahead on the application of a tiebreaker. A third competitor Xahier Rohard and Pascal Rambeau is also on 26 pts, but is ranked third after the application of the countback process. Third boat overnight Flavo Marazzi and Martin Kozaczek (SUI) have dropped back to fifth overall behind Robert Scheidt and Bruna Prada of Brazil.
The race was sailed in a breeze that began at nine knots and faded to four at the finish. Pepper and Williams led narrowly around the second mark and defended strongly throughout. They built their big lead after rounding the leeward mark for the final time when they elected to sail immediately to the leeward side of the advancing fleet and were able to miss the worst of their wind shadow. The next two crews, Rohart and Iain Percy (GBR) stood out to windward of the advancing fleet, but when they came back instead of avoiding the shadow sailed through the middle of the van of the fleet and the New Zealanders were able to extend to a massive lead.
Sail-World spoke to New Zealand crewman, Carl Williams after the race. 'We were pretty happy with the way we sailed after rounding the top mark in 10th position, and came through to be in first at the bottom. We have had good speed all week, particularly downwind.'
'Conditions were very shifty today and we concentrated very hard on staying in phase'
There were a total of seventeen boats caught today on various starting infringments including the overnight race leaders Andy Horton and Brad Nichol (USA) who have dropped to sixth overall and will be hoping that today's race will be their eventual series discard.
Some infringed under the Black Flag rule (jumping a start and were excluded from all subsequent starts). Others were penalised under a Z-flag rule infringment - meaning they were over one minute before a start, but returned and suffered a 20% points or scoring penalty.
Britain's Iain Percy was one caught under this rule, his second starting infringment of the regatta, and has protested, which will be heard tomorrow.
Report from Horton/Nichol:
Well there is not a lot to say about a day where the wind was shifting more then 30 degrees and never seemed to go your way. At points during the race we were both hiking out to leeward to try to get the boat moving in no wind and on the last weather leg to the finish, our best route included a trip THROUGH the defunct Berkley Pier. All we can say is that we are re-setting for tomorrow and promise to attack with renewed vigor.
Day 3 report by Slade Communications for St. Francis YC:
The Stars Enjoying More Breeze
A breezier day brought plenty of action on Day 3. A delayed start while the breeze kicked in was worth the wait to see a solid 11-12 knots at the gun. After two general recalls, the Z flag was raised and at the 3rd start, 8 teams were called over early. Protests were subsequently filed and are under review by the jury. The westerly breeze was steady during racing at 14-15 knots.
Said Reynolds, “We had a good start, tacking very quickly to the right. It was a little better to go right but not much. We lost the Germans on the second beat who then went more south on the second run, while Horton (USA) went back to the right as the wind shifted. We missed both shifts on the second beat but were able to stay in the top three. Those guys are a little faster than me downwind.”
At the end of racing Nicolas Rosas (ARG), was on the dock at the St Francis Yacht Club furiously pumping water from the boat he and Juan Kouyouumdjian are racing. Hit on their port aft quarter off the start by Bill Buchan and Erik Bentzen (USA), the Argentinians took on a huge amount of water as the race progressed, upsetting their result.
Said Juan K, “We were losing places at the end as we had too much water on board on the last beat. Still, today was a lot easier than other days. The current was playing more in the first beat and first run than later in the race but we’re finally beginning to understand it here.”
Day 3 report from Horton/Nichol
San Francisco gave everyone a "head fake" on Day 3 of the Star World Championship. With a forecast for little to no wind we were once again postponed ashore for an hour. After a slow tow down to the racecourse and lunch on a glassy bay, the forecast seemed right on target. But a break in the cloud cover beyond the Golden Gate fooled the weatherman, and the breeze came on quickly, building from zero to twelve knots in just a few minutes. We were quick to make adjustments to our setup transitioning from light to medium air and got down to business.
Again, it took three tries to get a race off and we had good start all three times in the middle of the line. With the Z-Flag flying on the last attempt, a number of the top competitors pushed the leeward end of the line too hard and saw their OCS numbers posted at the weather mark. We held our course off the line until most of the fleet cleared away and had plenty of good open lanes as we worked our way to the top of the course. We rounded the first mark in second place behind Mark Reynolds, with the Italian and German teams hot on our heals.
Down wind we decided to sail a higher course than Reynolds for more wind and when we got to the bottom we were dead even. Rather then splitting with Reynolds through the gate we felt confident in our boat speed and chose to follow him around and battle it out upwind.
Old School vs. New School; Reynolds had the advantage up the course but after a few well-timed tacks we arrived at the top of the course ahead of him. Meanwhile, Marc Pickel, the German, was free to sail alone and passed us both.
Down the second run we gained a few boat lengths and were even with the Germans at the bottom, but this time we split with them to sail in clear water on the right side of the course. We made good gains working the boat and with a few good shifts we took the gun with a solid lead over both the Germans and Mark Reynolds.
While today's win puts us in first place three points ahead of Rohan Lord (NZL), and seven ahead of Flavio Marazzi (SUI) a lot can happen in three races. Tomorrow will prove to be a challenging day with a forecast for rain and a southeasterly gradient.
QUOTES FROM THE BOATS
Iain Percy (GBR) 41st overall:
“We were caught over the line which surprised us as we’ve done a hundred of these starts. We went around the first mark, which was very busy, in third and were sailing well. It’s been the first race where we’ve had solid breeze. We needed some good top third positions after the tricky conditions of the past few days.”
Austin Sperry (USA) 13th overall:
“We’ve been feeling good. Our boat speed hasn’t been the problem. Everyone’s so good, they’re all across the line 10-15 seconds apart, it’s easy to have a 20th place.”
Luca Modena (ITA) 18th overall:
“We had a medium to good start and tried for sailing in clear air. We approached the right side of the course, just in front of us were the Irish and they were over early so we were clear up the first beat, we had a good downwind and got away from the rest of the fleet to be in the top 10. We decided to play to win to on the second beat so trimmed for more wind which was our mistake as the wind dropped and we lost space from the leader but were able to solidify our 6th place position. It was more difficult to trim upwind than down. I congratulate my crew for suffering me today, it was a good race.”
Mark Reynolds (USA) 20th overall:
“We did a lot better today. We’re pretty happy with our speed. We just didn’t sail very smart on the first few days but today was steady in comparison. It’s not easy in this fleet. You need a combination of good starts and going the right way. There are no big gains or losses to be made, it’s more subtle.”
Frederico Engelhard (ARG) 19th overall:
“Today we had a bad start as we were at the committee boat end where everyone was. We tried to work on the heavier winds as we are accustomed to light. We were in the middle of teams we knew were good in high wind so that felt great. We’re improving day by day. We’re here to learn more about sailing in heavy wind. The first day was light and good for us. At this level this is the best racing I’ve ever seen!”
Anders Ekstrom (SWE) 11th overall:
“We’ve been taking the wrong side. We’re not sailing the way we should be. We liked the breeze today and the regatta’s not over yet. We just need 3 more good results and do a good job. It’s really a tough fleet if you look at who is here.”
Day 2 report from Scuttlebutt by Slade Communications for St. Francis YC
Taking first place on Day 2 was the Swiss team of Flavio Marazzi and Martin Kozaczek, with Rohan Lord and Miles Addy from New Zealand in second. In third place was the Swiss team Daniel and Beat Stegmeier brothers. Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada took fourth, with Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau of France in fifth.
Arriving in town late last week and sailing on a 12-year old chartered Star, the Stegmeier brothers are elated with their success so far, currently sitting in 7th place overall. Skipper Daniel with a huge smile on his face said, “The racing is very good and we’re enjoying it. We had already had a good experience on the right side yesterday. The locals seem to think the left is the favorable side but we stubbornly stayed right and it worked out. We don’t have a coach and didn’t get any
training in here so it’s always nice to beat the professionals like this.”
QUOTES FROM THE BOATS
Mark Mendelblatt (USA) 8th overall
“We did better than yesterday. There was more breeze and it was steadier. We got off to a slow start and got stuck on one side a few times. We’ve been training here in 15-20 knots and we like the breeze. The past few days have been a bit light.”
Torben Grael (Brazil) 31st overall
“We’re not doing too good. We got it wrong on the run today. We haven’t been sailing Star boats enough. We have to work on getting it right.”
Bill Fields (USA) 38th overall
“The shifts were hard to deal with and there were lots of small ones you had to play. We made a little jibe the wrong way and that’s where we failed. Those who went more to the left got hammered again today and the group to the right were always in the lead. The weather legs were tough for us, especially when the wind filled in.”
Alfonso Domingo (Portugal) 7th overall
“Our start was really good but our first downwind leg just ok. The right was giving more than the left and the wind stabilized toward the end which worked nicely for us. We’re hoping to finish in the top 15 but it’s really hard. You have to have a good start.”
Report from Horton/Nichol:
The overcast skies and light wind of day two at the Star Worlds was a near repeat of day one. There were no crews hiking during the first two attempts at a start but by the third start the wind had filled in quite nicely. We continued our conservative approach to the regatta focused on our goal to keep notching finishes in the top ten.
Starting in the middle of the line we worked the middle of the course until we were clear of the fleet and had clear air. Then we let our boat speed do the work up to the starboard side of the course. We did a good job hitting the layline and passed a few boats right at the top of the course to round in fifth.
The breeze got a bit patchy on the run and we got caught on the low of the fleet. We lost a few boats in the bad air but rounded the leeward mark cleanly and were able to get to our chosen side of the course. On the second weather leg we held in the top ten despite some closely fought lanes up the leg. By the time we rounded the weather mark, the top few boats had pulled away from the next pack, and the clearing skies and freshening breeze on the down wind compressed the fleet, making fifth through twenty-fifth very close.
Up the last leg we worked hard to hold off some solid challengers behind us and tried to pass a few boats going into the finish by over-standing the finish to the right since we knew the flooding tide would push us down. Unfortunately, the top of the course was crowded with spectator boats including one large sailboat with their sails up. The judges tried to move them out of the way but they tacked in front of us taking our wind and costing us two places at the line.
Overall, it was a solid day finishing in ninth and moving into fourth place for the regatta behind Rohan Lord (NZL), Flavio Marazzi (SUI) and Robert Scheidt (BRA). The weather for tomorrow could be interesting with the same system still hovering over us.
Day 1 report from Sail World:
Andy Horton and Brad Nichol (USA), took second place while Kiwis Rohan Lord and Miles Addy were third. Flavio Marazzi and Martin Kozaczek of Switzerland in fourth, with Steve Gould and Greg Sieck (USA) in fifth.
The Star sailors were towed to the Star course at Berkeley Circle for Day 1. Competitors waited 90 minutes in the day's gray and cold while racing was postponed due to no wind. With the start gun sounding just after 1:30pm, the work began.
The westerly breeze proved very shifty all afternoon, ranging from as much as 13 knots to as little as 5, with the pressure spread out all over the course. Racing began in an ebb, turning to a flood late afternoon.
It is the first World Championship race ever for Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams, who is running a parallel America's Cup campaign with BMW Oracle Racing. Rohan Lord has previously competed in the Star class, however today's is easily his best ever result.
The two Kiwi crews were first and second around the second mark, after trailing Steve Gould and Greg Sieck (USA) around the first. Gould and Sieck dropped badly on the first run, but recovered well to finish in fifth place.
Rohan Lord amd Miles Addy led the 67 strong fleet for two legs before dropping back to fourth place on the fourth leg - handing the lead over to Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams who held the lead to the finish.
Popping in between the two Kiwi crews was the US combination of Andy Horton and Brad Nichol, who were generally in the top three all around the course.
Lord and Addy lost their lead after sailing into a hole about 100 metres from the bottom mark on the penultimate leg of the seven leg (including two dog-legs) course. However they recovered well and closed up to be within one second of Horton and Nichol at the finish.
In contrast, Pepper and Williams were a minute clear of the second placed crew.
Fourth place getter was Flavio Marazzi and Martin Kozaczek (Switzerland), who were the first of the 2004 Olympians home. They finished in fourth overall at Athens.
Top placed Australian Iain Murray placed 15th on the first beat and flicked around that level for much of the race before climbing to seventh place at the finish - a good effort considering the carnage amongst the other big names of Star boat sailing behind him.
Olympic Gold medallist, Robert Scheidt (Brazil) was one of the few able to recover from a big shift just after the start. Scheidt and crew, Bruno Prada, were buried at 29th place after the first beat, but climbed rapidly to get up into seventh place by mark four and sixth at the finish.
His compatriot, the 2004 Olympic Gold medalist, Torben Grael, was 15th in today's race, with another top Olympian Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell (GBR) back in 35th place. Like many, British team of Percy and Mitchell took the day in their stride.
'It wasn’t so flash,' said Percy, 'We went the wrong way as the left on the first beat was the killer - we had a 30 degree windshift. We were in good company though.'
That company included favorites Fredrik Loof and Anders Ekstrom (Sweden). Admitted Ekstrom, 'It was a hard day for us, we didn’t do too well. Off the start we went left which wasn’t good. It’s just one race though – we have still have 5 to go.'
The course on San Francisco Bay was sailed in shifting conditions with generally light breezes - insufficent for the crews to droop-hike down the side, and mostly these giants of sailing were on deck. It was only on the final beat that the crews were able to sail in a fully hiked position.
Day 1 report by Andy Horton/Brad Nichol:
After a week of training, long days for our coach measuring the currents on San Fran Bay, and months of planning we kicked off Day 1 of the Star World Championships with a solid second place finish. There is still a long list of things to improve upon and we still have our debrief before bed, but we are off to a good start.
After being postponed for 90 minutes due to no wind, the first start gun sounded just after 1:30pm. The westerly breeze proved very shifty all afternoon, ranging from as much as 13 knots to as little as 5, with the wind strength varied all over the course. We sailed a course with two mile long legs up and down the bay for a total of ten and a half miles over three hours.
Our plan was to start in the middle of the line where we would not be forced over the line early and sail up the middle playing the shifts. This conservative approach does not win races but if executed well will get you in the top ten as someone will always pass you on the corners of the course. We played the shifts like good lake sailors and hedged towards the favored side of the course. With good boat speed and concentration during the light tricky phases we managed to round the first weather mark in third place.
We played the puffs and concentrated on boat speed through the middle of the course on the first leeward leg which again proved to be a good conservative choice. We rounded the gate in second place and were able to hold the position through the remainder of the race.
The light wind is unusual for San Francisco but we think it will prevail for the next few days before the weather pattern changes and brings the strong winds everyone expects. We have one race scheduled to start at noon tomorrow.
STAR STUDDED STAR FLEET COMES TO ST. FRANCIS by Dick Enersen, St. Francis YC
The 74 boat fleet assembled for the World Championship is not the largest ever, but it is one of the deepest in terms of talent. Among the skippers and crew, there are no fewer than 20 Gold Stars (worlds victories) and 9 Olympic Gold medals. Throw in the prestigious Bacardi Cup, European and North American championships and there are another 30, or so, first place finishes.
The senior member of this fleet, Bill Buchan of Seattle(#8260), has won 3 Gold Stars, in ’61, ‘70 and ’85, an Olympic gold medal, in ’84, 3 Bacardi Cups and 1 North Americans. San Diegan Mark Reynolds (#8239) has won two Gold Stars, in ’95 and ’00, and 2 Gold medals, ’92 and ’00, most with his current crew, Hal Haenel, plus 7 Bacardis and 2 North Americans, with a variety of shipmates. Torben Grael (#8210), from Brazil and the LUNA ROSSA America’s Cup team, won the Worlds in ’90 and then Olympic gold in ’96 and ’04, but his crew in those victories, Marcelo Ferreira, one upped him by winning the ’97 Worlds with another skipper. Joe Londrigan, crewing for Phillippe Kahn on #8246, won the World Championship in ’93.
The “junior” members of this fleet include some very accomplished Star sailors, as well. The French team of Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau (#8107) won Gold Stars in ’03 and ’05. Swedes Fredrik Loof and Anders Ekstrom (#8256) won in ’01 and ’04, while the British crew, Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell (#8144) won the Worlds in ’02.
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