Regatta Reports
Eastern Hemisphere Championship - Final
By Lynn Fitzpatrick, World Regattas. com
Jun 7, 2008, 12:19

Article courtesy Lynn Fitzpatrick of

Preview of racing
First Day
Second Day
Third Day
Fourth Day

Final Day
Everything went as scheduled on the final day of the 2008 Star Eastern European Championships. The Dalmatian sun shone during the morning and heated up the land enough so that the Bora, the sea breeze, started to fill. The winds reached 8 knots and brought a gentle chop and white caps. Clouds built over the shore and once again the ridge behind Split disappeared.

With the wind at 250 degrees, the weather mark was positioned between the northeast tip of Solta and the island of Drevenik. Further to the right, the coastal community of Mavaricica was stacked up on the sloping shore of Clovo.

This was an important day for the Croatians. Many of them came dressed in their red and white checkered jerseys and caps, showing their allegiance to their country and to their national football team, which was scheduled to play Austria in the European Championships later in the afternoon. The committee rolled into sequence shortly after 13:00.

Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) boxed Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) out at the start leaving Prada to fend off of the RC boat and giving the fleet a jumps start. Scheidt/Prada’s only option was to do their circle and tack onto port immediately. They banged the right corner while Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De Maria (SUI), Alex Schlonski and Frithjof Kleen (GER), Eivind Melleby and Petter Morland Pedersen (NOR) and Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) played the shifts up the middle and mid-left side of the course. Percy/Simpson rounded with a handful of boats ahead of them and Scheidt/Prada hand even fewer behind them.

Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (POL), who were tied with Percy/Simpson going into the day, were one of the boats ahead of Percy/Simpson. Kusznierewicz/Zycki went low down the run and Percy/Simpson went high. Percy/Simpson gained a little ground and rounded the right leeward gate as Kusznierewicz/Zycki were finishing their turn around the left gate.

Marazzi/DeMaria sailed conservatively and loosely covered the largest group behind them as the fleet tacked upwind to a new weather mark set further to the right. Marazzi/DeMaria rounded first and gybe set with Melleby/Pedersen, Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams (NZL), Kusznierewicz/Zycki and Percy/Simpson following. Percy/Simpson were the first to bear away and passed Kusznierewicz/Zycki. Kusznierewicz/Zycki spent the rest of the race trying to pass Percy/Simpson and let Pepper/Williams get between them. In the meantime, Scheidt/Prada were busy picking off boat after boat.

Marazzi/DeMaria won the final race and Percy/Simpson sailed a tactically brilliant race, but were unable to control Scheidt/Prada’s appetite for passing boats and winning the 2008 Eastern European Championship. Scheidt/Prada finished eighth in the race and held on to the series, finishing just one point ahead of Percy/Simpson and three points ahead of Kusznierewicz/Zycki. Croatian sailors, Marin Lovrovic Jr. and Sinisa Mikulicic, who are also on their way to the Olympics in the Star, demonstrated their skill in predominately light air conditions on their Dalmatian seas. All in all, the regatta was a productive final battle of the Titans before they meet again in Qingdao, China for the Olympics in August.

J. K. Labud did an excellent job of hosting the regatta and making the most out of the unusual wind conditions for this time of the year. The Club had the support of Joker, a developer and operator of Croatian supermarkets, shopping malls and hotels and the City of Split.

Fourth Day
The Stars had a long day. They arrived at J.K. Labud with the intention of being prepared to start the first race of the day by 10:00; however the wind didn’t fill from the south until later. The first and only race of the day started a little after 13:00 under mostly cloudy skies with 6-8 knot winds.

A third of the way up the beat it was clear that Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) had control middle left. They were in great company with Freddy Loof and Anders Ekstrom (SWE) and Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams (NZL). A fast moving low black cloud raced the fleet toward the weather mark. Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) went left in anticipation of a shift. From the left, Percy/Simpson were first to the mark followed by Evind Melleby and Petter Morland Pedersen (NOR), Loof/Ekstrom and Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De Maria (SUI). The first eleven boats to round the weather mark are on the way to the Olympics. Mate Arapov and Uljevic Ognjen (CRO), new comers to Star sailing, were twelfth.

Most of the boats bore away rather than gybed to compensate for the current and to try to milk whatever additional pressure would come their way from the cloud during the run. At the bottom of the run, Percy/Simpson rounded the left gate and Marazzi/De Maria took the right gate. Once they cleared the boats that were on the run, Percy/Simpson tacked onto starboard were the first to pounce on the big left shift. They held their distance on Marazzi/DeMaria and Loof/Ekstrom rounded in third.

Percy/Simpson crossed the finish line thirty seconds ahead of Marazzi/DeMaria. Loof/Ekstrom crossed in third and Scheidt/Prada held off Diego Negri and Luigi Viale (ITA) with a well timed gybe at the end to finish fourth and fifth, respectively.

A second race was started but abandoned as the wind died. As the fleet returned to shore, the northerly started to fill. Racing will resume on Sunday. The final race of the series must be started before 15:00. Will Marin Lovrovic Jr. and Sinisa Mikulicic (CRO) be able to hold their own among the Star World Champions immediately ahead and behind them in the standings?

Third Day
After two days windless days, everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief today when the Jugo, the wind from the south, finally filled in at about 2:00 pm. The Croatians also sounded a big cheer when local champion Laser sailor recently turned Star sailor, Mate Arapov, and crew, Ognjen Uljevic, rounded the first weather mark of the 2008 Star Eastern European Championship in the lead with 2007 Star World Champions Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) hot on their tail. Marin Lovrovic Jr. and Sinisa Mikulicic (CRO), who recently qualified Croatia for the 2008 Olympics in the Star, were also in the top of the 37-boat fleet.

During the run, Lovrovic Jr./Mikulicic were the first to catch a 15-degree shift and jumped into the lead on the boats that were sailing closer to Split’s southern shore. Lovrovic Jr./Mikulicic held off Scheidt/Prada during some close exchanges on the second beat and sailed higher than Scheidt/Prada down the run. With nearly the entire flotilla willing them to win, Lovrovic, Jr. and Mikulicic crossed the finish ahead by a boat length. Once again, the locals let out a cheer.

Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (POL) had a very clear strategy for the second race. They started at the pin and went left toward the shore and the shallower water to minimize the effect of the adverse current. The pressure remained even across the course and it was quite a while before they tacked on a shift that took them to within one hundred yards of the weather mark. All the while, Diego Negri and Luigi Viale (ITA) and Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) were sailing a similar game plan but couldn’t reel the new sail with a freshly minted gold star in.

Everyone is relieved to be racing and is looking forward to sailing three races on Saturday to complete the championship series.

Preliminary 2008 Star Eastern European Championship scores following two races:

1. Kusznierewicz/Zycki (POL) – 4,1 - 5
2. Scheidt/Prada (BRA) – 3,4 - 7
3. Lovrovic/Mikulicic (CRO) – 1,7 – 8
4. Loof/Ekstrom (SWE) – 5,6 – 11
5. Negri/Viale (ITA) – 10,2 – 12

Stars returning to JK Labud in Split, Croatia. Photo by Lynn Fitzpatrick.

Day Two
One of Split’s sailing legends and the PRO for the 2008 Star Eastern European Championship Regatta, Zlatan Zoricic capped off this morning’s press conference by letting the star-studded fleet know that they were likely to be postponed on shore for the second day in a row. Zoricic, however, was optimistic that the mostly sunny skies would bode well for sailing. However, the sky clouded over before the sun got a chance to heat up the verdant hills and allow the wind to start to circulate.

Using every opportunity they can get to practice in light air before the Olympics, the fleet headed out to the Alpha Course between the islands of Ciovo and Solta. The RC mobilized, but the wind never filled and the boats returned to shore.

After having plenty of time to eat lunch and check e-mails in the comfort of Y.C. Labud, the fleet headed back out. This time they sailed south to the Bravo Course between the mainland and Brac, the largest island in Central Dalmatia. The scenery was equally as spectacular as on the Alpha course and the southwesterly proved equally as fickle and illusive. Tows were organized and the crews were back on the docks by 17:45. “You can’t say that we’re not trying,” said Srdjan Cicarelli, a volunteer and one of two local sailors who was a member of the +39 America’s Cup team along with former Star World Champion and Finn Olympic Gold medalist, Iain Percy, and crew, Andrew Simpson (GBR). For the 18 sailors and their coaches who are heading to the 2008 Olympics, waiting, towing and maintaining patience is good preparation for Qingdao.

Day One
Overcast skies kept the gradient breeze from developing and the 37 Star Eastern European Championship teams were postponed ashore at JK Labud until the early afternoon. When a gentle wind started to fill in from the north, the fleet sailed out of the harbor toward the wide channel separating the chalky cliffs of Ciovo, to the north of Split and the rolling green hills of the island of Solta to the west.

A westerly breeze filled in from Solta at 2:15. Thunder rumbled from the cumulo-stratus clouds that were bottoming out as they tried to pass over Mosor’s ridge, the mountain that rises above Split. There would be no Tramuntana today. Given the fact that the locals have a name for the fight between the sea breeze from the west and the cold mountain air from the north and east, there is hope that the fleet will experience the Bora, a strong northwesterly that can blow for days.

The breeze dropped out during the starting sequence. Following a general recall and an attempt to reset the starting line, racing was abandoned for the day at approximately 3:00 pm.

Split's harbor. Photo by Lynn Fitzpatrick.

Summertime is approaching on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast and over three dozen Stars are sailing out of Yachting Club “Labud” (JK Labud) for the 2008 Star Eastern Hemisphere Championships. It is an Olympic year and eleven of the fifteen teams that will be sailing for the Gold Medal in Qingdao are here. Many will go on to sail the European Championships on Lake Balaton in Hungary, and before they know it, head to Qingdao for practice at the Olympic venue. Past and present World, Eastern Hemisphere, Western Hemisphere, European and North American Champions are among the sailors from twenty countries who are trying to add a silver star to their collection while enjoying the Mediterranean climate, superb sailing conditions, world class competition and Croatian hospitality.

Not only are there boats from a patchwork of Eastern and Western European countries, but as the southern hemisphere heads into the throws of winter, Lars Grael, Marcelo Jordao, Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada are sailing, swimming and sunning themselves in Split rather than on Ilha Bella, Brazil. The Kiwis Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams, are getting used to doing transactions in kunas and the Aussies, Iain Murray and Andrew Palfrey, are becoming familiar with using Diocletian’s Palace and the cathedral of St. Domnius as a line sight rather than Sydney’s Opera House. Ed Morey, from the USA, has teamed up with Switzerland’s Henrik Dannseboe, and after towing a Star through Europe is still getting over the shock of the price of fuel here.

Situated on a peninsula, Split has two naturally designed harbors that have stood the test of time and have been fiercely fought over by Illyrians, Romans, Croats, Franks, Venetians, French, Austrians, Germans and more. Fishing and ship building are in nearly everybody’s genes here. Croatia’s second largest city has limestone quarries and a commercial and military port that have been the envy of all would be conquerors, including the Venetians in the 15th century and the Germans in the 20th century. JK Labud occupies a prime spot on the western side of Split’s half moon shaped harbor. Diocletian’s Palace, built at the turn of the 4th century AD, occupies the central part of the harbor’s waterfront promenade and is its focal point. Within its white stone walls are 220 buildings including churches, cathedrals, crypts, shops, restaurants, clubs homes and a labyrinth of marble pedestrian walkways. Flanking the eastern side of the harbor is a very active fleet of ferries and ships that offer service to the nearby islands and Adriatic crossings to Italy.

Split has hosted the Mediterranean Games, international swimming and sailing competitions. JK Labud, which will celebrate its 85th anniversary next year, is proud of its contribution to Croatia’s centuries of sailing history. The club whose founding members thought sailboats under full sail looked as pretty as swans and named their club “Labud” after the graceful birds, hosted the 1997 Finn European Championships, the 2006 Finn World Championships and a 2003 World Match Racing Tour event in 2003. Given the club’s position on the peninsula and the deep water immediately off the shore, some of the match racing turning marks were so close to the spectators that they felt as if they were part of the action.

This year’s Star Eastern Hemisphere Championship regatta is a special treat for the club that boasts Split’s mayor, Ivan Kuret, who sailed the 470 at the Atlanta Olympics, among its membership. Ivan’s brother, Karlo, the world renowned Finn sailor who finished 4th in Athens, is also a club member. Croatia is sending a record number of sailors to the 2008 Olympics. The small country will field teams in the Finn, Laser, Laser Radial, 49er, 470 and the Star. The Croatian Sailing Federation coach, Marco Misura is a Labud member and coached Marin Lovrovic, Jr. and Sinsa Mikulicic in qualifying Croatia for the 2008 Olympics in the Star.

Following some practice starts in light air, a practice race was started. A crowd at the pin end of the start had their eyes set on a breeze line that was being sucked toward the course by a slow moving thunderstorm moving to the northeast. Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) were among the first to catch the shift. They sailed the shortest distance while fetching the mark, rounded first and held their position on the rest of the fleet on the run.

Joker, a developer and operator of a chain of supermarkets throughout Croatia, a large new shopping mall in Split, and hotels, is the primary sponsor of Star Eastern Hemisphere Championship. Additional support is from the Croatian Olympic Committee, the Croatian Sailing Association and the City of Split.

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