1994 World Championship, San
Diego, California, USA
By William Goodwin, The San Diego Beacon, September 1, 1994
While many viewers may consider the America's Cup the glamorous peak of international sailing competition, one sailing event surpasses it in several ways— the annual Star Class World Championship. Hosted by San Diego Yacht Club, this event, now in its 73rd year, will take place September 7 through 18 in the waters off San Diego.
"SDYC has a long, successful history with the Star Class, and we are proud to be hosting this event for the seventh time," said John Burnham, regatta chairman.
The similarities between the Star World Champion-ship and the America's Cup are striking. Both are international events, but while less than a dozen countries have ever fielded AC teams, the upcoming Star World’s will match competitors from 22 countries. The America's Cup is the oldest one-design sailboat class in the world. Many of the America's Cup skippers have sailed in the Olympics, most often on Stars, which are also the oldest Olympic class of sailboats. In addition, many winners in the intensely competitive Star Class have gone on to become top America's Cup skippers— and several of them are from the San Diego Yacht Club, including Lowell North (founder of North Sails on Shelter Island and four-time Star World Champion), Dennis Conner (two-time America's Cup winner) and Paul Cayard (skipper of the Italian America's Cup challenger in 1992).
The Star Class has a long and distinguished history, much of it
involving San Diego and SDYC sailors. Joseph Jessop, Sr. put San Diego
on the sailing map with his string of national and international Star
Class titles dating back to 1924, according to Burnham.
KOSTECKI & OLSEN WIN RACE ONE
The 30-year old Kostecki, who is from Bangor, Maine, is competing in his third Star World Championship. He finished eighth last year in Kiel, Germany, and sixth at the Star World’s in San Francisco in 1992. "This may be the most competitive Star World’s I've ever sailed in," Kostecki said. "The fleet is the biggest and deepest yet."
Today's race was held on course #3, a 10.5 nautical mile, windward-leeward course. The wind was out of the southwest at seven to eight knots. “We are pleased with the first race of this world class event and look forward to a competitive week," said John Burnham, Regatta Chairman.
The 1994 Star World Championship features 97 yachts from 22 nations. San Diego Yacht Club is hosting this year's event, which ends Friday, September 16.
MACDONALD AND JESPERSEN WIN SECOND RACE
Macdonald overtook Adler shortly after the leeward mark and pulled away to a decisive victory, winning handily. "We had clean water ahead of us," Macdonald said. "There were no other boats around us."
At the windward mark, Macdonald and Jespersen were in fifth place, due to a tentative start. "The start was tough, with the shifty winds," Macdonald said. "Today and yesterday there was a localized wind. San Diego weather wasn't its usual self today." The wind blew at 10-12 knots from the southwest at the start and was 8-9 knots by the finish.
After two days of racing, Macdonald leads overall with five total
points; Adler is second with eight; and John Kostecki is third with 10.
Today's race, like yesterday's first race, was held on course #3, a
10.5 nautical mile, windward/leeward course.
"It is strange here," agreed Sweden's Hans Wallen, who finished second for the second time in three days to move into third in the standings behind Canada's Ross Macdonald (12 points) and San Francisco's John Kostecki (14). "Today there was wind to the left and wind to the right, but no wind in the middle of the course. It's frustrating and when you get upset, it is very difficult to sail. It is real easy here to make the wrong decision. When you do, you are gone and there is no coming back."
Just ask Brazil's Torben Grael. The 1990 Star World champion finished third yesterday to climb back into competition after finishes of 12th and 22nd in the first two races. "It is very easy to make bad results here," Grael said. "The problem is not only the shifts, but the holes of no wind. At the start of the second race, I made a bad decision and it was very costly."
Grael has raced in San Diego only once before, on Mission Bay in Snipes. He had sailed Stars here only once before while testing sails with Vince Brun. "Local knowledge would be very beneficial here," Grael said. Don't try to sell that to the San Diegans. "Local knowledge would be great if the conditions were typical," Brun said. "But it has been screwy even for San Diego. On a beautiful day like today, the book is go right after the start. But the left was favored. It's all backward."
Which might explain why the San Diegans are struggling midway through
the six races of the world's premier one-design championships. Olympic
gold medalist Mark Reynolds was fifth yesterday to move into eighth in
the standings. But he was 18th and 20th in the first two heats. Both
defending World Champion Joe Londrigan and 1986 champ Brun have fouled
out of a race. Brun yesterday sailed into the stem of a boat that had
almost stopped on the course after rounding the wing mark of the
The competition should tighten after today's race when each skipper's worst race is discarded from the best 5-of-6 series. "I already have two throwouts, joked Doreste, who added, "anyone can do a 29 in this regatta."
ADLER & MEIRELLES WIN FOURTH RACE
Frank Butzmann of Germany finished second in Wednesday's race, and Vince Brun of San Diego placed third. Adler had a strong race once again, having finished second in Monday's race. Adler, and crew Rodrigo Meirelles, took the lead at the leeward mark and led the remainder of the race.
"The race was very tough, with shifty (wind) conditions," said Adler, who is competing in his seventh Star World Championship. Although Adler finished 26th in Tuesday's race, he is in first place overall and aims to keep it that way. He said his race outlook here on out is to "sail very conservatively and take no risks."
After Tuesday's race, Ross Macdonald was awarded the Bud Vanderveer Trophy for being the regatta's leader after three races. His crew— Eric Jespersen— was awarded the Robert “Buck” Halperin Crew Award. Winds were out of the west at 7-9 knots and swells were 1-3 feet at seven-second intervals.
MACDONALD AND JESPERSEN WIN FIFTH RACE
The victory puts Macdonald in the driver's seat, although Adler and Kostecki still have a slight chance to win the regatta. Macdonald won Monday's race and finished fourth on Sunday, the first day of racing.
Despite his inexperience with sailing in San Diego, which is notorious
for light winds, Macdonald is beating up on the locals.
MACDONALD AND JESPERSEN WIN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
The winner of Friday's final race was Carl Buchan of Seattle, who placed sixth overall. "Today we had some breaks," Buchan said. "It was one of those races that went right."
The 29-year old Macdonald won his first ever World Championship, although he won the North American's last year. He sailed a strong race Friday, but got caught in a "hole" on the last leg. "We were trying to stick close to Adler, but we fell into a hole," Macdonald said. "We stressed out. Maybe we were being too conservative, but it was a great week. This (win) beats the Olympics. If you win the Star World's, you've done very well."
Macdonald said he will compete in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, but after winning this 73rd Star World Championship, relaxation is in the cards for him and his crew, Eric Jespersen. "There wasn't a lot of physical activity (in the Star World's) because of the lack of wind," Macdonald said. "But I'm ready to relax for a while."
Winds, which again were light and shifty, were out of the west at 5-6
knots and swells were one foot at 5-10 second intervals.
CANADIANS WIN STAR WORLD'S
After a week of racing in conditions which rarely reflected what San Diego is known for, a piece of sailing history was written. Ross Macdonald, 29, and Eric Jespersen, 32, of Vancouver, were the first Canadians to win this prestigious event. They were the only team that topped the scoreboard in two races and posted their worst with a 14th on the fourth day.
"This beats even the Olympics," a jubilant Macdonald said. "If you can win the Star World's, you have come a long way." Their best finish at the Star World's prior to that was in 1989, when they took third in Italy.
Sailing consistently with good boat speed, sans major tactical mistakes— the sure-fire recipe for success sounds really easy. Macdonald fared best in playing the shifts, catching the puffs, avoiding the lulls and calculating the current to his advantage. There was a stressful moment at the end of the last race. Macdonald / Jespersen sailed in second place, covering the Brazilians Adler / Meirelles, their immediate competition for the title.
Caught in the lull, the Canadians got passed but Macdonald found enough wind to finish eighth, right behind Adler, which was just enough to stay on top of the fleet. Grael / Ferreira, also from Brazil, sailed impressively at the end of the series to capture third overall.
Although no American ended up in the top three, they made a strong showing with five boats in the top 10. John Kostecki was the early front-runner, but ended with two finishes in the low twenties, which dropped him to fourth overall.
Eric Doyle / Bill Bennett were the top guys of the local fleet in fifth place. Their frequent practices in light wind inside San Diego Bay has paid off. "We prefer the lighter stuff and it showed," Doyle said. About beating Vince Brun, his boss at North Sails. Doyle was diplomatic. “I think he had a little bad luck getting thrown out in one race and being in a big pack at the leeward mark, ending up fouling rather than forcing the issue.”
Carl Buchan of Puget Sound, Washington, the 1992 World Champion, capped off his series with a bullet in the last race and squeezed in between Doyle / Bennett and Szabo / Peters, one of the youngest teams of the San Diego fleet. Szabo turned heads for the first time in 1991, winning the last race at the World’s in Cannes, France. Here he added the all-important consistency and did not get bothered by a disqualification in the second race. Like Doyle, he also beat his boss at the Sobstad loft, Olympic gold medalist Mark Reynolds.
Reynolds and defending champion Joe Londrigan did not have a series to
their liking. “We tried things which normally work, but
conditions were unusual. Even when the wind was out of the West, the
right layline did not pay,” Joe said. “Local
knowledge was not necessarily an advantage. It was better to sail with
an open mind without preconceived notions.”