|District 13 Regatta Report|| |
Mon May 2nd, 2016 through Sat May 7th, 2016
| Sailed at Hamburg, Germany.|
Hamburg, Germany (May 3, 2016) – The first Star Sailors League City Grand Slam got underway today with three races for 86 Star teams on Lake Alster. The fleet was evenly divided into three groups for this first round of qualifying races.
There were a few surprises as the rapidly changing conditions caught out many of the teams taking part, resulting in several World Class Star Sailors failing to make the top ten after day one. With two more days of racing in the qualifying rounds scheduled, it is still early days but today’s conditions showed the venue to be an exceptionally challenging place to race. The key to today’s top performers was starting well and keeping your ‘head out of the boat’ to anticipate changes in the wind.
The Norwegian/ American team of Eivind Melleby and Josh Revkin put in a stellar performance with three firsts to lead the field. Melleby has been away from the Star fleet for some time but his young crew from Connecticut is a rising star, having come third in last month’s Star World Championship with Brian Ledbetter.
"We had to fight all the way," commented Melleby. "There are many world class sailors at the regatta and many more that know this lake very well. To be honest, I am a little surprised that we were so quick. The last time I raced was over a year ago but our speed was very good and so was our starting procedure."
In second is Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki, scoring two straight bullets and a rare tie for first place in the last race with Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi.
"I have grown up sailing on lakes, so this was not unusual for me," noted Kusznierewicz. "Dominik and I have not sailed together as often as some of the other teams but in the past we have sailed together for so long and we have a fantastic understanding, it is like knowing how to ride a bicycle. It was our good starts and boat speed that were gave us the results today."
The young American team of Luke Lawrence and Ian Coleman put in a top class performance, scoring a win and two second places to end the day third overall. They are one of the youngest teams racing at the SSL City Grand Slam and came fifth at last month’s Star World Championship in April.
"We got off the line well today and kept in simple," commented Lawrence. "For the short first upwind leg, we decided to go for the right hand side of the course, as coming in on starboard tack was nearly always going to pay. Even if the left had a better breeze or a bit of bias, it is far better to come into the first top mark with rights."
Other top performers today included local sailors, Johannes Polgar and Markus Koy, who finished the day in fourth place and fellow Germans, Michael Koch and Carsten Witt, who finished the day in fifth place. Racing resumes tomorrow for the second day of the qualifying rounds with light winds are forecast for the day.
In the first heat, Italian duo, Negri & Lambertenghi won a battle royal against two passed Star World Champions. Germans Stanjek & Kleen led at the start, nailing the committee boat end of the line to lead at the first mark. Negri & Lambertenghi and Polish team Kusznierewicz & Zycki, were hot after the Italians, but once into clean air, Negri & Lambertenghi kept it simple to win the race. The Poles and Italians were locked in battle right up to the downwind finish. Stanjek & Kleen stayed high, refusing to let the rapid Polish team pass to windward, but a spectacular gybe by the Poles, nearly wiping the stern off the Germans, put them to windward and through to steal their wind. Three textbooks roll gybes in the last few metres, saw the Polish team slide through the line sideways, just edging the Germans into third place.
Kusznierewicz & Zycki finished the day at the top of the leader board to win the coveted Heinz-Nixdorf Trophy. "We are very happy with the boat and our performance – commented Dominik Zycki – The first round has been very enjoyable which has helped us remain relaxed and in control. However, tomorrow, we will just be down to the top 30 boats and there will be a lot of pressure to make the top ten, let alone stay on top to get a bye to the final. We will not change our style, things are going well, so we intend to just continue."
The second heat of the day was won by five time Olympic medallist, Volvo Ocean Race and Louis Vuitton winning skipper, Torben Grael, racing with Stefano Lillia: Grael left it late to take the lead. Approaching the last top mark, Hellmich & Lacher were leading but Torben Grael & Stefano Lillia passed the German pair, which held on to second, just ahead of Michael Koch & Carsten Witt.
The last flight of the day produced a fantastic battle between a German team and the reigning Star World Champions, Augie Diaz and Bruno Prada. Hubert Rauch & Kilian Weise got away to a great start at the committee boat end and accelerated into an early lead. Diaz & Prada went for the pin end and judged the line perfectly, but it was the other side of the course that paid, and Rauch & Weise led the fleet. By the last leg, Diaz & Prada were all over Rauch & Weise and in the private battle, Diaz & Prada took the lead, on the last leg, to take the gun. Rauch & Weise were second with the young German team of Dominik Fallaise & Markus Kattenbusch in third.
Racing continues tomorrow for the top 30 teams in the SSL City Grand Slam. Carrying points through to the second round, four to five races are scheduled and the overall winner will get a bye through to the final. Second place will get a bye through to the semi-final. Of the thirty teams racing tomorrow, only the top ten will survive, as the SSL City Grand Slam goes into the knock- out stages.
Final: Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (FRA) are the Star Sailors League (SSL) City Grand Slam Champions, winning 3000 points for the SSL ranking system and US$25000. After an intense battle between 86 Star teams, battling through fourteen races in just five days, a boat length was the only difference. On tight windward-leeward courses on Lake Alster, Hamburg, Germany, some of the finest, most intense yacht racing was witnessed by over 100,000 people.
Thousands of people from the city of Hamburg watched from the banks of the lake, and over 80,000 people around the world, watched the drama unfold live over the Internet. The superb facilities and race management of the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein were outstanding, and the 172 Star sailors that took part were a fine example of the ferocity, but also gentlemanly conduct, in the sport of sailing.
"I can say that was great, because it was so hard", commented Xavier Rohart, "In this fleet you never knew if you would be first or last and after a great start I was thinking, this is our chance. We pushed hard at the start and we got in front, in clear air we could increase our lead. Then right at the end, the competition was coming with the wind and there was nothing we could do, except to keep a good angle and wait and we got the fresh breeze, just before the finish.
To win with Pierre-Alexis (Ponsot) is something special, we trained together for four years before the London Olympic Games and although we had a couple of good results, we did not feel good at the games, so there was something unfinished. Now with the Star Sailors League, this new movement, we have the opportunity to create something new and achieve something new, and it is wonderful that we can do that together."
Norway’s Elvind Melleby, racing with American Josh Revkin were second taking 2764 SSL Ranking points and US$15,000. Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (POL) were third taking 2528 SSL Ranking points and US$10,000. Negri and Lambertenghi (ITA) were fourth taking 2292 SSL Ranking points and US$8000. The SSL Ranking points will be updated next week, top ranking sailors will go to the SSL Finals in Nassau later this year.
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