|District 20 Regatta Report|| |
Mon Nov 28th, 2016 through Sat Dec 3rd, 2016
Mark Mendelblatt & Brian Fatih (USA) have won the SSL Finals 2016 and a lion share of the $200,000 Prize Purse. In a dramatic final day, the American pair came with a whisker of being eliminated in the Semi Final and a highly competitive final race, saw three different teams take the lead in an epic display of sensational racing in the tactically challenging Montagu Bay, Nassau, Bahamas.
Daily reports from the event by Paul
We are back in Nassau for the 4th Star Sailors League Final. The Star Sailors League (SSL) is the creation of Michel Niklaus, a Swiss Star sailor who has a dream. Michel's dream is to bring together the best sailors in the world and have them compete against each other. The boat that seems best suited for this is the Star. So far, beyond the 3 Finals of the years past, there have been two "Grand Slams", one in Berlin this year and one in Grandson, Switzerland in 2015.
For this years Final, the fleet has been increased to 25 competitors. The 25 teams are composed of the top Star sailors in the world, most of the Olympic medalists from the Laser and Finn classes in Rio, the World Match Race Champion. You can check the sailing resumes at www.starsai lors.com.
I am sailing with Josh Revkin at this years final. Josh is not only a very keen Star sailor but he is very accomplished at the young age of 26. He finished third at this years' Star World Championship crewing for Brian Ledbetter and recently won the Star North American Championship in Chicago crewing for Eivind Melleby. Josh wanted to use his boat here, (his father's boat) which is identical to mine. But Josh is trying a new mast made by Burton and some sails cut specifically for that mast, by Doyle. It is all a bit new to me but we have had good speed the last three days so it seems to be working.
Today was Day 1 and two races were held in 12-15 knots from the East. The conditions were typical of Nassau - nice rolling waves, warm water, and moderate winds. In both races, we got caught on the wrong side of the first shift and ended up in the high teens at the first marks. In the first race we made some good moves and got up to 13th. In the second race we again made up some ground to round the final mark about 13th but sailed slow down the final run and lost four boats. Those scores put us in 14th place overall. Everyone is very good here so there are no easy point to be had.
Diego Negri(ITA) and Sergio Lambertenghi had the best day with a 3, 2 and Mark Mendelblatt(USA) with Brian Fatih had a solid 2, 4 for second place. Robert Scheidt(BRA), the winner of the first SSL Finals in 2013, is in third place.
The format is for the entire fleet to race together through Friday, with up to 4 races per day. On Saturday morning, the top 10 will move forward to the finals portion of the regatta. The winner of the fleet racing will be qualified straight into the final while the runner up will be qualified into the semi final. The remaining 8 will race the quarter final with the top 5 meeting the runner up in the semi final. The top three from the semi will meet the fleet race winner in the final, a single race, winner takes all.
The forecast for the week has been quite windy but today was 3 knots less than forecast and tomorrow looks lighter than today at about 12 knots from the east southeast.
The racing is very well covered with Virtual and live shots on the SSL website. For complete result and live streaming of the racing, go to: http://f inals.starsailors.com.
First two races 11/29:
Day Two 11/30:
Josh and I didn't have a great day. We didn't seem to have speed upwind and I am not going to win the sail fanning contest downwind against the Laser and Finn Sailors. In this regatta, it is open season on pumping, rocking and ouching so it is like a gymnastics competition downwind.
Our worst race is a 17th yet we slid in the overall standings down to 19th. The discard kicked in today and we don't have any top 10 races. Hopefully there will be enough wind tomorrow and on Friday to race five more races and finish the schedule. We are just 4 points out of 12th so plenty of vertical movement is possible for us.
We took our mast down tonight after sailing to check it and found a few things slightly off so we adjusted it for more power and put it back up in the dark. We will use our light air mainsail tomorrow also.
Robert Scheidt took over the lead in the series today. He and Mark Mendelblatt seem to be the fastest to me. Obviously they are sailing well too. Diego Negri of Italy has good speed and is in second overall. The top three are in a league of their own so far.
Mark Medelblatt and Brian Fatih sailed very consistently to take the lead in the series while Robert Scheidt, Diego Negri and Xavier Rohart each had at least one bad race.
Josh and I had a better day with all three races in the top 10. Contrary to what one might think, light air is very difficult. A little wind shift or change in wind velocity makes a huge difference. The turbulence off the sails produces relatively more impact than in stronger winds so managing your position on the race course and relative to the fleet is critical. And finally, you have to sit very still and concentrate which is exhausting in the heat here in Nassau.
One other feature for the second and third races of the day was that rule 42 was in effect as the wind lightened. This eliminated the downwind gymnastics that were employed in the first 7 races. The on the water umpires were very attentive and penalized a few boats for violating rule 42. To not violate rule 42 (pumping, rocking and ouching) in these conditions you pretty much have to sit motionless downwind unless you are gybing.
With our better performance, Josh and I moved up to 15th overall but we are still 14 points out of the critical 10th place to qualify for the quarter finals on Saturday. The forecast for tomorrow is for very light winds again. Two races are scheduled to finish the qualification series.
Day Four: Two races sailed
Tomorrow, the top 10 teams from the qualifying series will race. 8 teams (3-10) will race the quarter final, while the top 2 from the qualification series are qualified into the later rounds. The winner of the qualification series, Diego Negri (ITA), has a spot in the final and the runner up, Mark Mendelblatt(USA), has a spot straight into the semi finals. From the quarter final race, 6 will move onto the semi final where they will be joined by Mendelblatt and from that race, 3 will move onto the final where they will be joined by Negri. The winner of the SSL Final will be the boat that crosses the finish line first in the final race.
I think this format is very good for big events like the Olympics. Trying to explain to the public that the winner of the “Medal” race isn’t the Gold Medalist because some other guy sailed really well for 6 days before the grand finale, is tough.
The Star Sailors League is great for our sport. The format is right on the money. The Star is the perfect platform for creating a level playing field for athletes as diverse, physically, as Laser, Finn, Star, Soling, and 470 sailors. This event is becoming a true “World Championship” in sailing as it pits the best of the best against each other. There is a lot of enthusiasm around this event; the young guys are really excited to be racing the "legends" and the legends are just happy to still be out there.
Day Five: Quarter Final, Semi Final and
Final races completed.
Quarter Final - Eight teams, one race, with
the bottom three eliminated.
Semi Final - Six teams, one race, with the bottom three eliminated. Mendelblatt & Fatih, who were rewarded a bye from the Qualifying Rounds, joined the fray. The battle for the crucial third place was to end in high drama. Kusznierewicz & Zycki (POL) and Mendelblatt & Fatih, were locked in an intense downwind battle on final downwind leg, and just metres from the line, the Polish team broke their pole, spinning out just before the finish line. Polgar & Koy were also eliminated, as was the defending champions Szabo (USA) & Natucci (ITA).
SSL Grand Final – Four teams, one race, with
the bottom three eliminated.
Mark Mendelblatt & Brian Fatih (USA) crossed the line just ahead of Xavier Rohart & Pierre-Alexis Ponsot to win the SSL Finals 2016. Robert Scheidt & Henry Boening (BRA) finished just behind in third with Diego Negri & Sergio Lambertenghi in fourth place.
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