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21 May 2009, 09:58 am
Local Newcomer Leads Star Eastern Hemisphere Championship
Jean Baptiste BERNAZ and Vincent BERENGUIER
Jean Baptiste BERNAZ and Vincent BERENGUIER lead after day one at Hyeres

Star Eastern Hemisphere Championship 2009
Hyeres, France

The French pairing of Jean Baptiste BERNAZ and Vincent BERENGUIER of COYCH Heyrois shot right to the top of the leaderboard at the ISAF Grade C1 Star Eastern European Championship during just their second regatta together and their third time sailing together.
Sailing one of the FFV Stars used by Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU (FRA) during their 2008 Olympic medal bid, the young pair placed third in the Star Christmas Race in Nice, France, practiced one other time before this championship and posted a 2,4 in the first two races of this silver Star championship event.

Jean Baptiste BERNAZ is no stranger to stress. He made it through to the Medal Race in the Laser at Qingdao in 2008. The Laser sailor needed a hefty and experienced crew so he asked Vincent BERENGUIER to crew for him. BERENGUIER campaigned a Star as a crew for the 2004 Olympic Games and races with his father in local Star regattas. When BERENGUIER abandoned his father, Regis BERENGUIER, Jean Baptiste's father, Laurent BERNAZ, hopped in the bow, so there are two BERENGUIER/BERNAZ teams sailing together at this regatta. The sons are not only beating up on their fathers, they are teaching some tricks to the rest of the fleet.

Is it beginners' luck that has the youngsters in the lead? "No," said BERNAZ, the younger. "We think it is because we are from here. This is our home club." One thing is for sure they were able to anticipate the right hand shifts better than everyone else throughout the lazy afternoon in which the breeze never topped 7 knots.

Ireland's Peter O'LEARY and Tim GOODBODY, who are sailing their first season together in the Star despite having sailed together since infancy, are one point behind the leaders.

2007 World Champions and 2008 Olympic silver medallists, Brazil's Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA started the day by going right and staying right. At one point they were ahead of the fleet by nearly a minute and a half. They rumbled through the fleet during the second race and recovered to an eighth.

George SZABO and Rick PETERS (USA) are in fourth. The pair passed O'LEARY and GOODBODY on the first run of the second race and posted at 10,1 for the day. PETERS showed up at the regatta with one of his favourite shirts - a gold T-shirt that the two sported for their 1996 Olympic campaign. SZABO and PETERS have been on again, off again since they started sailing together in 1994, but have been sailing together during this Millennium and are the top-ranked Star pair on the US Sailing Team Alphagraphics, are in third overall.

Swiss brothers Daniel STEGMEIER and Beat STEGMEIER had a stellar day and are perched in fifth.

The Star Eastern European Championship is an eight-race regatta that runs through Saturday.

Results - click here

Lynn Fitzpatrick
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