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6 August 2009, 11:06 am
Kiwis Hit The Front At Star Worlds
The Star fleet racing in Varberg
The Star fleet racing in Varberg

Star World Championship 2009
Varberg, Sweden

New Zealand's Hamish PEPPER and Craig MONK took over the lead after races three and four at the Star Worlds In Varberg, Sweden, whilst many of the other pre-regatta favourites suffered major setbacks.
After a race win and an 11th place, Hamish PEPPER and Craig MONK (NZL) jump from fifth to first overall after race four in Sweden. It was also a great day for the US crews, with Mark MENDELBLATT and Mark STRUBE (USA) and Andrew CAMPBELL and Magnus LILJEDAHL (USA) tied for second place on 40 points, eight points off the Kiwis. Overnight leaders Flavio MARAZZI and Enrico DE MARIA (SUI) had a mixed day with a 35th followed by a race win. They drop from first to fourth overall, however with the discard set to kick in after race five, if they can post a strong finish on Thursday they are well positioned to shoot back up the leaderboard.

Home favourites Freddy LOOF and Johan TILLANDER (SWE) did not have a good day with scores of 15, 23 dropping them from second to sixth overall. Similarly recent European Championship winners Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA (BRA) and are now 12th overall after finishes of 33, 13 on Wednesday. Meanwhile 2008 World Champions Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ and Dominik ZYCKI (POL) suffered a major blow in their bid to defend the title with a 50th place finish in race three followed by an 18th. They now lie 19th overall, 49 points behind the leaders.

PEPPER and MONK have been teamed up since the Delta Lloyd Regatta earlier this spring and much of the time PEPPER has been under the weather and MONK has been in wonderment about being back on the Olympic sailing circuit since competing in the Finn for New Zealand in the 1996 Olympic Games. Yesterday's day off from sailing meant rest and relaxation and they resuscitated the Kiwi Magic of 2006 and 2007 when PEPPER won the San Francisco Star World Championship and was in the hunt at every regatta.

PEPPER and MONK not only won today's first race, they also came out of the day atop the leaderboard following the completion of four races. They popped off the boat end of the starting line and took the express lane up the right hand side of the course with the current propelling them forward in flat (and shallower) water. Others, in the middle of the course, struggled against the current in the light air. The Kiwis followed MENDELBLATT and STRUBE around the weather mark and overcame the Americans' 40-second lead on the run after MENDELBLATT and STRUBE gybed toward the inside for what looked like more pressure. It was just the break that the Kiwis needed to take the lead and stay in a controlling position for the remainder of the race.

Following the race, PEPPER said, "We sailed pretty conservatively today. It's easy to lose boats in this fleet and in these conditions."

The American team was quite pleased with their performance during the first race. MENDELBLATT and STRUBE took second. George SZABO and Rick PETERS were third and CAMPBELL and LILJEDAHL were fourth.

The Germans had their day in the sunshine too. During the second race of the day, race four of the series, the Germans had four boats in the top ten. Johannes POLGAR and Tim KROGER were fourth, Alexander SCHLONSKI and Frithjof KLEEN were fifth, Matthias MILLER and Benedikt WENK were seventh and Johannes BABENDERERDE and Timo JACOBS pulled out a ninth place finish in a race in which the pressure was up and down and the current continued to be a factor, albeit the breeze had filled to 8-10 knots in the afternoon sun.

POLGAR and KROEGER were low point for the day with a 7, 4. Said POLGAR, "We had a clear picture in our minds before we went out today. We also had two good starts." POLGAR, who spent years sailing Tornados at an Olympic level and transferred into the Star this spring, said, "It is nice to finally be sailing with the leaders after being in another class for so long. I hope that Tim and I and the rest of the Germans can keep the good sailing alive through the remainder of the week."

The lead in race four was passed from Xavier ROHART and Pierre-Alexis PONSOT (FRA) to MARAZZI and DE MARIA during the second beat, and MARAZZI and DE MARIA held on for the bullet. MARAZZI and DE MARIA are in fourth place overall after four races, but are likely to be sitting pretty when teams are able to discard their worst race following the completion of five races. The Swiss have three finishes in the top three and one deep score.

Despite ending the day on a low note, MENDELBLATT and STRUBE are in second overall and CAMPBELL and LILJEDAHL are in third. CAMPBELL, a rookie in the Star Class, is sailing with LILJEDAHL, an Olympic gold medallist and Star World Champion. Said LILJEDAHL earlier in the week, "I've sailed with 15 Olympic medallists and I've already learned things from Andrew. He is incredibly calm and level-headed in a boat." CAMPBELL agreed saying, "We're learning a lot from each other and every race is an improvement. It's a pleasure to sail with someone with so much experience and enthusiasm."

Race five of the 2009 Star World Championship in Varberg, Sweden is scheduled for Thursday 6 August 2009.

Results - click here

Full Regatta page with all the news, photos, results and more - click here

Lynn Fitzpatrick of World Regattas
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