Just behind PEPPER and MONK, George SZABO and Rick PETERS (USA) are second overall after finishing third in Thursday's race, tied on 27 points with Flavio MARAZZI and Enrico DE MARIA (SUI). The battle for gold is not limited to these three crews either. Home favourites Freddy LOOF and Johan TILLANDER (SWE) are just a further two points back (29 points) in fourth, Andrew CAMPBELL and Magnus LILJEDAHL (USA) are fifth on 34 points, Johannes POLGAR and Tim KROGER (GER) sixth on 35 points and defending World Champions Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ and Dominik ZYCKI are also back in the running, in seventh on 37 points, just 11 off the top spot.
In Thursday's race five of the series, it was Robert STANJEK and Markus KOY's (GER) turn to lead the 86-boat 2009 Star World Championship fleet around the race course. The fleet started under a black flag, lots of sunshine, flat water and wind that clocked right, right, right throughout the afternoon. STANJEK and KOY were on pins and needles trying to protect their position against fellow German teammates PLOGAR and KROEGER; two-time Star World Champion, Alexander SCHLONSKI and Frithjof KLEEN. Americans SZABO and PETERS and Kiwis PEPPER and MONK were also a threat throughout the race.
The rest of the fleet was well behind the leading cluster of five, but some of the boats that took a couple of hitches to the left up the final beat threatened to scramble the standings. Big gains and big loses were the story of the day. The most significant come-backs on the day were made by the teams with gold stars who had placed extra emphasis on light air training last year in preparation for the Olympic Games in Qingdao, China. Swedish favourites, LÖÖF and TILLANDER recovered from a low teens first mark rounding to seventh place. KUSZNIEREWICZ and ZYCKI were barely in the top quarter of the fleet and recovered to sixth, and Xavier ROHART and Pierre-Alexis PONSOT (FRA), who could easily count the boats behind them during the first weather mark rounding, pulled out a 14th.
"We are so happy," said STANJEK following the race. "We didn't have any extra special speed. It was a very tactical race and we were fortunate that there was only one way to go on each upwind and downwind." STANJEK was also very happy for POLGAR who finished second in the race and is in sixth overall going into the final race. "It was just like ideal Tornado sailing conditions," said STANJEK. "You hit the corner and do one tack. You can't afford to make unnecessary tacks in conditions like these."
The 2009 Star World Championship will be decided in the last race. The 2006 Star World Champion, PEPPER and his crew, MONK have a single point advantage over Americans SZABO and PETERS and Swiss sailors, MARAZZI and DE MARIA. PEPPER and MONK go into the final race with the most consistent scores and the lowest discard (11 points) and are assured of a finish of seventh or better overall.
Throughout the regatta, the Americans have shown strength as a team. They will line up for the deciding race in the series in third, fifth and eighth place overall. Andrew MACDONALD and Brian FATIH (USA) will have to have an exceptional race to make it into the top 10, but are in a close race against Mats JOHANSSON and Leif MOLLER (SWE) to win the Masters Trophy.