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6 October 2006, 08:30 am
Kiwis Edge Towards Victory
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Wells Fargo Private Bank Star World Championship 2006
San Francisco, California, USA

Hamish PEPPER and Carl WILLIAMS (NZL) moved a step closer to the victory on day five of the ISAF Grade W Wells Fargo Private Bank Star World Championship. The Kiwi pair lead after a fifth in the light and shifty conditions of race five, although just ten points separate the top four crews.
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Positions in the fleet begun to take final shape on day five of the Star Worlds, hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club. However, it is still tight at the head with the top four having a realistic chance of winning. The breeze yesterday was light and shifty as it has been all week, from the west at eight to nine knots, smooth water and a slight ebb tide.

Fredrik LOOF and Anders EKSTROM (SWE), took first place yesterday, ahead of Jim BUCKINGHAM and Mike DORGAN (USA). Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA (BRA) took third, while Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ and Dominik ZYCKI (POL) came in fourth. PEPPER and WILLIAMS move seven points ahead at the top of the leaderboard after a fifth place, whilst their team mates Rohan LORD and Miles ADDY (NZL) fall back to fifth overall after finishing in 46th.

Great Racing Day

Racing was superb out on the Berkeley Olympic Circle, with tight battles throughout between BUCKINGHAM and LOOF, and defending champions Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU (FRA).

Commented ROHART, 'It's really tough racing. We missed a small wind shift on the second beat and dropped a few places. Everyone is working hard to be tighter. It's so difficult to be clever all the time here. Guys like Robert, Hamish and Andy [HORTON sailing with Brad NICHOL (USA)], are really clever with what's going on with the wind here. I'm impressed with the level. We're starting well, our speed is average and our downwind is really nice. The week's not finished.'

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Andy HORTON and Brad
NICHOL lead the fleet
PEPPER and WILLIAMS are putting on an excellent performance and look hard to beat, showing great skill at emerging from deep to lead. It is an exciting time for New Zealand, a country just now delivering up Star sailors and already with two teams sitting in the top five places overall in the best showdown of Star sailors that many present at this international regatta have ever witnessed.

The Leader's View

PEPPER said, 'It's been our week. Carl's doing a great job downwind. We may not be in the best place at each mark but we're focussed on being consistent. In tricky conditions there are always options which we've been looking for. We've not made any big mistakes mind you, the top guys seldom make mistakes so it's hard to put too much time on them. We're just working at being conservative at the start and not too aggressive and slowly chip at it, working on speed and going the right way. Our boat speed's as good as anyone's.'

SCHEIDT is optimistic that his team has a chance at the gold star, 'Hamish is in a very good position with an advantage but there are still four or five guys who have a chance of winning tomorrow, which makes it very exciting. We've been very consistent so far even though we didn't expect such light winds. It's been difficult racing, shifty and a challenging current. We've just been sailing with the wind and not taking too many chances, trying to make the right decisions and be in the right position.'

Quotes From The Boats

Defending World Champion Xavier ROHART (FRA), third overall with crew Pascal RAMBEAU:
'We came here struggling against time as our boat was late getting here and we've been getting used to the wind and current. We were here last year for ten days for training which helped. What is really working well for us is the input we get from our coach. We are really working well as a team which is a major plus.'

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Defending champions Xavier

Mike DORGAN (USA) seventh overall with helm Jim BUCKINGHAM:
'We had a bad start believe it or not. We started next to ROHART and [Mark] REYNOLDS [(USA)] was above us just as our mainsheet came out of the cleat which immediately spat us out the back. We tacked three or four times and worked the middle. We were on starboard and with the current noticed that we were right on the lay so we pinched up a little and rounded in third - it should have been a disastrous first beat! We're having fun because we were up sailing against two world champs today and we're just weekend warriors with desk jobs and families. We're from Southern California so we're used to light and tricky conditions which it has been all week so we're enjoying the conditions and all that's happening at the Club here.'

Steve MITCHELL (GBR), 31st overall with helm Iain PERCY:
'We looked good off the start and were in the top five heading for the top mark. We had gauged the tide wrong and over stood the mark by a huge distance which put us back to about 40th so spent the rest of the race trying to catch up. It hasn't been a good regatta for us. The problem as we see it is that there are pro sailors, pro judges, and just one pro race officer which is an issue when there's a lot at stake like there is for many sailors here. The first two races this week were hard and there were plenty of gold stars getting low places. We should have had top results in the last two races but they were taken away by jury. It's hard when we have a big team supporting us. We hope the wind blows tomorrow so we can at least take home one good race.'

European Champion Diego NEGRI (ITA), 17th overall with crew Luigi VIALE:
'After rounding in the top five at marks two and three, we dropped many places on the last run as we couldn't find the right breeze. We stayed in the middle and couldn't get out. At the last shift on the last run we had eight boats pass us just 100 meters from the mark which is not funny. We've had a good regatta so far. We recently won the European Championships so we hoped to be in the top ten here but I know now it's not easy to do well in this group. We're not feeling good about San Francisco conditions, we only had a little practice here. We've sailed the Star for less then a year and hope for the top 15 tomorrow.'

Top Ten
Pos Nation Helm Crew R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 Pts
1 NZL Hamish PEPPER Carl WILLIAMS 1 (20) 4 1 5 11
2 BRA Robert SCHEIDT Bruno PRADA 6 4 (13) 5 3 18
3 FRA Xavier ROHART Pascal RAMBEAU (14) 5 5 2 8 20
4 USA Andy HORTON Brad NICHOL 2 9 1 (32) ZFP 9 21
5 NZL Rohan LORD Miles ADDY 3 2 10 11 (46) 26
6 SUI Flavio MARAZZI Martin KOZACZEK 4 1 14 (15) 12 31
7 USA Jim BUCKINGHAM Mike DORGAN 13 (23) 19 4 2 38
8 SWE Fredrik LOOF Anders EKSTROM (33) 13 12 13 1 39
9 POL Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ Dominik ZYCKI 17 10 (67) OCS 21 ZFP 4 52
10 SUI Daniel STEGMEIER Beat STEGMEIER 18 3 18 (30) ZFP 19 58

For all the news from the Wells Fargo Private Bank Star World Championship CLICK HERE.

Michelle SLADE (As Amended by ISAF). Image, Hamish PEPPER and Carl WILLIAMS lead in San Francisco:© Chris RAY/
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