On 4 July, American team Augie Diaz with crew Arnis Baltins in USA 8465 had more to celebrate than their American holiday: Independence Day at the Star Worlds.
In the pivotal, and ultimately dramatic Race 5, USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins won their first race of the 2014 International Star Class World Championship and after the calculation of a drop race, maintain a position in the top five of the overall standings.
As the 12:30 scheduled first warning time for Race 5 neared, the Northerly Peler wind began to die and the Race Committee was once again forced to postpone the Star fleet onshore. After one short hour, the Southerly Ora breeze had completely filled in and for the first time during this event, the fleet was all clear at the start. The intense battle for victory in Race 5 had begun with a drag race to the left shoreline of Lake Garda to avoid a foul tide. Italian team ITA 8491 Diego Negri with crew Sergio Lambertenghi and Greek team GRE 8434 Emilios Papathanasiou with crew Antonis Tsotras were the most successful in utilizing the favored, left side of the course and consistently exchanging the lead for the whole first leg.
Greek team GRE 8434 Papathanasiou/Tsotras edged out ITA 8491 Negri/Lambertenghi and rounded the weather mark in first place, however their lead was short lived.
American team USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins, with incredible speed and keen understanding of the current and wind patterns, attacked from behind and took a commanding lead. Throughout the following two legs, USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins continued to control the fleet until an unforeseeable 100 degree right shift shortly after rounding the leeward gate mark for the last time.
Several other competitors including, NOR 8317 Eivind Melleby with crew Bruno Prada and GER 8340 Robert Stanjek with crew Frithjof Kleen, received the new breeze just before rounding the gate and were able to take advantage of the right shift early by heading up the middle of the lake immediately after rounding. USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins lost all of their once 200 meter lead in a matter of seconds and fought hard to cover chasing teams NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada and BRA 8474 Lars Grael with crew Samuel Goncalves as the group sailed toward the finish line.
On their approach to the finish, NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada lead USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins by just a boat length on the port layline to the pin end of the line. Within the final three feet of the race course, NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada made an error in calling the location of the finish line marks and ended up missing pin end of the line entirely, allowing USA 8465 Diaz/Baltins to sneak in and take the winning gun at the last second. NOR 8317 Melleby/Prada was forced to circle back in order to cross the finish line properly, and luckily still managed to place second. Brazilian team BRA 8474 Grael/Goncalves finished in a respectable third place.
As the 92nd edition of the International Star Class World Championship progresses onto Race Day 6, the final race day in the series, German team Robert Stanjek and Frithjof Kleen in GER 8340 lead the event by 10 points over second place USA 8465 Augie Diaz and Arnis Baltins. Eivind Melleby with crew Bruno Prada in NOR 8317 currently sit in third place overall with 24 points total, and Italian team Diego Negri with crew Sergio Lambertenghi in ITA 8491 and Brazilian team Marcelo Fuchs with crew Ronald Seifert in BRA 8398 are tied for fourth place with 26 points total.
Quote of the Day, Augie Diaz, Race 5 Winner, "We are fast at the moment and that means everything in this fleet."
commented Augie Diaz. "It is difficult to put a plan in place when there are so many well sailed boats but when you get out in the front, you can stick to your game plan a lot easier. We will see how fast we are tomorrow but it is going to be tough to catch up Robert and Freda (nickname for Frithjoff Kleen). We will just try to have a good start and take it from there."