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16 April 2008, 09:03 am
Defending Champions Win Day Four In Miami
Star Worlds - Diego NEGRI and Luigi VIALE

Star World Championship 2008
Miami, Florida, USA

It was a wild and windy day on Biscayne Bay for the 102 boats racing the fourth of a six race series in the 2008 Star World Championships at Coral Reef Yacht Club.
The race start was delayed almost an hour and three boats were black flagged at the start after a postponement and a general recall. Some 27 boats did not finish, more than eight masts were lost, one boat capsized, and one of the top three finishers fell out of his boat just seconds before the finish line. What a day!

Defending World Champion Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA grabbed the lead and crossed the finish line five boat lengths ahead of everyone else. "At the last mark we were in 6th position and decided to go to port where there were fewer waves," said SCHEIDT. "A 30 knot wind hit just behind us and put us back in the race," he said.

Second place Hamish PEPPER and Carl WILLIAMS (NZL) and third place Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ and Domink ZYCKI (POL) were neck and neck to the finish. According to KUSZNIEREWICZ, who had been in the lead since the first weather mark, "We made a very tight tack behind the Committee boat and I missed my hiking strap. Dominik's reflexes were brilliant; he grabbed me and we only lost a few seconds."

The Italian team of Diego NEGRI and crew Luigi VIALE finished in ninth place and moved up to first place overall with 40 points. The Poles moved into second overall with 49 points and the Swedish team of Fredrik LOOF and Anders EKSTRÖM finished fifth and moved up to third

Rounding the first weather mark was KUSZNIEREWICZ and Dominik ZYCKI, followed by the Irish team of Peter O'LEARY and Stephen MILNE, Hamish PEPPER and Carl WILLIAMS (NZL), John DANE and Austin SPERRY (USA), and O'CONNELL and Ben COOKE (IRL). Not far behind the first pack were MARK MENDELBLATT and STRUBE (USA) and PERCY and SIMPSON (GBR).

After the triangle, at the leeward mark KUSZNIEREWICZ and ZYCKI was still leading. Rounding the mark behind him were PEPPER and WILLIAMS gaining a spot, followed by O'LEARY and MILNE, Dane and SPERRY (USA), and yesterday's winner Xavier ROHART and Pascal RAMBEAU (FRA).

At the second weather mark, the Polish team continued to lead by 10 seconds with the Kiwis close behind. Next around the mark were Rohart and RAMBEAU, O'LEARY and MILNE, Alan ADLER and Ronald SEIFERT (BRA), DANE and SPERRY, and Mendelblatt and Strube. Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA (BRA), Maurice O'CONNELL and Ben COOKE (IRL), luca MODENAand Sergio LAMBERTENGHI (ITA) and Flavio MARAZZI and Enrico DE MARIA (ITA) were in the next pack.

This last downwind run is when all hell broke loose. The gusts and lulls were coming fast and for a few teams who didn't respond quick enough, their masts snapped in two. Steve MITCHELL, crew with Ross MACDONALD of Canada said he saw broken masts on at least six boats including Peter O'LEARY and Stephen MILNE (IRL) who were running a great race in the top five from the first weather mark to the rounding of the windward mark and looked like they would make it to a solid finish.

Luigi VIALE confirmed that masts were falling everywhere on the last downwind run. "Peter BROMBYlost his mast just 50 meters in front of us," he said.

The top three leaders cleared the leeward gate in the same positions with SCHEIDT and PRADA moving into the fifth slot.

The winds were from the NW at 18 knots with gusts up to 30 knots on the downwind run. As crew Bob CARLSON from one of the USA teams described it, "There were streaks of white foam running down from the tops of six foot waves, and our cockpit filled with water twice."

Skipper Mark MENDELBLATT (USA), in eighth place overall with a 17th place finish today, said he and his crew Mark STRUBE were doing okay until their pole broke during their gybe. "It was windy as hell out there," he said.

Day Four Top 10 Standings:
1. NEGRI, Diego and VIALE, Luigi (ITA) 3, 3, 25, 9 TP 40.00
2. KUSZNIEREWICZ, Mateusz and ZYCKI, Dominik (POL) 1, 1, 44, 3 TP 49.00
3. LOOF, Fredrik and EKSTROM, Anders (SWE) 27, 8, 7, 5 TP 49.00
4. MURRAY, Iain and PALFREY, Andrew (AUS) 11, 11, 5, 24 TP 51.00
5. SCHEIDT, Robert and PRADA, Bruno (BRA) 37, 12, 2, 1 TP 52.00
6. ROHART, Xavier and RAMBEAU, Pascal (FRA) 26, 21, 1, 4, 28 TP 55.00
7. MACCAUSLAND, John and Murphy (USA) 15, 4, 8, 28 TP 55.00
8. MENDELBLATT, Mark and STRUBE,Mark (USA) 2, 6, 32, 17 TP 57.00
9. BUCHAN, Carl and BUCHAN Jamie (USA) 31, 7, 12, 16 TP 66.00
10. SUZUKI, Kunio and WADA, Daichi (JPN) 9, 15, 10, 33 TP 67.00

For daily results, photos and video visit www.starworlds2008.com or www.starclass.org

Janet MAIZNER
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