The start of the 2008 Star World Championship in Miami, USA is just a couple of days away with a host of contenders aiming to join one of the most illustrious clubs in sailing.
ISELIN, KNAPP, BEARDSLEY, BURNHAM, LIPPINCOTT, ETCHELLS, STRAULINO, NORTH, BUCHAN, ELVSTROM, PETTERSON, CONNER, BLACKALLER, MELGES, BRUN, ADAMS, CAYARD, GRAEL, REYNOLDS and SCHEIDT - it's a list that reads like a Who's Who of sailing legends. They are just some of sailing's most acclaimed skippers who have their names etched at the base of the International Star Class Yacht Racing Association (ISCYRA) World Championship Trophy. Contested annually since 1923, the handsome trophy is synonymous with the words history and prestige
Last year, in Cascais, Portugal, while the winds blasted down from the mountain tops and whipped the coastal waters up into a caldron, modern sailing's legends waited. They waited from mid-morning through the afternoon and into the early evening to see which team would be crowned the 2007 Star World Champion and which countries would gain the first ten berths in the 2008 Olympic Games in Qingdao, China. The crane operated throughout the day and one by one, boats were hoisted out of the water. First it was the silver fleet boats and gradually the gold fleet boats who didn't think that they had a chance of qualifying their country for the Games started to haul out. The television helicopter was in the air ready to film exciting races in survival conditions while the regatta organizers tried to work through all of the scheduling complications that excessive wind had wrought. Press conferences were called at regular intervals, and competitors and media alike watched the signal flags and awaited news.
Some of the sailors on the Star pier in Cascais were freshly released from their America's Cup duties and excited to get back into the pinnacle of one-design fleet racing, others were on hand to coach and still others had been campaigning throughout this quadrennium for the glory of winning the Star World Championship and the added perk of qualifying their country for the Olympic Games. One of the welcomed distractions during the long hours of waiting was to assemble past Star World Champions together for a photo. With the probability that the wind was not going to abate and that the scores from the previous day were going to stand, Robert SCHEIDT
(BRA), who was leading the regatta by four points going into the Medal Round was asked if he would pose with the group. Whether he was superstitious or did not want to be presumptuous, the eight-time Laser World Champion declined and paced around in circles while Xavier ROHART
(FRA), Iain PERCY
(GBR), Hamish PEPPER
(NZL), Torben GRAEL
(BRA), Ross MACDONALD
(CAN), Vince BRUN
(USA), Carl WILLIAMS
(NZL), Steve MITCHELL
(GBR), Pascal RAMBEAU
(FRA), Marcelo FERREIRA
(BRA), Hal HAENEL
(USA), Mark REYNOLDS
(USA), Magnus LILJEDAHL
(USA), Freddie LOOF
(SWE) and Anders EKSTROM
(SWE) gathered round the towering trophy. Later that evening, after returning from an aborted Medal Race, Brazilians SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA
were greeted at the dock by Alexander HAGEN
(GER), a two-time Star World Champion, and informally welcomed to The Club when HAGEN presented each of them with a gold star.
Many of the coveted gold stars are being proudly displayed on Biscayne Bay while over 110 teams from 30 countries tune up for the 2008 Star World Championship, hosted by Coral Reef Yacht Club. With four country berths for the 2008 Olympic Games up for grabs, some national sailing federation's Olympic trials being decided, and a gold star for the winning skipper and crew there is sure to be a ton of excitement on Biscayne Bay once the regatta starts on Friday 11 April. The entire fleet will race six challenging full-length races before we see who will be welcomed to The Club and whose names will be engraved at the base of an impressive trophy that lists an extraordinary fraternity of sailors. Follow the racing at www.StarClass.org
Star World Championship - www.starworlds2008.com