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11 April 2008, 09:00 am
Star Worlds - Countdown is on
Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA with the Star World Championship trophy
Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA will defend their Star World Championship trophy in Miami

Star World Championship 2008
Miami, Florida, USA

Three cannon shots and the lowering of the American flag signaled the end of the opening ceremonies and the official start of the 2008 Star Worlds at Coral Reef Yacht Club yesterday.
All but one of the top 20 ranked Star Class teams in the world are among the 208 competitors who are prepping for the Star World Championships, held annually since 1923.

The Star Worlds 2008 will determine which countries take the last four open slots in the Olympic Games this summer in Qingdao, China and will determine for many countries, such as Germany, which Star team will represent them.

According to the International Sailing Federation's (ISAF) updated Star team rankings released on 9 April, Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ from Poland held on to his #1 spot and the greatest upward movement was Italy's luca MODENA who moved up 4 places to #15.

Ranked in the #2 spot is the Italian Diego NEGRI, followed by Xavier ROHART of France, Afonso DOMINGOS - Portugal, Fredrik LOOF - Sweden, Robert SCHEIDT - Brazil, Marc PICKEL - Germany, Hamish PEPPER - New Zealand, Flavio MARAZZI - Switzerland, Iain PERCY - Great Britain, Marin LOVROVIC JR - Croatia, Eivind MELLEBY - Norway, Iain MURRAY- Australia, Robert Robert STANJEK - Germany, luca MODENA - Italy, John Dane - USA, Peter BROMBY - Bermuda, Hans SPITZAUER- Austria and George SZABO - USA in 19th place.

Registration for the regatta is winding down while measurement of sails and rigging and weighing of the boats and sailors continues through start of racing on Friday.

At the opening ceremon y yesterday, children, ranging in age from eight to 15 and all members of the Coral Reef Youth Sailing Team, carried in the flags of the 31 nations competing in this annual championship event with team members and coaches following closely behind. Individual country anthems played as each of the teams marched into the grassed area facing Biscayne Bay.

The City of Miami presented a Mayoral Proclamation, followed by welcomes from Rich RAYMOND, POR, Commodore Brian FINK, International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Vice President George ANDREADIS, and Sir Durwood KNOWLES of the Bahamas a Star Class Olympic Gold medal winner and Commodore of the Star Class for the last 25 years.

"This is the proudest moment of my life," he told the crowd of more than 400 gathered at the Opening Ceremonies.
"The Star Class is the greatest yachting class in the world. It is where most America's Cup winners have started and it has great traditions."

Sir Knowles, who is 90 years old and has spent 70 of those years competing in the Star Class, asked the 204 competitors to work at keeping the traditions and the camaraderie of the Star Class. He explained that it was very hard "to give up the tiller, but when the 15-year-old John MacCAUSLAND (little Mac) beat me at the Bacardi Cup a while back, I knew it was time."#

The first race of the Star Worlds will be at 11.55 (local time) today, Friday 11 April.

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