After two completed races, the Swiss team of Flavio MARAZZI and Enrico DE MARIA hold the overall lead on six points. Home favourites Freddy LOOF and Johan TILLANDER (SWE) have also started strongly and are just one point behind in second place overall, with the US pairing of Mark MENDELBLATT and Mark STRUBE (USA) third on 12 points. Defending World Champions Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ and Dominik ZYCKI (POL) sit fourth on 13 points, with 2006 World Championship winning helm Hamish PEPPER and Craig MONK (NZL) completing the top five.
Another team to watch are Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA (BRA), the silver medallists at the Beijing Olympic Games and winners of the recent European Championship, who are currently eighth overall.
Youth and Enthusiasm In The Star Class
ISAF President, Göran PETERSSON (SWE) commented during his welcome address at the 2009 Star World Championship Opening Ceremonies, "When I look at the competitors' list, I can say that sailing is a lifelong sport."
PETERSSON comments go to the essence of the Star Class and sailors' affinity for the boat design, the tradition, the friendships, the competitive nature of the class and the way that the Class and it's members facilitate participation at all levels.
Junior teams from Argentina, Germany and Sweden are racing in the 2009 Star World Championships. How cool is that? Imagine being good enough to qualify for a World Championship at your own fleet and district level and creating the opportunity to sail against the likes of sailors who have collected multiple world championships and Olympic medals in classes ranging from the Lasers and Finns, to Solings, FD's, Tornados and 5.5 Meters. These juniors are also lining up against America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race skippers and crews.
As skipper and crew, Alejo RIGONI and Juan Pablo PERCOSSI (ARG), Dominik FALLAIS and Simon FALLAIS (GER) and Philip CARLSON and Benjamin PETERSON (SWE) have combined ages that are less than the individual ages of some skippers and crews. At a young age, RIGONI and PERCOSSI already have a Blue Star, which means that not only have they done well in their fleet as rookies, have won events and the fleet feels they show promise. Chevrons and colourful stars on sails are badges that every Star sailor covets throughout their lifetimes.
CARLSON and PETERSON, the youngest team here, are 19 and 20, respectively. They competed against each other in Europe dinghies and when they heard that the 2009 Star World Championship would be in nearby Varberg, the pair decided to make the most of their growth spurts and try to qualify for the Star Worlds rather than diet and sail 470s together. Still 30 kilos below max weight, they sailed the five Swedish qualifier events and finished third in their fleet and fourth in Sweden, excluding LÖÖF and TILLANDER. Later, the young Team went down to Lake Gaarda to practice with LÖÖF and TILLANDER, Nicola CELON and Edoardo NATUCCI (ITA), Lars GRAEL (BRA) with various crews. "The experience has given us a great advantage over other people our age," said CARLSON while young Swedes waited for race two of the 2009 Star World Championships.
There are plenty of other young teams at the Star World Championships who are in their mid-late 20s and early 30s who can never be ruled out of being in contention for a top 10 finish. Peter O'LEARY and Tim GOODBODY (IRL) are now 26, John GIMSON and Ed GREIG (GBR) and most of the strong German teams fall into the same category. Even 25-year-old Andrew CAMPBELL, the USA's 2008 Olympic Laser representative has qualified for USTag in the Star. He is sailing with the legendary Star crew and Olympic gold medallist and World Champion in the Star, 55-year-old Magnus LILJEDAHL. Of course, there is always a place for strong, physically fit and enthusiastic crew. Portuguese Star sailor, Afonso DOMINGOS is sailing with 21-year-old Frederico MELO, who raced in the Finn Gold Cup in Denmark. CAMPBELL is currently the youngest skipper and MELO is currently the youngest crew in the top 10 at the 2009 Star World Championship.
Whether they are confident of their Star sailing abilities or not, juniors can join the class. First time experiences are often as crew, but some hop in and take the helm. One of the next events on the Star Class calendar that includes over 220 organized regattas annually is the Western Hemisphere Youth Championship in Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire on August 14th. It is open to any skipper who has not reached his or her 25th birthday prior to the first race, and there is no - no limit the age of the crew. Past events have been great opportunities for the likes of Brad NICHOL, current member of US Team Alpha Graphics to learn from accomplished New England sailors. At this stage in his life, the regatta represents an opportunity for those with accomplished Star careers to give back to the class and to scout for talent. The Lake Sunapee Open follows the Western Hemisphere Youth Championship on 15-16 August and Star sailors of all ages are welcome to attend.
Please see www.StarClass.org for Star Western Hemisphere Youth Championship details.