Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson continued to dominate the 2010 Star World Championship with only the Swiss team of Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De Maria having an outside chance of beating them to gold in Thursay's final race.
A fourth place finish in Wednesday's penultimate race gives Iain Percy
and Andrew Simpson
(GBR) an eight-point lead over the Swiss world #1 duo of Flavio Marazzi
and Enrico De Maria
, who were sixth in race five. Percy and Simpson now only need to finish ninth or better in Thursday's final race to add the 2010 Star World Championship title to the Olympic gold medal they won in Beirjing two years ago.
At the front of the fleet in Rio on Thursday, Rick Merriman
and Phil Trinter
(USA) snatched the lead from Lars Grael
and Ronald Seifert
(BRA) on the first run of race five of the 2010 Star World Championship in Rio de Janeiro and followed up Wednesday's second place finish with a bullet. "We're smoking downwind," said Merriman. The pair watched regatta leaders Percy and Simpson gybe of inside them during the initial part of the first run and lose boats. "That was the signal to continue on without gybing," said Trinter.
The Brits had climbed into fifth place by the second weather mark and saw title rivals Marazzi and De Maria round in ninth place. To win the World Championship title with a race to spare, their job was to try to pass more boats than the Swiss, which is not an easy feat when Grael and Seifert, Torben Grael
and Marcelo Ferreira
(BRA) and Juan Kouyoumdjian
and Alejandro Colla
(ARG) are your only options, because the Americans were far in the lead. Marazzi and DeMaria's job was equally difficult with Olympians Marin Lovrovic
and Sinisa Mikulicic
(CRO), Robert Scheidt
and Bruno Prada
(BRA) and Gastao Brun
and Gustavo Kunze
(BRA) between them and the Brits. Olympians, World Champions and fast young Germans were immediately on their tail.
Percy commented on the point separation throughout the second half of the race, "We always had an eye on them. We knew that we could get fourth comfortably. We were going fast and they were fast on the runs, especially when the wind lightened."
Delighted with the day, Percy said, "I haven't thought about tomorrow's strategy. We hold all of the cards and will decide how to approach it. If the breeze is up, we'll probably yacht around and try to win the race."
"If we decide on a match race against the Swiss, we will be very confident. I have experience in the America's Cup and other boat to boat regattas," Percy added.
It's up to Marazzi and De Maria to win or take second and be eight points ahead of the Percy and Simpson in order to snatch the gold medal from the Brits.
"We are going to sail the best regatta we can. It's not entirely up to us, but we have to believe in it," said Marazzi.
To celebrate the special holiday in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian Star teams put on a dazzling show on the water. There were five Brazilians in the top 10. Grael and Seifert, who finished second, led the Brazilians. Grael and Ferreira were third, Scheidt and Prada were fifth, Brun and Kunze were eighth and Alan Adler
and Guilherme Almeida
Lars Grael remarked, "With Torben and Marcello right behind us, I knew that I had to push hard all of the time." He took special pride in his and Torben's consecutive finishes. "When we crossed the line, I saw both of my uncles [Axel and Erik Schmidt Grael] watching us from their boat and they were crying. They taught us how to sail and won the Snipe Worlds together three times, won a gold and silver medal in the Pan Am Games and represented Brazil in the Soling and the Star in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics."
Marazzi and De Maria pulled into second place overall in the regatta and are the only team who have a chance to beat Percy and Simpson. Adler and de Alemeida are in third place, 14 points behind the Swiss. Johannes Babendererde
and Timo Jacobs
(GER) are tied with Scheidt and Prada, the 2007 Star World Champions, just one point behind. Rounding out the top ten are the Grael teams, Eivind Melleby
and Petter Morland Pedersen
(NOR), Kouyoumdjian and Colla and Diego Negri
and Ferdinando Colaninno
(ITA). You can bet everyone will have their decks marked with grease pencils to help them with quick calculations during race six, the final, race of the 2010 Star World Championship in Rio de Janeiro.
Results - click here
Star World Championship Page
Get all the news, photos and more on the 2010 Star World Championship on our dedicated regatta page via the link below.
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The Star World Championship 2010 is sponsored by Banco do Brasil, Transpetro, Governo Federal, Gol Linhas Aéreas, Santa Constanza, Wollner and Secretaria Estadual de Turismo, Esporte e Lazer do Rio de Janeiro. The event is organized by Iate Clube do Rio de Janeiro, International Star Class Yacht Racing Association (ISCYRA), Confederação Brasileira de Vela e Motor (CBVM) and Federação de Vela do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (FEVERJ).