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Cork's O'Leary Brothers 14th at Star Europeans, Brazilian Pair Win on Lake Garda

19th May 2019
Winners Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening of Brazil celebrate victory on Lake Garda Winners Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening of Brazil celebrate victory on Lake Garda Photo: Marc Rouiller

Peter O'Leary and Robert O'Leary from Baltimore Sailing Club and Royal Cork Yacht Club have finished 14th overall in a fleet of 90 at the Star Sailors League Breeze Grand Slam and European Championship in Italy. 

Results are here

In the end, the event went the way of Brazilian pairing Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening who had been the dominant force for much of the week at the Star Sailors League Breeze Grand Slam and European Championship, but they did not have it all their own way

It was an early start and a long day out on the water for some, with a single final qualifying race at 08:30 followed by two knockout races before the winner-takes-all final. Racing was once again held in the Peler wind, running from north to south down the lake and, as in the previous day, the cooler air funneling down two valleys created some significant shifts, particularly at the top end of the course where the breeze softened and the shifts increased in both size and frequency.

The qualifying series, quarter final, and semi final could scarcely have delivered a more mouthwatering final. Of those who made it through from the qualifying series, it was early showers for Eric Doyle (USA) and Payson Infelise (USA), Fredrik Lööf (SWE) and Brian Fatih (USA), and Hubert Merkelbach (GER) and Markus Koy (GER). They were soon followed home by Roberto Benamati (ITA) and Alberto Ambrosini, and Eivind Melleby (NOR) and Joshua Revkin (USA) and Diego Negri (ITA) with Frithjof Kleen (GER).

This left four teams who had been standout performers all week and it was hard to call who might walk away with the title. Of: Scheidt and Boening; Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Frederico Melo (POR); Paul Cayard (USA) and Arthur Lopes (BRA); and Xavier Rohart (FRA) and Pierre Alexis Ponsot (FRA).

Rohart and Ponsot in particular had found incredible form at the tail end of the event, winning the final race of the penultimate day, then the first race this morning, before picking up another win and a second in the knockout stages.

It was Kusznierewicz and Melo, however, who finished qualifying in top spot, earning a free pass to the four-boat final. They may well wonder whether this was a blessing or a curse as they appeared to struggle to get fired up in their single final race and never really challenged for the win.

For his part Cayard, celebrating his 60th birthday out on the rainy Lake Garda, was also looking solid and his unparalled tactical skill was coming into its own as the fleet sizes reduced. “To win this, you will need a perfect start, be fast and then it will come down to some metres here or there at some point,” he predicted ahead of the start.

The American sailor, so revered here in Italy for skippering the Italian Il Moro di Venezia to Louis Vuitton Cup success back in 1992, barely put a foot wrong early on and led for the first lap of the final race. However, a split in the fleet saw Rohart and Scheidt, on the right of the second beat, sail past. By the final windward mark the French led Scheidt by a distance, with Cayard and Kusznierewicz further back still.

“We’ve tried really hard in the last few days to develop our downwind skills,” explained Rohart after racing. “And we said on that last upwind ‘okay, right we need to make a big gap here to prevent him coming back’, but Robert is such a specialist it was always going to be tough.”

With lighter winds and limited waves, Scheidt’s downwind speed advantage appeared reduced in the semi final, even with free pumping allowed and it was easy to believe the French had done enough by the final windward mark to take victory. What followed was a nail-biting race to the finish with Scheidt clawing in metres on the French team using all his skill to finally overhaul them right at the line. In winning, the Brazilian pairing claim the SSL Breeze Grand Slam title, European Championship title, and the biggest stake of the $100,000 prize purse. No doubt Scheidt will return to his home here in Garda a very tired, but happy man.

Despite a variable forecast and unusually wet weather, the first ever combined Star Sailor’s League Grand Slam Breeze and European Championship has been an outstanding success. Among the 92 boats competing where some of the finest sailors you will find anywhere in the world, but also taking part where any number of amateurs and weekend sailors going up against their heroes.

Most of the fleet will gather again in less than a month’s time in Porto Cervo, Italy, for the 2019 Star World Championship, where a fair amount of SSL Ranking points will be at stake and the World title, and then, the top 10 ranked with up to 15 VIPs will attend the SSL Finals 2019 in Nassau, The Bahamas, from December 2nd to the 7th.

1 BRA Robert Scheidt Henry Boening
2 FRA Xavier Rohart Pierre-Alexis Ponsot
3 USA Paul Cayard Arthur Lopes
4 POL Mateusz Kusznierewicz Frederico Melo
5 ITA Diego Negri Frithjof Kleen
6 NOR Eivind Melleby Joshua Revkin
7 ITA Roberto Benamati Alberto Ambrosini
8 GER Hubert Merkelbach Markus Koy
9 SWE Fredrik Lööf Brian Fatih
10 USA Eric Doyle Payson Infelise

Published in Star
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The Star keelboat is a 6.9 metres (23 ft) one-design racing keelboat for two people designed by Francis Sweisguth in 1910.

The Star was an Olympic keelboat class from 1932 through to 2012, the last year keelboats appeared at the Summer Olympics at which Ireland's representatives were Peter O'Leary and David Burrows.

Ireland has performed well in the class internationally thanks to some Olympic campaigns including a bronze medal at the Star World Championships in 2000, won by Mark Mansfield and David O'Brien.

The boat is sloop-rigged, with a mainsail larger in proportional size than any other boat of its length. Unlike most modern racing boats, it does not use a spinnaker when sailing downwind. Instead, when running downwind a whisker pole is used to hold the jib out to windward for correct wind flow.

Early Stars were built from wood, but modern boats are of fibreglass and carbon construction.

The boat must weigh at least 671 kg (1,479 lb) with a maximum total sail area of 26.5 m2 (285 sq ft).

The Star class pioneered an unusual circular boom vang track, which allows the vang to effectively hold the boom down even when the boom is turned far outboard on a downwind run.

Another notable aspect of Star sailing is the extreme hiking position adopted by the crew and at times the helmsman, who normally use a harness to help hang low off the windward side of the boat with only their lower legs inside.

At A Glance – Star Specifications

Designer Francis Sweisguth
Year 1910
Crew 2 (Skipper + Crew)
S + 1.5 C ≤ 250 kg (550 lb)[1]
Draft 1.016 m (3 ft 4 in)
Hull Type keelboat
Hull weight ≥ 671 kg (1,479 lb)
(including keel)
LOA 6.922 m (22 ft 9 in)
LWL 4.724 m (15 ft 6 in)
Beam 1.734 m (5 ft 8 in) at deck
1.372 m (4 ft 6 in) at chine
Hull appendages
Keel/board type bulb keel
401.5 ± 7 kg (885 ± 15 lb)
Rig
Rig type sloop
Mast length 9.652 m (31 ft 8 in)
Sails
Mainsail area 20.5 m2 (221 sq ft)
Jib/genoa area  6.0 m2 (65 sq ft)
Upwind sail area ≤ 26.5 m2 (285 sq ft)

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