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O'Leary Takes Second at Star Easterns on Lake Attersee

9th September 2019
Peter O'Leary (right) and Joost Houweling racing in the Star at Attersee Peter O'Leary (right) and Joost Houweling racing in the Star at Attersee Photo: Irene Schanda

It looks like Baltimore Sailing Club's Peter O'Leary made the most of his two boat tuning in Star keelboats in Cork Harbour back in July as the double Olympian took second in the Star Eastern Championships in Austria today with new crew Joost Houweling of Holland.

The Eastern Hemisphere Championship has just dropped the curtains on Attersee, Austria, after staging a wonderful show with different conditions every day, so that the sailors had to adjust again and again to the wind, weather and waves and could not lower their attention. Wednesday was the "last summer day"; Thursday is the day between the seasons and Friday is called the "first autumn day" here in Attersee: winds from the north, up to 17 knots, 30 km / h, with big waves and the water almost ink black, proved the saying right.

The final ranking was decided only on the last day. The fleet was extremely nervous for the first start and as a result there were two general recalls before the committee hoisted the Black Flag that put the fleet in order. Third time was the charm and the last day was on.

Alexey Zhivotovskiy from Russia was the best at mastering the conditions on this last day. He was in the lead at the first windward mark, and kept the lead until the very end to win the race. Second place went to Peter O'Leary from Ireland, who kept improving over the week. The third place went to Christian Paucksch from Germany with his crew Vera Geck from Austria. She was the first woman on the podium in this series. The overall leader Augie Diaz closed the race with a 4th place and that was enough to ensure him the Eastern Hemisphere Championship title and he decided to not compete in the seventh race. Star Class President, Hubert Merkelbach from Germany, lost his last small chance to win the title with a 17th place finish.

“The Attersee is a beautiful lake and the sailing there is very good – said EHC Winner Augie Diaz – but, what makes the Attersee so special, is the people! The Club and organizers did a great job and they made us feel very welcome. I really enjoyed sailing with Christian Nehammer and the Attersee is his home so he knows the lake well- big advantage for us. The key for us was that we were fast and were able to be consistent”.

The start of the seventh and final race followed immediately afterwards. The big surprise at the first mark was Albert Sturm, a 77-year-old Austrian Star sailor, rounding first and heading downwind on his own. The winner of the 4th race, Piet Eckert, was able to take the win also in the last one, with Hubert Merkelbach getting back on track and securing a 2nd place finish, followed by Haico de Boer (NED), in third with crew Pedro Trouche.

The 2016 Star World Champion, Augie Diaz (USA), with his crew Christian Nehammer (UYC Attersee), earned another title for his rich collection. He didn’t manage to get a single bullet in the series, but with an absolutely consistent performance, he is the 2019 Eastern Hemisphere Champion. He won the series with an 8 point margin and a great score sheet: 2, 2, 3, 6, 2, 4, DNC!! The 2nd place went to Peter O'Leary (IRL) with Joost Houweling, who registered solid improvements throughout the week, (7, 11, 2, 18, 1, 2, 4).

One of the surprises of Attersee, was undoubtedly Haico de Boer from The Netherlands with his Brazilian crew Pedro Trouche. He has never shown at a major international event, but we shall expect it from now on. Hubert Merkelbach was one of the favourites with crew Markus Koy, both German, but three not so strong finishes ruined their overall results. They managed to finish 4th overall with 13, 1, 1, 2, 14, 14, 2.

The second Silver Star at stake for September is the North American Championship, beginning tomorrow, the 10th, at Toms River Yacht Club, New Jersey USA, with the official Opening Ceremony.

Results are here (just overlook the Italian flag for O'Leary's sole Irish entry!) 

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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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