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Royal Cork's O'Leary Brothers Lying Third at Star Bacardi Cup

4th March 2020
Robert (left) and Peter O'Leary in race two of the Bacardi Cup on Biscayne Bay Robert (left) and Peter O'Leary in race two of the Bacardi Cup on Biscayne Bay Photo: Martina Orsini

Royal Cork Yacht Club's Peter and Robert O'Leary are third overall after two races sailed at the 93rd Star Bacardi Cup in Miami, USA yesterday. 

On the second day, the sixty-five teams were greeted by warmer temperatures and a cloudy sky at Coral Reef Yacht Club, the now home of the event which was first held in Havana, Cuba, in 1927.

With a tricky 8-10 knots of breeze from the southeast, the 165 sailors left the dock ready for the starting sequence at 1155 hours to battle it out in one endurance race per day, as per the traditional format of the Star Class. The Race Committee hoisted the ‘U’ flag but that didn’t cool down the spirits of the fiery teams kicking off the line, as the first start ended up in a general recall. Principal Race Officer Carl Schellbach opted for the penalty threat of the black flag for the second attempt and got race two off to a clean start.

The starting line-up boasts one hundred and thirty sailors from over fifteen nations and a fleet packed with former and reigning World Champions, who are easily spotted by the gold star on their mainsail, and Olympic medalists. With such massive depth in elite performance, numerous teams can mount a credible bid for victory and most of the big names opted for the Committee end of the line. Only local super hero Augie Diaz (USA) sniffed out a preference for the left side of the track, but by the windward mark all the best players were in the leading pack anyway. The light air guru George Szabo (USA) with crew Guy Avellon (USA)rounded the mark first, hunted down by the Danish/German team of Jorgen Shoenherr and Markus Koy, then the reigning Star World Champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Bruno Prada, and in 4th Diaz and Henry Boening (BRA). By the downwind gate the order of play was the same, with the addition of Star Class newcomer Manu Hens (BEL), who is usually found racing a Snipe, showing his talent at the helm and gearing up to sixth. Ever present in attackKusznierewicz and Prada took control of the fleet ahead of mark three and extended to the finish line to conquer race two. Adding a win to their second place from yesterday places them at the top of the leaderboard.

Nigel Young of North Sails Ireland sent this vid (below) of the sole Irish duo leaving the dock yesterday. Young himself is competing at the Bacardi Cup tomorrow in the Melges class.

“It feels great,” said five-time Star World Champion and Olympic medalist Bruno Prada. “In today’s conditions our boat is super fast and that makes our job much easier, but also today we executed what we had planned and this always feels very rewarding.”

Five-time Olympian Kusznierewicz, who also counts Olympic and World Championship medals in the Finn Class to his tally of successes, added, “I can only say that we have great communication onboard. From the minute the flags are hoisted we know exactly what to do both upwind and downwind, and the tactics come easy as we move on the racecourse. It’s a really good feeling and winning the race only shows it’s all working well.”

The 2017 Star Class World Champions Eiind Melleby (NOR) and Joshua Revkin (USA) added a 3rd to their scorecard and leap to second overall, with overnight leaders Peter and Robert O’Leary (IRL) dropping to third after their 7th place. The ‘king of the bay’ Augie Diaz, racing with Henry ‘Maguila’ Boening, finished in 2nd to advance to fourth overall. Keeping in fighting distance of the leaders are the 2019 Bacardi Cup winners, Eric Doyle and Payson Infelise (USA),who count two top 10 finishes to sit in 9th overall.

Provisional Top 10 – After 2 Races

1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada (POL 8548) - 3 pts
2. Eivind Melleby/Joshua Revkin (NOR 8234) - 7 pts
3. Peter O'Leary/Robert O'Leary (IRL 8458) - 8 pts
4. Augie Diaz/Henry Boening (USA 8509) - 9 pts
5. Diego Negri/Frithjof Kleen (ITA 8533) - 11 pts
6. Paul Cayard/Pedro Trouch (USA 8466) - 12 pts
7. Jørgen Schönherr/Markus Koy (DEN 8532) - 12 pts
8. Manu Hens/Joost Houweling (BEL 8379) - 17 pts
9. Eric Doyle/Paison Infelise (USA 8423) - 17 pts
10. George Szabo/Guy Avelon (USA 8129) - 18 pts

The Star Class is scheduled to contest a six-race series and tomorrow the fleet will head back out on the bay for race three, with the conditions forecast to be just a little windier.

Alongside overall victory in the Bacardi Cup, teams in the Star Class are also jostling for wins across the Masters (aged 50-59 years), Grand Masters (aged 60 and above) and Exalted Grand Masters (aged 70 and above) divisions.

From Thursday 5 March, the Star Class will be joined by the J70, Melges 24, Viper 640, VXOne sports boat and the foiling AV8 and Windfoil classes. The welcome party for these classes will take place on Wednesday afternoon at Shake a Leg Miami, where the Bacardi Invitational Regatta village will officially open.

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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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