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Ireland's Star keelboat sailors Peter O'Leary and Stephen Milne clinched victory in race 4 of the 97th Bacardi Cup, marking a new winner for the day in Miami, Florida. Despite their turbulent scorecard of 39, 9, 33, the duo managed to take the lead and move up to 16th place overall. The weather conditions continued to pose challenges for the teams, with the race being postponed due to rain and clouds affecting the wind. However, the teams managed to push through the squalls, rain, and sunshine, with the breeze ranging from 5-15 knots across the three courses.

O'Leary expressed his satisfaction on winning the race, stating that the Cork-Belfast duo tend to perform well in strong winds and heavy rain, which is similar to their home conditions. Looking ahead to the next two races, O'Leary acknowledged the tough competition, saying, "This is proper racing, there is nowhere to hide, really good sailors and you are sailing against the best of the best. That’s what you get in the Star. The racing is really every inch. We have left ourselves a bit of work to do, but that is ok."

The defending champions of the Bacardi Cup, Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Bruno Prada, regained their top spot in the Star fleet, ahead of the 2019 Bacardi Cup winners, Eric Doyle and Payson Infelise. While the top two teams seem to be heading towards a thrilling duel, any of the top five teams could still unseat them with the series discard set to kick in after tomorrow's race 5. Facundo Olezza and Ricardo Vadia became the top-placed U30 team in 19th place overall after their impressive 3rd place finish.

Provisional Results – Top 3 after Race 4

1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz / Bruno Prada (POL 8559) - 13 pts
2. Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise (USA 8580) - 13 pts
3. Augie Diaz / Henry Boening (USA 8509) - 24 pts

Published in Star

Cork-Belfast duo Peter O'Leary and Stephen Milne continue their march back up the 97th Bacardi Cup in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday after Monday's low opening result.

The sole Irish pair, sailing IRL 8118, 'The Iron Lotus,' finished 39th in the opening race. With a ninth scored in race two and a 33rd on Wednesday, they are in 18th overall in the 66-boat fleet. 

As regular Afloat readers know, O'Leary and Milne, who placed sixth in the 2023 world championships are regular top five performers on the world stage and led the fleet mid-Bacardi Cup regatta last year, finishing fourth overall.

Eric Doyle and Payson Infelise won race 3 on Biscayne Bay to claim the overall lead in the Bacardi Cup, pushing overnight leaders Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Bruno Prada into second place.

The conditions were challenging, with 10-12 knot southerly breeze and chop making downwind particularly difficult.

Despite that, Doyle/Infelise made their move and won the race. John Dane III/Dave Martin finished second. Diaz/Boening claimed fifth place and climbed to third overall on the leaderboard.

Provisional Results – Top 10 after Race 3

1. Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise (USA 8580) - 7 pts
2. Mateusz Kusznierewicz / Bruno Prada (POL 8559) - 11 pts
3. Augie Diaz / Henry Boening (USA 8509) - 19 pts
4. Lars Grael / Ubiratan Matos (BRA 8392) - 24 pts
5. Jørgen Schönherr / Markus Koy (DEN 8532) - 27 pts
6. John MacCausland / Peter Sangmeister (USA 8448) - 34 pts
7. John Dane III / Dave Martin (USA 8230) - 36 pts
8. Johann Spitzauer / Christian Nehammer (AUT 8529) - 38 pts
9. Piet Eckert / Frederico Melo (SUI 8575) - 38 pts
10. Will Stout / Parker Mitchell (USA 8538) - 41 pts.

Published in Star

Cork-Belfast duo Peter O'Leary and Stephen Milne bounced back from an untypical low opening result in the 97th Bacardi Cup in Miami, Florida on Monday to post a top ten in the 66-boat fleet in the second race on Tuesday.

The sole Irish pair, sailing IRL 8118, 'The Iron Lotus', who finished 39th in the opening race, have moved to 23rd overall with a ninth scored in race two. As regular Afloat readers know, O'Leary and Milne, who are consistently formidable (with a sixth in the 2023 world championships), led the fleet mid-regatta last year, finishing fourth overall.

Defending champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada dominated day two with an impressive lead of one and a half minutes. Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise claimed a superb pin end start to finish second and move up to second overall. Boat speed rewarded George Szabo/Guy Avalon to make a remarkable recovery from their 34th place finish yesterday and move up to 16th overall.

Racing continues on Wednesday, March 6, with a midday start. 
Provisional Results – Top 10 after Race 2
1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz / Bruno Prada (POL 8559) - 3 pts
2. Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise (USA 8580) - 6 pts
3. Lars Grael / Ubiratan Matos (BRA 8392) - 8 pts
4. Piet Eckert / Frederico Melo (SUI 8575) - 13 pts
5. Augie Diaz / Henry Boening (USA 8509) - 14 pts
6. Jørgen Schönherr / Markus Koy (DEN 8532) - 17 pts
7. Johann Spitzauer / Christian Nehammer (AUT 8529) - 19 pts
8. Josh Powell / Mark Strube (USA 8522) - 20 pts
9. Ante Razmilovic / Brian Hammersley (GBR 8443) - 23 pts
10. Paul Cayard / Frithjof Kleen (USA 8550) - 28 pts

Published in Star

A last-race win gave Ireland's Peter O'Leary and Stephen Milne sixth overall at the Star World Championships in Italy on Sunday.

The Cork-Belfast pair, who suffered a black flag setback on the penultimate day, bounced back after discard yesterday in the six races series to be sixth overall by a point.

A pair of 30-year-old German sailors, Max Kohlhoff and Ole Burzinski, who joined the Star Class three years ago thanks to the U30 programme in Kiel, were crowned World Champions in Marina di Scarlino.

Max Kohlhoff and Ole Burzinski have been crowned 2023 Star World Champions in Marina di Scarlino, Tuscany. The German duo started the Championship with a bullet and ended it with a golden star affixed to their mainsail, fulfilling a lifelong dream shared by over 200 Star sailors in Scarlino. 

Star World Champions 2023 - 30-year-old German sailors, Max Kohlhoff and Ole Burzinski Photo: Martina OrsiniStar World Champions 2023 - 30-year-old German sailors, Max Kohlhoff and Ole Burzinski Photo: Martina Orsini

"Since we started three years ago, our goal was always to win the gold star to put on the mainsail. We believed it was possible, but it was definitely hard work... and doing it here, on our second attempt, is unbelievable!" commented Max Kohlhoff. 

The final day of the 2023 Star World Championship started with a different breeze from the north. The day's first race started around 11:15 AM with 7/8 knots of wind speed, but it varied throughout the four legs, with a gentle but constant shift to the right. For the last race, the wind came even more from the right, 050 degrees, and the wind speed varied from as little as 5 knots to as much as 13. 

O’Leary and Milne were the best at reading the wind throughout the last race, even though the first at both the top mark and the gate were the Americans Doug Smith and Brian O’Mahony. Negri/Sodano and Eckert/Melo finished eighth and 12th respectively, which was enough to keep them both on the podium: the Swiss/Portuguese team won silver, and the Italians took bronze.

The 2023 Star World Championship comes to a close with the prize-giving at the Yacht Club Isole di Toscana. The event will be remembered for the excitement of having two new young Star World Champions, emerging from a successful U30 programme run by Arnd Glunde in the North of Germany. This is a sign of hope for a Class that's more than 100 years old, which has seen great legends of the sport raise the 100-year-old trophy and can continue to produce champions.

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A black flag disqualification in race three has dented the overall prospects of Ireland's Peter O'Leary and Stephen Milne at the Star World Championships in Italy.

In a fleet of 96, the Cork-Belfast pairing are lying 28th after four races sailed and delays to the schedule with either no wind or too much of it at Marina di Scarlino, Tuscany.

As Afloat reported earlier, the Irish pair got off to a great start with a fifth in the first race.

Piet Eckert with Frederico Melo finished Race Four in fourth position, and their solid scorecard allows them to be the overall leader before the final two races on Sunday and the discard. Max Kohlhoff with Ole Burzinski are second, and Diego Negri with Alessandro Sodano fell to third with 15th place in the last race.
Organisers say the plan for Sunday's final day is to have two more races, with the first start scheduled at 10:30 AM. The forecast calls for a north breeze of up to 15 knots.

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The Cork Harbour and Belfast Lough pairing of Peter O'Leary and Stephen Milne lie 11th from 94 starters at the 2023 Star keelboat World Championship in Tuscany, Italy.

The Championship finally began at Marina di Scarlino after two windless days of waiting. The 100 teams, representing 25 countries in Italy, were relieved when a southerly wind of 10 knots blew on the racecourse. The first race commenced as scheduled, following a general recall that ended in a U flag hoisting by the Race Committee led by PRO Giancarlo Crevatin.

German former Finn Sailor Max Kohlhoff and Ole Burzinski led the first race, followed by current Star World title holder Diego Negri and new young crew member Alessandro Soldano, then Doug Smith/Brian O’Mahony, Enrico Chieffi/Nando Colaninno, and the Swiss duo Piet Eckert and Frederico Melo. The Germans claimed first place in the championship, followed by Negri/Soldano, Eckert/Melo, Enrico Chieffi with Nando Colaninno, and the Irish duo of Peter O’Leary/Steve Milne in fifth place.

Race two followed three general recalls with a black flag that had everyone paying more attention to the line. Matthew Rajacich with Eric Wagner led the race, followed by Eugenio Cingolani/Juan Francisco Carrasquet, Jurg Wittich/Christian Trachsel, and Paolo Nazzaro/Alessandro Vongher. However, the latter team was subsequently disqualified with a black flag (BFD), taking them out of the race. Italian America’s Cup skipper Flavio Favini, participating in his first Star World Championship, won the second race with local crew Nicolas Seravalle.

Piet Eckert and Frederico Melo showed consistency throughout the championship, making them the current leaders in the overall ranking. However, the winner of the last two Star World titles is only one point behind them, and American Scott Barnard, with World Champion crew Phil Trinter, is not too far behind in third place. The Mid-Week Award Ceremony and presentation of the Harry Gale Nye Trophy, which recognizes an individual's outstanding contribution to the ISCYRA, will take place tonight at the Marina di Scarlino.

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It all came down to the final race in the battle for the 96th Bacardi Cup in Miami on Saturday, with eight teams theoretically in the running for the trophies. After two general recalls, the elite of Star sailing embarked on a 5-leg race.

Unfortunately for overnight leaders Peter O'Leary and Stephen Milne, who were on an upward trajectory all week on Biscayne Bay, the Cork-Belfast pairing scored a 20th dropping them from the lead and the podium into fourth overall.

Hans Spitzauer/Christian Nehammer led to the first mark, but with series, frontrunners close behind they were off podium contention. Kusznierewicz/Prada thought they had a disadvantage by choosing the left side, but it played out well as they rounded in third.

From early, it was evident huge disappointment was on the cards for O'Leary/Milne. After finishing the Bacardi Cup in 2nd place three times, they dreamed 2023 would be their year. They started on the right side of the course but couldn’t execute their plan and slowly slipped through the pack.

Kusznierewicz/Prada reeled in Spitzauer/Nehammer to go for the win. Rounding the final upwind mark, they had a 30 second advantage, extending even further to the leeward mark. The other teams could only battle it out for second and third.

Their passion for a perfect mission was precisely executed, and by the finish Kusznierewicz/Prada secured over a one-minute lead to win the 96th Bacardi Cup. The duo made history last year as the first ever same-crew team to win three consecutive times and are now back in the history books with their fourth successive win. No skipper or crew has ever achieved that.

“Sometimes I am thinking how much longer we can go,” grinned Kusznierewicz. “But I must say at the beginning it is a great fun, pleasure but also an honour to sail with Bruno. Unbelievable how I enjoy the week spent together. Thanks Bruno.”

“The week was a tough one. Mateusz started the week a little bit sick, we had the ‘old man’s funeral,” said Prada, in reference to the passing of Gonzalo Diaz, a renowned sailing personality and father of Augie Diaz. “It was tough to have our minds focused on the regatta, but we were able to manage all these outside odds and still we are super happy.”

“It was the toughest win out of the four,” continued Kusznierewicz. “The level of the competition was very high, and the five top teams were sailing just brilliantly. They played strategy and tactics very well. This time we had to fight to the end, but I like it.”

Whilst appreciating their momentous achievement, Prada had another motivation to win, rivalry with an old friend, saying, “For me the only important thing is to be ahead of the best crew in the world, that’s Frithjof. Once I am ahead of him, I am happy! I am not worried about records, if I am ahead of the best.”

“I know that he really likes the winning,” chipped in Kusznierewicz. “The race when we finished 21, Bruno was so angry. He is addicted to winning. I say, ‘let’s have some fun’, and he says, ‘you know how I spell fun, W-I-N’! This is good, this is what I like, because we are athletes. We really enjoy sailing and competition.”

They have already confirmed they will return in 2024, with Kusznierewicz affirming, “Once you have Bacardi, you want to have it more.”

A meticulous performance from Kusznierewicz/Prada who celebrated their remarkable achievement by sipping Bacardi rum from the iconic Bacardi Cup and Tito Bacardi Cup trophies at the prize giving to huge applause.

In paying tribute, Eddie Cutillas said, “Last year, you made history as the first same team crew to ever achieve three back-to-back wins. Whilst there had been skippers who had won three times in a row and crew who had won three times in a row, never had the same skipper and crew won three times in a row.”

“This year, you go one better and become the first skipper or crew to ever win four times in a row in the ninety-six-year history of the Bacardi Cup. Simply phenomenal. I don’t want to predict the future of the Bacardi Cup, but it is going to be a long time before anyone will ever have a chance at breaking your record,” Cutillas concluded.

As custodians of the Bacardi Cup for four years, the legacy secured by Kusznierewicz/Prada will be hard to beat. However, the quest for dominance and ambition to be part of the rich heritage of the Bacardi Cup will continue.

A sixth-place finish for Eivind Melleby/Mark Strube upgraded them to second overall, and Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise crossed the line in 3rd to leapfrog from leader board fifth to third.

Star Final Results – Top 4

  1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada (POL) - 15 pts
  2. Eivind Melleby/Mark Strube (NOR) - 21 pts
  3. Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise (USA) - 26 pts
  4. Peter O'Leary and Stephen Milne (IRL) 29 pts

Prizes were presented to the top five and to winners in the age divisions:

  • U30 (skipper under 30) - Matthew Rajacich/Eric Wagner
  • Master (skippers aged 50 through 59) - Eivind Melleby/Mark Strube
  • Grand Master (skippers aged 60+) - Paul Cayard/Frithjof Kleen
  • Exalted Grand Master (skippers aged 70+) - Larry Whipple/Killian Weise

The 2024 Bacardi Cup will be held from March 3-9

Results here

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Ireland’s Peter O'Leary/Stephen Milne finished second in race three of the Star class Bacardi Cup in Miami on Thursday and moved to sixth overall.

The Cork-Belfast pairing have moved up the rankings from their opening score of 17th on Monday. A fifth place in race two moved them into the top ten on Wednesday, and now they are six points off the podium with three races left to sail.

Two general recalls for the Star as the fleet re-contested yesterday’s abandoned race 2. A five-leg race in 12 knots of breeze tested teams’ endurance and displayed their vast sailing prowess. Never underestimating the fleet quality, five of the boats inside the race top ten carried the gold Star mainsail logo awarded to World Champions.

Yet again Piet Eckert/Frederico Melo led the fleet to the first mark, before 2019 Bacardi Cup champions Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise dismantled the opposition to take the lead and the win after a battle in the second upwind. They were at their best and making up for yesterday’s BFD error. However, their scorecard won’t be realised on the leader board until the discard kicks in after race 5. They currently sit in 25th from scores of 3,1, 74 (BFD).

“It was a little tough to take yesterday, it got us a little fired up,” reflected Doyle on their penalty score. “It was good motivation to get us back in the regatta.”

Speaking on today’s win, he continued, “We are happy when it is windy and shifty is pretty nice too. It is anybody’s game then. But if you are feeling confident and feeling good you can tack on the shifts, try and surf a little downwind and be a little bold at times, which we like.”

Team work is key said Infelise, “We work well, our communication in the boat is really good, so we know what moves are coming at what time. We are very happy with it.”

In reference to the BFD penalty, Doyle added, “We can’t make any mistakes now. There are so many good guys, we have got to go for it. It has put us in a little bit of a corner. We have got to have some bold races if we want to win the regatta. That is what we are here for, and it is going to be fun.”

Defending Champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada finished in third and gear up to top the leader board, with overnight leaders Eivind Melleby/Mark Strube finishing two places behind and now second overall.

Star Provisional Results – Top 5 after Race 3

1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada (POL) - 12 pts
2. Eivind Melleby/Mark Strube (NOR) - 14 pts
3. Hans Spitzauer/Christian Nehammer (AUT) - 18 pts
4. Piet Eckert/Frederico Melo (SUI) - 22 pts
5. Leandro Altolaguirre/Lucas Altolaguirre (ARG) - 22 pts

Results here

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The Bacardi Cup for the Star Class will kick off on March 5, and double Olympic keelboat helmsman Peter O'Leary from Royal Cork and Baltimore will add Irish interest to the 75-boat regatta.

O'Leary will race Star IRL 8465 Verticoli with Ante Razmilovic, the 2022 Etchells World Champion in the 96th edition of the Cup.

Since 1927, forty-five different teams have claimed Bacardi Cup glory. Defending champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada are the first same-crew partnership to complete a three-peat, with wins in 2019, 2020 and 2022. While they return to attempt another title defence, it will take a lot more work before they edge close to Ding Schoonmaker, who remains the most prolific Bacardi Cup champion with eight victories.

Double Olympic keelboat helmsman Peter O'LearyDouble Olympic keelboat helmsman Peter O'Leary

Racing gets underway at 1200 hours on March 6, featuring plenty of big names amongst the runners and riders, including Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise who won in 2019, and finished second in 2022 and 2021. Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic/Tudor Bilic, who picked up the silver medal at the 2022 and 2021 Star Worlds, will be looking to upgrade on their 14th place from last year. Ever present are Paul Cayard/Frithjof Kleen, who most recently raced together at the 2022 Star Worlds claiming bronze and finished 7th in Miami last year. Jack Jennings/Pedro Trouche have proven a force, racking up two race wins last year but countered with scores that placed them in 6th overall. From Norway, Eivind Melleby/Joshua Revkin lay claim to many Star successes, but as yet the Bacardi Cup has remained elusive.

Launched in 2023, the Bacardi Cup U30 Programme supports participation by skippers and crew under thirty, with six teams set to benefit from the program this year.

The venerated Bacardi Cup and Tito Cup will be the highlight of the awards ceremony, with other sought-after prizes awarded to the top finishing U30 team, Masters (skippers aged 50 through 59), Grand Masters (skippers aged 60 and above) and Exalted Grand Masters (skippers aged 70 and above). As always, the Tammy Rubin-Rice Trophy is presented to the highest-placing team who did not otherwise win an award.

See the current entry list here

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Baltimore Sailing Club’s Star keelboat pair Peter and Robert O’Leary look to be the most likely Irish duo to fly the tricolour at the centenary Star Worlds in Marblehead, Massachusetts this September.

The 2022 Star World Championship from 8-17 September will mark 100 years of history since the first World Championship was held in 1922. 

This year’s event at the Eastern Yacht Club will also celebrate one of sailing’s most popular, successful and appreciated boat and its legends.

The world’s best Star sailors will be etched into history on the event’s coveted trophies | Credit: YCCS/Studio BorlenghiThe world’s best Star sailors will be etched into history on the event’s coveted trophies | Credit: YCCS/Studio Borlenghi
Remaining true to the heritage of the Star Class since 1922, the Worlds will be contested over six days with one long daily race, bringing together the world’s best in class alongside emerging talent in a battle of endurance, fitness, strategy and competition.

The single-race format is also reflected at the iconic Bacardi Cup, partner of the Star Class since 1927, at which the O’Leary brothers finished just shy of a podium place this past March in Miami.

Staking a place on the Star World Championship leaderboard remains as competitive as ever and the challenge for victory is as tough as the first edition back in 1922.

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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 type sloop
Mast length 9.652 m (31 ft 8 in)
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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