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Irish Sailing professional Maurice Prof O'Connell is working in the Bahamas this week on the broadcast team that is covering all five days of sailing of the Star Sailors League Finals live from Nassau. The regatta starts on Tuesday the 3rd of December and will end on the 7th.

No stranger to the small screen, Prof O'Connell, who works as a professional sailor and coach, and one-design expert with North Sails Ireland, provided the in-studio commentary and analysis with Digby Fox for live action on StarSailors.com last May.

There will be four days of qualification with up to 14 races in the Bahamas. Next Saturday there will be a quarter-final, a semi-final and the grand finale.

Published in Star
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The third annual Vintage Star Gold Cup will officially open tonight on Gull Lake, Michigan, USA. With 26 entries, seven nations and five gold stars on the main sails, the regatta is hosted by the Gull Lake Yacht Club and is reserved for restored Star boats. The event has been growing since the first edition in 2017, when 11 boats were on the starting line.

The Vintage Gold Cup is open to any wooden Star boat that has been restored to approximate original specifications with modern equipment that may include hiking straps and aluminum mast and boom. Also featured is a Classic Vintage Cup category for the boats that will include a wooden mast and boom.

Racing starts tomorrow, Thursday October 3rd, and will go on until Saturday October 5th. Three races are scheduled on the first two days and two for the last one. The 2019 Vintage Gold Cup champions, skipper and crew, will be awarded the perpetual “Robert M. Boudeman Family Trophy” and the class honor of the gold wreath.

The trophy has been won at previous editions by the same skipper: Paul Cayard (USA) who is the one to watch out for on the Gull Lake racecourse. Cayard took first in 2017 with crew Brian Fatih and last year with his son Danny Cayard, with whom he will defend the title this week.

On the podium with Cayard last year there were Greg Smith with crew TC Belco, and Joe Londrigran with crew John Wysockey. All of them are on the starting line again this year among other great sailors. Five Star World Champions are here including, Paul Cayard, who won it in 1988. Lars Grael, from Brazil to sail with American crew Arnis Baltins; Eivind Melleby has come from Norway with US crew Josh Revkin. The two-time Olympic champion Mark Reynolds, arrived from San Diego, with his lifelong crew Hal Haenel, and from San Diego is also the 92 year-old Malin Burnham, who won the Worlds in 1945 with crew Lowell North, sailing on Gull Lake with his son John. Another American gold star is John MacCausland, here with Rick Burgess. Finally, the reigning “Under Thirty” World Champion Luke Lawrence.

There is a packed social schedule, with dinner parties every night, starting tonight with the Opening Ceremony presented by Harken Derm, hosted by Don and Ann Parfet. Thursday dinner will be hosted at Bells Eccentric Cafe, famous Michigan brewery. Regatta partner, MAP Strategic, is presenting the Legacy Night on Friday, where the public will be able to see the boats from the newly built dock. On Saturday, the final awards ceremony hosted at the impressive Gilmore Car Museum.

The sail numbers are low in this fleet, with the youngest being a 5808, and the oldest an amazing 1010, helmed by Don Parfet, co-chair of the event with Jon VanderMolen, but the level of the competition will be very high.

Published in Historic Boats
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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!) 

Published in Star
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It looked like we were seeing double when we spotted two Star keelboats in Cork Harbour yesterday writes Bob Bateman

Both boats bore the same sail number 8527 of the O'Leary's 'Dafne', the high-end Irish Star that has featured so well internationally this season. They also both featured the decals of leading chandler, CH Marine.

The two boat session in the harbour was some mid-season 'sail testing', according to one of the helms, double Olympian Peter O'Leary.

The tune-up boat was steered by O'Leary's brother, and regular Star crew, Robert.

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As Afloat reported already this season, Robert teamed up with Australian Torvar Mirsky to produce a top-class eighth overall at the World Championships in Italy last month and in May, also in Italy, the O'Leary brothers finished 14th at the European Championships.

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Published in CH Marine Chandlery
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Australian Torvar Mirsky and Cork Harbour's Robert O'Leary finished eighth overall at last weekend's Italian-based Star World Championships in Porto Cervo.

The sole Irish Star crew teamed up with Mirsky, a renowned World Match Racing helmsman for the championship tilt, instead of his usual partnership with older brother Peter. The new pairing produced a string of consistent results and was as high as sixth place overall at one point in the event.

The best ever Irish result at a Star World Championships came in May 2000 when Cork-Dublin pairing Mark Mansfield and David O'Brien won bronze medals in the then Olympic Class on the Chesapeake in Annapolis, USA. Since then, Peter O'Leary and David Burrows came close to the podium when they finished fourth at the 2012 Worlds in Hyeres, France.

Robert OlearyAustralian Torvar Mirsky and Cork Harbour's Robert O'Leary (left) in bow number 61 competing in Porto Cervo. Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

The ninety-seventh edition of the classes World Championship ended with a victory for Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Bruno Prada followed by Augie Diaz with Henry Boening in second place and Eivind Melleby and Joshua Revkin in third. The event was held from June 17th to yesterday and saw 63 teams from 20 nations race in six races for the Championship

Just before 12.00 noon, the scheduled time for the day's start, the Race Committee hoisted the AP Flag. The start, after two General Recalls, was at about 3 PM when the wind from the northwest filled in. The breeze was at 16 to 20 knots, peaking at 22 knots towards the end of the race.

The new Star Class World Champions are Mateusz Kusznierewicz with his crew Bruno Prada: in a week where their best placement had been a second in the second race, today they were the stars of the Stars. They started in the lead and after rounding the mark lengthened their distance from the rest of the fleet finishing well ahead of the other teams. Kusznierewicz was already Star Class World Champion in 2008 so this is his second title while Bruno Prada has made Star Class history by winning this title five times. Second place goes to Augie Diaz, Star Class World Champion in 2016, with Henry Boening, currently the Star Class European Champion. Diaz also received first prize as a Star Class Gran Master, a recognition that is reserved for Star sailors who are over 60. The Norwegian Eivind Melleby and Joshua Revkin finished third in today's race and third overall.

Final top ten:
1. Mateusz Kusznierewicz / Bruno Prada, POL, 16 points
2. Augie Diaz / Henry Boening, USA, 18
3. Eivind Melleby / Joshua Revkin, NOR, 24.3
4. Marin Misura / Tonko Barac, CRO, 34
5. Diego Negri / Sergio Lambertenghi, ITA, 39
6. Paul Cayard / Artur Lopes, USA, 43
7. Roberto Bermudez De Castro/ Miguel Fernandez Vasco, ESP, 49
8. Torvar Mirsky / Robert O'Leary, IRL, 58
9. Enrico Chieffi / Manlio Corsi, ITA, 68
10. Hans Spitzauer / Christian Nehammer, AUT, 70

Published in Star
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Australian Torvar Mirsky and Cork Harbour's Robert O'Leary are up to sixth overall at this week's Italian-based Star World Championships after three races sailed in Porto Cervo. The pair sailing the Irish Star Dafne now count a 16, 8, and 10 and are two points off fourth overall. Results are downloadable below.

Yesterday was the third day of racing at the Championship organized by the YCCS in collaboration with the International Star Class Yacht Racing Association (ISCYRA) and the support of Main Partner Audi and Technical Partners Quantum Sails and Garmin Marine. The games are still open with the world class sailor Augie Diaz now in the lead followed by Eivind Melleby and Mateusz Kusznierewicz.

Again the breeze took its time to kick in and the Race Committee kept the AP flag hoisted until 1 PM. An hour later, after a general recall, the Star sailors got the event's third race underway. Breeze from the southeast was at 6 to 7 knots at first and in the end built gradually to 10 knots.

Skipper Eivind Melleby, winner of the 2017 Star Class World Championship, and his crew Joshua Revkin worked their way up through the fleet and finished in first place. This win brings them from fifth place in the provisional overall results to second. Second place today was won by Christian Paucksch with Melanie Bentele - one of just two women racing in the Championship- who have been a team to watch all through the event. The Italian Roberto Benamati, Star Class World Champion in 1991, who is sailing with Alberto Ambrosini, placed third today.

Augie Diaz and Henry Boening staged an excellent recovery and finished fourth today and thanks to this result they are currently in the lead overall, trailed by the Norwegian Eivind Melleby. Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Bruno Prada are currently in third place overall after placing eleventh today. Paul Cayard is inching up on the podium: after having finished the day in ninth place overall yesterday, he's in fourth place overall today. So the games are still open with three races left on the calendar.

The Norwegian Eivind Melleby had these words: "It was a good race with pretty stable breeze and small shifts that were hard to play but it was for everyone. Downwind we had really good speed and I think that's how we won the race. We expect to have pretty much the same conditions in the next couple of days then a bit windier on Saturday, so we're half way through the Championship and we will give it our all."

The German Christian Paucksch commented on his performance: "We had a good start on the far left near the pin and then we got every shift right up until the mark. We also had a good tactic for the first downwind run. We tried to control the fleet on the second beat and we managed to do it quite well, then on the last run the fleet split a little and we stayed with the ones going towards the shore. Eivind Melleby passed us just at the end which is too bad, but if I think that when my girlfriend and I started sailing the Star Championship together we said that we should always try to leave a boat behind. We should be very proud of ourselves today as we left quite a few behind."

Today, June 20th, the forecast calls for light and shifty breeze. The first Warning Signal is scheduled for 12 noon.

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Australian World Match Racing Tour skipper Torvar Mirsky who has teamed up with Cork Harbour's Robert O'Leary to race the sole Irish Star keelboat at this week's Italian-based World Championships is lying tenth overall after two races in Porto Cervo.

Uncertain conditions at the beginning of the second day at the Star Class World Championship gave way to typical Sardinian breezes later on and the day's racing got underway about an hour late. There are still four races to go, but after today's race the provisional scoreboard has changed: the Polish team skippered by Mateusz Kusznierewicz is in the lead followed by the teams with Augie Diaz and Tom Lofstedt in second and third places. The Championship is organized by the YCCS in collaboration with the International Star Class Yacht Racing Association (ISCRYA) and the support of Main Partner Audi and Technical Partners Quantum Sails and Garmin Marine.

This morning the Race Committee hoisted the AP flag at noon and there was a wait of an hour before the breeze filled in. After a first start ended in a general recall, the fleet of 63 Stars from 20 nations set out on the second race of this event in breeze from the north/ northwest at 7-9 knots.

Augie Diaz, Star Class World Champion in 2016 and Henry Boening, the current European Champion after his win in Riva del Garda, lead the race and were concentrated and determined. After rounding the second upwind mark still in the lead they headed straight for the finish in first place. With this win the American Diaz is currently in second place behind the Pole Mateusz Kusznierewicz who was in the top ten all throughout the day. With his second place in today's race along with his crew, the several time Olympic medalist Bruno Prada, is currently in the lead. Third place in today's race for Haico de Boer and Pedro Trouche who rolled the YCCS member Ante Razmilovic and his crew Brian Hammersley, who were in the lead today for a good part of the race. Currently in third place overall are the Swedes Tom Lofstedt with Anders Ekstrom, who finished seventh yesterday and sixth today.

Mateusz Kusznierewicz, the skipper who is in the lead of the provisional results, had these words: "It's too soon to talk about winning, there are still four races to go and the conditions could be shifty, but we're happy to be at the top for now. Our lead is narrow so anything could happen, Star World Championships are always special events. I like sailing with Bruno and even though this is our first event sailing together we're doing well. It doesn't hurt that we're in such a beautiful spot with such great conditions and with such a hospitable Club as hosts."

Today's winner Augie Diaz, commented on his day's win: "I'm happy to have won this race for two reasons: the first is 'Maguila' (crew Henry Boening) this is his first win in a Star World Championship, and the second is for Bruno Prada finishing second after a great race, who is usually my crew and whom I consider like a son. Here he's sailing with Mateusz Kusznierewicz and for now they're leading the Championship."

Tomorrow, June 19th will see the third race with the first Warning Signal scheduled for 12 noon. The forecast calls for light westerly breeze at 5-7 knots.

Overall results are downloadable below

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Cork Harbour's Peter and Robert O'Leary - and Ireland's sole entry - are 19th from 90 at the Star Sailors League Grand Slam Breeze and European Championship.

Download full results here

Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening (BRA) delivered another masterclass on the second day of racing after a big day of racing in Riva del Garda, Italy.

There will be plenty of weary sailors after an epic three-race day in winds that hovered around the high teens. But with variable winds predicted later in the week, the race committee wisely decided to take advantage of today’s weather to provide flexibility later in the series.



It was not just the breeze that was taking its toll on the teams, however, as the 1.5 mile beats consistently saw a drag race to the right-hand side of the course, making it an effective conveyer belt towards the windward mark and a hiking contest to get there first.

After day one, where tactics had been much the same as today, the race committee added some port bias to the startline to reduce the crowds at the committee boat end. It certainly saw a spread in the field with many fighting for the pin end and several teams coming unstuck in doing so. Scheidt’s day looked as though it would get off to a bad start when a port tacker managed to make a mess of the bunch of boats queuing at the pin in Race 1, of which the five-time Olympic medalist was one.

Scheidt showed his class, however, and by the first mark had miraculously hauled his way up to seventh picking off a few extra positions to finally end up third. Consistently fast, he was always near the front and was usually able to pick off a few spots downwind, showing once again why he is considered by many to be the best downwind sailor in the world. His 3, 5, 2 scoreline across the three races sees him lead the overall results by some six points, but there were plenty of other teams looking dangerous in these testing conditions.

Diego Negri (ITA), sailing with Frithjof Kleen (GER) also had a good day picking up a 1, 10, 3. With another win on their scorecard from day one and a discard in play after four races – allowing them to drop a UFD (over the startline) in yesterday’s second race – they now sit at 2nd overall and, like Scheidt, are looking consistently strong downwind. “I think downwind I have often been quick and I think that comes from sailing a Laser all those years,” Negri explained. “It has been a while for me since I sailed a Laser, but the years sailing that boat put you in touch with the waves and that was very important today. But Frithjof was also doing a great job working the boat today.”

Another sailor showing their form was 2012 Olympic star gold medalist, Freddie Lööf (SWE), who improved throughout the day to take the win in the final race by a country mile. Lööf was one of those who struggled near the raft of boats at the pin end in race one: “The first race was difficult as the left side of the startline was really biased, so it was hard to get out of that side. Then they changed things later on and it was great for the rest of the day. It was still hard to get off the line and get over to the cliffs in space but that is the same for everyone.” Lööf’s 11, 3, 1 is particularly impressive as his crew, Brian Fatih (USA), is nursing an injury after being hit in the back by another boat yesterday.

One of yesterday’s top performers, Paul Cayard (USA), looked set to continue his form, taking a second in the first race of the day. But bad starts in the second and third races saw him struggling to break into the very top placings. His 2, 24, 10 over the course of the day is hardly a disaster and he did extremely well to mitigate the damage, but he’ll expect better results tomorrow.

If the day cannot be categorized as a disaster for Cayard then the last race of the day will certainly be labelled such by Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Frederico Melo (POR) who were looking fast all day taking a sixth in race one and victory by a big margin in race two. “For us we have been really enjoying the downwind and I think we have been going really fast,” Mateusz said at the end of the second race. But fighting for a podium position on the final run of the day the Pole’s mast snapped in two leaving him to drift towards the finish ­– where he still managed to pick up a 27th for his drifting efforts.

Tomorrow looks set for more of the same with a 1pm start and two races scheduled, and will be streamed live on internet with expert commentary from double Olympic gold medallist, Shirley Robertson (GBR) and Star Olympic campaigner and coach, Maurice O’Connell (IRL). On the water, the latest in hi-tech camera technology, as well as 3D tracking Graphics, will provide thrilling viewing.

1 BRA Robert Scheidt Henry Boening
2 ITA Diego Negri Frithjof Kleen
3 POL Mateusz Kusznierewicz Frederico Melo
4 USA Paul Cayard Arthur Lopes
5 SWE Fredrik Lööf Brian Fatih
6 USA Eric Doyle Payson Infelise
7 FRA Xavier Rohart Pierre-Alexis Ponsot
8 ITA Roberto Benamati Alberto Ambrosini
9 GER Ubert Merkelbach Markus Koy
10 CRO Marin Misura Tonko Barac

Published in Star
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Cork Harbour brothers Peter and Robert O'Leary are lying 13th overall after the opening day of the first ever combined Star Sailors League Breeze Grand Slam and Star European Championships dawned with a change in conditions from the blue skies and sunshine, which had filled the skies over Rival del Garda, Italy, for the practice race.

With little-to-no breeze in the morning, the reliable Ora wind dutifully arrived somewhat earlier than usual and was already blowing hard by the time some of the legends of the fleet had concluded a formal press conference at 11am.

Check out the video and analysis from our own Prof O'Connell as he is interviewed by Star Class presenter Digby Fox below.

With the cold breeze firmly in and grey skies covering the beautiful Lake Garda, it was a hesitant fleet who headed out to the race course with many choosing a last minute coffee in the Yacht Club bar before finally getting into their sailing kit and making their way to the race area.

Once onto the racecourse, however, it was a slightly different picture. With the Ora funneling up the lake and Riva del Garda located on the very northernmost shore, the wind was slightly more moderate when the sailors reached the startline – though it still looked like it was going to be a tough day at the office with the wind holding in the high teens.

With a few minutes to go until the first start, it became obvious that the right hand side of the course was favoured by most teams, with the majority of the fleet lining up at the committee boat end of the line jostling for space. Clearly this was going to be a classic Garda race with teams vying to get away from the startline in space and be the first to tack at the cliffs on the right of the course, where the pressure was greatest and the wind funnels down the edge of the lake.

During the morning’s press conference the sailors had been asked who they thought might win the event and all had replied in the expected humble tones, praising the quality of the competition and saying it was anyone’s game. One of those hotly tipped to take the title this week, Paul Cayard (USA), had replied that he was “just happy to be here sailing a Star” and that “was winning already.”

Cayard’s start to race one, however, told a different story, one of a man entirely more determined to take victory on the water this week. He, along with crew Arthur Lopes timed their run into the committee boat end to perfection and hit the line at pace. Closest to the committee boat, they also had the space to tack off to the favoured side of the course as, and when, they chose.

Italy’s Diegro Negri sailing with Frithjof Kleen (GER), and Roberto Benamati and Alberto Ambrosini (ITA) both also had strong starts at the committee boat end and got away towards the cliffs in the leading bunch. Five-time Olympic medalist Robert Scheidt (BRA) was also in the running with this leading pack.

Garda, when the Ora is blowing, can be something of a one-way track and today was no exception. The biggest challenge for the sailors was spotting the layline for the windward mark from a long way out with many losing places by going too far and overstanding. Scheidt, long known for his downwind prowess was looking quick in these breezy conditions but the skies where starting to clear and the wind was moderating somewhat already. By the bottom mark the Brazilian had moved himself up to third and was hot on the heels of Cayard with Negri still holding on to the lead. With few passing opportunities, these three held onto their positions to the end, with Scheidt pushing on the downwind but not quite having the legs to get away from Cayard ahead.

With the afternoon wearing on, it was a short turnaround to race two but already the breeze was feeling much softer and, at the time of the second start gun at around 15:00 the wind had reduced to the early teens and the sun was finally breaking though the heavy cloud layer.

Once again it was Cayard who nailed the start getting to the committee boat again at speed and showing his America’s Cup skills.

Despite the moderating wind and the funnelling effect at the cliffs being much reduced, it was still a fight for the right-hand side of the course. Though for this race, with the windward mark moved it was a case of short tacking up the shore with a great many calls for water and shouts of ‘starboard’ echoing off the cliff walls. One of these port/starboard incidents was, unfortunately very costly with Tom Lofstedt and Anders Ekstrom, and Gugliemo Danelon and Mattia Gazzetta coming together, resulting in the loss of the latter’s rig – something more often seen on Stars going downwind in big breeze!

Once again it was a battle between Scheidt and Cayard near the front of the fleet this time with polish Star hero, Mateusz Kusznierewicz with Frederico Melo leading the charge to the first windward mark. And again Scheidt was looking quick downwind and was working hard to try and make the most of his pace on a downwind, which was almost exclusively sailed on port gybe and so limiting the tactical possibilities.

If there was to be an overriding narrative of the day’s sailing then it would be that Cayard was looking particularly strong on the upwinds and Scheidt a force to be reckoned with on the downwinds. That being the case, it was little surprise to see the American at the front of the fleet at the final windward mark of the day, but Scheidt closely followed him with another American, Eric Doyle and his crew Payson Infelise, having worked their way into the top three. “On the last downwind we all gybed early and I went left, thinking I would protect that side,” explained Cayard after the finish “But Robert [Schedit] and Eric [Doyle] found a bit more pressure than us and just sailed round the outside.” So it was, that the Brazillian picked up the second race to add to his third, with Doyle in second and Cayard in third.

“I’d say that was a pretty good day at the office,” Cayard said when ashore. “We were really happy with that start in the first race and it was great to do it again in the second too. Sometimes Garda can be a bit one-sided on days like today so you really have to fight to be where you want.

“Robert [Scheidt] is one of the greatest downwind sailors in the world but I feel like we had enough to hold him at bay today. And I’ve always been strong upwind so we were happy with our speed there. We’ll see what the rest of the week holds…”

It’s foolish to draw any conclusions at the end of the first day of racing. Certainly, Cayard and Scheidt seem the form boats from today’s racing, but with the fleet this competitive, many have picked up some big scores already. In this fleet, it only takes one off-day to drop out of the top ten overall and so miss out on the final elimination series, on Sunday, May 19th, to be crowned Star European and Sailors League Grand Slam Breeze champion.

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Anthony O'Leary and his Cork Harbour crew of David Hassett and Niall Rafferty in Antix have finished seventh overall at the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta in Miami at the weekend in the 19-boat Viper 640 class. His sons Nicholas and Robert, sailing 'Brotherly Love' under the burgee of Baltimore Sailing Club and competing in the Star class, finished 12th overall in their 64-boat fleet.

Overall results are here.

Biscayne Bay showcased the best day of racing as this iconic racing venue said good-bye to the 500 sailors who competed. A great Easterly breeze of around 10 knots, sun shining warm and wave chop a lot less than the previous days made for a perfect race day. All of the classes finished their scheduled races at this the best spring sailing yacht racing event in the North Hemisphere.

In the Star Class, the charge for the 92nd Bacardi Cup victory came down to an American Gold Star battle. Eric Doyle/Payson Infelise (USA) presented a flawless scorecard with results always in the top 4, but Paul Cayard/Magnus Liljedahl (USA) managed a brilliant come back from a 27th in race 1 and earned a chance to steal the win from Doyle/Infelise. But only if they could maintain the momentum that gave them wins in Race 4 and 5. Both teams started on the right side, with Doyle keeping an eagle eye on Cayard who was almost on pin end and kept following that track. The Southern California partnership of Doyle/Infelise were first to the windward mark, whilst in a surprise turn of form North California legend Paul Cayard rounded at the back, in about 20th position.

The order of play continued at the downwind gate and up the second windward leg. At this point, Doyle/Infelise realized they were safely ensconced as winners of the 92nd Bacardi Cup and could abandon the race and head ashore! Even though Paul Cayard/Magnus Liljedal were slowly climbing back through the fleet, there was no hope of them overhauling Doyle/Infelise’s points advantage. Then, on the second downwind, they broke their mast and were forced to be towed back in. Scoring a DNF penalty, they had to re-count their 27th from day 1 and plummeted down the leaderboard to finish in 7th overall.

Standing alongside Doyle/Infelise on the podium were Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Firithjof Kleen (GER), who also gave themselves an uphill start after a UFD in race 1, but won two races from the remaining five and finished only 2 points behind the winners. Another two points back were bronze medalists Eivind Melleby (NOR) and Joshua Revkin (USA). In fourth were defending champions Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi of Italy and in fifth the French Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot.

“It’s been great, fun, fabulous weather, it all came together nicely, we had great speed, a fantastic team work, good starts and it’s great to be in this excellent field with incredible champions,” smiled a very satisfied Eric Doyle. “It is our first win even though I have sailed here for 20 times. One time we had a big fight then Ross McDonald came ahead I lost my points; it doesn’t matter now, it’s great we won it! And we are happy to win 2500 points of the Star Sailors League. We plan to go to the Europeans/SSL Breeze Grand Slam in May and then to the Worlds in Porto Cervo in June, so plenty of racing coming ahead!”

On the race courses closer to shore, action was unfolding for the J/70, Melges 24, Viper 640 and the Flying Tigers 7.5 who contested their last two races of the series.

In the J/70, the winners were the team on Catapult (USA), featuring Joel Ronning, Victor Diaz del Leon, Patrick Wilson and Chris Stoke. They were the most solid and consistent of the fleet with every score inside the top 3, after discarding their 11th in race 3. They racked up a 16 point advantage over second placed Americans onboard Surge with Mark Mendelblatt calling tactics, and in third was Italy’s Calvi Network with Carlo Alberini driving.

“This was a very fun team to sail with we all got along very well,” commented Joel Ronning of Catapult. “This group of people are very good at what they do. We had tremendous fun, we were able to minimize mistakes by keeping the dialogue open and if there were any issues they were taken care of right away. It’s a phenomenal event and one of the premier series in the world. It’s very well organized. We love Shake A Leg, we love Bacardi, everybody is so welcoming and we will definitely be coming back.”

A big fight in the Melges 24, where, despite domination from a 19 boat American team line-up, it was the Italians on Italian Bombarda who claimed the win. Their super crew was all home-made in Italy: Andrea Pozzi, Carlo Zermin, Matteo Ivaldi, Nicholas Dal Ferro and Stefano Ciampalini. Full Throttle (USA) with Olympic tactician Jonathan McKee finished in second and Monsoon (USA) in third, with just 1 point between each of the top three teams.

“We loved the conditions here,” said Andrea Pozzi of Bombarda. “It’s the ones we love and perform better with. The crew has been working together for a long time, even though we are coming back together after a year’s break. Miami is a fantastic spot, we love it and we loved the event. It combined the sport of sailing to the fun in the after sail, we want to thank Bacardi for this!”

Evil Hiss stepped up today to win the super competitive Viper 640 class: Mary and Geoff Ewenson with Star Olympian Tyler Bjorn won the last three races of the series leaving no doubts as to who was the best in the fleet. Great Scott!slang (USA) came in 6 points behind in second place, and first Corinthian team, and Choppy Seas (USA) completed the podium in third.

“We got better as the days progressed. Choreography on the boat was just perfect,” said Geoff Ewenson. “The crew was very experienced and we were able to make good decisions. I’ve sailed in Miami enough so that it almost feels like sailing in my home waters. I remember coming down to Miami to sail the Bacardi Cup in Stars and now, the last three times as part of the Bacardi Invitational in Vipers. Love the organization, love Biscayne Bay and I can’t wait to come back next year.”

The best of the Flying Tigers 7.5 was Neun (CAN) with Geoff Becker, Richard Griffin, Sabine Griffin, Joe Mele and Adam Spiegel onboard. Finishing in style, they won the last race of the series. Just one point behind, Grassy Manatee (CAN) finished in second, with J.A.C.K.ed (USA) is third.

“We just had awesome team work,” explained Geoff Backer of Neun about their win. “Beautiful clear conditions, warm water, warm air, everything was fantastic. We had such great fun and we’ll definitely come back next year!”

As the curtains prepare to drop on the Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta, tonight it is all about the big Prize Giving Ceremony and dinner party at Shake-A-Leg Miami to officially close the 2019 edition. Bacardi is already planning the 2020 edition with the 93rd Bacardi Cup for the Star class, the event that launched this all in 1927 in Havana, Cuba.

Published in Star
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