Without risk to a double victory

A few seconds too early and their World Championship ambitions are severely dampened. The defending champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz/Bruno Prada (Poland/Brazil) received an early starting disqualification in the opening race of the second day of sailing at the Star Class World Championships during the Kiel Week and will have to steer with all caution over the course from now on. On the other hand, the Italian-German combination Diego Negri/Frithjof Kleen can continue to go on the attack. After fourth place on Wednesday, the Garda connection landed a double victory today and thus leads the World Cup standings ahead of Tonci Stipanovic/Tudor Bilic (Croatia) and Xavier Rohart/Ante Sitic (France/Croatia).

Diego Negri/Frithjof Kleen catapulted to the top of the field with a double victory. Photo: segel-bilder.de

After the late Wednesday race at the lower limit of the wind scale, the Star Class World Championship is getting better and better into gear. Eastern winds with ten to eleven knots and sunshine gave the fleet champagne sailing. However, the start had to be postponed a bit again. "Everything was prepared on the course and the conditions were perfect. But the sailors were stuck in the doldrums on the way off Bülk and we had to form tugs in order not to wait too long," reported race officer Mandus Freese.

Early start slows down defending champions
Some of the crews could not stop themselves. In the first race of the day, there were three early start disqualifications, in the second even 16. One of the sufferers was the team Kusznierewicz/Prada. They wanted to cross the line close to the pin end in the first race, but miscalculated and were waved off the course after the first cross in the lead. This meant they could only watch this race from the outside and saw Negri/Kleen work their way through the heavy traffic at high speed on the first cross, arrive at the windward mark already in the leading group and then continue the storm to the top position. From there they kept the chasers Stipanovic/Bilic at bay until the finish with a four boat length lead. The day before they had tricked the Croats with a late gybe just before the finish line, now they had them safely in their wake on the downwind finish.

The second race of the day was almost a replica of the first for Negri/Kleen. Starting from the middle, they took no risks at the start, benefited from their top speed and had only 2017 World Champion Eivind Melleby (Norway) with Guy Thomas Avellon on the foresheet ahead of them at the first mark. But even he was no match for the pace of the "Team of the Day". Negri/Kleen took the lead at the halfway point of the race, then controlled the field with ease and sailed to their second win of the day.

Tonci Stipanovic remains on the wave of success after Olympic silver in the Laser and is currently sailing in second place with his crew-mate Tudor Bilic. Photo: segel-bilder.de

Negri/Kleen in strong position
"A typical Negri," Kleen commented on the two wins at the finish. "We sailed very conservatively: No risk taking, always going for top speed, on all courses - very controlled. That’s how we want to continue. There is nothing to change," he said and disappeared to the weigh-in. Everything was also OK on the scales, and so Kleen’s helmsman could aptly sum up the day with a single word: "Unbelievable!" With a nine-point lead in the overall standings over Stipanovic/Bilic, Negri considers himself in a strong position, but "we’re not writing anyone off. Mateusz and Bruno have also come back strongly after their seventh place in the second race. There are still a few teams in the game".

Croatian Stipanovic is currently swimming on a wave of success. After winning Olympic silver in the Laser a month ago, he made a perfect transition to the Star with a second and an eighth place today. "I’ve loved this class since I’ve been sailing, but it’s now my first World Cup appearance in the Star at the age of 35," said Stipanovic. "We still have to adjust to the trim of the boat and to the class rules, what is allowed and not allowed in terms of pumping. That’s why we’re acting very calmly, but we’re happy with how it’s gone so far." Two penalty rings spoiled an even better placing for him in the second race, so his fighting words are not unjustified: "We want to continue as before. It’s only half-time, and if I compete, then of course I want to sail right at the front."

Champagne sailing on the Kiel Outer Fjord. The Starling fleet experienced perfect conditions in their two races on Thursday. Photo segel-bilder.de

Glorious weather on the Star Class course
Star World President Hubert Merkelbach from Lake Constance made a big jump up the list with his crew Kilian Weise. After a seventh and a fifth place, they are only two points away from the podium. "In the second race we were even in third place for a long time, but then the Austrians and the Swiss slipped through on the leeward mark." In his last months as President of the class (he will be stepping aside in December), Merkelbach also has the big picture of the World Championships in mind and can breathe a sigh of relief after today’s two races: "After the first two days of slack water, the race committee was already under pressure. But today it was perfect with glorious weather. Kiel Sailing City had presented itself as a great venue, even though it was a long day on the water." According to Merkelbach, the international competitors are thrilled with Kiel and the ambience of Kiel Week, which they otherwise don’t get at the World Championships. (hel/ra)

Xavier Rohart/Ante Sitic currently take third place. Photo: Sascha Klahn

Event Website: https://2021worlds.starchampionships.org
Entries: https://2021worlds.starchampionships.org/entry/entry-list/2021_worlds
Results: https://2021worlds.starchampionships.org/results


Friday, 10 September:
12.00 hrs.: 1st start of the day.
After the races: End of the day with snacks and beer

Saturday, 11 September:
10.30 hrs.: 1st start of the day
14.30 hrs.: last start of the day
After the races: Award ceremony and farewell ceremony

Low Point Scoring, Discard after five races sailed

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