Champions tie for lead after first day's racing at Star worlds in Cascais 4/7/07

After the first day of racing at the 2007 Star World Championship in Cascais, Portugal, the 2005 and 2006 world champions are tied for the lead.

Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams, the reigning world champions, and Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau, the 2005 world championship team, each have 4 points following two races in a split fleet. Working with a 30-boat fleet and a shorter course than is usually sailed, Pepper/Williams, Rohart/Rambeau, and Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson of Great Britain, were able to pull off impressive starts, round the first weather mark in first place and extend their leads so that they finished with a notable gap behind them. In fact, Rohart/Rambeau won their race with more than a minute’s jump on second place finishers Italians Diego Negri and Gigi Vaile. Sailing consistently, each of the day’s top ten teams have only single digit finishes.

Low clouds hung over the headlands and extended as far as the eye could see over the water. A small swell and 8-10 knots of breeze that picked up to the point that it whistled through the halyards of some of the spectator boats, prevailed throughout the day. According to Alfonso Domingos, currently ranked eighth by ISAF in the Star and a Cascais native, “the wind conditions that we saw were normal given the cloud conditions.” Hamish Pepper and Ian Percy concurred that the conditions favoured the right side of the course. All are a bit concerned about what are likely to be shifty conditions on the other courses that are tucked up closer to shore.

Six of the day’s top finishing teams are among the top ten Star teams as ranked by ISAF. While many of the teams; such as Rohart/Rambeau, Negri/Viale, Scheidt/Prada, Kusznierewicz/Zycki and Pickel/Borkowski have been sailing as many ISAF ranking regattas as possible throughout the past year; others have put in a lot of time on the water, albeit not in a Star.

The Pepper/Williams, Percy/Simpson, Horton/Nichol, Grael/ Ferriera, Bruni/ Nobili, Szabo/Scott and Mendleblatt/Liljedahl teams have had limited training and racing together in a Star because one or the other or both have been involved in America’s Cup campaigns. Always trying to perform their best among such talented competition, many skippers and crews dispensed with national alliances and practiced for the world championship with other Star skippers or crews who were waiting for their teammate’s fate to be determined in Valencia. Alinghi’s victory has sealed the fate for the last of those registered for the Star World Championship. Mark Mendelblatt, whose Star is in the water waiting for him, may be able to race in Cascais.

The Stars will sail another four races before it is determined who will be in the gold fleet, sailing for the world championship and to be among the top competitors to qualify their country for next year’s Olympics in Qingdao, China.

1. Rohart/Rambeau, FRA, 3,1

2. Pepper/Williams, NZL, 3,1

3. Negri/Viale, ITA, 4,2

4. Scheitdt/Prada, BRA, 2,4

5. Percy/Simpson, GBR, 1,8

6. Kusznierewicz/ Zycki, POL, 1,8

7. Pickel/ Borkowski, GER, 2,7

8. Horton/Nichol, USA, 7,4

9. Reynolds/ Haenel, USA, 5,6

10. Marazzi/Christen,