Swedes Freddie Loof and Anders Ekstrom took first place today, ahead of US duo Jim Buckingham and Mike Dorgan, Brazilians Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada with Poles Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki finally scoring a good result coming home fourth. New Zealand's Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams were in fifth place.
Racing was superb out on the Berkeley Olympic Circle, with tight racing throughout between Buckingham and Loof, and defending champions Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau. “It’s really tough racing," commented Rohart. "We missed a small wind shift on the second beat and dropped a few places. Everyone is working hard to be tighter. It’s so difficult to be clever all the time here. Guys like Robert, Hamish and Andy (Horton), are really clever with what’s going on with the wind here. I’m impressed with the level. We’re starting well, our speed is average and our downwind is really nice. The week’s not finished.
“We came here struggling against time as our boat was late getting here and we’ve been getting used to the wind and current," Rohart continued. "We were here last year for 10 days for training which helped. What is really working well for us is the input we get from our coach. We are really working well as a team which is a major plus.”
Pepper and Williams are putting on an excellent performance, and look hard to beat, showing great skill at emerging from deep to lead. It’s an exciting time for New Zealand, a country just now delivering up Star sailors and already with two teams sitting in the top five places overall in the best show down of Star sailors that many present at this international regatta have ever witnessed.
Pepper said, “It’s been our week. Carl’s doing a great job downwind. We may not be in the best place at each mark but we’re focused on being consistent. In tricky conditions there are always options which we’ve been looking for. We’ve not made any big mistakes mind you, the top guys seldom make mistakes so it’s hard to put too much time on them. We’re just working at being conservative at the start and not too aggressive and slowly chip at it, working on speed and going the right way. Our boat speed’s as good as anyone’s.”
Scheidt is optimistic that his team has a chance at the gold star, “Hamish is in a very good position with an advantage but there are still 4 or 5 guys who have a chance of winning tomorrow, which makes it very exciting. We’ve been very consistent so far even though we didn’t expect such light winds. It’s been difficult racing, shifty and a challenging current. We’ve just been sailing with the wind and not taking too many chances, trying to make the right decisions and be in the right position.”
Current European Champion, Italian Diego Negri is lying 17th overall having come home 11th today: “After rounding in the top five at marks 2 and 3, we dropped many places on the last run as we couldn’t find the right breeze. We stayed in the middle and couldn’t get out. At the last shift on the last run we had 8 boats pass us just 100 meters from the mark which is not funny. We’ve had a good regatta so far. We recently won the European Championships so we hoped to be in the top 10 here but I know now it’s not easy to do well in this group. We’re not feeling good about San Francisco conditions, we only had a little practice here. We’ve sailed the Star for less then a year and hope for the top 15 tomorrow.”
It was another terrible day for British Star sailors Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell who posted a 42nd and are now 31st overall. "“We looked good off the start and were in the top 5 heading for the top mark," said Mitchell. "We had gauged the tide wrong and over-stood the mark by a huge distance which put us back to about 40th so spent the rest of the race trying to catch up. It hasn’t been a good regatta for us. The problem as we see it is that there are pro sailors, pro judges, and just one pro race officer which is an issue when there’s a lot at stake like there is for many sailors here. The first two races this week were hard and there were plenty of gold stars getting low places. We should have had top results in the last two races but they were taken away by jury. It’s hard when we have a big team supporting us. We hope the wind blows tomorrow so we can at least take home one good race.”