Scheidt and Prada rule the roost
A relentless Robert Scheidt with Bruno Prada were the undisputed leaders of the first Star Sailors League Finals. Even if the Brazilians had dominated the three days of qualifying races, they had to restart from scratch on the final day when the schedule included three knockout races. Each race started with a clean score sheet and points were not carried over to the next one. For the first time ever in the sport of sailing, the winner of the third and final race of the day was also the winner of the event.
In the first race of the day, the quarte final, France's Xavier Rohart took the lead on the second leg and crossed the finish line ahead of the two Germans, Johannes Polgar and Robert Stanjek.
In the semi final, Pole Mateusz Kusznierewicz took the early lead, but Scheidt showed again his extraordinary downwind skills, getting the upper hand at the leeward gate and going on to claim the race. Italian Diego Negri had a fantastic last run and climbed to second place with Mark Mendelblatt completing the podium places.
In the grand final, in order to make the race fairer, the race committee decided to stretch the race course to five legs, finishing upwind. Scheidt had a great start at the pin end of the line, chose the favoured left hand side of the first beat and was ahead at the weather mark, but with a paper-thin lead over Kusznierewicz. The Brazilian and the Polish skippers engaged in a fierce fight on the first downwind leg, but Scheidt managed to retain his lead. At the same time Diego Negri and Mark Mendelblatt were holding their own race within the race for third place.
As the breeze built, Scheidt found better pressure on the left and stretched his lead over Kusznierewicz. In the last beat Mendelblatt overtook Negri after the Italian split left in search of better breeze.
At the finish, Scheidt secured victory in the first ever Star Sailors League Finals with a 24 second advantage over Kusznierewicz. Mendelblatt took the bronze medal ahead of Negri.
This inaugural event was a stepping stone for a bright future for the Star Sailors League and it is also the first ever that awards 4.000 SSL Ranking points to the winning skipper and his crew.
Dennis Conner was on hand and commented: "It was clear that the Brazilians were the class act of the fleet, in a league of their own, and the rest of the places were determined by who got a good start and got around the weather mark first. The ones that went to the right on the run did well and the ones who went to the left not so well. All in all there is a lot of very good sailors in the fleet, and the results were not clear until the very end except for one and that was for sure. Robert Scheidt is the best in the world!"
Bill Allen, Star Class President added: "This has been an outstanding week for the Star Sailors League put on by Star sailors to develop a kind of a Gran-Prix overlay over the Star Class events. As a Star Class, we have been very happy to be part of the event and basically provide the equipment for it. It has been a really good combination of working between the Star Sailors League and the Star class and we are very pleased, we endorse what they are doing and we are happy to be a small part of it."
Robert Scheidt gave his take: "It was a very long day today with three races. We didn't have a very good first race as we finished fourth which was just enough to make us advance for the next stage, and then in the second and the third races we sailed really well. We had a good start, good speed downwind, a big fight with the Poles in the decider, but still we managed to hang on and win the last race which was amazing—you know it's great to come to the end of the week ahead and to win such an important regatta.
"There were only four boats at the end, so once two boats got a little advantage it's very hard for the other two to come into that fight because the second starts to protect the third and the third starts to protect the fourth. It's not like a normal fleet race that people risk and have more possibilities to recover, in this kind of race people are already looking at how to beat at least one boat. That is the mentality from the middle of the race on: we want to protect Matteo and Matteo is protecting the other two guys so it makes it hard if you're behind."
As to his secret to success in the Star, despite not having sailed it for a year, Scheidt continued: "There are a number of factors together. I think because I already competed at a high level in many classes and coming to the decider day I'm confident because I've been there, I've done that many times, you know how you will react, you know you have to make the right decision at the right time. It's an experience game, it counts if you've been there many times, when the next time comes you already know how to behave, it gives you confidence and that's very important when you sail with confidence. Well it's hard to say but I would like to finish my career in Rio, compete in the games and that's my goal right now. I've already achieved a lot in sailing and I lift my hands to god because I had so many opportunities, first my family and then throughout all the way, great people who helped me like Luca, people like Bruno, who's been around me, and this really helps in the end, even in a single hander you win but behind you there's a team that you have to acknowledge. There's no one thing that I can say is the secret, it's many things together you know, a little bit of talent and a lot of hard work."