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Kiel Week - Appeal for the Star, tradition and fair rating

by Kieler Woche on 27 Jun 2013
Together in Kiel, separate on the water: Robert Scheidt (r.) is sailing Laser, Bruno Prada Finn. M. Koenitzer
Kiel Week - Despite their passion being the open keel boat, the last time Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada have been together in the Star was at the Medal Race of the Olympics at Weymouth, where they won the bronze medal..

The withdrawal of the traditional class from the Olympics has separated friends Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada for a while. 40-year old Scheidt demonstrates once more his strength in the Laser, where he had won two gold medals and one silver medal between 1996 and 2004, Prada (41) is working his back and knees hard in the Finn.

'Our dream is to compete in the Olympics 2016 in our home country - the Star would be our favourite. Therefore we hope the Star will be readopted for the games, but until the end of the year we will continue to wait, see what happens and sail in different classes', tells Scheidt, who is happy to be back in Kiel after many years of absence: 'That is my 14th start at the Kiel Week since 1993. I like the conditions here on the Baltic which are always a good mix and I feel very much at home in the Laser. '

Bruno Prada is not that comfortable yet: 'After the years being crew it is nice to steer a boat again. But the Finn has become very physical, now being allowed to pump in winds of 10 knots or more. I still have to improve a lot and get stronger', says Prada, though his body seems to be bursting with strength after the years as crew in the Star.

The duo is critical regarding the developments in the sailing sport these days. Both cannot understand the withdrawal of the Star from the Olympics. 'The Star is a good stage of development for athletes coming from the Laser. Here the guys like Philipp Buhl can continue their Olympic career after their time in the Laser,' says Scheidt. With the trimming options the Star offers versatile capability. And with a tradition of more than 100 years and its Olympic history since 1932, the Star is almost better than any other class to create heroes.

A major problem of the sailing sport is the missing success to build up heroes. 'Who do I want to see, if I watch tennis: Nadal, Federer, Djokovic. If they are not competing, it is not of any interest. The sailing sport does have heroes like that too but they are simply not placed in the centre of the big races. I do not say that because Robert is my friend. but he would be such a hero. And what happens at the Worlds in Hyéres? Not a line about him!' Prada sees also the sail federations in the obligation to make their sport more tangible.

That also applies to the rating system. For years the International Sailing Association have been trying to improve their presence in the media. But it just happens that it is not sticking to its own values anymore, in favour of an assumed suspense factor instead of presenting the sport in a way that it explains itself. 'With golf four rounds are played over days and everyone understands it. A tennis final works as Best of Five. Why does a last final in sailing suddenly decide and not the best achievement over the entire races?' Prada asks. And Scheidt adds: 'That it's not always the best one, winning in the final could be seen at the previous edition of the Olympics. Frederik Loeoef won the gold medal in the Star because he won the final. But was he the best during the Olympic competition? No, he was not. It was Iain Percy!'
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