It was like clockwork, until the end of the starting sequence for the Practice Race of the 2008 Star World Championships, hosted by Coral Reef Yacht Club. Under sunny skies sprinkled with some puffy cumulous clouds a building 6-8 knot breeze out of the east and flat waters, the fleet left Coconut Grove’s launching areas and set out on Biscayne Bay on Thursday morning.
As the breeze built and tried to settle down, the wind back a little bit at a time. Most of the fleet favored the pin during the first abandoned start. By the time the fleet returned to the starting area and went through the next sequence the wind had backed a little further and once again, the fleet favored the pin.
The Olympians, Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA), Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams (NZL), Mateusz Kusnierewicz and Dominik Zycki (POL), Afonso Domingos and Bernardo Santos (POR) and Ian Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) were all gunning for pin end starts during the third attempt at a start.
The wind had shifted enough that the race committee reset the starting line. This time, the fleet spread out much more evenly across the starting line and set off on starboard tack toward the Miami shore. John MacCauland and Kevin Murphy (USA) played the left and got a nice shift to reach the top of the beat before Rick Merriman and Brian Sharp (USA), Iain Murray and Andrew Palfrey (AUS), Robert Stanjek and Marcus Koy(GER), Lars Grael and Marcelo Jordao (BRA), who were just a bit more to the right at the top of the beat tan MacCausland/Murphy, approached from the starboard layline. MacCausland/Muphy extended their lead on the run as some of the fleet peeled off and headed back to the barn.
MacCausland/Muphy were the first to take the right hand gate and head upwind for the second beat. Murray/Palfrey rounded close behind the Aussies, and there was a big gap before Merriman/Sharpe and Grael/Jordao rounded the gate.
Most of the leaders spent the first part of the beat heading toward Coconut Grove, and that’s where the Practice Race broke down.
Satisfied that equipment was in order, the shore tempted many. In the end, Grael/Jordao were the first across the finish line. Scheidt/Prada, Chieffi and Nando Colonnino (ITA), Peter Bromby and Lee White (BER) and Ross MacDonald and Steve Mitchell (CAN) crossed the finish line behind Brazilians who also had a great start at the recent Bacardi Cup. Enrico Chieffi, the 1996 Star World Champion, who seems to have found his groove in light to moderate conditions on Biscayne Bay, commented on his race, “when you are young, you think that you are smart, but when you are older, you realize that it takes some luck.”
The first race of the 2008 Star World Championship starts on Friday, April 11, 2008. The stakes are high. Let’s see who is smart and who is lucky. For detailed coverage of the regatta, please click on www.2008StarWorlds.com