It is becoming difficult finding superlatives to qualify Robert Scheidt’s and Bruno Prada’s performance this week in Nassau. Regardless of their starts or the, very few, tactical errors they might make, the Brazilin duo will always find a way, especially downwind, to crawl back in the fleet and finish at the top. In the nine races of the qualifying round Scheidt and Prada scored four victories, three seconds, one third and just one fourth! All that in a fleet of 18 boats whose crews are among the best of the best in small-boat sailing.
Although the top of the overall leaderboard was more or less decided, the most interesting aspect of Friday’s action was the true dogfight that went on for the all-important 10th place that would make the difference between spending a nice weekend snorkeling in beautiful Nassau and taking a shot at the $200,000 of prize money available on Saturday. Special mention should be given to Denmark’s Michael Hestbaek who, with a sixth and a second, got the much-coveted tenth place, made the cut and left, among others, Paul Cayard, Flavio Marazzi, Ed Wright or Pieter-Jan Postma out.
The top ten crews of the Qualifier Round will now advance to Saturday for the quarters, semis and final race. The format that will be used is a different approach and solution to what is perceived to be a “problem” in the sport of sailing, that is that the boat that wins the final race of the event isn’t necessarily the overall winner of the event. Conventional wisdom now wants a format in which if you cross the finish line in the lead you should also win the regatta.
The Star Sailors League’s approach is to hold three races in the final day. The top ten boats of the qualifier will hold one race, called quarterfinals, where the qualifying order is disregarded. The top seven of that race will then advance to the “semifinals”, which also consists of one race. Finally, the top four of that semifinal will battle it out together in the final race. The boat that claims that race will also win the inaugural Grand Final of the Star Sailors League and, of course, pocket the $40,000 of prize money. Does this approach add a factor of randomness into sailing? Time will tell.
Conditions are expected, again, to be very similar to what we have experienced so far this week. The forecast calls for blue and sunny skies, a light to moderate breeze, maybe a couple of knots higher, and flat seas. As the tide advances by 50 minutes each day, by the time racing starts, the current and wind have the same direction and eliminate the chop that is evident early in the morning.
Star Sailors League Finals – Qualifier Results after 9 races (1 discard)
1. Robert Scheidt (BRA) / Bruno Prada (BRA) – 2,(4),1,3,1,2,2,1,1 – 13
2. Mark Mendelblatt (USA) / Brian Fatih (USA) – 6,2,3,5,3,7,(9),3,3 – 32
3. Diego Negri (ITA) / Sergio Lambertenghi (ITA) – 1,1,6,9,2,13,6,(15),11 – 49
4. Xavier Rohart (FRA) / Pierre-Alexis Ponsot (FRA) – 7,6,5,10,6,1,11,(17),5 – 51
5. Eivind Melleby (NOR) / Mark Strube (USA) – 3,8,10,4,(14),3,4,12,7 – 51
6. Robert Stanjek (GER) / Frithjof Kleen (GER) – 13,5,2,(16),7,10,5,5,8 – 55
7. Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) / Dominik Zycki (POL) – 4,(14),4,6,12,11,3,8,9 – 57
8. Johannes Polgar (GER) / Markus Koy (GER) – 11,15,(17),15,5,5,1,11,4 – 67
9. Augie Diaz (USA) / John Von Schwarz (USA) – 8,7,7,13,8,(19),12,9,10 – 74
10. Michael Hestbaek (DEN) / Claus Olesen (DEN) – 5,11,12,17,16,9,(16),6,2 – 77
———— Cutoff for Saturday’s final races ————
11. Andy Maloney (NZL) / Tyler Bjorn (CAN) – (17),12,11,7,11,8,14,4,15 – 82
12. Paul Cayard (USA) / Austin Sperry (USA) – 9,16,14,12,4,15,(18),2,13 – 85
13. Flavio Marazzi (SUI) / Renato Marazzi (SUI) – 14,(18),13,1,13,14,15,10,6 – 86
14. Ed Wright (GBR) / Petter Morland Pedersen (NOR) – 10,9,(15),14,15,12,7,7,12 – 86
15. Jonathan Lobert (FRA) / Pascal Rambeau (FRA) – (18),3,8,11,18,4,17,16,18 – 95
16. George Szabo (USA) / Craig Moss (USA) – (16),10,16,8,9,16,10,14,14 – 97
17. Tomas Hornos (USA) / Joshua Revkin (USA) – 15,17,9,(18),10,6,13,13,16 – 99
18. Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) / Edoardo Natucci (ITA) – 12,13,18,2,17,(19),8,18,17 – 105
Yesterday we were wondering what it would take for Scheidt and Prada to commit an error that would bear a heavy cost. The answer was given in today’s first race and it, probably, is nothing! Conditions were quite similar to Wednesday and Thursday with a light to moderate breeze from 8 to 12 knots and flatter seas. However, wind direction had shifted to right by approximately 15 degrees and the right hand-side of the course became more favored. This was evident in the two false starts and general recalls as the fleet was packed together at the committee boat.
When the third start was given, Diego Negri and Robert Scheidt hit the line right at the pin end and opted for the left-hand side of the course. The boats that had instead sailed to the right got the upper hand with Paul Cayard, Michael Hestbaek and Mark Mendelblatt ahead at the first weather mark. Scheidt was lagging, at the back of the fleet, but, once again, that seemed not to matter. Mendelblatt took the lead at the bottom gate, ahead of Cayard but Scheidt had already climbed to fifth. Scheidt and Prada were truly a rolling train downwind. The rounding order didn’t vary in the second weather mark and again Scheidt left no options to his opponents, glided down the Bahamians waters, overtook everybody that stood on his way and took the win. Paul Cayard finished second, an exploit if one considers he last sailed a Star in 2004.
The day’s second and final race was much more straightforward. The left was again favored and that’s what Robert Scheidt did. He started three-quarters to the pin end of the line, opted for the left and took control of the race. Mark Mendelblatt and Michael Hestbaek were alternating in second and third place but the Dane prevailed and crossed the finish line ahead of the American. Hestebaek’s performance in the last day of the qualifiers was remarkable, securing him the all-important 10th place.