Thursday, January 21, 2010

Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson win 2010 Star World Championship

By By Lynn Fitzpatrick -

January 21, 2010 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) - Iain Percy and Andrew "Bart" Simpson (GBR) were crowned 2010 Star World Champions today. The reigning Olympic Gold Medalists continue to add treasures to war chests. Percy's sterling collection of championship titles includes the 2002 Star World Championship and an Olympic Gold Medal in the Finn in 2000.

Percy and Simpson are in the TeamORIGIN afterguard and began sailing Stars together in 2007. They were persistent in getting every ounce of boat speed out of their Mader Star and won the Olympic Gold Medal in the most exciting Medal Race of all of the Olympic Classes. While the wind was lighter during the final race of the 2010 Star World Championship, it was a nail biter nonetheless.

Following the Olympics, they took a breather from Star sailing and have been doing a lot of match racing. Their last Star regatta was Sail for the Gold in Weymouth, where they won the Gold. They did not compete in the 2009 Star World Championship nor did they compete in the Taca Royal Thames and South American Championship earlier this season. They had two practice sessions leading up to this regatta. Percy commented at the pre-regatta press conference, "Sometimes short, sharp training sessions can work in your favor."

This victory places Percy in the rarified company of Torben Grael, Mark Reynolds, Bill Buchan, Jr.; Lowell North, and Agostino Straulino as a Star skipper who has won an Olympic Gold Medal and multiple Star World Championship titles.

Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De Maria (SUI) entered the 2010 Star World Championship ranked #1 by ISAF and hoping to find the Holy Grail after their second place finish in the Taca Royal Thames Regatta and victory in the South American Championship. This second place finish matches their second place finish at the 2004 Star World Championship. They were fourth in 2008.

Marazzi/DeMaria's doggedness in trying to close the point spread between them and Percy/Simpson during Race 5 kept the World Championship title up for grabs through the final race of the series. Percy went into the race, "holding all of the cards" and knowing that Marazzi/DeMaria would have a difficult time accomplishing two very difficult feats: placing first or second in the race and having the Brits finish eight or more points behind them.

Percy/Simpson and Marazzi/DeMaria had an altercation during the starting sequence and Marazzi/DeMaria started to leeward of Percy/Simpson. "The start did not quite go as planned," explained Simpson. "We thought that we were pushing them to the wrong end of the line and a big shift came through in their favor. They did a great job."

The Brits' miscalculation put the Swiss more than two dozen boats ahead of them at the top mark and trading places with Lars Grael and Ronald Seifert (BRA) and Johannes Polgar and Markus Koy (GER) and Fernando Echavarri and Fernando Rodrigues (ESP), all talented light air sailors. Said Percy, "We had a nervous moment at first when they crossed the fleet, but we continued to play the shifts and make gains."

Mark Mendelblatt and John Von Schwarz led around the first windward mark. They, like many others, had problems with the current after tacking for the offset mark, they slipped back to fifth. On the run, "We jibed to get clear air, and it turned out to be a good decision," said Mendelblatt who went on to win his first race in a Star World Championship. He continued, "It was a good way to end the regatta."

Percy/Simpson made a huge gain half way up the second beat and, "got quite close to them, and actually enjoyed the last lap," said Percy.

In the end, Flavio Marazzi and Enrico DeMaria slipped from being in contention for first or second to 12th and Iain Percy and Andrew "Bart" Simpson had recovered to 16th place.

Said Percy, who was pleased to win another important sailing title with his best mate, "The race didn't quite go as planned and was a good reminder that you can't rest on your laurels especially in the Star Class."

Alexander Schlonski and Frithjof Kleen (GER) matched their Race 1 second place finish with another second place finish today. Torben Grael and Marcel Ferreira (BRA) followed them across the finish line in third.

Grael/Ferreira claimed third place in the regatta. Lars Grael and Ronald Seifert (BRA) followed their third place finish at the 2009 Star World Championship with a fourth in Rio. Alan Adler and Guiherme Almeida (BRA) finished fifth.

Torben Grael said, "I am very glad with our performance. It was a wonderful way to get back into the Star with a third at the South Americans and a third at the Worlds. There is such a high level of competition locally and it is fun for all of us. The races are always difficult and we are always pushing one another. We have talented newcomers, like Andre Mirsky. It is good for the Class."

Top Junior

Tomas Hornos and Luis Hornos (USA) - the top Junior skipper at the 2010 Star World Championship is Tomos Hornos. Tomas sailed with his father, Luis, the District 1 Secretary. Tomas is the 2007 Snipe World Champion. Luis' brother, Carlos, joined them in Rio. Tomas sailed his first Star regatta in New England years ago at his uncle's suggestion. Tomas is in his final semester at Tufts University, where he is the Jumbo's A Division skipper. The father and son combination finished 44th overall.

Top Master

Peter Ficker and Urbirtran Oliviera (BRA) - The 1976 Olympic Silver Medalist in the Flying Dutchman teamed up with the 2005 Brazilian Star National Champion crew for this regatta and topped the group of eight Masters teams in the 2010 Star World Championship. They finished 38th overall.

Top Grand Master

Gastao Brun and Gustavo Kunze (BRA) - The 2010 Star World Champion Regatta Chair, and his family have been working around the clock helping to make the regatta perfect. Brun is the 2008 South American Champion and the 1990 North American Champion, and a lengthy list of other victories. Brun won the warm-up regatta and had two races in the top ten, including on Wednesday, the day that half of the top ten teams to cross the finish line were Brazilian. Gustavo Kunze sailed Optimists and Lasers and started crewing with Brun in 2007. They finished 16th overall, ahead of all of the Junior, Master and Grand Master teams. Said Brun, "It is great to be sailing with all of these guys. It is so much fun. It makes you feel alive." Brun has won many races in these waters, said, "You need to be calm and can't go to the extremes." -