Finally a race in Kiel at the 2021 Star World Championship
Day three of the 2021 Star World Championship in Kiel, Germany, started in a very similar way as the previous two. A very long wait ashore with the dreaded AP flag hanging low and lifeless on the notice pole until about 1pm, when it was lowered and a voice on the VHFs unbelievably called the 83 teams on the racecourse. Joy exploded on the dock and in no-time everyone was on their way to join the Race Committee, about an hour away from the harbor.
The scenario they met wasn't exciting, the clouds were still blocking the east wind from filling in. Only at 15.30, the same voice announced the starting procedures of race one would begin in 20 minutes. The 2021 Star World Championship was then finally on with the first race underway.
A clear start with four, maximum five knots of breeze from the east, for the fleet evenly arranged on the line. After a long – slightly right favored – upwind, the Hungarian team, with Tibor Tenke at the helm and Miklos Bezereti crewing, rounded first. The reigning World Champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Bruno Prada (BRA) were right behind and Athen's Olympics Star Bronze medalist Xavier Rohart (FRA), here with Ante Sitic (CRO), in third. Things changed slightly at the bottom gate when the Polish-Brazilian duo took the lead but in the light, and shifty wind they were not able to maintain the lead to the finish.
Thanks to impeccable reading of the conditions and an understanding of the racecourse, plus a flawless last downwind, the former Olympian Hans Spitzauer with Christian Nehammer (AUT) crossed first at the finish line, about two lengths ahead of the back-to-back Bacardi Cup winners Kusznierewicz/Prada. In third there were the Croatians Marin Misura and Tonko Barac, followed by four-time Olympian and three-time Star Worlds runner-up Diego Negri with 2014 World Champion crew Frithjof Kleen. Closing the top five, Tokyo – and Rio – Olympic Silver medalist Tonci Stipanovic with Tudor Bilic (CRO).
"It always feels good to win a race at the Worlds, especially the first one as everybody wants a good start!" Commented Hans Spitzauer with a wide smile. "We played the right and we were only eighth at the top mark, with a good downwind we rounded fifth at the bottom gate and then we we opted for the left and we were pleased. We had good pressure, that allowed us to gain on the other boats, so we stayed where we were, and we were the only one hiking. This is where we won the race. It is so good!"
"It feels good to win the first race at the World Championship, even more after two years with no racing at the World Championship", added a delighted Christian Nehammer. "We had a pretty good race in very difficult conditions, with everything working well for us! We make the decisions together, we talk and exchange opinions, I try to give as much information as possible to Hans. But the truth is that 16 years ago we sailed together for the first time, so we just understand each-other, not much talking is needed. Now we are looking forward to more racing!"
The Race Committee called for an 'early' start tomorrow, in the hope of finishing two, much needed, races with the 7/8 knot-breeze forecasted earlier in the day. 10am on the line translates in an 8 o'clock dock out for the fleet, but all of the 83 teams are keen to go, after the forced rest of the first two days.