2023 Star World Championship
First two races in Scarlino, Italy, at the 2023 Star World Championship
After two windless days, it was finally time to get going at the 2023 Star World Championship at the Marina di Scarlino, Tuscany. The frustration that had accumulated in the past two days for the 100 teams, representing 25 different countries in Italy, was finally released thanks to a 10-knot southerly wind blowing on the racecourse since the morning. The fleet was soon on the water in the Gulf of Follonica, and the first race started as planned.
Race One began at around 11:15 with a 9-knot southerly breeze. The first start attempt ended in a general recall, and a second start was more successful after the Race Committee, led by PRO Giancarlo Crevatin, hoisted a U flag. At the top mark, the German former Finn Sailor Max Kohlhoff, along with Ole Burzinski, rounded first, followed by current Star World title holder Diego Negri with his new young crew member Alessandro Soldano (ITA), then Doug Smith/Brian O'Mahony (USA), Enrico Chieffi/Nando Colaninno (ITA), and in fifth place were Piet Eckert and Frederico Melo (SUI). The mark rounding at the weather mark was very busy, crowded and intense, and the fleet started the downwind leg with the wind increasing slightly and the waves getting bigger. The positions remained very similar at the gate, with the Germans in the lead, Chieffi / Colaninno in second, and the Belgians Manu Hens and Joost Houweling making their way into the top group in third. After another long upwind leg and a quicker downwind leg, the Germans claimed the first race of the 2023 Star World Championship, followed by Negri/Soldano, Eckert/Melo, Enrico Chieffi (1996 star world champion), with Nando Colaninno, and the Irish duo of Peter O'Leary/Steve Milne in fifth. Among the top four teams, two golden stars are present, showcasing the high level of competition.
"This is our second Star World Championship; we participated in Kiel in 2021. However, we were really looking forward to this venue because we love it here and we thought it would be good sailing for us. In the first race, we just had a pretty good start; I guess when you think you're over, it's always a good start. We played the shifts really nicely. I think we had good speed, and we're well set up. In Kiel, we finished 14th, so it's good to have won the first race here," commented Max Kohlhoff. Max is part of the successful U30 program that Arnd Glunde has been running in northern Germany for the past few years, lending them his and other owners' boats and showing them how it's done. "I've arrived here from the Under 30 program that Arnd initiated with the Heinz Nixdorf Pokal Trophy in Germany, and we now have a lot of young sailors attending. He kind of recruited me after I stopped my Finn career, and since then, the learning curve was really steep. This year we even have a new boat, which is going much faster than the previous one, and we're just really happy."
After a short wait, race two got underway with the same nice breeze, following three general recalls. The PRO opted for a black flag, which had everyone paying more attention to the line. The start remained very tight, with most of the fleet fighting for the Committee side. At the top mark, another U30 sailor making his way in the Class, Matthew Rajacich with Eric Wagner (USA), rounded comfortably in first, followed by Eugenio Cingolani/Juan Francisco Carrasquet, Jurg Wittich/Christian Trachsel, and Paolo Nazzaro/Alessandro Vongher. However, the latter team was subsequently disqualified with a black flag (BFD), taking them out of the race. The wind gradually diminished on the downwind but picked up a little on the fourth and final leg. Some of the big names that rounded the weather mark in the middle of the fleet had recovered a bit, and Italian America's Cup skipper Flavio Favini, participating in his first Star World Championship, won the second race with local crew Nicolas Seravalle.
"They say that when the water is dirty, there's better fishing... Yes, we had a good one, finally, as in the first race, we struggled. We went left, and it was not a good idea; the right paid off big. The second race followed more the usual path, and the breeze played a little on the left. This is our first Star World Championship; Nicolas and I started with the Star a couple of years ago, but we had never attended the Worlds as they were too far away. This place is close to home, and we are thrilled to be here", declared Flavio Favini.
Piet Eckert and Frederico Melo's consistency paid off, and they are the current leaders in the overall ranking. However, the winner of the last two Star World titles is only one point behind them, and American Scott Barnard, with World Champion crew Phil Trinter, are not too far behind in third place. Tonight, the Mid-Week Award Ceremony will take place at the Marina di Scarlino, along with the presentation of the Harry Gale Nye Trophy, which recognizes an individual's outstanding contribution to the ISCYRA.