The Australian Star boat team of Paul McKenzie and Phil Toth started their campaign towards 2012 at the 2009 Princess Sofia Trophy Regatta (Palma de Mallorca). Having both previously campaigned the hard charging Finn (Mckenzie ’96 Atlanta Olympics) they found the Star had a very steep learning curve. Despite this the Aussys found their first race win at their 2nd ISAF World Cup regatta in Hyeres with less than 3 weeks experience in the boat. As all striving Olympians do, they are struggling to get the budget to do a campaign in arguable the most expensive Olympic class. They are now headed, on a shoe string, to Varburg, Sweden for the Star Class World Championships. Phil has sailed with the Ed on his FT 10m and agreed to send in some race reports. Here’s day one and what a beauty of a start…
Race 1 day 1 of the Star Worlds from Varburg, Sweden, did not start out all that well for us on AUS 8107. All the boats have to tie up to a med mooring here, and ours happened to be one that had a massive big spike on the end of it and as we hoisted our sails and went to sail past, it decided that in the middle of the foot of our sail was as good a place as any and savagely ripped the brand new main sail (only had 2 hours of a super light air practice race the day before on it) all the way to the leach and took half the clew patch and leach line with it for good measure. We spent the last 5 hours in a windsurfer loft with a very patient sailmaker putting the clew back together from scraps of mirror dingy panels and other assorted left over scraps that we managed to scrounge up. So if me spelling and grammar aint so goodly at this point you will have to forgive me.
Once we scrambled to get our spare main and get out we had less than 6 minutes to go to the start. We started 10 or so boat lengths up from Scheidt and Loof who were about midline. At the start it was just windy enough for us both to hike, but the lumpy chop was making it very hard to steer. Andy Mcdonald and Brian Fatih nearly t-boned another boat as they were ducking when a wave grabbed the bow and made it much closer than they had expected at first.
The right side was paying on the first beat and even though we got bounced around we eventually made it out right with some clear air where we could put our bow down and boogie. Down wind we worked the left side and made some very large gains rounding in the early 20s. The polish team of Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki were by far and away a cut above the rest of us mere mortals. By the half way point they seemed to be quite comfortably covering Loof.
Up wind again the right seemed to be paying with some more favorable shifts coming from that side. We seemed to be in good company as a few of the Italians and the young Pommys were near by. After rounding the top mark all went to shit and we just slid down hill. We did a nice bear away set, since that worked last time, and were fast through the water. Alot of boats gybe set and then gybed back when they were clear then the lefty came in and headed everyone to the mark. Now ALL those boats that too that gybe early were starting to look pretty good as we now found ourselves headed down to there transoms.
For some reason this did not register with us and we went back right. The direction on the right going back up to the finish was a bit better which made it hard to take the pain to get left. BUT and I mean a big fat BUT, the pressure was coming down and filling from the left. The guys on the left found that with the extra pressure also comes a velocity lift which now canceled out the better direction on the right side where we were struggling to get out and be able to hike. We got fooled like a few others (Scheidt and Xavier Rohart) that the better direction was better than the better pressure on the opposite side. Oh well lessons learned and over all we were happy with the way we sailed the boat. Tomorrow is another day and we will try to go the right direction a few more times.