by Richard Crockett
Despite having been booted from the Olympics as a Class by World Sailing, the Star class is as strong, if not stronger than ever. That’s assuming you agree that 65 teams from 20 nations, plus a star-studded line-up of champions, is a good enough!
The event was last held in Porto Cervo exactly thirty years ago, and is organised by Yacht Club Costa Smeralda.
The double-handed crews will compete in fleet regattas on the race course off Porto Cervo aboard the timeless keelboats designed in 1911 by Francis Sweisguth, a popular Olympic class up until London 2012. In order for the World Championship to be valid at least six races will need to be complete, with a single round the buoys race scheduled each day, covering a total distance of approximately 10 nautical miles. Should weather conditions prevent the smooth running of all races, a maximum of two races can be held per day to recover any cancelled racing, and competition can also be extended to 24 and 25 June.
Eight of the participating teams are former Star World Championship winners. They include two Italian crews: Roberto Benamati, winner with Marco Salani in 1991 and competing in Porto Cervo with Alberto Ambrosini, and Enrico Chieffi, World Champion in 1996 with Roberto Sinibaldi, sailing here with Manlio Corsi: a duo that has just clinched the Italian title. The American four past champions are, Paul Cayard, who won in Buenos Aires in 1988, Eric Doyle, winner of the title in Punta Ala in the late 90s, who comes to Porto Cervo as the holder of the prestigious Bacardi Cup along with his bowman Payson Infelise, George Szabo, winner in Sweden in 2009 and Augie Diaz, who won in his home waters, Miami, in 2016. Then we’ll see the golden star on the main of Polish Finn Olympic Champion Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Norwegian Eivind Melleby, who claimed the 2017 World title in Denmark with Josh Revkin (USA).
In addition to the skippers, several world champion are also taking part. These include Frithjof Kleen (Malcesine, 2014), Josh Revkin (Troense, Denmark, 2017), the reigning champion Guilherme del Almeida and two Olympic medallists: Anders Ekstrom, winner of the title in 2004 in Gaeta (Italy) and bronze in Beijing with Freddy Lööf (here with Sweden’s Tom Lofsted), and Bruno Prada, a silver medal winner in China, bronze in London and four-time Star World Champion, three of which with Brazilian Robert Scheidt, and most recently with Augie Diaz.