It was a lovely summer day in Kiel this morning, and some great conditions awaited the 83 teams on the racecourse for some fantastic racing with 8 to 15 knots of steady easterly breeze. The splendid weather was letting everyone forget about how tough the competition is at the Star World Championship, but with the first starting procedures and a few notable black flags the attention level was right back up.
Reigning World and European champions, respectively Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) with Bruno Prada (BRA) and Enrico Chieffi with Nando Colaninno (ITA), were caught over the line early and with the U flag in place they were only advised at the top mark. Same fate for yesterday's winners Hans Spitzauer and Christian Nehammer (AUT). So there goes their throw-out – when five races are reached – and they’ll have to sail more conservatively from now on.
And conservative is the way Diego Negri (ITA) and Frithjof Kleen (GER) sailed today, always going for top speed without taking any useless risks. And that is how the Italian/German duo won both of today’s races, with perfect starts, and superb race management. They worked their way through the fleet at high speed on the first cross in the first race, arriving at the windward mark in the lead group and then building their lead down to the bottom gate. From there they kept the chasers Stipanovic/Bilic at bay until the finish with a four-boat length lead.
The second race of the day was almost the same as the first one for Negri/Kleen. Starting from the middle, they took no risks at the start, benefited from their top speed and had only 2017 World Champion Eivind Melleby (Norway) with Guy Avellon (USA) ahead of them at the first mark. But Negri/Kleen were unstoppable today and took the lead at the halfway point of the race, then controlled the field with ease and sailed to their second win of the day.
“It can’t get any better than this,” commented a very happy Diego Negri, four-time Olympian and three-time Star Worlds runner-up and European Champion. “We had a really great day, we were expecting this left tendency so we were protecting the left and it worked. Our boat speed is amazing, I have to say a really big thank to Werner Fritz for the sail set-up and the support, and to Andrea Folli for an impeccable boat. We have good speed, so we are performing well this time. Tomorrow we expect a westerly, so completely from the opposite direction from today, but we will try to do our best just the same”.
A happy grin was also on Frithjof Kleen’s face, already a Star World Champion and Olympian. “We approached it as we know it, conservative as usual. Just trying not to get a black flag was hard today, a lot of the top guys had a tough day, so we were just staying out of trouble and then, as Diego mentioned, we have exceptional speed, so we are just very happy! Thanks to our coach Marc Pickel, who's helping every day, so thank you Marc, thanks very much. Now we just have to keep our head down and stay focused for the next two days”.
In second overall are the Silver Olympic medalist in both Tokyo and Rio, Tonci Stipanovic, sailing in Kiel with his friend Tudor Bilic (CRO). "I've loved this class since I've been sailing, but it's now my first World Cup appearance in the Star at the age of 35," said Stipanovic. "We still have to adjust to the trim of the boat and to the class rules, what is allowed and not allowed in terms of pumping. That's why we're acting very calmly, but we're happy with how it's gone so far." Two penalty turns spoiled an even better finish for him in the second race, so his fighting words are not unjustified: "We want to continue as before. It's only half-time, and if I compete, then of course I want to sail right at the front."
To complete the provisional podium the Bronze Medalist in Athens Xavier Rohart (FRA) with Ante Sitic (CRO). But from third place on, they are all very close in points and the Star World Championship is only half way through. Two more races are scheduled for tomorrow starting at 11:00 with very light forecast, to leave the last one for Saturday, September 11th.