Kiwis still lead Star Worlds

Results after 5 races and one discard in the six race regatta. Five races constitute a series. Final race scheduled for Friday, August 7, 2009.

1. Pepper/ Monk (NZL) – (11) , 9, 1, 11, 5 – 26
2. Szabo/Peters (USA) – (54) 1, 3, 20, 3 – 27
3. Marazzi/De Maria (SUI) – 3, 3, (35), 1, 20 – 27
4. Loof/ Tillander (SWE) – 2, 5, 15, (23) 7 – 29
5. Campbell/ Liljedahl (USA) – (14) 14, 4, 8, 8 – 34
6. Polgar/Kroeger (GER) – (31), 22, 7, 4, 2 – 35
7. Kusznierewicz/Zycki (POL) – 1, 12, (50), 18, 6 – 37
8. Mendelblatt/Strube (USA) – 8, 4, 2, 26, (35) – 40
9. Schlonski/Kleen (GER) – 9, 17, 11, 5, (32) – 42
10. Grael/Seifert (BRA) – (30), 6, 14, 14, 12 – 46

It was Robert Stanjek's and Markus Koy's (GER) turn to lead the 86-boat 2009 Star World Championship fleet around the race course. The fleet started under a black flag, lots of sunshine, flat water and wind that clocked right, right, right throughout the afternoon. Stanjek and Koy were on pins and needles trying to protect their position against fellow German teammates Jojo Plogar and Tim Kroeger; two-time Star World Champion, Alexander Hagen and Kai Falkentahl. Americans George Szabo and Rick Peters and Kiwis Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk were also a threat throughout the race.

The rest of the fleet was well behind the leading cluster of five, but some of the boats that took a couple of hitches to the left up the final beat threatened to scramble the standings. Big gains and big loses were the story of the day. The most significant come-backs were made by the teams with gold stars who had placed extra emphasis on light air training last year in preparation for the Olympics in Qingdao, China. Swedish favorites, Freddy Lööf and Johan Tillander recovered from a low teens first mark rounding to seventh place. Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki (POL) were barely in the top quarter of the fleet and recovered to sixth, and Xavier Rohart and Pierre Alexis Ponsot (FRA), who could easily count the boats behind them during the first weather mark rounding, pulled out a 14th.

“We are so happy,” said Robert Stanjek following the race. “We didn't have any extra special speed. It was a very tactical race and we were fortunate that there was only one way to go on each upwind and downwind.” Stanjek was also very happy for Jojo Polgar who finished second in the race and is in sixth overall going into the final race. “It was just like ideal Tornado sailing conditions,” said Stanjek. “You hit the corner and do one tack. You can't afford to make unnecessary tacks in conditions like these.”

The 2009 Star World Championship will be decided in the last race. The 2006 Star World Champion, Hamish Pepper and his crew, Craig Monk have a single point advantage over Americans George Szabo and Rick Peters and Swiss sailors, Flavio Marazzi and Enrico De Maria. Three points behind the Kiwis are the Swedes, Lööf/ Tillander. Andrew Campbell and Magnus Liljedahl (USA) and Polgar/Kroeger are less than 10 points behind the leaders. Pepper/Monk go into the final race with the most consistent scores and the lowest discard (11 points) and are assured of a finish of seventh or better overall.

Throughout the regatta, the Americans have shown strength as a team. They will line up for the deciding race in the series in third, fifth and eighth place overall. Andy Macdonald and Brian Fatih (USA) will have to have an exceptional race to make it into the top 10, but are in a close race against Mats Johansson and Leif Möller (SWE) to win the Masters Trophy.

By Lynn Fitzpatrick of World Regattas

Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk (NZL) should need no introduction. They are the quintessential representatives of top Star crews of the past and the present. The skipper and crew both have substantial dinghy, big boat and America's Cup experience. Still active with the America's Cup, they can use their Star program to stay fit, keep their fleet management skills sharp and experiment with equipment and techniques.

Pepper had a formidable Laser career and represented New Zealand in the Olympics in the Laser in 1996 and 2004. He started his Star career in 2006 and won the Star World Championship in San Francisco, CA that year with Carl Williams. Williams also crewed for Pepper in the Star in the 2008 Olympics in Qingdao.

Pepper has been best mates with Dean Barker, Team Emirates New Zealand's America's Cup skipper, since they were 10 and 11 years old. Both Kiwis were young and rising stars with the Team New Zealand America's Cup squad. Barker eventually took the helm of Emirates Team New Zealand and Pepper was involved with Malcazone Latino for a little while and has been a strategist for BMW Oracle Racing for some time.

Monk has a Finn career that is lengthier than most of the Star sailors that are sailing at an elite level. Monk won an Olympic Bronze Medal in the Finn in 1992 and went on to beat Barker in the 1996 Finn Trials. Following the Olympics, Monk returned to his position as a grinder with Team New Zealand. During his 13 years as an America's Cup grinder, the 9-time winner of the New Zealand Finn nationals has worked for Team New Zealand, One World and BMW Oracle Racing.

As BMW Oracle Racing focuses on its multihull challenge for the America's Cup, Pepper is on retainer and Monk has taken a two-year sabbatical from AC racing to mend his body. He underwent surgery on his shoulder and his knees this winter and was recuperating when Pepper called him out of the blue with a proposal.

The two sailed their first Star regatta together at this year's Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik and as Monk puts it, “I've been flying to Europe as if I were taking a taxi.”

Monk was a little disappointed with the Swedish weather earlier this week. The heavy winds, rain and lack of sunshine were “not what I signed up for,” joked Monk. The sunshine of the past two days has cast a new smile on Monk's face. “This is a lot better. I'm beginning to like winter in New Zealand and summer in Europe,” said Monk after hopping off the boat in first place overall with one more race remaining in the 2009 Star World Championship. The two are up for the challenge of the final race. Another day of light wind and sunshine is forecast.

Robert Stanjek and Markus Koy (GER) were smiling once again today because they won a very challenging race in the 2009 Star World Championship. The two are part of a very strong German contingent that staged a great showing at Kiel Week and at the 2009 Star European Championship. Both regattas were well attended as the lead up to the World Championship.

Stanjek and Koy are always pleasant and upbeat, despite having some disappointments over the past few years.

They started sailing together in 2005 and in less than a year they won their first Silver Star at the 2005 Eastern Europeans. Their Star sailing was curtailed a little while Koy was involved with a German America's Cup team. When the lean tall crew's America's Cup stint ended, they resumed training together in preparation for the 2007 Star World Championship.

Their big break came in 2008, when they won the 2008 Star European Championship. They showed promise during the multi-regatta German Olympic Trails, but ultimately were not selected for the 2008 Olympics.

The pair was loyal Dragon crew for Harro Kniffka, who through his shipping company, Hanseatic Lloyd, was their primary sponsor. Kniffka died in March, which explains the black band that the two wear on their mainsail.

Stanjek continues to study Sports Science in Berlin and Koy is an engineer. They don't live so close to one another that practice is convenient, but they are posting good results and are motivated by the strength and camaraderie that the entire German team has shown at the 2009 Star World Championship.

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