Thousands of locals and visitors lined the banks of Lake Alster to watch the third day of the Star Sailors League City Grand Slam, with the 86 Star teams putting on a spectacular show on a tight windward leeward course. The top and bottom marks were within yards of parklands and bridges crammed with racing fans.
After a delayed start, allowing an easterly breeze to settle in, the race committee set legs of just 600 metres, making great starts and instinctive boat handling a premium today.
In the first heat, Italian duo Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi won a battle royal against two past Star World Champions. Germans Robert Stanjek and Frithjof Kleen led at the start, nailing the committee boat end of the line to lead at the first mark. Negri/ Lambertenghi and Polish team Mateusz Kuznierewicz and Dominik Zycki, were hot after the Italians, but once into clean air, Negri/ Lambertenghi kept it simple to win the race.
The Poles and Italians were locked in battle right up to the downwind finish. Stanjek/ Kleen stayed high, refusing to let the rapid Polish team pass to windward, but a spectacular gybe by the Poles, nearly wiping the stern off the Germans, put them to windward and through to steal their wind. Three textbooks roll gybes in the last few metres, saw the Polish team slide through the line sideways, just edging the Germans into third place.
Kusznierewicz/ Zycki finished the day at the top of the leader board to win the coveted Heinz-Nixdorf Trophy. “We are very happy with the boat and our performance,” commented Zycki. “The first round has been very enjoyable which has helped us remain relaxed and in control. However, tomorrow, we will just be down to the top 30 boats and there will be a lot of pressure to make the top ten, let alone stay on top to get a bye to the final. We will not change our style, things are going well, so we intend to just continue.”
The second heat of the day was won by five time Olympic medallist, Volvo Ocean Race and Louis Vuitton winning skipper, Torben Grael, racing with Stefano Lillia. Approaching the last top mark, Germans Joachim Hellmich and Stefan Lacher were leading but Grael/ Lillia passed the German pair, which held on to second, just ahead of Michael Koch and Carsten Witt (GER).
The last flight of the day produced a fantastic battle between a German team and the reigning Star World Champions, Augie Diaz and Bruno Prada. Hubert Rauch and Kilian Weise got away to a great start at the committee boat end and accelerated into an early lead. Diaz/ Prada went for the pin end and judged the line perfectly, but it was the other side of the course that paid, and Rauch/ Weise led the fleet. By the last leg, Diaz/ Prada were all over Rauch/ Weise and in the private battle, Diaz/ Prada took the lead, on the last leg, to take the gun. Rauch/ Weise were second with the young German team of Dominik Fallaise and Markus Kattenbusch in third.
Racing continues tomorrow for the top 30 teams in the SSL City Grand Slam. Carrying points through to the second round, four to five races are scheduled and the overall winner will get a bye through to the final. Second place will get a bye through to the semi-final. Of the thirty teams racing tomorrow, only the top ten will survive, as the SSL City Grand Slam goes into the knock-out stages.
Racing starts tomorrow at 10am CET and just ten minutes earlier, at 9.50am, the live streaming on the Internet for FREE, with expert commentary from special studio guests, including Dennis Conner. On the water, the latest in hi-tech camera technology, as well as Virtual Eye 3D Graphics, will provide thrilling viewing. Armchair sailors can also race the course with Virtual Regatta.
The Prize Purse for the SSL City Grand Slam is CHF 100,000 (104,730.47 USD) shared between the top twenty teams. Races are scheduled to start each day at 9 AM, from Tuesday to Saturday (May 3-7). The regatta will consist of a Qualifying Series and a Final Series. The Qualifying Series will have a first and a second round. In the first round races will be sailed in groups decided by the organizing authority and a combined results list will be produced.
The top ranked 30 teams of the first round qualify for the second round, and the winning team in the first round will be awarded the “Heinz Nixdorf Trophy”.
In the second round all 30 teams will sail in one fleet, with a maximum of 5 races. The top 10 teams will go ahead to sail the Final Series, the first qualified team will go straight to the Final, and the second will have a bye to Semi-final. In the Quarter-final only 5 teams out of 7 will gain access to the Semi-final and only 3 teams out of 6 will join the second round winner to the Final (see diagram below).
The first team to cross the line during the Final will be the first SSL City Grand Slam winner and also awarded with the 50th Erich F. Laeisz-Prize.