by Jodie Bakewell-White
New Zealanders Hamish Pepper and Carl Williams will be amongst 104 two-handed teams competing in the 2008 Star World Championships set to start in Miami less than 24 hours from now, on Friday around midday local time (4am, Saturday New Zealand time).
All but one of the top twenty ranked Star sailors are in Miami to compete for the prestigious crown of Star World Champion, a title which dates back to 1923. The only Kiwi pair in the line-up, Pepper and Williams have held the title once before, in 2006, and are among the top contenders competing in 2008.
A day out from the start of competition proper, the fleet were on the water for a practice race on a warm, sunny and calm Miami day with around 10 knots of wind. Carl Williams explains that the eagerness of the enormous fleet made things interesting for officials trying to start the practice race.
“It has to be the longest start line I have ever seen in my life!” said Williams. “But that didn't hinder everyone’s eagerness to get over it, so after five attempts at getting a start and having five general recalls Pepsi [Pepper] and I decided that the day was long enough at that and headed in.
“We had lined up with a few good guys in the morning and felt really good, so looking forward to putting it all to the test tomorrow!”
The regatta lasts seven days including a reserve day in the middle and just one race is scheduled to be sailed each day allowing for a total of six races. After four races each team is allowed to discard their worst result from their points total.
The format for this regatta is one that follows the tradition for the Star class, and is quite different from what Pepper and Williams will encounter in Qingdao, China just four months from now when eleven races are planned over six days. In China a double-points medal race at the conclusion will make for a high pressure finale, whereas in Miami, less total races all of equal weighting means the pressure to perform is on from day one.
“It is old school racing which means lots of boats (104), long courses and one race a day,” said Williams. “It couldn’t be much more different than the style of China but all the guys to beat are here and going fast!”
The race course is on Biscayne Bay around three nautical miles from the Coral Reef Yacht Club which is hosting the event.
2008 Star World Championships