Monday, 10 August 2009

All on for Final Race at Star Worlds

by Jodie Bakewell-White

Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk have retained their top spot at the 2009 Star World Championships in Sweden. But extremely close points at the top of the table and the nature of this event, means that it all comes down to tonight’s final deciding race.

The kiwis returned a 4th place in last night’s race which was just enough to keep them at the top of the table on a total of 26 points. Both Szabo and Peters (USA) as well as Marazzi and DeMaria (SUI) are on equal points just one point adrift of Pepper and Monk on 27 points. Loof and Tillander (SWE) sit a further two points back on 29 points in 4th.

“Pepper and 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,” states the official regatta report.

The entire 86 boat fleet will sail tonight’s sixth and final race of the series, with another day of light wind and sunshine forecast in Varberg, Sweden.

The Star is the Olympic keelboat discipline and the list of Olympic and World Champions in the Star class features some of the biggest names in the history yachting.

See below for a profile of the New Zealand pair. Visit the regatta website for full results, images and news.

2009 Star World Championships
Top Ten Standings after five races

1st Pepper/ Monk (NZL) – 26 points
2nd Szabo/Peters (USA) – 27 points
3rd Marazzi/De Maria (SUI) – 27 points
4th Loof/ Tillander (SWE) – 29 points
5th Campbell/ Liljedahl (USA) – 34 points
6th Polgar/Kroeger (GER) – 35 points
7th Kusznierewicz/Zycki (POL) – 37 points
8th Mendelblatt/Strube (USA) – 40 points
9th Schlonski/Kleen (GER) - 42 points
10th Grael/Seifert (BRA) – 46 points

More on Pepper and Monk

from 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.

Yachting New Zealand

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