Saturday, 16 January 2010

50th Anniversary of Rio's first Star Worlds

Star practice in Rio. Image copyright Regattapix.

by Lynn Fitzpatrick

Violent thunder storms swept through Rio last night. The heavy downpour cooled Rio down and left some streets flooded. This morning, it is overcast with flat seas and a nice breeze. The local forecast calls for more rain. The Opening Ceremony was at 10:00 am and will be followed by a Practice Race, which is not a traditional course. Instead, the Practice Race follows the course of a traditional regatta held in Rio, a tour of Guanabara Bay.

In 2011 the world will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Star. This year, Rio is celebrating the fact that it has just won the bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. The first major international sporting event to take place since the announcement is 50th Anniversary of the first time that Star World Championship was held in Rio de Janeiro. On Friday, the Practice Race and the Opening Ceremony will take place and the Brazilian media will be at Yacht Club Rio de Janeiro to follow the progress of the 24 Brazilian teams entered in the regatta.

In 1960, the same year that Torben Grael was born, Rio de Janeiro played host to a 46-boat Star fleet. While the fleet was slightly more than half the size of this year’s fleet, it was top-heavy with talent. Defending Star World Champion, Lowell North teamed up with one of Southern California’s legendary crews, Tom Skahill, to win North’s third Star World Championship title in four years. North won his record fourth Star World Championship title in 1973 with Tom Barrett on San Diego Bay.

Star practice in Rio. Image copyright Regattapix.

The second time the Star World Championship was held in Rio was in 1980. Tom Blackaller and David Shaw, representing West San Francisco Bay, won on count back to Albino Fravezzi and Oscar Dalvit from South Garda. Rumor has it that Fravezzi and Dalvit still sail together on Lake Garda after all these years.

In 1996, the last time that the Star Worlds was held in Rio, Enrico Chieffi and Roberto Sinibaldi edged out defending World Champions Mark Reynolds and Hal Haenel from San Diego Bay and Torben Grael and Marcelo Ferreira from Guanabara Bay.

Just as in 1996, the defending World Champion is from San Diego Bay and Grael and Ferreira are but one of the strong local teams with a shot at the World Championship title.

Words from the 1960 Star World Championship regatta report as published in the Star Class Log:
“But first a word about Guanabara Bay... this body of water was Utopia, and sailors of diverse origins shared these sentiments. The southern extreme of the bay is punctuated by famed Sugar Loaf and Corcovado, the city of Rio lies along the western shore, and the harbor is studded with ships waiting to unload. After a six-mile tow to the starting line, mandated daily by the southeast wind direction, the Bay provided plenty of room and excellent racing conditions. ...the Brazilian hosts provided excellent facilities and a wonderful place to sail, and outdid themselves in hospitality.”

Star Worlds 2010

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