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Clear Winners Despite Fickle Weather


IMS World Champions from Europe / US boys became Star European Champions

The Bay of Lübeck in northern Germany provided mixed and challenging conditions for competitors in the IMS Offshore World Championship and the Star Class European Championship at Rolex Baltic Week held from the 6th to 13th August out of the Ancora Marina, Neustadt. Despite the wind all but disappearing towards the end of the week clear winners emerged in both championships to claim these prestigious titles.

In the 80 boat Star European fleet it was former Laser Olympic sailor Mark Mendelblatt and veteran crewman Mark Strube who dominated. The newly formed American duo scored an unprecedented three wins in the first three races. This was a consistent performance in the winds that were anything but out on the race course. Due to the light conditions on the final three days of the regatta only five races were sailed in total and Mendelblatt and Strube were able to discard a 17th place in race four to finish the regatta on 10 points, with a clear margin over Brazilian triple Laser Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada on 25 and Americans Andrew Horton and Brad Nichol on 27.

“It feels great, excellent,” said Mendelblatt. “We haven’t done anything abnormal. I was just tacking when the jib caves in… The boat felt good – we seemed to go well.” Mendelblatt and Strube are now lining up for the Star World Championship to be held in San Francisco at the end of September.

Top European performers at the regatta were Italians Diego Negri and crew Luigi Viale, who finished fifth overall ahead of Austrians Hans Spitzauer/Christian Nehammer and the top German team of Matthias Miller/Manuel Voigt. “We had the opportunity to set up the boat for this weather – between 10 and 15 knots and we have been lucky to get it,” said Negri, who like Mendelblatt is another Laser Olympic sailor who has turned to the two man keel boat only this year to campaign it for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. “Our new boat is very fast and the feeling is very good. The conditions were a bit tricky with the shifts, but experience of sailing the Laser helped me a lot to get ahead of the fleet in the first part of the beat and be able to sail on the shifts and being always ahead at the top mark and to keep the results until the end.”

In the IMS Offshore World Championships it was Russian Sergey Shevtsov’s team from Taganrog, on the Sea of Azov, who posted an equally formidable score line to the Star class winners. Their two year old Grand Soleil 42R Yugtranzit scored three wins out of seven races with their worst result being an eighth place in the 26 strong Division 1. With a score line adding up to just 19.13 Yugtranzit was clearly ahead of Swede Ralf Aspholm’s second placed Sinergia 40 Data Communication on 54.50 with the German IMX-40 Moonshine of Matthias Müller von Blumencron third on 65.50.

“It is a very important win for us – it is the World Championship,” commented Shevtsov, who now hopes to mount his own Star campaign for the Beijing Olympiad. “We have been preparing for this for a long period. This is the most important result we’ve had in this boat.”

Al Girard, the American tactician on board Swede Carl Edward Jansen’s 2 obnoxious praised the Russian team: “It is a good boat, but they also sailed smart. I was very impressed with how well they did in the inshore racing because they were generally in the right position tactically. So not only did they have a good boat, but they sailed smart, they are good sailors, they deserved the victory and they were sportsmen out there.”

Culminating in five windward-leeward races, the championship started with two offshores the first of 30 miles, the second of 80 miles, however the race committee were protested over the position of the finishing boat at the end of the first of these and the race was annulled. However on the final afternoon of the regatta fresh evidence was presented and the race reinstated, causing pre-race favourite the Norwegian Grand Soleil 42S, Al Cap One skippered by Laser Olympic sailor Peer Moberg to drop down from second to fifth.

While the offshore races on courses zigzagging their way around the Bay of Lübeck were held in brisk winds piping up to 25 knots, the inshores were held in lighter and trickier shifting breeze that ultimately died altogether on the final day.

At a gala prize giving within the race village at Neustadt’s Ancora Marina on Saturday night (12 August), the winners, including German Detlef Amlong who’s Froschkönig won Division Two at the IMS Offshore World Championship, were awarded Rolex Submariner time pieces by Rolex Germany CEO, Peter Streit.

This year’s event was the third ever Rolex Baltic Week. It is the sole Rolex-sponsored sailing regatta in Germany and the Baltic Sea.

Top eight final results – Rolex Baltic Week 2006

IMS Offshore World Championship Division 1
1. “Yugtranzit” (Sergey Shevtsov/Russia) 19.13 points
2. “Data Communication” (Ralf Aspholm/Sweden) 54.50
3. “Moonshine” (Matthias Müller von Blumencron/Germany) 65.50
4. “Imagine” (Peter Rudbäck/Sweden) 66.50
5. “Al Cap One” (Peer Moberg/Norway) 67.50
6. “Ocean Warrior” (Sverre Valeur/Norway) 68.00
7. “Hanseatic Lloyd” (Christian Plump/Germany) 77.75
8. “Transit Express” (Tetje Ancker/Germany) 79.50

Division 2
1. “Froschkönig” (Detlef Amlong/Germany) 33.00 points
2. “No Limits” (Sven and Lars Christensen/Germany) 39.00
3. “Patent3″ (Jürgen Klinghardt/Germany) 46.50
4. “Cala Ventinove” (Uwe Wenzel/Germany) 52.25
5. “Chinook” (Johann Friedrichsen/Germany) 55.75
6. “Static Electric” (Heiko Päsler/Germany) 59.00
7. “Chaos Charante” (Thomas Nielsen/Germany) 71.75
8. “Rosetta from Rocks” (Radboud Maarten Crul/Netherlands) 73.75

Star European Championship
1. Mark Mendelblatt/Mark Strube (USA) 10.00
2. Robert Scheidt/Bruno Prada (Brazil) 25.00
3. Andrew Horton, Brad Nichol (USA) 27.00
4. Hamish Pepper/Carl Williams (New Zealand) 27.00
5. Diego Negri/Luigi Viale (Italy) 29.00
6. Xavier Rohart/Pascal Rambeau (France) 31.00
7. Hans Spitzauer/Christian Nehammer (Austria) 33
8. Matthias Miller/Manuel Voigt (Germany) 39

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