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Mark Mendelblatt & Brian Fatih Win Star Sailors League Finals

Mendelblatt and Fatih at Star Sailors League Finals

The combination of ideal conditions on Montagu Bay in Nassau, Bahamas, provided boats and a substantial prize purse brought out some of the very best Star sailors in the world for a week of intense competition.  The end result found Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih on the podium, winning in a field that included a handful of past world champions and Olympic gold medalists.  For this regatta, the team was utilizing Doyle’s latest M14+ Main, and J6R and J8H Jibs.

Surviving the qualifying and knockout rounds to triumph, the Americans won the second Star Sailors League Finals on Saturday December 6th in a thrilling finale that came down to the final run. They bested a field that included 2012 Olympic gold medalist Freddy Loof and crew Anders Ekstrom of Sweden; Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki of Poland; and Jorge Zarif and Henry Boening of Brazil.  Over the course of the regatta, the Mendleblatt and Fatih won 3 races (of 9) in the qualifying series, then finished with a 2-1-1  in the finals to secure the victory.

Star2Defending champion Robert Scheidt, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and crew Bruno Prada of Brazil were eliminated in the semifinal. Top-ranked Diego Negri and crew Sergio Lambertenghi of Italy were eliminated in the semis.

Four days of competition meant that after three days of qualifying, the top 11 teams from the elite field of 20 advanced to the quarter-finals.  The winner of the qualifying round – Swedes Freddy Loof and Anders Ekström – went directly to the semi-finals, while the crews that qualified in 2nd to 11th positions advanced to the quarter-finals, with the best 6 going forward to the Semi. The Semi finals determined who got to sail in the grand finale, with only the top 4 advancing.  The unique elimination arrangement made every race that much more important, and put an emphasis on performing under pressure.

“The first race we were feeling in danger for sure. Halfway up the first beat we were feeling ‘This isn’t good’, you know. We talked to each other and said ‘Let’s just stay calm here and keep working together and use our speed and get back’. And it worked. We were going well.”

The quarter-finals saw plenty of competition, with last year’s runners up, Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki leading early on in the race, only to have defending champions Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada of Brazil pass them on the run. But Kusznierewicz was back in front on the second windward leg and was able to hold it to the finish. Mendelblatt and Fatih were second and third place went to the Finn world champion, Giles Scott (GBR) and Steve Milne.

Star3In the semi-final and final, however, Mendelblatt and Fatih appeared to put the afterburner’s on, to win back to back races against the very best in the Star class.  “This was a race of a lifetime,” said Mendelblatt. “To beat guys like Freddy Loof, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, and Robert Scheidt and all the other guys who are here is incredible. We did not have any expectations coming in: only to sail our best regatta. And you know these guys beat me more times than I beat them in my career as a Star sailor. With Robert, I can count the number of times I beat him on one hand and I’ve been sailing against him for 25 years so it feels great to win this event.”

The wind for the final, a six-leg race, had shifted more to the north but was anything but stable. Mendelblatt was forced to tack out from under Zarif early one which would eventually prove to be a winning move, putting Mendelblatt ahead around the first windward mark.

Doyle Star SailsOn the third beat, Kusznierewicz sneaked ahead at the top mark and led down the final leg. All of the boat were withing striking distance, with the crews aggressively working the waves while trying to play every shift as well.  Kusznierewicz appeared to have the win within grasp as the teams narrowed in on the finish line, only to have Mendelblatt and Loof, coming in on a tighter reach, sail in from leeward to take the first two places. Kusznierewicz, who was runner-up last year, finished third and the rookie, Zarif, was fourth.

“I’m really hoping that the Star Sailors League continues. I think it is fantastic. I think the Star boat obviously is bringing in the best sailors in the world still,” said Mendelblatt. “The format is excellent. It’s exciting, it’s great. I have no plans to sell my Star. I’m keeping my boat and I’m going to do some more Star regattas, for sure.”

Star17

Doyle One Design has been active in the Star class for a number of years, and this year’s Star Sailors League Finals is just the latest in a string of victories for Doyle’s Star customers.  In November, Luke Lawrence and Joshua Revkin won the Schoonmaker Cup, while in October Tomas Hornos and Revkin placed 2nd at the Star North American Championship. and in July William Swigart and Fatih teamed up to win the Cedar Point Open for the Bedford Pitcher.  Doyle’s success stems from a highly technical design process, on the water testing and constant refinements and customer service.

For full Results of the Star Sailors League Finals, please visit here.

To learn more about Doyle’s Star Sails, please visit here.

Bob Fisher contributed to this report

 

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