Start of race 4

Troense, Denmark

Today was a beautiful day here in Troense. No rain, and there was more sun than clouds.  The wind for the two races held today was 12-14 knots still from the west.  The Star World courses are 10.4 miles long by the class rules so 2 of those plus a 4 mile sail out and 4 miles sail back, made for a long day.

Danny and I managed to keep the boat in one piece today and fairly happy with finishing both races in the mid 20’s.  In  the first race of the day, race 3 of the regatta, Augie Diaz USA & Bruno Prada, 2016 World Champs, took first place.  Eivind Melloby NOR and Josh Revkin finished second and Lars Grael BRA with Samuel Goncavles brought home a third place. This gave Melloby/Revkin the lead at the half way point in the regatta. They were awarded the Bud Vandeveere trophy for the leading skipper at the half way point and the Robert S. “Buck” Halperin trophy for the crew.  There is a perpetual trophy named after various illustrious sailors from the 110 years of the class, for the winner of each of the 6 races plus the mid week, the overall skipper and crew, the second place skipper and crew, and the Harry Nye Trophy for a life long contribution to the class.  The Nye trophy was awarded to Sune Carlssson SWE this afternoon.  Sune, who has been in attendance here in Troense all week, had a heart attack at the harbor, during the day and was hospitalized.  He is stable but awaits a surgery.  Our thoughts are with him!

In the second race of the day, race 4 of the series, Peter Vasella USA and Phil Trinter got to the first mark first but were overtaken on the run by Melloby and Revkin who are on fire, especially downwind.  They   maintained their position to win the race and extend their lead in the championship.

Lars Greal BRA is now in second place with 15 points, 5 points behind Melody while Gerhard Schmidt GER and Paul Sradnick hold third place with 21.  There are still 2 races to go and light air is on the forecast which can produce much more variation in results as more teams will go the same speed compared to the windy conditions we have had thus far.  With all 4 finishes in the top 4, if Melloby/Revkin finish in the top 5 and beat Grael/Goncalves, they most likely wont have to sail the last race to win the Championship.

The race committee postponed tomorrows start until 13:00 as the forecast is for very light winds tomorrow.



Traoense, Denmark

Race 2 here in Troense and the race committee held us a shore for a couple of hours as the wind was too strong once again.  Finally we went out for a 13:45 start.  At the first start the fleet was too aggressive and had to be recalled.  For the second start, just as yesterday, the race committee displayed the black flag.  This means that if any part of the boat is over the starting line within one minute prior to the starting signal the boat is disqualified.

Danny and I had a good start in the 18 knot westerly.  We soon suffered the consequences of being 20 kilos light as we made our way up the first windward leg.  We managed to get around the first mark around 30th and made up a few places down the first run.  The wind freshened to 22 knots at this point. On the second windward leg, we sailed out to the right just to keep our wind clean and it turned out to be good and we probably round the second windward mark in the low 20’s.  Any this point here were gusts of 24 knots and the day was starting to look like Sunday again. On the second run, we stuck the wisker pole in the water and nearly broke the mast…. One of the spreaders gave way, tore the mainsail and the mast was bent.  We managed to get the boat back to the dock with the mast up!  We took it down and straightened it with the help of Diego Negri and a few others.  It is back in the boat and looking good for tomorrow.

Up front Facundo Bazan of ARG with Juan Pablo Engelhard crewing won the race while Rienhard Schmidt GER with Paul Sradnick were second and Eivind Melleby with Josh Revkin were third.   Schmidt now leads the regatta followed by Bazan and then Melleby.  Yesterday’s winner, Lars Grael finished 9th and is now in 4th place overall.

The forecast for tomorrow is for 10-12 knots of wind.  The race committee has scheduled two races to try to get ahead in the schedule as Thursday and Friday look very light, possible too little wind.  It is kind of feast or famine around here.  The good news is it didn’t rain too hard today!

Danny and I are doing it tough but still smiling.  He is getting a real dose of Star sailing here at his first World Championship. We have had a couple late nights of working on the boat to put it all back together. Of course the first two days have been quite windy rather than easy sailing.  I should have throttled us back a bit today but they call it racing, right? Anyway, we are all good to go for tomorrow and looking forward to another opportunity.

Happy 4th of July to all my friends back home!



Danny and I sailing in Miami in 2016.

Troense, Denmark

Day two lived up to it predicted strong winds.  With winds in the mid 20’s and plenty of thunder and lightening, the Race Committee did not hesitate to cancel the racing for the day.

Danny and I had a good day finishing up our work list and repairs in between rain squalls.  We then took the boat out for a check sail in the harbor.  Luckily we did as another thing broke that would have prevented us from racing.  So we went back in and fixed that.  Should be all good to go.

Two races are scheduled for tomorrow with the first warning signal at 10:30.

With this weather, it’s hard to remember that it is July.  I know a lot of you back home are getting ready for the 4th. Wishing you a great one!


Stars nearing the windward mark with crews hiking over the side to hold the boat upright.

Troense, Denmark

The 2017 Star World Championship kicked off today with the first race in 15-23 knots of wind and cloudy skies.  The conditions got a bit gusty as the race progressed and 7 boats lost their masts. Unfortunately for us, we were one of them.  We submarined near the end of the second downwind leg and the mast simply imploded.  Yes, that is expensive.

I am crewing for my son Danny who is racing in his first Star World Championship.  It is fantastic to have the opportunity to be together in this race.  This is my 40th year racing Stars and to sail with my son, in his first World Championship, is an opportunity not to be missed.  His grandfather Pelle Petterson, World Champion in 1969 arrived today to support the team.  Pelle bought dinner tonight proclaiming we had already spent too much money for the day.

The Star World Championship course is rather long for these boats and featured 3 x 2 mile windward legs and 2 x 2 miles downwind legs, for a total of 10 miles.  It was pretty physical out there so everyone will sleep well tonight.

For those of us with broken masts, we just got done putting in a new mast at 8:00 pm.

Up front, Lars Greal and Samuel Goncalves BRA, 2015 World Champion led wire to wire but only just held off a strong charge by Dr. Hubert Merkelbch GER  Brian Fatih right at the finish. Third place went to Reinhard Schmidt and Paul Sradnick of GER.  Elvind Melleby and Josh Revkin sailed a good race to claim fourth place.

This was one of those races were the top 20 were racing and most of the rest of us were surviving…or not. There are 76 boats entered. I’ll get the number of countries tomorrow.


The Championship will consist of 6 races and each competitor will discard their worst score.  This a nice feature for something like today but its a bit early to use your mulligan


A proud nation!


It’s done and dusted.  The Kiwis were a force too strong to be reckoned with.  They innovated and backed themselves! The Cup now returns to New Zealand where a nation that is passionate about sailing and will embrace it with gusto.

Today’s race was just a rerun of the other 8.  Groundhog Day.  Nine knots of wind, sunny, warm, and a faster Kiwi boat being pedaled by four cyclists, carrying a very talented young sailor around in an armchair. He hardly looked like he was in a competition..more like a Sunday drive.  Peter Burling, 26 years old, becomes the youngest helmsman to win the America’s Cup surpassing Jimmy Spithill who won at the age of 30 in 2010. How would it be to win a gold medal and then the America’s Cup all in 10 months at the age of 26?  What do you do for the next 30 years?

The Island nation of Bermuda was a spectacular host in every way.  The crystal clear water, the warm gentle breeze and the friendly people.  It was a gem of a regatta.

Now it’s over to the Kiwis to make the rules?  What kind of boat will it be?  Mono hull or multihull?  When will it be?  Where will it be?  I think there will be a large number of challengers least initially.  Bertelli, Bertarelli,  DeVos, New York Yacht Club, BAR, Artemis, Japan, France, Australia.  I expect at least 12 challengers at the outset with about 9 showing up. Maybe the Kiwis and their Italian friends, Mateo de Nora and Patricia Bertelli will go for a large (80-90′) monohull, fixed keel, masthead roller furling headsails downwind, 15 crew.  The boats could be quite fast, not as fast at the cats, but there would be plenty of action onboard.  They will probably go for a 100% nationality requirement as this is the tradition of the America’s Cup and it suits the Kiwis.  They will wait 4 years to host the Cup. But what do I know, it’s all just speculation.  There will be plenty of that in the next few months.

I do think this America’s Cup was amongst the best ever. The television was the best ever, the village was the best ever,  the races were short and sharp and the boats were shockingly fast!  The whole event was shrunk down to 5 weeks.  There is a lot that was good there.  Hopefully the Kiwis can build on that.

I am off to Denmark to race with my son in his first Star World Championship.  I should mention that I will be the crew!  Danny’s grandfather, Pelle Petterson, also a past Star World Champion, will be coming down to watch us race so we will have three generations of Star sailors in attendance.



This cake is pretty well baked.   There are people remembering the comeback of all time in 2013.  Same teams, same situation with ETNZ on match point and Oracle with a very steep hill to climb.  But the situation is much different.  There is no “low hanging fruit” this time.  The boats are very developed and there is no 10% increase in boat speed to be found over night. If there is to be a comeback, it is going to be through exceptional sailing on the part of the USA team, something that frankly has been glaringly missing in the America’s Cup.

It isn’t that the Kiwis are doing exceptional things.  They are fast, but so is Oracle now.  They are sailing consistently and they make high percentage decisions.  On top of that, Oracle is making it easy for the Kiwis. This entire series, starting with the start of race 1 when the American team was penalized for being over the start line early, has been a demonstration of sub par sailing by USA. The start of the second race of today was an example of that.  Spithill tried to get tricky and Burling simply hooked him, parked him and left him for dead.

Emirates Team New Zealand 14 seconds ahead at the start of race 8.

The world was expecting a different American team following on from the win in race 6 and solving their speed deficit of the first 4 races.  Yet, right from the start of both races today, the Americans were on the back foot…14 seconds worth in race 2.  You can’t beat this Kiwi team sailing like that.  Then the Americans even sailed out of bounds in race 2.  How?  Why?  Hard to understand.

The forecast for tomorrow is more of the same; 5-10 knots of balmy, humid wind.  Just like the Kiwis like it. It could all be over by 14:35 tomorrow.

But Jimmy Spithill is vowing to take it one race at a time.  He says they have the speed to win but admits they needs to sail better.  The lineup of the crew came into question at the post race press conference and Jimmy said; “Everything is on the table”.  He said that he and Tom Slingsby will make the crew decisions for tomorrow just a they have always done. I think substituting someone for Spithill as this stage would be suicidal. The Kiwis tried that in 1992 with Russell Coutts coming in for Rod Davis and as good as we all know Russell is, it didn’t work. The only way to victory for this team is to hang together and sail perfectly, 6 times.  But they only need to, and only can, win one race at time.

It is a very, very tall order.


Oracle and New Zealand crossing tacks. Photo by Richard Smith


Races 5 and 6 of the 35th America’s Cup were held today on Great Sound in Bermuda in 10 knots of wind.  The question on everyone’s mind was: Did Oracle Team USA find some speed to make this Cup competitive?  The answer is yes!

The Kiwis won the first race today and moved to 4-0 in the series. The American’s won the second race of the day and moved the core to 4-1.  But the important fact is that Oracle was competitive in both races which was not the case last weekend. It appears that the American’s made new set of rudder foils called “elevators”.  The new pair are at rule minimum where as the elevators from last weekend were at maximum size. The reduction in drag using the smaller surface area elevators was dramatic.  The Kiwis had beaten the American’s to the punch in the elevator department, sporting the smaller ones last weekend.

So the light wind phobia seems to be behind the American’s and they can win a race in 10 knots of wind. Also, with today’s win, the series will definitely go into Monday which currently has a 15 knots forecast and could be to the American’s liking.

Still, the Americans are leaving a lot on the table with poor sailing.  Another botched start and a penalty on the first upwind leg in race 5 and a badly overlaid leeward gate in race 6, were a few of the costly errors by Oracle.  They really need to tighten this up if they want to win.  I am sure they know this and are frustrated.

In race 6, Oracle won the start and led and marks 1, 2 and 3.  Approaching the leeward gate for the second time, Oracle simply sailed past the lay line and the Kiwis laid the mark and cut in front of the Americans.  Superior upwind speed and getting in phase with the wind got the American’s back in front and a favorable split at the windward gate saw them sail in more pressure and double their lead heading to the last mark.

This swing of events has to be good for morale in the Oracle base and a bit concerning to the Kiwis.  Their advantage in light wind has been eliminated by the resilient American team.  Oracle still has  mountain to climb to get back to even but it has to start somewhere and in 2013 it didn’t start until the Kiwis hd 8 match points on the American’s.  Here, in Bermuda this year, the Kiwis still have to win 3 so there is just a bit more room for the Americans.

At the skippers press conference, Peter Burling, responding to a question said, “Well we were waiting for a bit of a fight from these guys.”  To which Jimmy Spithill replied, “Aw mate, we have only just begun.”  If he intended to intimidate Spithill, the young Kiwis skipper may have overstepped just a bit. It is a bit too early for that.  I am sure many Kiwi fans back home in New Zealand will be remembering the 8-0 march that Oracle went on in 2013 to keep the Cup out of Kiwi hands when they all but had it strapped to an Air New Zealand seat, with a score of 8-1 in a first to 9 series!

The forecast for tomorrow is for 8-12 knots and races 7 and 8 are scheduled.

I am spending the weekend in the BT Sports boat with, double Olympic Gold medalist, Shirley Roberston, commenting on the races for the British audience.





Races three and four were run today on Great Sound and the result was the same. He KIWI dominance in this wind range is impressive.

The Kiwi foils and wing combine to generate 7-10% more speed around the race course over the American boat.

The questions are; do the Americans know what to do exactly to improve, and can they get it done in 5 days?  No doubt they have the financial and human resources to put to the task.

As Jimmy Spithill said tonight; the next 5 days will be the most critical of their campaign.

Tune in next Saturday to see if the comeback specialists can do it once again.


Oracle vs ETNZ start of race 2.      Photos by Richard Smith


The first two races of America’s Cup 35 were held today on Great Sound in Bermuda.  The conditions were on the lighter side of the spectrum with east winds at 8 knots.  This meant that the wind was blowing over the island before landing on the race course, which made for a few big wind shifts.

As with all America’s Cups, predicting the outcome is difficult.  The competitors hadn’t raced each other in over two weeks and both had made several changes and improvements since that time.  So while some felt they could predict the outcome, we really had no good read on how the teams would stack up and that is part of the beauty and intrigue of the Cup.

In the first race, Jimmy Spithill made an uncharacteristic error in getting too close to the starting line well before the starting gun.  He was subsequently “over the line early” which resulted in a penalty, but his whole set up was too early from 1 minute prior to the start.  From there, the Kiwis were simply faster, mainly downwind but also making substantial gains out of every maneuver.

Race 2 was more of the same except the start was a bit more even with Oracle in the favored leeward position but slower. The Kiwis showed they had wheels once again and smoked over the top of Oracle Team USA and out to a comfortable lead at Mark 2.  The Kiwis stretched out to a 600 meter gap before Oracle began to whittle away at their lead on leg 5 by getting nicely in phase with the wind shifts.  Tom Slingsby did a great job here and the boats rounded the windward gate, for the last time, bow to stern.  At the first gybe, the American boat fell off its foils, sunk into the water and the Kiwis sped away and to a 1 minute victory.

Speed merchants!

The score after day 1 is Kiwis 1-USA 0.  Remember the USA had one bonus point coming into the match for winning the qualification series two weeks ago.

The American’s have to be a bit shell shocked.  At times, the Kiwi boat was  5 knots faster on the down wind legs and averaged over 2 knots faster for the entire race.  Both teams had their light air board configurations on.  The Kiwis, very angular at about 2.9 meters on the horizontal part of the foil, while the Americans sported their very smooth, almost 90 degree horizontal foil, also at about 2.9 meters in span.

I am sure the brains at Oracle Team USA are hard a work tonight trying to figure out what they can do overnight to put a faster boat on the track to tomorrow. The forecast for tomorrow is 8 to 12 knots from the southeast.  Most of us here believe that a bit more wind would be better for the American’s.  Let’s see if tomorrow’s conditions, plus a tune up, can change the look of this regatta.  Remember, these same Oracle guys are the ones that were down 1-8 and came back to win 9-8 in San Francisco in 2013.


Beautiful J-Boats raced prior to the Cup Match.  This reminded us of the speed difference.





Photos by Richard Smith


The final race of the Challenger Playoff Final was held today on a cloud covered and squally day on Great Sound.  There was an abandoned race that featured the Kiwis leading at mark 1, 2 and 3 and then the wind completely shut down and the time limit ran out.  After a 1.5 hour wait, a southwesterly wind filled in at 8 knots and the race was started at 16:15 local time.

Again, Peter Burling should good control of the pre-start and led at Mark 1.  The Kiwis showed superior speed right away and that was the story of this race.  The Kiwis, finally in the lead from the get go, could never be touched.  They won the final race by 55 seconds and got themselves a spot in the 35th America’s Cup Match against Defender Oracle Team USA next Saturday.

The Kiwis looked very fast today.  It makes me wonder how Oracle would stack up in those conditions.  I think Oracle is faster than Artemis but it is near impossible to speculate on how their speed compares to the Kiwis. Apart from all the board talk, I think the Kiwis are generating more power from their wing.  They have a completely different method of trimming their wing and it is not something that would be easy to copy.  This is a big factor in winds under 12 knots.

So the stage is set.  We haven’t seen the Kiwis vs. Oracle in 10 days.  Surely both teams have moved on since that time anyway.  This is the beauty of the America’s Cup…that first line up, that first time both boats will come off the line screaming toward mark 1. Who will be faster?  If they are faster in 8 knots, will they be faster in 16 knots.  All these unknowns!

Tune in Saturday June 17 to find out.  I am predicting two very even teams and a long, competitive series.


The spectators are starting to show up in Bermuda.