Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen are the 2021 Star World Champions
Kiel showed its true colors this morning in the first of two races, thanks to which the 2021 Star World Championship is officially valid. And if that wasn't big news – given the slow start of the event – after today's two races and thanks to a brilliant scorecard (4, 1, 1, 1, 2) we can also announce the winners with a day to spare: Diego Negri (ITA) and Frithjof Kleen (GER) are the 2021 Star World Champions!!
"It is unbelievable, a dream come true", commented a very emotional Diego Negri, who has been a three-time runner-up at the Star Worlds. "And today was a tough day with rain and clouds around. Towards the end the wind dropped a lot so I was really, really afraid that it would be cancelled and it would have been too much to take in, but luckily we made it to the finish line".
"It's been a long way to come to this finish line. All my sailing history is coming together here, today. I think it was a tough championship, with some waiting in the beginning, and then two long races per day, trying to keep the focus at all times. But it's great, and it came in a good moment in my sailing career. I don't know what I could have done better this week, I knew that we had to do something special to beat the other guys, Mateusz and Bruno, Xavier and the others, and I think Frithjof and I really did something special. We've prepared hard for this, with Werner Fritz helping us, coming out so many times with us on Lake Garda, always trusting us, and then thanks to Folli who gave me this amazing beautiful girl, I love her!! I named her '21' because she arrived after the pandemic in 2021, and she is a winner like in blackjack, where 21 is the winning number. So she will now be my baby forever. Special thanks go to my family, of course, especially my wife, without her, there would be no chance I could have done any of this. Thanks to everyone!"
"This is not my first Star World Championship, but it feels more special than the other one", said a very touched Frithjof Kleen. "The biggest dream for me was to bring Diego here, to win this. This is what makes it so special. Only one downside, I won't be able to make fun of him anymore, I used to tell Diego to look up on the mainsail, that he had 'only' a silver star, while I had a gold one, so he should be listening to me. Now we have two golds, and I'm happy for that. Tonight we'll celebrate, and forget the diet for one year at least!!"
While the Italian /German duo enjoys their victory, for the rest of the 83-boat fleet, the game is still on and with the throw-out coming in place today things have changed for many teams.
Race four started rough, with wind up to 15 knots, chop and rain. It was the effect of a front going through in the not too distant, and it resulted in a few breakages and undesired trips back ashore for some of the teams. But the weather calmed down after the first leg and the fleet was back sailing with 8 knots of south/southwesterly breeze and flat sea. Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen have been leading throughout the whole race, with Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Bruno Prada chasing from behind getting closer and closer. They were about one boat-length apart on the finish line. Fourth win for Negri/Kleen and a statement from the reigning World Champion, they are back. In third place crossed the Star Class President Hubert Merkelbach with Kilian Weise (GER), and in fourth Xavier Rohart (FRA) with Ante Sitic (CRO).
Race two started with a promising wind from the same direction of race one. 7/8 knots breeze made it for a nice clean start, and it lasted for the first two legs, with the duel between Kusznierewicz /Prada and Negri/Kleen starting back, with the former leading the battle this time. It was more and more about them, with the rest of the fleet far behind. On the second upwind, and while the Polish/Brazilian were extending their lead over the Italian/German, the wind was literally dying. It went down to 4 knots and there wasn't much the Principal Race Officer Mandus Fleese could do, other than moving the gate and shortening the fifth and last leg. With the Star Worlds title hanging on the time limit, the tension was palpable, but within the three-hour limit Kusznierewicz/Prara crossed the line, assuring Diego Negri and Frithjof Kleen – who were right behind them – the so longed Star World Championship.
Now the focus shifts to the challenge for second. Kusznierewicz / Prada are second tonight with 12 points, and Hans Spitzauer and Christian Nehammer (AUT) in third, just seven points short, and only one point behind there is the Tokyo Laser Silver medalist Tonci Stipanovic with Tudor Bilic (CRO) in fourth. So it will be a battle tomorrow for who crosses first on that last race's finishing line. The start is set as scheduled for 10:30.