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Kusznierewicz and Melo take the lead on penultimate day

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Kusznierewicz and Melo take the lead on penultimate day
Kusznierewicz and Melo take the lead on penultimate day

With only one day of racing remaining, Robert Scheidt (BRA) and Henry Boening (BRA) have lost the lead for the first time this week at the combined Star Sailors League Grand Slam Breeze and European Championship in Riva del Garda, Italy.

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Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) and Frederico Melo (POR) sailed another impressive two races to secure their spot at the top of the leaderboard ahead of tomorrow’s ‘Super Sunday’, which will see the final race in the qualification series in the morning before an action-packed knockout finals in the afternoon.
 
“This is the third win of the championship, which is amazing,” exclaimed Kusznierewicz after the first race of the day. “This is a very important moment as we are now fighting for the top spot. Although we try not to think about the leaderboard during racing, for sure it is something we are considering now.”
 
Although the top ten all go through to the finals series starting with the quarters, the top qualifier gets a pass straight into the four-boat, single race final, while second place in the series gets a pass to the six boat Semi-Final. Kusznierewicz and Melo’s 1,3 today now has them five points clear of Scheidt and Boening.
 
For the vast majority of the 92 boats in this fleet a 7, 4 scoreline would be cause for celebration, but for Scheidt it represents something of an ill-timed drop in form. Scheidt and Boening now sit 14 points ahead of Diego Negri (ITA) and Frithjof Kleen (GER) and it is hard to see anyone outside these top three finishing in the lead after the last qualification race tomorrow morning.

“We are in the top ten for the finals so that was the aim for the day,” Negri commented after racing. “It was not an easy day. On the first race we were expecting that it would pay on the right. I started in the middle of the line and played middle right, but we were out of the top group around the first mark, so it was a good recovery [up to eighth].”

An overcast day with light winds was forecast, but unexpectedly breezy and tactical racing made for a thrilling spectacle. After a week of sailing exclusively on the southerly Ora breeze, today’s racing took place on the Peler, which sees wind blowing from north to south down the lake and making for altogether shiftier weather.


 
After a short delay to racing, a decent 15 knots covered the race course. The startline was set down the lake and the windward mark in to northern sector, towards Riva and neighboring Torbole. This meant the wind softened and became shiftier as the fleet approached the top of the course with the potential for some decent gains and losses for those who could keep their head out of the boat and spot the shifts.
 
One team making the best of the tactical conditions was Paul Cayard (USA) and Arthur Lopes (BRA) who had seen a dip in form over the last few races, but came back strong today with a 3, 2 to leave them in fourth overall. Cayard has a big birthday tomorrow and will be hoping to do enough to celebrate it in style. “I think we are looking good for tomorrow and who knows, hopefully it will go well, but it is going to be tough for sure,” he said. “It was a better day for us today. It was shifty and the favoured side changed a couple of times so it paid to work the shifts a bit more.”

Although the fight for the top spot will be interesting tomorrow, many will be watching what happens further down the leaderboard, with a handful of positions likely to decide who picks up the last few coveted places in finals racing. The Irish O’Leary brothers had an excellent day today and are just outside the top ten, 3 points behind Hubert Merkelbach (GER) and Markus Coy (GER) in 10th. Excellent day for the French duo, Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot, who won race eight of the series.

In fact only 19 points separate 9th to 14th overall which makes tomorrow morning’s race something of an all-or-nothing for many. The final qualifying race is set to take place at 08:30 tomorrow morning and will be raced on the Peler again, so big scores are entirely possible for all of those sitting in these precarious positions. This will be followed, at 1pm by the start of the highly anticipated knockout series to decide the winner of the SSL Breeze Grand Slam and European Championship – and who will take home the lion’s share of the $100,000 prize pot.
 

Kusznierewicz and Melo take the lead on penultimate day
Kusznierewicz and Melo take the lead on penultimate day

1    POL    Mateusz Kusznierewicz    Frederico Melo
2    BRA    Robert Scheidt    Henry Boening
3    ITA    Diego Negri    Frithjof Kleen
4    USA    Paul Cayard    Arthur Lopes
5    USA    Eric Doyle    Payson Infelise
6    FRA    Xavier Rohart    Pierre-Alexis Ponsot
7    ITA    Roberto Benamati    Alberto Ambrosini
8    SWE    Fredrik Lööf    Brian Fatih
9    NOR    Eivind Melleby    Joshua Revkin
10    GER    Ubert Merkelbach    Markus Koy

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