Keelboat

Aarhus World Champions to compete at Star Final

 
Five of this year’s World Champions from the Hempel Sailing World Championships are set to compete in the Star Sailors League Finals this December at the Nassau YC in the Bahamas.

Three of the five have competed in Nassau before, Pavlos Kontides (Laser, Cyprus) in 2015, and Šime Fantela (49er, Croatia) in 2016.

Zsombor Berecz (Finn, Hungary) also competed in 2016, crewing for his friend, the three-time Olympic medallist from Slovenia, Vasilij Žbogar.

As for the other two, they are set to compete in the 25-boat Star fleet for the first time: Kevin Peponnet (470, France) and Ruggero Tita (Nacra 17, Italy).

Three of these world class sailors come from small sailing nations, and are used to punching above their weight.

Kontides has become a hero of his country since becoming the first Cypriot medal winner in any Olympic sport when he took silver in the Laser fleet at the London 2012 Games.

The 28-year-old has since gone on to win the Laser World Championships in 2017 and again this season in Aarhus.

In similar fashion, Sime Fantela has overcome any small-nation disadvantage, forging a spectacular career in the 470 class that culminated (with Igor Marenic) in a dominant gold medal performance at Rio 2016.

Since then, Sime has teamed up with his brother Mihovil and in the space of just 18 months has mastered the challenge of the 49er skiff to win the World Championship earlier this year.

Aarhus also threw up another surprise in the Finn class when Zsombor Berecz became the first ever Hungarian to win gold at a Sailing World Championships.

Will this be the year for Fantela or one of the other heroes of Aarhus to round off their year with victory in Nassau? Paul Goodison proved what is possible.

It will be fascinating to watch it play out at the Star Sailors League Finals, taking place from 4 to 8 December in the Bahamas, when the 25 teams will compete for the US$200,000 price money.

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