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Two months to go to the Star Sailors League Finals 2019

by Rachele Vitello 2 Oct 2019 14:15 BST 2-7 December 2019
2018 Star Sailors League Finals © Gilles Morelle / Star Sailors League

Two months remain until the start of the Star Sailors League Finals 2019, the annual event that determines who is the best among the 'stars of the sailing world', and allocation of the US$ 200,000 prize purse. For a seventh year, the Finals will be held in the azure waters of Nassau in the Bahamas, from December 2nd to the 7th.

The plan for the seventh edition of the Star Sailors League's most important event will be the same as previous SSL Finals, a four day long Qualification Series after which the top 10 teams progress to the final knock-out stage of the competition. The top team from this progresses directly to the Final, while the runner-up goes straight to the Semi-Finals. Teams from 3rd to 10th in the Qualification Series get to fight in yet one more race in the Quarter Finals. These last rounds will all happen on the last day of competition, Saturday December 7th, and in the late afternoon the winners of the SSL Finals 2019 will be crowned directly after racing at Nassau Yacht Club.

Who will be among the 25 participating teams is also firming up. Just like every year, on the second Tuesday of September, the Star Sailors League Global Ranking freezes and the top 10 skippers from this are automatically invited to attend the SSL Finals - along with the first SSL Crew, the reigning Star World Champion, and about ten VIPs. However there is a different scenario this year in the SSL Ranking, as it now not only considers Star sailors, but 21 international World Sailing classes comprising some 35,000 sailors, skippers and crews.

Six skippers among the top 10 on the September 10th SSL ranking have confirmed they will attend the SSL Finals 2019. They are:

1. Eivind Melleby (NOR)
2. Diego Negri (ITA)
3. Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL)
4. Freddy Loof (SWE)
5. Paul Cayard (USA)
6. Xavier Rohart (FRA)

They all are super talented sailors, among them the reigning Star World Champion, Mateusz Kusznierewicz who will sail at the SSL Finals 2019 with his winning crew Bruno Prada (BRA), who himself has won the World title for five times. Among these six, there are six Olympic medals, five Star World Championship title, and all have won at least one ISCYRA Silver event. But none of them have yet won the SSL Finals.

Eivind Melleby (NOR) with Joshua Revkin (USA) won the Star World Championship in 2017 in Denmark and have been sailing together ever since. Josh has raced at every SSL event since 2013, while Eivind was at three SSL Finals and with Josh finished second at the SSL City Grand Slam in Hamburg in 2016. They were 4th last year in Nassau and had a great 2019, with two bronze medals at the Bacardi Cup in Miami and at the Star Worlds in Porto Cervo.

Diego Negri (ITA) is the skipper who has stayed the longest on top of the SSL Ranking. He represented Italy at three Olympic Games and his record in the Star is impressive, winning the European Championship on two occasions and runner up at the Star World Championship three times. Negri hasn't missed one SSL Finals since its debut in 2013, and his best result was last year - a bronze medal with German crew Frithjof Kleen, with whom he aims to do even better this year.

Mateusz Kusznierewicz was the first Polish sailor to win an Olympic Gold medal, when he managed this in the Finn Class in 1996 in Atlanta, USA. After this, he won another Olympic medal in Athens in 2004, a Bronze, once more in the Finn before moving to the Star class with his crew Dominik Zycki. Together they were the first Polish team to win the Star World Championship and represented their country at the London Olympics in 2012. Mateusz has attended the SSL Finals every year since the first edition, winning bronze in 2013 and silver in 2014. For this seventh edition he will have a change of crew, joined this timeby Brazilian, five time Star World Champion, with whom he won the Star Worlds in Porto Cervo, the one and only Bruno Prada.

Freddy Lööf is one of the world's foremost Star sailors. At Beijing 2008, he claimed the bronze medal, in London 2012 he won gold, adding them to his other Olympic bronze medal from the Finn in Sydney 2000. He has twice won the Star World Championship and three times the Finn Gold Cup. As a result he is without question one of Sweden's most successful sailors of all time, and was why he was hired by Artemis Racing, the Swedish challenge to the America's Cup in Bermuda, whose skipper was his life-long competitor and friend Iain Percy. Loof was in Nassau for the Star Sailors League Finals in 2014 when he finished second, but in 2017 with Bruno Prada he didn't make top ten.Last year with Edoardo 'Dodo' Natucci he just made it finishing 10th. Last but not least, he is the leading skipper for the OK dinghy within the SSL Ranking, having come second at the Worlds in Auckland in February.

Paul Cayard will go to Nassau after a year of brilliant results, including a third at the super challenging Star European Championship / SSL Breeze Grand Slam in Riva del Garda and a sixth at the Star Worlds in Porto Cervo. Cayard won his Gold Star at the Star Worlds in 1988 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with crew Steve Erickson. He is among the most successful all-round sailors ever, having won the 1998 Whitbread Round the World Race as skipper and a Louis Vuitton Cup, plus many World Championships in Maxis and TP52s. One title that is not on his resume is the SSL Finals, and he'll surely give it a big shot this year.

Xavier Rohart is President of the the Star Sailors League having founded it with other truly passionate Star sailors back in 2013. His great Star career has included an Olympic bronze medal in Athens 2004, a European title in 2015 and two World titles in 2003 and 2005. He will be sailing with his long term crew Pierre Alexis-Ponsot (FRA). Together they won the SSL City Grand Slam in 2016 and were second at the Star European Championship / SSL Breeze Grand Slam last May, and have made two podiums at the SSL Finals. But they have yet to win one...

Skippers that cannot make it to Nassau due to commitments to their Olympic campaigns are Robert Scheidt (BRA), Jorge Zarif (BRA), Matthew Belcher (AUS) and Camille Lecointre (FRA).

The Opening Ceremony for the Star Sailors League Finals will take place on Monday, December 2nd in the late afternoon. The Medal Ceremony will be held right after sailing on Saturday, December 7th, and will be followed that evening with the Gala Dinner with the Prize Giving Ceremony at Nassau Yacht Club.

The action will be streamed LIVE on the Internet with expert commentary from special studio commentators and guests. On the water, the latest in hi-tech camera technology, as well as Virtual Eye 3D Graphics, will provide thrilling viewing. Armchair sailors can also join the race with Virtual Regatta.

More information:

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