There is nothing quite like being in the heart of a regatta. Now, thanks to the Star Sailors League (SSL), anyone with an internet connection can get in on the action no matter where you are. The SSL is making our historically difficult spectator sport accessable and fun for anyone wanting to tune in and expeience some great sailing.
The Star Sailors League (SSL) was originally an initiative of some of the world’s best sailors and is now an international circuit of regattas promotiong sailing and it’s top athletes. Started in 2013, the SSL is made up of all of the Star Class regattas and according to the SSL’s website, that’s 200 per year. They also explain that the SSL has “a unified world Ranking modelled on the ATP World Tour created by tennis players in 1972.”
This is the 4th annual SSL Finals and they know how to do it correctly. The event in Nassau, Bahamas will feature some of the world’s top sailors, the line up alone promises some fantastic sailing action. Among them are three of the six most medalled sailors of all time; a total of 16 Olympic medallists with six Olympic champions, two America's Cup winners, two Volvo Ocean Race Winners, two Louis Vuitton Cup winners and one match race world champion. The complete Rio 2016 Laser Men podium will race together along with four other medallists from Rio.
Where it Gets exciting
In additon to a world-class line up and the state of the art tracking and video system for their finals regatta (with great commentary, too), they worked with some of the world’s top sailors to devise an exciting format to keep everyone engaged. The main goal of the format is to build the tension and excitement of the racing fans. The athletes truly believe that the SSL racing format completely fulfils this objective, without spoiling the nature of sailing as a sport. The introduction of a knockout system inspired by the “play-offs” helps to increase the pressure and ends in the ultimate climax, a "winner-takes-all” final day.
These 25 teams will take part in multiple races over four days and only the Top 10 will make the SSL Final Day and no points are carried through but the winner and runner up get a just reward. For the SSL Final Day, the winner of the Qualifying Series gets a double bye, the runner-up in the Qualifying Series gets a single bye.
Then it’s time for the final rounds. For the quarter final, teams ranked 3rd -10th from the Qualifying Series contest a single race. Only the top five survive to make it to the semi final where the remaining five survivors are joined by the runner up from the Qualifying Series to contest a single race. This time only the top three can move on the the final round. The remaining three survivors are joined by the winner from the Qualifying Series to contest a single race. The first to correctly cross the line is the winner. The winner not only gets to boast the title of champion, they also get the biggest share of the $200,000 prize pot.
What not to miss
Another bonus of the SSL’s unique program is the behind-the-scenes interviews with the sailors as they are eliminated. After each sailor is eliminated from competion, Survival style, these top sailors are brought into the studio for analysis of what they did, and analysis of the racing in progress. This offers enormous insight into what the best sailors in the world are looking at and focusing on; added value to any racer out there!
How to tune in
Qualifying Series racing started on November 28th and racing will continue through the finals on December 4. You can catch the free, live stream action here on the Star Sailors League website, as well as insights provided by the state-of-the-art tracking system developed by Virtual Eye. This awesome technolgoy allows people from over the world to follow their favorite teams and cheer for them. We'll be tuned in to follow and cheer on Quantum’s George Szabo, the reigning SSL Finals Champion.
for live coverage and a full roster of sailors.
Thank you to Rachele Vitello and Star Sailors League for the information for this article and everything they do for our sport!