Greece too will now be represented at the 2014 Star Sailors League Finals at the Nassau Yacht Club in the Bahamas between December 2nd and 7th. Just like the Caribbean islands, the Eastern Mediterranean nation is one of the worldâ€™s most beautiful and famous yachting destinations, particularly for sailing. This is a country that lives on and by its sea, and is home to myriad stunning islands. Greeceâ€™s cultural and holiday tourism accounts for around one fifth of its GDP, in fact. It has also produced high profile sailors of the likes of Emilios Papathanasiou and Antonis Tsotras.
The Greek skipper with the highest ranking in the Star Sailors League (currently 11th) has five Olympics to his credit, four in the Finn (best result: fifth at Athens as well as three World silvers and one European Championship) and one in the Star at London. He triumphed several times in the two-seater boat in the District championship and collected some serious results in a string of impressive events, including second place in the Eastern Hemisphere, sixth in the Europeans and seventh in the Worlds this year.
Antonis Tsotras (skipper crew #8) has the honour and pressure of talking about their involvement in this class since the Star Sailors League began. Thanks to their steady commitment and progress, the Greek skipperâ€™s position in the ranking means theyâ€™ve qualified directly as part of the top 12 crews admitted to the Finals in the Bahamas.
Â«After the London 2012 Olympic Games, we were both off the Star class for one and a half years! Emilios focused on managing his business and me on finishing my studies in economics at the University of Piraeus. At the end of 2013, we decided to come back on the international circuit to achieve our goal which was to get one ticket for the SSL finals in Bahamas, competing in the Nice Christmas Regatta. Although we only had short periods of training, we got onto the podium and a silver medal. After this event, as part of our two-campaign programme (Star and Finn), we did a lot of training in the Finn class during the winter as training partners and participated also in some Dragon and big boat regattas.
Â«Around May, we started preparing ourselves and our equipment for the big summer in the Star class. Our first stop was in Lake Balaton for the Europeans. We took fifth place and although we were a bit frustrated, we managed to take a big amount of points that in the near future would prove to be important. After that, our next stop in the fight for collecting points was the Star Worlds in Malcesine-Lake Garda. There, after a solid performance, we took seventh place and lost out on the medal on small details, competing against some of the greatest in the Star class! Our sailing continued to improve during this process and then found us on the peak of our form for this summer in Switzerland where we took a gold medal in the Brunnen Urnersee Star Trophy and a silver medal in the Star Eastern Hemisphere Championship. Even though we did a small number of regattas, our results were solidly in the top seven and we managed to climb on the top 12 of the SSL ranking list, something that gave us the opportunity to be on the greatest event of the year and achieve our primary goal.
Â«Being part of the great group of talented and famous sailors that will compete is an honour for us on its own. But this time, participation is not enough! We should not lie! Everybody wants to make his mark on this regatta and win. Some of our opponents have a better knowledge and experience of the beautiful waters of Bahamas and that is an advantage for them. But we are in a learning the procedure of the place, analysing as much as we can. We will try to push our strengths, such as starting in the line and downwind. We should not forget either that we have one more innovation from the Star Sailors League committee with the free pumping conditions, and, as Finn sailors, we will be able to “play on our stadium” downwind.
Â«But the most important advantage for us is the unique level of the Star Sailors League Finals. The level is so high that you donâ€™t even find it in the Olympic Games, and that for us is better than breathing. It boosts us to sail against the best of the best and is a chance you don’t find every day. We will give our best to making our opponents unhappy when they see us close to them. So to conclude, we are sure we will see extreme tight races from all the competitors and big fights through the grande finale. We also hope that the League will grow over the next few years, including the Grand Slams!Â».