Nassau, a world famous arena, hosts the final of the Star Sailors League (SSL) from the 2nd to 5th December 2015. The most talented athletes in the world will be present to grab the title and the spoils, with prizes amounting to USD 200,000.-. The sea breeze blows between 15 and 20 knots, everyday like clockwork. On days when it decides to be generous, a long swell will mean teams can make the most of the absence of restrictions on the “pumping”, “ooching” and “rocking”. These tactics are unrestricted and only depends on the athletesâ€™ physical capabilities.
Mateusz Kusznierewicz POL, Star Sailor and past Finn Sailor, could give his opponents a hard time thanks to his vast experience and his formidable mastery in the field. With a second and third place at the previous SSL Finals, he and his teammate Dominik Zycki are clear favorites for the win. He will need to combine technique and concentration with a strike force â€˜Ã laâ€™ Bruce Lee (his favorite actor) to sail ahead of the pack.
Robert Stanjek GER, pure Star Sailor, is ranked 4th in the SSL Ranking and World Champion in 2014. His performances in Nassau do not reflect the span of his achievements. As one of the younger sailors at the top, he has a few cards at his disposal. In recent years, he invested himself in an attempt to participate in the Volvo Ocean Race, which fell through. On the other hand, many other experiences in Farr and Dragon have given him ample opportunities to improve his skills.
Diego Negri ITA, Star Sailor and past Laser Sailor, is the leader of SSL Ranking. He already lists two
participations in the Bahamas and a bronze medal at the World 2015. Though now over 40, perhaps a fateful turning point, he has not neglected his sailing hours this year. Results pending, Negri is betting on good preparation and is ready to shine in Star on the turquoise waters.
Xavier Rohart FRA, Star Sailor and past Finn Sailor, 110 kg and 188 cm, is fond of good food, and good results. Among his many highlights, he is a bronze medallist in Star at the 2004 Olympics, two-time World Champion in 2003 and 2005 and he won the European Star Championships this year. He returns with perseverance to achieve a leap forward. He won two bronze medals in Finn World championship. Having come twice in 6th place in Nassau for the SSL Finals, the captain has the strength to guess which way he will need to sail to reach the podium. Surely present for the semi-finals, he will need to master the tactics of such a round if he hopes to win.
Jorge Zarif BRA, Finn Sailor, 93 kg and 191 cm, is a real war machine. Piercing eyes, ready to face anything, he boasts lucidity, precision and excellent technique. His primary objective will be the gold in the Finn in Rio next year. Still, no way he would miss such an opportunity to rub shoulders with medallists in the 1/4, Â½ and, why not, final for Zarif. Each of these will be good practice for the same Medal Races he will find in the Olympics.
Who will be the final four? The recipe is complex and yet very simple. The teams who will cross the line will show mastery of these rounds where itâ€™s all up for grabs and one mistake will cost you everything. Though this model is relatively new to sailing, it’s an interesting component that seriously ups the pressure in the championship. Any substantial advance disappears once you get to the final. Ingredients: mind, physique, technique, experience and wind conditions. Each will have to be mastered. For the mind, I would bet on the medal-winning regulars, like the Polish duo. Physically, a ‘young’ 23 year old Zarif is the athlete you want. His intense preparation for a career as a Finn Sailor includes three sessions a day, six times a week. The 40-year line also represents an aspect of physical limits. Technically, I lean towards Stanjek but on that level, Lars Grael, 2015 World Champion 2015, can also pull an ace out of the hole if the wind gets unpredictable. Who holds the advantage on experience, Negri / Lambertenghi or Grael / GonÃ§alves?
Pictures: Â© SSL – Robert Dunkley