“What’s the SSL ?” by Mark Reynolds

It’s a limited company founding by sailors for sailors with the following mission:

  • Creation of a racing circuit under the name “Star Sailors League”
  • Promotion and support of athletes,
  • Training and support for future generations
  • Preservation of the skills’ heritage from the champions
  • Creation of a pathway that allows the best sailors to consider sailing as a profession

To locate and establish a collection of the best sailors in the world, the SSL looked to track the 220+ annual regattas from the Star Class program and created the SSL “Skipper Ranking” and “Crew Ranking”. This ranking list will give some of the best sailors a means to see where they rank worldwide within the Star Class. It will also provide one of the ways to qualify sailors for the four (4) SSL Grand Slams and one (1) SSL Grand Final each year where prize money will be offered. The first SSL Grand Final was run last year in Nassau with 18 boats, the results are here. This year the top 12 sailors from the SSL ranking will be invited as well as some additional sailors (such as current Olympic Gold Medalist in the Star Class – Freddy Loof) to make sure other top professional and youth sailors get the opportunity to compete with the best on the ranking list.

The goal is to have the SSL racing held in a company owned fleet of 30 Star boats that will be sent around the world for SSL Events, but will also be chartered to top athletes or rookies who wish to participate in other Star Class events. The SSL will organize training camps to integrate rookies with the existing members of the Star Class. Top athletes will always be present during these camps.

An extensive broadcasting program will be organized for these SSL Grand Slams and the media program will also be helping promote all Star Class racing. The SSL has already supported several Star regattas including the 2013 and 2014 Star World Championships with live GPS tracking, 3D graphics and full live internet commentary. This enables sailors not in attendance to follow the racing and to promote Star Class events to the world. This program is important to facilitate new regatta sponsorship opportunities interested in supporting top sailing athletes.

What is the relationship between the Star Class and the SSL and how will this contribute to the Star Class?

The organization operating as SSL and the Star Class and its 2000 worldwide members are completely separate and independent. The two organizations and members have separate mission statements but share a connection to the 100 plus year old premier one design racing keelboat. The Star Class and the SSL have a standard licensing agreement which protects the Star Class trademarks and name but allows SSL to use the image and likeness of the boat to promote their programs existing between two parties. The Star Class expects the relationship with the SSL to help continue the tradition of the Star being the premier one design racing keelboat. It will give more visibility to attract famous sailors and insure that the Star Class will remain the premier keel boat class.

Like the Olympics, the SSL will help attract the top sailors of the world to the Star primarily though the SSL Grand Slams and SSL Grand Finals that will include Prize money. The boats used in the SSL events will be Star boats and will be supplied by the SSL, so unlike the perception of the Olympics, there will be no “arms race” to create a faster and more expensive sailboat. It will impact the Star Class in a positive way by providing business for our suppliers and used equipment which helps make Star sailing more affordable to others. Although some classes like the Dragon and 6 Meter have come back in popularity in some areas as a classic yacht with very good competition, the Star is more athletic and to keep the class growing and at the top of the sport the Class membership need to continue to attract young athletic sailors.

The worldwide media coverage provided by the SSL, will further promote the class with an opportunity to attract new members at all levels. Some of the future Star Class events will be also promoted by the SSL just as they have done for the last two Star World Championships. The Star Class members believe this association will bring in new regatta sponsorship prospects insuring Star Class events are run at a high level and at the same time providing the possibility of holding down entry fees.

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