By RENALDO DORSETT
THE Star Sailors League is a new venture for the global sailing community and has chosen the Bahamas as the venue to host the inaugural finale in its highly anticipated championship series.
The Bahamas and the Nassau Yacht Club will host the SSL Grand Final December 3-8 featuring the best sailors in the world originating from 13 countries.
Eighteen two-man crews from Brazil, France, USA, Switzerland, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Germany and Poland are expected to compete in the event sailed in the area known as the Douglas Roads to the east of Porgee Rock and south of Rose Island.
SSL regatta chairman Paul Hutton-Ashkenny said the Bahamas’ natural resources makes it one of the top competitive sailing destinations worldwide and provided the perfect venue for the league to host its inaugural final.
“We have all been guilty of taking things in our backyard for granted. It so happens that our own backyard could have been created for competitive sailing. We have a relatively shallow sea which lends itself to setting competitive race courses. We have steady sailing ranges and we have naturally sheltered waters which creates conditions that other jurisdictions can only dream of. When you add to that crystal clear water, blue skies and our beautiful scenery you will have what we believe to be a winning combination,” he said.
“For over 10 years the Nassau Yacht Club decided to promote the Bahamas as an international sailing destination, specifically the waters off of New Providence. We have worked closely with the Ministry of Tourism and with their support we have been able to host numerous world and regional sailing championships. The word has spread.”
This first SSL Grand Final will officially launch the league that was established in January 2013, the birth of a dream of Olympic and amateur sailors to build an international regatta circuit to promote athletes and their skills.
The organisation brings together all the Star Class regattas and defines a new world ranking (based on the model of the “ATP World Tour” created by tennis players in 1972), with more than 2,400 skippers and crew already ranked in the SSL Ranking.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Dr Daniel Johnson said the event represents the Bahamas’ diversity in the sports tourism market.
“It will be a very historic moment in Bahamian waters,” he said. “I want the Bahamas to understand that these are the greatest sailors that will be coming to the Bahamas to participate in a professional league. The same way we brought in the PGA, the Miami Heat, will bring in the Miami Dolphins, these are the champions of professional sailing worldwide. Our ultimate goal is to make this a permanent fixture on our calendar.”
The regatta format will feature nine races across three days with up to four races a day. The final day of racing is expected to begin with 10 boats in the quarterfinal, reducing to seven in the semifinal and four in the final. The overall winner of the event will be the team that first crosses the line in the final race.
The prize money of $200,000 will be divided between the entire fleet and the Sir Roland Symonette Cup will be awarded to the overall winning crew.