Photo Credit: FRIED ELLIOTT / friedbits.com
Paul Cayard - Cayard will be joinig the SSL Finals for the fourth time this year. He started his career on the Star as crew for Dennis Conner and soon moved to the helm to win the first of four bronze medals at the Star Worlds in 1984; he then won his Gold Star in 1988 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with crew Steve Erickson. Cayard has excelled at many sailing disciplines, highlights include winning the 1998 Whitbread Round the World Race as skipper, a Louis Vuitton Cup and many World Championships in Maxis and TP52s. He’s been back sailing the Star for quite a while now, since the first SSL Finals in 2013, and we can’t wait to see him performing in Montagu Bay once again.
Torben Grael - Torben’s career is unbelievable: he won five Olympic medals in two different classes, a win in the Volvo Ocean Race onboard Ericsson and a Louis Vuitton Cup with Luna Rossa: Torben is the most profitably eclectic sailor of all times. Among all his titles he hasn’t won any SSL events so far, so we bet he’ll try to do so this year.
Freddy Loof - Freddy is one of the most successful Swedish sailors. He participated in six Olympic campaigns, winning a gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics – with crew Max Salminen – and a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the Star class. He also won a bronze medal in the Finn class at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Lööf’s career highlights include three Finn World Championships, two Star World titles, as well as a third placed finish in the 2001-2002 Volvo Ocean Race. He then participated at the Swedish campaign for the America’s Cup in Bermuda 2017 with Artemis Racing. Freddy attended the second edition of the SSL Finals in December 2014 with crew Anders Ekstrom and finished second.
Xavier Rohart - Xavier Rohart, SSL President, won an Olympic Bronze medal in Athens in the Star class, won the first SSL City Grand Slam, and placed second at the SSL Finals in 2016 behind Mark Mendelblatt. He will come and race once again in Montagu Bay, and will be one of four teams sporting the French Tricolour on his boat.
Hamish Pepper - Pepper then moved to the Star and sailed with Carl Williams at the 2008 Olympics, finishing 9th. Pepper and Jim Turner finished 5th at the 2012 Olympics. Pepper has also competed in multiple Star World Championships, winning the 2006 Star World Championships with Carl Williams and finishing second with Craig Monk at the 2009 Star World Championships.
Robert Scheidt - Robert Scheidt is one the most talented sailors in history, with five medals and 14 world titles in Olympic classes is among a group of few sailing super stars. He’s just announced a break in his Olympic career, he was campaigning in the 49er class, and we are looking forward to know what his next steps are going to be. First one will be to replicate the success he had in the first SSL Finals in 2013, when he won it with life-time crew Bruno Prada, he was third last year. This will be his fourth SSL Finals.
Mateusz Kusnierewicz - Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL) was the first Polish sailor to win an Olympic Gold medal, he did it in the Finn Class in 1996 in Atlanta, USA. After this, he won another Olympic medal in Athens in 2004, a Bronze, once more in the Finn and moved to the Star class ever since with his crew Dominik Zycki (POL). Together they were the first Polish team to win the Star World Championship and went to the London Olympics in 2012. Mateusz and Dominik attended the SSL Finals every year since the first edition: they won Bronze in 2013 and Silver in 2014. Will 2017 be the year of Gold?
George Szabo - George won his Star World Championship in 2009, won the first 2015 SSL Lake Grand Slam in Grandson, Switzerland, and the 2015 SSL Finals.
Lars Grael - Lars Grael isn’t new to the Star class. Not only is he the current President of the International Star Class Yachting Association, he won the World title just a couple of years ago in Argentina and nearly missed the second victory a few months ago in Denmark. Lars but has never attended the SSL Finals, so it will be a first time for this sailing hero of our time. Lars won two bronze medals for Brazil at the Olympic Games on the Tornado, the first one in Seoul in 1988 and the second one in Atlanta in 1996. In September 1998, he suffered a serious accident caused by the negligence of an irresponsible boat driver that left the boat propeller uncovered, which amputated one of the athlete’s legs, but Lars’s sailing didn’t stop there and he moved to the Star boat with brilliant results and started Projecto Grael to give disadvantaged children and teenagers the possibility to try sailing and enlarge their horizons. Lars is definitely the one to watch carefully on the racecourse.
Augie Diaz - Diaz will be competing in Nassau once again, as he is always in the SSL Ranking top ten skippers! 2016 was Augie’s golden year: he won the Star World Championship in Miami, his hometown, and the Eastern Hemisphere in Split, Croatia. 2017 started slowly, but it’s just accelerating with the win at the North America Championship. Will the momentum last?
Eivind Melleby - Eivind Melleby (NOR) won the Star World Championship in July in Denmark with Joshua Revkin (USA). They were the first team to confirm their participation to the fifth edition of the SSL Finals. Eivind was at two SSL Finals and with Josh finished second at the SSL City Grand Slam in Hamburg in 2016. The pair has now mastered their boat tuning and are certainly among the ones to watch.