There was some inevitability that Freddy Lööf would be appointed Captain of the Swedish team for the SSL Gold Cup. As a two time Olympic medallist, who has already entered the history books as the last Olympic champion in the Star class, as well as being a two time World Champion in the former Olympic keelboat, the 49-year-old is very much the poster boy for Swedish Olympic sailing, as Pelle Petterson was a generation or so before him.
So what is Lööf’s take on the SSL Gold Cup? “I think it is really exciting and has a good future. There is nothing really like it. There is no focus on the boat; the boat is just the tool. Instead the focus is on the sailors and the nations, which is really important. It also connects all the generations, like myself with the younger ones.”
Early to sign up, Lööf believes that the SSL Gold Cup will be a rapid success: “Right now we have 20 captains and I see no reason why we shouldn’t reach 50 captains – it is almost there already.”
However there will be challenges along the way: “The SSL Ranking which combines all competitive sailors worldwide from the Olympics, Volvo Ocean Race America’s Cup etc... That is a very interesting concept, but it will be tricky because it is not an easy and requires a complex formula obviously.
“So this movement is big and if we can get the movement through the ranking system it will be enormous.”
As to the four boat format for the racing, Lööf compares this with the tried and tested formula they have been using in Bermuda every December for the last few years: “It is not match racing, it is more like a medal race - very similar to the SSL Finals which is the same concept and that works well.”
Regarding the boat, Lööf feels it is the best equipment for the purpose: “The SSL 47 is the right size of boat and an equal tool that will allow the focus to be on the sailors and on the teams.”
Experience in the SSL47 will be important for the success of teams competing in the SSL Gold Cup and here the Swedish team starts out with some advantage in having past experience of the RC44, the boat from which the SSL47 is derived. In fact Lööf worked closely with the Artemis Youth team backed by America’s Cup team principal Torbjörn Törnqvist as part of his program to develop young Swedish competitive sailing talent.
Because of this and the presence of other Swedish sailors already on the SSL Ranking, Lööf reckons that at least eight of the 11 of the future Swedish national SSL Gold Cup team are all but decided. This would include Max Salminen, Lööf’s gold medallist crew from London 2012 but also other present Olympic contenders such as 470 sailors Anton Dahlberg and Frederik Bergström. “All those guys are pretty much automatic and then I get to choose the team which is also quite easy for me because we have the Artemis Youth team which I was running. So it is a good place to start from.”
by James Boyd - Sailing Intelligence