Let’s start from the end of 2018.
December. The sixth Star Sailors League Finals in Nassau, Bahamas with the first winners under 30, Jorge Zarif and Pedro Trouche both from Brazil. 25 teams were fighting on the waters of Montagu Bay for the sixth title, the 4,000 SSL Ranking points and the lion share of the 200,000 $ prize money. For the second year in a row it was a non-Star sailor to win the SSL Finals, after the win of Laser Gold Medalist Paul Goodison with Frithjof Kleen last year, it was a Finn sailors to win it this past December. On the podium with them Brazialian super star Robert Scheidt with Henry Boening on the second step and Italian Diego Negri with his German crew Frithjof Kleen on the third spot.
November. The Nations Gold Cup is announced in Lorient, France, at the Yacht Racing Forum. The first ever Sailing World Championship of Nations raced on big 10 people boats is presented and the first candidates started to apply as Team Captain, Skippers, Crew or even Nation journalist from the day right after. The response was enthusiastic and the plan for 2019 is taking shape with the first teams to be announced in March 2019.
October. Star World Championship 2018 took place in Oxford, MD, with about 60 boats on the starting line. Here the last of the 25 spots on the SSL Finals was out for grab, as traditionally the Star World Champions are invited in Nassau. And after months of contacts with the SSL offices in Lausanne to get hold of an invitation, Jorge Zarif came with crew Guilherme del Almeida with the clear purpose of winning one of the oldest trophy in sailing and a consequent invitation to the SSL Finals. The challenge was epic, Zarif is a Finn sailors and this was his first real attempt to win the Star World Championship, the bookies weren’t on his side, but his determination proved them wrong and he is 2018 Star World Champion and got access to the Star Sailors League Finals.
September. The SSL Training Center in Riva del Garda is officially running with the management of German crew Frithjof Kleen, the support of Fraglia Vela Riva and some local sponsors. Anyone interested in getting better at Star sailing can now join ‘Frida’ and his coaches and attend one of the many sessions organized all year long. It is a dream come true and more are taking shape both in Europe and the United States, based on this experience.
August. The Hempel Sailing World Championship in Aarhus crowned ten new Olympic classes World Champions. Some of them were shining star, others were surprises. Out of those ten incredible sailors, five were invited to the SSL Finals: Ruggero Tita from the Nacra 17, Zsombor Berecz from the Finn, Kevin Peponnet from 470, Pavlos Kontides from Laser and Sime Fantela from the 49er. This was in particular an exciting story with Fantela moving to the skiff with his brother as crew after winning Gold in Rio onboard the 470, and after only 18 months he wins the World Title of one of the most competitive classes of the Olympic scene.
The month of August also saw the coronation of the European Star Champions in the North of Germany – hosted by Flensburger Segel Club – and they are American Augie Diaz and Brazilian super crew Bruno Prada. The week was rough, with very strong winds and tough sea states, but the fleet was ready and there were more than a couple of teams fighting for the title, like the runners up Lars Grael and Samuel Gonçalves, the Irish brothers Peter and Robert O’Leary and Star Class President Hubert Merkelbach with Markus Koy.
A week after the European Championship, the North American was sailed in Los Angeles, and a nice battle between Eric Doyle with Payson Infelise and Paul Cayard with Arthur Lopes. The first got the win of his second Silver title, while Cayard happily sat on the second step of the podium, followed by Charlie Buckingham and Jamie Buchan.
June. Crew Bruno Prada from Brazil, is not only one of the most victorious crew in Olympic history, in June he also became the sailor, among crew and skippers who holds the records for both being number one in the ranking for most weeks, 179, and for the longest period, 124 consecutive weeks. A hero!
May. While World Sailing Mid-Year meeting states that Finn and 470 are in at the 2024 Olympic Games – decision that will then be edited at the Annual meeting in Florida in November – Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi (ITA) conquer the 2018 Star Eastern European title and Australian Matthew Wearn wins the Laser European Championship followed by Star Sailors Sam Meech (NZL) and Pavlos Kontides (CYP).
April. The Western Hemisphere Championship in Miami saw the first podium and first step towards bigger goals then conquered, of young Finn Brazilian sailor Jorge Zarif. He finished the Miami event in third place, with Paul Cayard and Arthur Lopes once again on the second step and the winners Lars Grael and Samuel Gonçalves on the highest one. Little Zarif knew that this event and the previous weeks of training will prove very useful for his 2018.
March. Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi are the first Italian team to win the prestigious and historic Bacardi Cup in Miami, after a long week of racing in the blue waters of Biscayne Bay. On the podium with them Robert Scheidt (BRA) sailing with Brian Fatih (USA) and third the 2017 Star World Champions Eivind Melleby (NOR) with Joshua Revkin (USA).
In the month of March it’s also time for the Moth World Championship, which will end on April 1st, and the SSL Finals 2017 winner Paul Goodison won it for the third time in a row in Bermuda, after winning in 2016 in Japan and in 2017 in Malcesine, Lake Garda. Behind him Francesco Bruni (ITA) and Rome Kirby (USA), respectively second and third.
February. Sir Durward Knowles, Bahamian sailing legend, passed away at the end of February. He was 100 years old and in his long sailing career he won one Gold and one Bronze medals in two of the seven Olympic Games he participated to, in the Star Class. He is a Star World Champions, and a real hero and a true example of sportsmanship. He will be missed sorely.
January. The Star Sailors League assigns for the first time in history 3,000 SSL Ranking points to the Bacardi Cup, officially considering the event as a Grand Slam, a Bay Grand Slam, the one that uses the traditional format with one long race per day and no knock-out series at the end.