It’s been about one month since the end of the SSL European Championship / SSL Breeze Grand Slam, one of the best and most attended Star Class event in the past few years.
It was the union of both the International Star Class Yacht Racing Association and the Star Sailors League that attracted so many sailors on the start line – 90 boats – but along that so many other successful details fell into place to make it an event that sailors will remember in a long time.
First we should start from the end, when Brazilian superhero Robert Scheidt with Henry Beoning won the European title by just one meter after the French duo Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot dominated the last downind, who took the lead off the hands of American legend Paul Cayard – who led all the way from the start to the second upwind mark – on the day of his 60th birthday.
More than 65,000 people wateched the live streaming on the SSL website and YouTube channel, and over 200,000 on Facebook. In Riva del Garda tourists, passers by and sailors followed the fantastic sailing closely on the mega screen right in the garden next to Fraglia Vela Riva, careless of the rain people joined the public viewing.
“The knock-out series are amazing – says Guido Falciola (ITA), a non professional skipper racing in Riva – we loved the new format even though we knew we wouldn’t make it with all of these champions. With my crew Luca Paloschi we were looking forward to this regatta and we are very pleased we attended, being on the startline with the heroes of our sports, tacking close to them, even learning from them, something like this would be impossible in any other classes or events.”
“Faultless organization but everyone involved – added Jorgen Schoenherr, multiple times winner Dragon Gold Cup – Garda always delivers spectacular conditions but it was Fraglia Vela, the Star Class, the SSL and Frithjof Kleen who made this possible!”
“Everyone here did a fantastic job with both the sport and social schedules – says double Olympic champion Lars Grael – the opening and closing ceremonies, the after sail party, the local dinner and that special surprise event for my farewell to international competitions, all amazing.”
Exclusive after sail parties, dinners, social events, an event village with little shops of technical and local goods, music and celebrations of our sailors and the interaction with the public at the mega screen, even though the weather didn’t help us this time. This is the SSL Breeze Grand Slam, this was the plan and this was delivered, thanks also to the cooperation of the sponsors, GardaTrentino, Negrinautica, Fritz-Segel, Sambonet, Sune Carlson Båtvarv, Villa Brunelli and Contender Sailcloth.
One of the goal of both the Star Sailors League and the ISCYRA, was to let everyone feel like a champ with the champs. 75 to 80 teams were sharing the racecourse with Olympic and World Champions but they shouldn’t feel threaten by it, they should enjoy and take the opportunity to get better.
“This is also what we do at the SSL Training Center in Riva del Garda – says Frithjof Kleen, SSL Grand Slam Sport Director and manager of the SSL Training Centers – we organize training sessions with the top champions and weekend sailors, giving them different opportunities so that they can both have a satisfying experience with our coaches. Everyday we tried to make something special, like we do during the trainings.”
And Frithjof, aka Frida, goes on:
“It was challenging for me as it was the first time I was ever in charge of an event this big. I have the feeling that everything went well, but I’ve learned a lot and we will improve many aspects for the next edition in two years’ time on the organization side.”
“As far as sailing is concerned, I think we had amazing races, the Race Committee and PRO Giancarlo Crevatin managed 13 terrific race in not an always easy scenarios. It was breeze but not too breeze, we had some damages, but mostly by the pros, because they were probably sailing a bit on the edge. Everyone had fun and everyone could do their best in the windy conditions that are a classic on the Northern Lake Garda.”
“I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone. I could have never done this by myself. It is everybody’s success, from the staff of the SSL with the 40 people media team – that included two times Olympic champion Shirley Robertson and Olympic coach Maurice O’Connell – the Fraglia Vela Riva, the Star Class, all the volunteers, and my crew of the Training Center. But mostly everyone on the Organization Committee: Davide Leardini, Fabio Zeni, Fausto Maroni, Stefano Zanchi, Matteo Garniga, Giuseppe De Mattia, Luigi Bonora, Giancarlo Mirandola, Ciro Mercurio and all of the Riva council. We pushed a lot and they have helped me closely in the past 15 months, they were in since the day one and I am thankful for that.”
The combined event was appreciated by everyone and it will be likely replicated soon.
The attention will now shift to Sardegna, in Porto Cervo, for the 2019 Star World Championship, Frithjof Kleen and the whole crew are already planning the 2021 SSL Breeze Grand Slam in Riva del Garda, for another incredible week of great sailing!