Star class: Cash prizes keep Olympians coming back
Published on September 24th, 2014
The Star celebrated its 100th year of existence in 2011, having grown to become one of the most prominent one design classes in the world. With fleets in 38 countries, the class has over the years attracted both entry-level sailors and the most dominant competitors in the sport.
Since 1932, the Star was sailed in the Olympic keelboat event, which helped to attract an elite crowd. But after the 2012 Games, when the keelboat event was eliminated from the Olympics, many of the top sailors have moved on to the next great challenge.
This transition for the class has been hard. The Olympic-level competition had thinned membership at the local level, the cost of boats and equipment was high, and top crews demanded a daily fee.
People eager to maintain the high profile identity of Star competition launched the Star Sailors League, a system wherein sailors accumulate points that go toward an international ranking. At the end of the season, the top ranked sailors are invited to the Grand Finale, which this year has a purse of 200,000 USD on the table.
The Grand Finale is December 2-7 in Nassau, Bahamas. Reigning champions Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada will be returning for this second edition, with the top-ranked crew taking home 40,000 USD.
When you consider all the teams will be hosted, with transportation and accommodations, and each team will come away with an envelope of cash, the Star Sailors League has kept many of the former Olympic Star sailors in the boat.
A total of 12 skippers from 8 nations qualified automatically for the event through the ranking list: 1. Diego Negri (ITA), 2. Augie Diaz (USA), 3. Robert Stanjek (GER), 4. Xavier Rohart (FRA), 5. Johannes Polgar (GER), 6. Robert Scheidt (BRA), 7. George Szabo (USA), 8. Mateusz Kusznierewick (POL), 9. Mark Mendelblatt (USA), 10. Eivind Melleby (NOR), 11. Emilios Papathanasiou (GRE), 12. Marco Fuchs (BRA).
A further six ‘special guest’ participants have been invited to take part also and the first to confirm is Star gold medallist from London 2012, Freddy Loof. The other invitees number Olympic medallists, Olympic class world champions and high-profile international sailors of similar clout.
The Grand Finale is structured to have three days of qualifiers with three races per day plus a final progressive elimination phase. Races will be broadcast live complete with 3D Virtual Eye. Additional details: www.starsailors.com