Harken Derm

Star Sailors League Dangles Green Carrot

Published on March 28th, 2016

When in 2013 a group of sailing enthusiast – particularly fond of Star boats – met and started molding the project that would have become Star Sailors League (SSL), they had a major goal in mind: make it competitive and sustainable.

People can measure their standings in the yearly ranking, which rank skipper and crew separately. The more regattas people attend and performs well at, the most points one gets. Those people among top of the ranking at the end of the year have the chance of being invited to the prestigious SSL Finals in Nassau, Bahamas which attracts only the top sailing athletes.

The idea of sustainability is strictly meant for the sailors. Most of them cannot count on the support of sponsors or National Federations. This is where the prize purse finds its purpose: it pushes sailors to give their best and at the same time gives them the opportunity to invest in their sailing through training, traveling, and equipment.

The current model provides significant support for the Grand Slam events and SSL Finals. Besides prize purses of $100,000 at Grand Slams and $200,000 at the Finals, the elite teams receive travel, accommodations, and boat and sails if needed. All reward, no risk. What’s not to like?

The SSL prize money and perks are, at the moment, taken care of by a very small group of Swiss sailing passionate investors. While true sustainability won’t occur until commercial sponsorship replaces the fickleness of personal wallets, the current plan is pretty good for those who can benefit.

The plan is for SSL to organize four Grand Slams and the Finals in the next four years. The Grand Slams will be hosted in various locations with a different set of conditions. There will be a Lake GS – with the trickiness of its wind, a City GS – held in the heart of big cities with traffic and narrow waters, a Breeze GS – held at traditionally windy spots, and a Bay GS – where shifting winds and strategy game are the main peculiarities.

The first SSL Lake Grand Slam took place in September 2015 on Lake Neauchatel in Switzerland, attracting more than 80 teams which included Olympic medalists, world champions and excellent athletes. The first SSL City Grand Slam will be held May 3-7 in Hamburg, Germany with 91 entrants competing for the $25,000 winning prize purse. Game on!

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