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The International Star Class is both historic and completely up-to-the-minute, and competition in it is razor-sharp. In getting a clear series win in their debut majors – the Walker Cup - in this very special class in early February in Miami while sailing a new boat that they were still tuning, the Crosshaven brothers Peter and Robert O’Leary gave a text-book demonstration of how to put a championship together, making them our February “Sailors of the Month (Inshore)”.

They were so astonishingly consistent that although they didn’t achieve a single race win, they were never out of the frame, and won by an impressive margin of 14 points from a high-calibre fleet including noted helms of the quality of Paul Cayard and Eric Doyle.

Peter Rob O leary Star sailingPeter (left) and Rob O'Leary (third from left) with their Walker Cup prizes in Miami Photo: Star Class

Published in Sailor of the Month
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Usually when a boat fills a very special niche in the world sailing scene, the standard response is that if it didn’t exist, then somebody would just have to invent it writes W M Nixon. But in the case of the International Star, it’s beyond imagination to think of anyone coming up with such a thing, even in their wildest dreams.

And if you told a complete stranger to sailing the story of how this boat continues to be at the cutting edge of sailing competition despite being based on a hull design of 1910, they’d reckon you were making it up at the very least, and were more likely to be just plain daft.

Yet for a remarkable cohort of top international sailors, the reckoning is that if you can sail a Star with success, then you can be competitive in almost any other kind of boat. And equally, if you’re a sailor who has won his colours in a variety of other craft, then when you go out in a top Star fleet you’ll find yourself afloat with legends from many other areas of sailing.

All of which means that some really good sailors who were disappointed when the International Star ceased to be an Olympic Class in 2012 reckon that there are very valid arguments for its restoration to the Olympic pantheon. Yet whether that happens or not, the class thrives, and last week’s victory by Ireland’s Peter and Robert O’Leary in their new German-built boat Dafnie in the Walker Cup in Miami - when they gave a textbook demonstration of how to put a series together - has renewed Irish interest.

stars in breeze2The International Star is at her best in a good breeze and sunshine, racing in warm water…

star grey day3……but they can cope with less benevolent conditions too.

They won by sheer consistency, 14 points clear ahead of Paul Cayard. Now there’s a name to conjure with…….yet the Cork brothers beat him and several other names of renown without taking even one bullet. And every image which has emerged from the series shows yet again why the Star continues to fascinate a wide variety of sailors such as Cork’s Mark Mansfield and Dun Laoghaire’s David O’Brien, who took the Bronze at the Star Worlds in Annapolis in 2000.

The Star was already 21 years old when it became an Olympic class in 1932. The origins were in an inexpensive 18-footer called the Bug, designed in 1907 for use in the west part of Long Island Sound by noted naval architect William Gardner. With an ultra-cheap hard chine hull, it was reckoned after a season or two that the Bug was about five feet too short to be sailed with any comfort by two adults, so in 1910 a 23ft version was requested.

At the time William Gardner himself was bit busy designing yachts like the enormous record-breaking schooner Atlantic (her replica was in Dun Laoghaire last summer), so he asked his draftsman Francis Sweisguth to draw up an 23ft version of the Bug, and that was racing as a class in Long Island Sound by 1911, and given the rather more appealing name of the Star.

STAR KEELBOAT ORIGINAL PLANThe Star Class original plans of 1911

star class today5The Star today

While the hull materials may have changed over the years until nowadays building a Star is a matter of enormous skill in advanced plastics with weights being calculated in milligrams, the basic hull lines are still exactly as drawn by Sweisguth in late 1910. It’s not a planing hull in the Uffa Fox sense, but despite being defined as a ballasted keelboat, the shallow-bodied Star sits so lightly on the water that with any breeze at all, offwind she surfs in spectacular style, while getting to windward efficiently requires special skill.

Like most of the few other surviving designs of her era, the Star’s rig has been modernized over the years. Having started as something between a gunter and an “American gaff” with a Marconi altermative, she is now totally a Bermudan sloop, though with no spinnaker. But whereas other vintage designs tended to reduce sail area with each modernistation, the Star seems to have increased her already large sail area at every opportunity, such that the modern Star sets an enormous mainsail which dominates everything, sometimes making the rudder scarcely more effective than a trim tab.

For aficionados, this is part of the attraction – as Star fan David Harte of Schull puts it: “You don’t steer a Star. You sail her.” So she’s a sailor’s boat, adored by sailors who are in turn much admired by the rest of us. Yet whether that will be enough to achieve a change of heart in the conclaves of the Olympic movement is another matter altogether, where a heartfelt gush of Star enthusiasm is as likely to be met by the response: “1911, you say?” as it is by any recognition of a unique boat’s very special sailing and athletic qualities.

Be that as it may, for now the Star is on a bit of a roll in Ireland, where we’ll always root for the underdog, particularly if that underdog in Irish hands has proved to be not a woofer at all. For by heavens, it is true – if you can sail a Star well, then you can sail anything, and on that basis alone she should be in the Olympics.

Meanwhile the class is busy, and next big one up is the Bacardi Cup in Miami in the first week of March. There’ll be other classes involved in this, but after their stellar debut, all Irish eyes will be on the O’Leary brothers and Dafnie.

oleary brothers star6The O’Leary brothers racing Dafnie in Miami last week – the sails are very special indeed

Speaking to Peter O’Leary today, Afloat.ie commented on the sheer quality of the boat’s suit of sails as seen in that fascinating photo from astern, and he said that as much effort went into getting the sails as smooth as possible as went into optimising the boat itself. The Sails were supplied by North Sails Ireland.

“We’ve no stitching in the sails at all. Everything is glued. It isn’t easy, but if you get it right, you end up with sails of that quality, power and smoothness. They withstood a wide variety of conditions last week with never a bother. And the racing results speak for themselves”

Published in Star
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Cork Harbour brothers Peter and Robert O'Leary have stunned the international Star Keelboat fleet by winning the 'Walker Cup' as part of the Star American mid-winters championships in Miami in their new boat 'Dafnie', beating the famous America's Cup helmsman Paul Cayard by 16–points in the process.

Despite not winning any races, the sole Irish crew gave a consistent top ten showing in a fleet comprised of World Champions and Olympic sailors drawn from ten nations for the Miami regatta.

The O'Leary's, who sail under the burgees of both Royal Cork Yacht Club and Baltimore Sailing Club, were the only pairing to count all eight races in the top ten of the 44-boat fleet with second place former Star World Champion Cayard crewed by Josh Revkin, just two points ahead of another former World Champion Eric Doyle in third. 

Peter OLeary starPeter and Robert O'Leary in their new Star boat, 'Dafnie' sail into the lead in Miami. Photo: Star Class

The final day was another episode of snakes and ladders at the top of the fleet. The Californian team of Doyle and Infelise won the day with a pair of bullets. They were fast upwind and even faster downwind. It was enough to move them onto the podium after slowing climbing up the fleet throughout the event. Augie Diaz / Bruno Prada went into the last race solidly in second place, but hit the windward mark, and couldn't recover enough in such a deep fleet to keep them on the podium. Cayard and Revkin continued to shine in the breeze. Their second and fifth places today, were enough to put them back into second place overall, but nothing could hold back the Cork Harbour pair.

Royal St. George Yacht Club's Antnony Shanks was also sailing and finished 25th sailing in British entry Swedish Blue. 

Peter O'Leary is a veteran of the 2008 and 2012 Olympics in the Star Class, previously finishing as high as fourth at the Star Worlds in France sailing with David Burrows. 

Final Results (Top 10 of 44; 8 races)
1. Peter O'Leary / Robert O'Leary, IRL, 46 points
2. Paul Cayard / Josh Revkin, USA, 60
3. Eric Doyle / Payson Infelise, USA, 62
4. Augie Diaz / Bruno Prada, USA, 64
5. Peter Vessella / Phil Trinter, USA, 64
6. Luca Modena / Sergio Lambertenghi, ITA, 70
7. Arthur Anosov / David Caesar, USA, 75
8. Jack Jennings / Frithjof Kleen, USA, 80
9. Tom Lofstedt / Joost Houweling, SWE, 96
10. Jim Buckingham / Mark Strube, USA, 99

Results below and link here

Star Mid winters

 

Published in Star
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#classicboat – Cowes Classics Week has an eligibility policy with a rolling 50 year design date. This means that three new classes become eligible in 2015 and are preparing to celebrate their anniversary at Cowes Classics Week 2015 writes Dave Elliott.

Tempest: designed by Ian Proctor for the 1965 trials for the new Olympic Keelboat used alongside the Star in 1972 in which the British won the Silver Medal and as the two-handed keelboat in 1976. The Tempest is unusual for a keelboat in having a trapeze and can reach remarkable speeds.

Soling: designed by Jan Linge of Norway in 1965 based on ideas that emerged while tank testing a 5.5mR for the 1960 Olympics, ideas which were outside the 5.5mR rules. The Soling was selected as the men's triple-handed boat for the 1972 Olympics in selection trails at which it was the only survivor in heavy conditions at Kiel and remained an Olympic class until 2000.

Contessa 26: designed by Jeremy Rogers and heavily influenced by David Sadler and the Folkboat to produce a 25.6ft fibreglass boat that proved to be a very successful racer and capable of long-distance, blue-water cruising.

In addition, other new classes that will join us in 2015:

Star: designed in 1910 by Francis Sweisguth—draftsman for William Gardner's Naval Architect office and has been an Olympic class since1932 until 2012 - it will not compete in 2016. They will wear their artist-designed sails - Fine Arts Sails have produced a set of sails with designs by renowned artists and are coordinating events for the class in support of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation.

Royal Burnham One Design: designed by Norman Dallimore in 1932, the RBOD is similar in hull profile to the Alfred Westmacott designed XOD. Continuing our ambition to get together one-design classes from around the country as they are not well set up for travelling, CSCCW will be assisting with bringing some of the boats to Cowes.

Cruisers (non-Spinnaker): a new class that will appeal to those not so well set up for racing.

And, we are assured by the class associations of increased turnouts from XOD (the largest class that should reach 60 boats), Sunbeam and Daring (both of which have more boats in action than ever before as boats are restored, recovered or built/rebuilt) and 6mR (one of the most iconic classes ever).

Published in Historic Boats
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#star – Beginning tomorrow, Monday, June 30 until Saturday, July 5, Star Sailors from across the world will come together in Malcesine, Italy at Fraglia Vela Malcesine to compete in the 2014 International Star Class World Championship on the infamous waters of Lake Garda. But sadly after such intense interest in the class from Ireland over the last 20 years, there is no Irish Star boat competing tomorrow.

90 teams will participate in the 6 race series, all fighting to become the next International Star Class World Champion, one of Sailing's most prestigious titles. This year the Star Class World Championship regatta's media coverage will include Virtual Eye tracking and for the first time ever will be accompanied by LIVE online broadcasting and commentary provided by the Star Sailors League.

Anticipation and expectations for this year's 2014 International Star Class World Championship are high and the competition within the Star fleet has already proven to be fierce with the attendance of over 20 of the International Star Class's most successful members, making up a total of 15 teams.

Within 10 of the top 15 Star teams racing this week, 11 of the individual sailors have competed in the Olympics, 4 of which won medals, and 7 are International Star Class World Champions. Olympic competitors Include: skippers Torben Grael (BRA), Alex Hagen (GER), Flavio Marazzi (SUI), Eivind Melleby (NOR), Emilios Papathanasiou (GRE), Mark Reynolds (USA), Xavier Rohart (FRA), and Robert Stanjeck (GER) as well as crews Bruno Prada (BRA), Antonis Tsotras (GRE), and Frithjof Kleen (GER).

Among the Olympic competitors, Torben Grael won Gold Medals in 1996 and 2004 as well as Bronze Medals in 1988 and 2000, Mark Reynolds won Gold Medals in 1992 and 2000 as well as a Silver Medal in 1988, Xavier Rohart won a Bronze Medal in 2004, and Star crew Bruno Prada won a Silver Medal in 2008 and a Bronze Medal in 2012. International Star Class World Champions present at this year's event include skippers Roberto Benamati (ITA), Torben Grael (BRA), Alex Hagen (GER), Mark Reynolds (USA), Xavier Rohart (FRA), and George Szabo (USA), as well as crew Bruno Prada (BRA).

Other notable Star sailors in the top 15 Star teams are Lars Grael with crew Samuel Goncalves (BRA), Hubert Merkelbach with crew Gerrit Bartel (GER), Diego Negri with crew Sergio Lambertenghi (ITA), Johannes Polgar with crew Markus Koy (GER), and Augie Diaz with crew Arnis Baltins (USA).

The Star Sailors League's live Virtual Eye with broadcasting and commentary is scheduled to begin tomorrow, Monday June 30, at 12:20 (CET) just before the 12:30 Start of Race 1 of the 2014 International Star Class World Championship.

Quote of the Day:

Lars Grael, International Star Class Yacht Racing Association President: "We are going to have a very nice event with 90 Stars. We're going to have quantity of boats and quality, lots of famous sailors, many World Champions, European, North American, South American Champions of the Silver Star, and a very nice place, which is a paradise, Lake Garda. The Championship so far has been very well organized so we have very good expectations about the Championship."

Published in Star
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#Star - It's been confirmed that the Star, the last keelboat event among the Olympic sailing classes, will not be a part of Rio 2016.

Despite hopes that the class would find a place in the schedule for the next Olympic Games - especially after Brazil's president threw her support behind the cause - Scuttlebutt reports that the decision was made final at a meeting of the IOC in Sochi this week ahead of the Winter Olympics.

It's a blow to Brazil's own sailing community, which has claimed six golds in the Star in the past and finished on the podium in the last two Games.

And closer to home, the decision also scuppers chances of Peter O'Leary and David Burrows making another run at Olympic gold in the Star - but it's surely not the last we've seen of them on the world sailing stage.

Published in Olympic
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#Qkeywest –  Olympic helmsman Peter O'Leary confirms this Summer's Irish Commodore's Cup team will largely be comprised of the crews that won it in 2010. Speaking dockside after finishing third overall at Key West, Florida yesterday, the 2008 and 2012 Star Olympian for Ireland and crew member aboard Catapult, talks about having skipper Marc Glimcher and his Ker 40 join the Irish team for the Commodore's Cup this July.

O'Leary was in Key West this week with Howth's Dan O'Grady, a 1996 Olympian and David Bolton, part of the 2010 Commodore's up winning crew. The aim for O'Leary was to work up a new crew this winter for a bid at a second Irish Commodore's Cup victory.

O'Leary will be competing at the UK IRC championships on board Catapult instead of sailing his Star since the class was ditched for the 2016 Olympic regatta. Although O'Leary says it now looks too late for the reintroduction of the class, the latest plea by the Brazilian government to reinsert the class may change all that.

The American 40 footer will be joined by O'Leary's family boat, Antix, a Ker 39 (crewed by father Anthony and its regular Cork crew) and as previously reported, a UK based Grand Soleil is expected to complete the three boat Irish team.

Final Day Drama and Very Happy Sailors at Quantum Key West 2014

There was plenty of final day drama at Quantum Key West 2014 as the winners of several classes were determined during the last race. And conditions could not have been better for those winner-take-all scenarios with the southernmost point of the United States delivering the strongest winds of the regatta.

North-northeasterly breezes in the 18-24 knot range made for some spectacular racing on all three courses and enabled all 10 classes to complete 10 races for the five-day event.

No class was more closely watched all week than IRC 2, which featured six 52-footers crewed by a who's who of the professional ranks. Quantum Racing, skippered by Amway president Doug DeVos of Ida, Mich., began the day with a three-point lead and did what was necessary to secure the 52 Class championship by placing third in Race 10.

"What a great week!" DeVos exclaimed upon returning to the dock following Friday's lone race. "Great competition, great weather, great race management and great sailing conditions. This is really a fabulous event from top to bottom."

America's Cup veterans Terry Hutchinson and Ed Baird served as tactician and strategist, respectively, aboard Quantum, which wound up winning five of the 10 races. Juan Vila was aboard as navigator for entry fielded by the sailmaking company that is title sponsor of the event.

Ran Racing, the British entry skippered by Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom, finished second in the final race, but wound up two points behind Quantum for the regatta. Ran, the reigning TP 52 World Champion, won two races and placed second or third in six others to finish 5 ½ points ahead of the Italian entry Azzurra, which captured class honors at Quantum Key West 2013.

"It was a fantastic week of sailing and we are very pleased with the regatta in terms of how the team and boat performed," Zennstrom said. "It's a good start to the season, a good start to the series."

Ran and Quantum held first and second for most of Race 10, but Azzurra sailed a great last leg and skipped past both to get the gun. Vasco Vascotto (tactician), Francesco Bruni (strategist) and Guillermo Parada (helmsman) comprised the afterguard aboard Azzurra, which earned the Quantum Sails Boat of the Day award.

An anticipated duel between the top two boats in Melges 32 class never materialized as skipper Dalton DeVos and the Delta team had an on-course-side start and were never able to challenge owner-drive Alec Cutler and the Hedgehog crew.

"We wanted to get a great start and pushed the line. Unfortunately, we were just a tad early and had to turn around," DeVos said. "Hey, that's sailboat racing. They don't let you get a head start."

Multi-time Canadian Olympian Richard Clarke called tactics for Cutler, who got a great start and led around every mark in winning by more than a minute. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Jonathan McKee was tactician on Delta, which battled back to take second and actually tied Hedgehog with 15 total points. Both boats won four races, but the Bermuda entry won the tiebreaker based on the result of Race 10.

"We knew we had to go out and win the race. That was the only option," Cutler said. "The committee boat was favored and we won that end of the line. We then put the hammer down and just sailed as fast as we could."

Cutler, a former intercollegiate sailor at the Naval Academy, has competed in Key West five times and been runner-up twice in Melges 24 class. This was his first victory in the annual midwinter regatta off the Conch Republic. "Our entire crew worked really well together and our boat-handling was outstanding the whole week," he said.

Organizers with Premiere Racing deemed the most impressive performance of the regatta was put forth by skipper Tim Healy and his team on Helly Hansen, which won the 60-boat J/70 class in convincing fashion. Healy, a professional with North Sails, repeated as class champ in Key West by winning two races and placing second or third in five others.

Helly Hansen clinched the regatta by finishing third in Race 9 and therefore did not sail the final race, using that as its throw-out. Geoff Becker and John Mollicone combined on tactics and trimming while Gordon Borges worked the bow for Healy, who is also a standout J/24 sailor.

"Obviously the biggest key to success is having a good team. My guys did an awesome job of boat-handling and tactics," Healy said. "We sailed here last year so we had a real good feel for the race course. This team has also sailed J/24s together the past few years so we have a comfort level that makes a big difference."

Healy and Helly Hansen came away with the biggest prize - capturing Quantum Sails Boat of the Week honors. "We had a huge class down here last year with a lot of really good sailors so it's a great accomplishment to come out on top. Winning Key West is definitely one of the highlights of my career," said Healy, a 42-year-old resident of Jamestown, R.I. Eight different boats took first place during the week.

Hot Mess, skippered by Rob Britts of St. Petersburg, Fla., was crowned as Corinthian champion of J/70 class. Britts posted six wins and three seconds within the 14-boat sub-class comprised of all-amateur crews.

Four boats entered the final day of action with a mathematical chance to win IRC 3 class, comprised of a diverse group of designs. Arethusa, a Swan 42 owned by Phil Lotz of Fort Lauderdale, finished fourth in Race 10 to hold the lead for a third straight day. Former Olympic medalist Jeff Madrigali served as tactician aboard Arethusa, which placed seventh out of 10 boats in Race 1, but never finished lower than fourth the rest of the way. Just eight points separated the top three boats in IRC 3 with the Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens (Peter Vroon, The Netherlands) the runner-up by five points.

"We are very excited about winning our class at such a prestigious regatta," said Lotz, who had placed at Key West a couple times before. "Our boat was very good in the medium breeze that predominated this week. We tried to start cleanly and had a fairly conservative game-plan. Jeff was outstanding tactically all week and did a good job of keeping us in phase."

PHRF 1 was also up for grabs going into the last race and Spaceman Spiff, the J/111 owned by Rob Ruhlman of Cleveland, Ohio, seized the moment by winning. This was the 13th trip to Key West and the first class victory for the Spaceman Spiff program.

"We've been trying to win this regatta for a while and it feels good to finally break through. It feels even better because of the quality of competition we faced. This is some of the closest PHRF racing in which I've ever participated," said Ruhlman, who had his wife and son aboard. "We really had a blast this week. It was great sailing and all the people in the class are so friendly. We passed Teamwork on the way into the harbor and their entire crew applauded us."

Teamwork, a J/122 skippered by Robin Team of Lexington, N.C., came up short in its bid to three-peat in Key West - finishing 4 ½ points behind Spaceman Spiff.

Skipper Bill Sweetser has been bringing his J/109 Rush to Key West for 11 years and been runner-up on four occasions. The Annapolis resident sported a huge smile on Friday morning after clinching the class championship in PHRF 2 on Thursday. Sweetser steered Rush to victory in five races and placed second or third in fourth others in building an insurmountable lead that allowed him to stay ashore on Friday.

"It feels fantastic to finally win here in Key West! You could say we got the monkey off our back, or maybe it was a gorilla. I was tired of going home and hearing people say 'Too bad you got second again.' The whole bridesmaid talk was getting old," Sweetser said. "Everybody is so ecstatic. We can't wait to get the whole crew up on stage at the awards party."

Skipper Ron Buzil and his team aboard Vayu2 were wire-to-wire winners in J/80 class, which attracted 12 entries. A pair of highly-regarded professionals, Jahn Tihansky and Andrew Kerr, served as helmsman and tactician aboard the boat chartered from J/World Annapolis. This was the second straight year that Buzil had chartered the boat and the team repeated as class champs.

"We had our mojo going early and managed to build a fairly substantial lead. We never really had a bad race and I attribute that to being able to get off the line cleanly and go where we wanted," said Tihansky, owner of J/World Annapolis Performance Sailing School. "Andrew Kerr knows these waters well and did a masterful job of playing the shifts."

Little Wing, an Italian entry owned by Nicola Ardito, had the most firsts in the regatta, reeling off nine straight victories in Melges 24 class before sitting out the final race and using that as its throw-out.

Published in Racing

#star – The President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, has moved to have the Star keelboat reinstated as an Olympic class at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazilian ambassadors from around the world are seeking support from nations to help them reinsert the oldest and most traditional class back in to the Games in three years time. 

The legendary class lost its status after a controversial decision by the world body of sailing, ISAF in 2011. It was thought that the venerable 100–year–old design sailed its last Olympic regatta at London 2012 but now there is new hope for the much loved craft.

In a letter from the Embassy of Brazil, date January 16th and seen by Afloat.ie, the Brazilian Government says it firmly endorses the request noting that out of the 18 sailing medals Brazil has won, six were in the Star class.

The embassy says the new ISAF president Carlos Croce, has already 'requested to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) the inclusion of an 11th sailing class in the next games to accomodate the Star'.

The letter outlines the minimal additional budgetary cost involved and how it would 'strongly contribute to strengthening the positive spirit surrounding this unprecedented event held in in Brazil'.

It is expected the matter will come before the next meeting of the executive committee of the IOC to be held in Sochi on February 2.

Last July, Afloat reported that Brazil had still to make up its mind to back the boat

 

Published in Olympic
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#Star -  The Star Sailors League (SSL) has announced its first ever event in the 2013 SSL Final, an invitational event from 3-8 December at the Nassau Yacht Club in the Bahamas with the best Star sailors from 11 countries competing for US$200,000 in prize money.

The provisional entry list - which includes three Olympic gold medallists, 11 Olympic class world champions and a Louis Vuitton Cup winner - represents the first and the only time, after the Star Worlds and 2012 Olympic Games, that so many international Star champions will race together.

Most of the leaders in the SSL Ranking list have already confirmed their participation, and include Robert Scheidt (BRA), Xavier Rohart (FRA), Freddy Loof (SWE), Eivind Melleby (NOR), Michael Hestbaek (DEN), Flavio Marazzi (SUI), Johannes Polgar (GER), Robert Stanjek (GER), Mateusz Kusznierewicz (POL), George Szabo (USA) and Diego Negri (ITA).

Also confirmed is US sailor Paul Cayard, long time Star sailor and 1992 Louis Vuitton Cup Winner, who will compete as a welcome guest. Further participants will be confirmed.     

This event will also be the first Star Class event with the new race format - for all 18 boats, regatta style racing for three days, with no more than four races per day and a maximum of nine races in all - followed by an innovative fourth day whereby the top ten from the previous days will compete in the three final races with a progressive drop-out of three boats per session.

The last day of racing will begin with 10 boats in the quarter final, seven in the semi-final and only four in the final. The overall winner of the event will be the team that first crosses the line in the final race, and will receive 4,000 SSL points.

Prizes include the Best Skipper of the Year award, while the Best Crew of the Year will receive the first Simpson Memorial Trophy in memory of British Star sailor Andrew 'Bart' Simpson who tragically lost his life in training for the America's Cup this summer.

All races will be broadcast live on the official website www.starsailors.com with Virtual Eye technology, the same tracking that was used during the America’s Cup.

And virtual engaging doesn't stop here, as sailors from all over the world will be invited to 'play' the Star Sailors League with Virtual Regatta INSHORE.

The SSL has partnered with online gaming company Many Players to develop this unique event. As Many Players CEO Philippe Guigné explains: "We're happy to work with the Star Sailors League and offer the opportunity to play before, during (live) and after this event to all our one million players.

"Here we are making a new step, for the first time on the INSHORE game offering the magnificent Star boats and the unique SSL ranking system."   

The inaugural Grand Final will officially launch the SSL's activities, and with five days of competition will put the emphasis on men rather than machines.

The Star Sailors League was established last January, the birth of a dream of Olympic and amateur sailors to build an international regatta circuit to promote athletes and their skills.

Under the SSL name the organisation brings together all the Star Class regattas and defines a new world ranking, based on the model of the ATP World Tour created by tennis players in 1972, with more than 2,400 skippers and crew already ranked in the SSL Ranking.

Drawing its inspiration from tennis and its annual Masters, the SSL Board is launching the Star Sailors League Final which will be sailed at the end of each year.

Published in Star
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#star – 28,000 UK schools and every child in the country have been offered the opportunity to create fine art for Olympic Star Class sails.

Fine Art Sails and the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation are inviting young people from 8 to 17 years of age to jump aboard and enter into a unique competition to design a 10m tall main sail for a 'Star Class' boat to be raced by Sir Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy OBE and many more Olympic sailors at the London Boat Show on 4th and 5th January 2014.

The 'Sail Art' contest is supported by The Campaign for Drawing led by the Serpentine Gallery Founding Director Sue Grayson-Ford. The Campaign's Patrons include Andrew Marr, Sir Quentin Blake, and David Hockney CM.

The competition for the best artwork for the Olympic sails is in three categories - 8-11 years; 12-14 years; 15-17 years.

The theme is 'Legends of the Sea' intended to unleash imaginations and art materials. Students are to think about sea gods, mythical marine creatures, Atlantis or any windy and watery shanties that take their fancy.

The first prizes will also include a day sailing with Olympic sailors, STAEDTLER art materials worth £250 for the winning schools, and a special invitation to the London Boat Show in January 2014 to watch the Fine Art Sails regatta on 4th and 5th January 2014.

As well as the 3 winning student artworks (one winner from each age group) being hoisted onto Olympic Star Class sails for the regatta, 3 new established artists' work will join 4 sails from last year's regatta by Goldie, Julian Opie, David Begbie and EINE.

Discussing the National Schools "Sail Art" Competition, Olympic Gold medallist Iain Percy OBE says: "One of the things I really love about sailing, is the ocean. The beauty of it. The power of it sometimes. I want young people in this sailing art competition to capture it for us".

Americas Cup winner and Olympic Gold medallist Sir Ben Ainslie says: "Sailing is a fantastic sport in many ways but not just on the water. It's a way youngsters can express themselves. The sail is a great canvas for kids to paint all over and express themselves in different ways. I'm very excited about that".

Founder of Fine Art Sails Michael Ross says: "My idea with this competition is to let every child in the country know about sailing, not just as a sport but as a potential career path. Not every school has sailing as an activity, but every child in the country has art lessons. This competition will bring sailing into every child's art class".

Fine Art Sails and the National Schools "Sail Art" Competition is in support of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation (ASSF).

http://www.campaignfordrawing.org/competitions/sailart.aspx

http://www.andrewsimpsonsailing.org/getsailing.php

After Andrew Simpson's tragic death, the Foundation was established by Iain Percy OBE, Sir Ben Ainslie, and Andrew's wife Leah. The Fine Art Sails National Sail Art Competition continues the theme of encouraging and mentoring children into sailing, honouring Andrew's life and legacy.

Through their sailing experiences the charity will help to develop young people's life skills, but importantly it will also assist the children into employment in the sailing community through apprenticeships with partners including sail makers, boat builders, nautical technologies and other marine companies.

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