Royal Cork's Peter and Robert O'Leary who raced their Star keelboat 'Brotherly Love' stateside in January (along with brother Nicholas) will return to European waters next week for the Star European Championship on Lake Garda in Italy.
There is now less than one week to go to the first ever combined Star European Championship and Star Sailors League Breeze Grand Slam in Riva del Garda, Italy. 96 teams from 23 countries are arriving these days on Lake Garda, but the International Star Class, the Star Sailors League and Fraglia Vela Riva del Garda are still aiming for their goal of 100 Star boats on the start line on 15th May!
The entry list reads like a Who’s Who of the racing world, with at least 20 Star World Champions, five Olympic medallists and ten Olympians among the 200 sailors set to take part. Professional sailors as well as amateurs will join the class for the first time, alongside Star class stalwarts and other legends of our sport, all here to try to win the Star Class European title, the 2,500 SSL Ranking points and the lion share of the $ 100,000 prize pot.
Five time Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt (BRA), who lives and trains for his renewed Olympic campaign in the Laser class right here on Lake Garda, will sail with Brazilian crew Henry Boening; Slovenian three time Olympic medallist Vasilij Zbogar, now coach of the Irish Olympic team, will get back on the tiller and race for the European title and SSL Ranking points; Paul Cayard (USA) one of the most successful sailors of all time having been first American to win the Whitbread Round the World Race, winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup and just missing out on the podium at the 2004 Olympics. This Stars-and-Striped legend will sail with young Brazilian Arthur ‘Tutu’ Lopes – together they finished third at the Star World Championship last year.
Olympic Bronze medallist and sport role model, Lars Grael (BRA) will conclude his international sailing career in Riva del Garda at the combined Europeans and SSL Grand Slam - a sad end but at the same time a joyful moment for the sport of sailing. From the USA alongside Cayard, three other World Champions will attend: Augie Diaz with Olympic medallist Bruno Prada (BRA), George Szabo plus the freshly crowned 2019 Bacardi Cup winner Eric Doyle sailing with Payson Infelise.
Competition will be fierce on the famed waters of northern Lake Garda. Ashore, everything is set to make the competitors coming from all over the world feel right at home and welcome by the produce and hospitality of Trentino, the region of Riva del Garda and the hosts at the Fraglia Vela Riva.
“As Star Sailors League Sport Director for the Grand Slams and responsible of the SSL Training Centre right here in Riva del Garda I am very proud to see this event coming to fruition - the first combined Star Class Championship and SSL Grand Slam, it’s going to be huge.” said German Star World Champion crew Frithjof Kleen. “This will launch the first step of the next eight years of challenges together. We are planning the next events well in advance, merging the Star Class classic Silver or Gold events with SSL Grand Slams. The Star Sailors League is pleased that the Star Class agreed to do this together. It’s already proven to be successful: 96 entries is a record for the Star Class in this post-Olympic period. All the sailors are looking for events like this, combining the tradition of the Star class and the exciting new SSL format with live coverage. Everybody in the sailing world will be watching our racing from 15-19th May.”
Kleen continues: "And now, with the SSL Ranking, sailors are looking to gain points to join their national team in the SSL Gold Cup in 2021! The Star Europeans/SSL Breeze Grand Slam is going to be great. Fraglia Vela Riva organises international events every year and the wind here is always great - this is the best sailing ‘gym’ in the world! Plus we’ll have amazing after-sailing events too. Thanks to the many partners that joined us, concerts and DJ sets are planned every evening and they’re not just for the sailors, but for the public too. We want spectators to join in through extra events and then to appreciate the sailing we’ll be showing on the big screen.”
The Opening Ceremony of the Star European Championship/Star Sailors League Breeze Grand Slam will take place on Thursday 14th May at 17:30, going from Fraglia Vela Riva to Piazza Garibaldi for the VIP sailors’ presentation. Then from Wednesday 15th May at 13:00 racing gets going and runs until Sunday 19th May, when, in the afternoon, the knock-out series will be on for the top ten sailors in the ranking. Later that day the winner of the first combined Star Class European and SSL Breeze Grand Slam champion will be crowned.
You can follow all the action live and for free, streamed on the internet with expert commentary from special studio guests. On the water, the latest in hi-tech camera technology, as well as 3D Graphics tracking, will provide "thrilling" viewing.