by Paul Cayard
Paul Cayard (Cayard Sailing) updates us from Nassau on things ranging from the America’s Cup to the Star Sailors League Final.
Nassau, Bahamas: Star Sailors League Final
I have spent the past three months decompressing from a difficult Americas Cup for me. Sometimes things go well and you are oblivious to those struggling. Fortunately, my previous America's Cups and Around the World campaigns have been above average and ultimately very satisfying. This time was a struggle. We had early technical set backs which burned precious time. We were on the wrong design path and we waited too long to acknowledge it and convert. The result was a painful last six months as reality hit us squarely in the face. The tragedy of May 9th was the worst sailing disaster I have been involved in and something I will never forget. Needless to say, it was a stressful and hugely disappointing time.
After a couple of months away from it, I feel rested, but I have that lingering frustration that goes with a poor result like that. I am sure the cure is to move on to a new challenge and I am open minded as to what forum that me be in.
For now, I am looking to have some fun in sailing. I have been invited to the inaugural Star Sailors League (SSL) Season Final. When I explain this new event, you will see that I really have no business racing in it. The concept is that this is a league for the top sailors in the world who are ranked through the competitions they attend during that year. At the end of the year, there is a final championship with prize money. This year, the Final is in Nassau and there will be 18 competitors racing for a total purse of $200,000. They are the highest ranking sailors in the World plus a couple of wild card invites. You can check out the participants and the results here.
SSL is the creation of Swiss Star sailor Michel Niklaus. His passion for the class and this event is impressive. The SSL team are making a huge effort to run a top quality event. They have a team of 30 people doing everything from television production, to GPS tracking for live internet tracking while we race. SSL are handling everything logistical with the competitors’ presence here. It seems to truly be a first class operation.
I am heading into the event skinnier than ever not to mention I haven't sailed a Star in four years. Logically, a little humble pie seems to be on order for me. However, I love Nassau's wind and waves and have raced here plenty over the past 30+ years. I do have one of the best crewing for me, Austin Sperry. Austin, aka Hoss, came to Athens to help Phil Trinter and I train for the '04 Olympics and then he went to the '08 Olympics, crewing for John Dane. So if I have a prayer out there this week it is due to Hoss.
So it’s time to get back to basics and enjoy some Star sailing in the best place on earth to sail!