By RENALDO DORSETT
DAY one of the Star Sailors League, hosted at Montagu Bay in New Providence, Bahamas, featured the most talented teams in the sport vying for the coveted title and prizes amounting to $200,000.
The French pair of Xavier Rohart and Alexis -Pierre Ponsot lead the field of 19 boats thus far with five points. They finished first in race one, followed by second place finishes in races two and three and held on after an 11th place finish in race four.
Rohart finished seventh in the 2013 SSL Finals and comes in with a fifth place SSL ranking.
Among his many highlights, he is a bronze medallist in Star at the 2004 Olympics, two-time World Champion in 2003 and 2005 and he won the European Star Championships this year.
Diego Negri and Sergio Lambertenghi of Italy are currently in second place with eight points, highlighted by a first place finish in race two. They also finished second in race one, fifth in race three, but fell back to 19th in race four.
Hamish Pepper of New Zealand alongside crew Bruno Prada of Brazil overcame a slow start to finish the day in third.
After 11th place in race one and seventh in race two, they won race three and finished second in race four for a total of 10 points.
The top five is rounded out by George Szabo (USA) and Edoardo Natucci (ITA) and the Polish duo of Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Dominik Zycki are fifth with 12 points.
The other team thus far to notch a race win was Johannes Polgar and Markus Kay of Germany who took race four. They are currently in eighth place.
The SSL has developed a new racing format, in collaboration with some of the most experienced and skilled sailors in the world.
The main goal of this format is to build the tension and excitement of the racing fans. The athletes truly believe that the SSL racing format completely fulfils this objective without spoiling the nature of sailing as a sport.
The introduction of a knockout system inspired by the “play-offs” helps to increase the pressure and ends in the ultimate climax, a “winner-takes-all” final.
The top 11 teams qualify for the Final Day on Saturday which will be raced in a knock-out format. All the action will be streamed live via the Internet and include TV interviews with competitors.
Ten teams contest the quarter-final in a single race between teams ranked 2nd to 11th in the qualifications rounds (the winner of the qualification rounds receives a bye).
The semi-final is another single race between the top six from the quarter-final, plus the winner of the qualification rounds.
The final features the top four teams from the semi-final in a single race.
The winner will be crowned as winner of the 2015 SSL Finals, together with the biggest share of the prize fund.
Full coverage of all four days of action will be streamed live on the Internet with expert commentary from special studio guests, including Dennis Conner.
On the water, the latest in hi-tech camera technology, as well as Virtual Eye 3D Graphics, will provide thrilling viewing.
Armchair sailors can also race the course with Virtual Regatta.
From December 2-5, regattas will be streamed live on http://finals.starsailors.com