The moment of truth arrives and the SSL Nations Gold Cup League gets underway in 2022. Luís Doreste, captain of the Spanish team, has almost outlined the crew that will participate in this event, which was born with the aim of making the sport more attractive of sailing, bringing together already established athletes on a boat with new talents from top competition.
What caught your attention in this project to get involved head on?
It all arose from a conversation with Roberto Bermúdez de Castro (Chuny) where he informed me of the intentions of a Swiss businessman to transfer the Star Sailing League (an event for great stars of this former Olympic dinghy class) to the cruise world.
The approach is very good, because it offers a unique opportunity for the exchange of knowledge between seniors who have spent many hours on the water and experience in Cruise, America’s Cup or Ocean Sailing circuits and those who are beginning to stand out at an international level in dinghy sailing. But the pandemic and the delay of the Tokyo Olympics have made organizational work extremely difficult and since then we have worked very hard to get here. The important thing is that we are already classified, and we will try to ensure that Spain is finally in the best position in the final classification.
The organization’s leitmotiv is to equate the sport of sailing with a world championship for nations in the image and likeness of soccer or tennis.
Sailing is becoming more and more professional and it is necessary to look for attractive and different events that offer entertainment to the public. We have the current America’s Cup with very fast boats or the SailGP circuit. This event differs from the previous ones because it aims to be a meeting point between professional and amateur athletes, giving the opportunity to those who are standing out in the sport of sailing, with those already established.
How do you see the fact that a boat based on the RC44 model has been chosen?
It was necessary to look for an attractive monotype, which would allow an audiovisual show. This one design fits the bill, but is extremely tough on those who don’t know the boat well, even those with a lot of experience on the professional cruising or Olympic sailing circuit. For this reason, the boat is not strictly this model but is somewhat larger in length, but with a series of adaptations that allow greater maneuverability.
Spain, being second in the world ranking, enters directly into the quarterfinals. Doesn’t the fact that this competition is held on Lake Leman (Switzerland) represent a disadvantage for the Spaniards, who are more used to sailing in the open sea?
Sailing on a lake is quite complicated and will obviously be a handicap not only for the Spaniards, but also for the majority of the fleet, as there are really no expert skippers in these areas.
You will have your first confrontation with the Italian team led by Vasco Vascotto, “a black leg” of the cruiser class and regular in the America’s Cup. How do you see this debut?
At this point of entering rooms directly, it is normal that you get a strong team. It may sound a bit strange, but it can be just as complicated to get a country that has been competing from behind, doing all the regattas of the qualifying phase, because they will have a greater knowledge of the boat. Keep in mind that we jump into the water in November and they will start in May. In the qualifying phase you run the risk of being eliminated, but you are acquiring valuable knowledge. The most important thing about this competition is the understanding of a multidisciplinary team, in a boat that is not the usual one for most. But without a doubt, the Italians will be a difficult rival for our debut.
After having celebrated the initial phase, have aspects been polished in the elaboration of the ranking on which half of the crew is based?
We are all aware that developing a ranking with active athletes in classes as diverse as Olympic sailing, cruisers, those who participate in circuits such as the Sail GP or those who are amateurs, is not easy. But as time has gone by, the configuration criteria have been modified better than I thought and adapted to the circumstances. Now the fan has been opened and these ten selected plus the captain can add 11 more, divided into two periods: February and September. This allows for rotation and the inclusion of more talent.
Speaking of crew and using football terms, when will we know “Mister” the first list of summoned?
Well here there are several issues to outline because until February there is time to present the first closed list. By ranking, where 4 skippers and a crew member enter, it could be the team that has accompanied us so far: Jordi Xammar, Diego Botín, Silvia Más, Iago López and Joan Cardona. Regarding the remaining five, we start with Jaime Arbones on the bow, Carlos Hernández on piano, Nano Negrín on the main, Juan Messeguer as genoa trimmer and Alfredo González as grinder. Tamara Echegoyen and Patricia Cantero have a 95% chance of being in the team, once we have closed the last changes that have been made to the weight limit of the crew, where we can play from 8 to 10 people inside the boat. There are many things to take into account when choosing an athlete, because it is not just their sports career that prevails. It can be a fantastic trimmer, but its physical qualities such as weight or strength for this specific boat model conditions its incorporation.
In the quarterfinals, Spain will be with seven other countries with captains with whom you have coincided in the Olympics or World Cups. Could you briefly describe these projects?
Well, it is important to clarify that the fact that you are named captain does not imply that you are going to sail in this competition. You are the leader of the team, but the position of skipper or tactician can be filled by other people. So I will try to define the project and a brushstroke of its captains. Great Britain are currently leading the SSL Nations Gold Cup rankings and have a cohesive crew. Australia with Bertrand, has a great team, but perhaps they do not have as much experience in this type of boat. Germany has Shumann as its leader, whom I know well and his innumerable medals are a good letter of introduction for this project. Holland has Heiner, an “old dog” with great strength and claw, who is joined by a powerful team behind him. The same thing happens to New Zealand as to the Australians, they have little experience in this type of boat, but you can never say that this country cannot be a candidate for victory, with the experience they have in the America’s Cup and more with Davis, the one I know from my Soling days. From our first opponent, Italy with Vasco Vascotto and Bruni, another great sportsman, it should be noted that they come from the greatest European exponent of the America’s Cup, the Lunna Rossa and if we add to this that they may have more experience than us sailing on the lake, well, they may perhaps things are somewhat more difficult at the beginning of this journey. Finally, from Denmark I can say that they have always presented very close teams, although I do not know Christiansen personally
What compensation does this project offer to companies interested in sponsoring the Spanish team?
Well, fundamentally the association of the image of the sponsor with the athletes. Merchandising is only allowed in crew luggage and offers can still be studied. Fortunately, Spain presents itself with a team where two athletes have just won an Olympic medal and this association can be very beneficial. These medals are still in force in the retina of potential consumers as the Tokyo Olympics are so recent. Keep in mind that this event has been created for the visualization of sailing and will have a wide impact, as it is held in a closed natural area such as Lake Leman, which will allow better broadcasting, through different open platforms. , so that it reaches all audiences.
And from here, to the first regatta of the quarterfinals, what will be the planning?
It seems that the organization will offer several training windows throughout this 2022 where, in addition, the classification series and final phases will be played. We currently have the fleet of the European RC44 circuit in Lanzarote and we are studying the possibility of carrying out the fine-tuning of the crew on this island, where the wind is guaranteed. Everything will depend on how we can organize the crew, regarding the professional obligations in the different nautical circuits in which we participate. It is still a piece of bobbin lace, but we are already visualizing the end and there is a great desire to leave Spain in the best place.