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New faces to surface at SSL Finals in Nassau

In just a little less than a month, the fifth Star Sailors League (SSL) Finals will start in Montagu Bay, here in Nassau, The Bahamas, and this year there will be two Italian flags on the starting line.

Alongside Diego Negri, who’s been to every SSL Final so far, will be Francesco Bruni. Bruni is an all-around sailor. He started his sailing life early in his hometown of Palermo, Italy, and soon moved to the Laser where he gained the qualifications for Italy to the Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1996. Bruni then competed in two other Summer Olympics, all in different classes. He had finished 12th at the 1996 Olympics in the Laser, 11th at the 2000 Olympics in a 49er and seventh at the 2004 Olympics in the Star class.

Bruni raced with Luna Rossa Challenge at the 2003 and 2007 America’s Cup. Bruni won the 2010 Congressional Cup, 2011 Match Race Germany and 2013 King Edward VII Gold Cup in Bermuda, and was runner up at the World Match Racing Tour in 2011.

Also confirming his attendance at the SSL Finals in Nassau is Hamish Pepper from New Zealand, who was at the Olympic Games in Atlanta for the first time with Bruni, then attended the 2004 Olympic Games, also on the Laser. Pepper then moved to the Star and sailed with Carl Williams at the 2008 Olympics, finishing ninth. Pepper and Jim Turner finished 12th at the 2012 Olympics. Pepper has also competed in multiple Star World Championships, winning the 2006 Star World Championships with Carl Williams and finishing second with Craig Monk at the 2009 Star World Championships, with whom he will be sailing back again this December at the SSL Finals.

Another nice return to the SSL Finals will be Ivan Gaspic, a Croatian Finn sailor who attended the Olympics in Bejing, China, in 2008 and was fifth at the London Olympics in 2012. Gaspic won three European Championships and a silver medal at the worlds in the Finn class. A well known sailor in his country, Gaspic will be sailing with fellow Split crew Ante Sitic, a proper Star sailor, with whom he attended the 2014 and 2015 SSL Finals in Nassau.

A total of 25 teams will be competing at the 2017 SSL Finals, the top 10 Star Sailors of 2017 and 15 wild cards drawn from every aspect of the sport. After four days of racing for all, the competition goes into the knockout stages. Single races decide who survives and who is heading for the dock. The last four teams will contest a thrilling final race, the first to finish will be the winner of the 2017 SSL Finals and take home the lion’s share of the $200,000 prize purse.

There will be live commentary of the event from special studio guests. On the water, the latest in hi-tech camera technology, as well as Virtual Eye 3D Graphics, will provide thrilling viewing.

Interested persons are asked to follow the event online on the event’s website, on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to be updated on the SSL Finalists’ list and social events.

The 2017 SSL Finals is set for December 4-9, in the waters of Montagu Bay in Nassau.

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