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Interview with Star World Champion Mateusz Kuszneirewicz

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Doyle Sails One Design Consultant and Star Class sailor Tomas Hornos caught up with Star World Champion Mateusz Kuszneirewicz for an exclusive interview on his recent victory and the launch of the Star Sailors League Gold Cup.

You had a great performance at the SSL Breeze Grand Slam, did you feel like you were well prepared for the Worlds, 3 weeks later?

MK: Every race is a great practice! SSL Breeze Grand Slam gave me valuable time on the water. Garda Lake is exceptional for sailing but also very much different than waters around Porto Cervo. But after so many years of professional racing I know how to take most of each day and how to prepare for the big events. For sure timing was perfect too. 3 weeks is perfect to push hard and build your form, still having time to regenerate your power and get a fresh feeling towards the big race!

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Day 03 - 2019 Star European Championship | SSL BREEZE Grand Slam 06 POL 8548 // Skipper: Mateusz Kusznierewicz // Crew: Frederico Melo © SSL/ Gilles Morelle

How did you and Bruno decide to sail together?

MK: We began talking about the Worlds during Bacardi Cup in March this year. It came to us quite naturally. I felt it would be great chance to experience something special and learn new from each of us.

How were you able to sail so consistently? Especially avoiding black flags and other breakdowns that plagued the fleet?

MK: Paul Elvstrom used to say: “Think through things before You do it”. I do the same. I do everything that I can to minimize things which could surprise me. Bruno is the same. We talked a lot. About our observations, things that just happened or could happen. We put a lot of focus on planning, analytics and risk management. When we could, we push hard. Sometimes being even on the edge. But most of the time we have cold heads and stand hard on the ground. We also used a couple of tricks to avoid problems, especially during the starts.

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2019 Star Class World Champions Mateusz Kusznierewicz and Bruno Prada © YCCS/ StudioBorlenghi

Describe your approach going into the last day, knowing the points were so close with Augie Diaz and Eivind Melleby.

MK: It was well planned. Coming back to the club after race no.5, we had already begun talking about our positive approach for the last day. I shared with Bruno my good feeling what is going to happen on Saturday. We felt strong throughout the whole week. We just couldn’t really use our potential. I could see that every day we improved. For the last day we kept it simple: our approach was to win the last race. We knew what we have to do to make it happen. Also I had a good chat before the last race with Markus Wieser. He put a lot confidence on me too. When we left the dock and tuned before the start, I felt that our boat was very fast and our minds were set for the perfect race.

What do you consider is the biggest factor that contributed to your victory?

MK: We approached the regatta with Bruno the right way from the beginning till the end. It was not one factor. It was all pieces together. We built our success on top of the pyramid with strong fundamentals such as positive thinking, very good speed, trust in each other. We were strong physically and had good people around too. Important puzzle in that pyramid was the way we approach every day: we were coming in the morning with some small ideas and changes. To improve our performance and get better than the day before. We played these 6 days of tough racing with great awareness and with a plan.

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Marko Kusznierewicz (right) was Star Class World Champion in 2008 making this is his second title while Bruno Prada (left) has made Star Class history by winning the title five times.

How does the Doyle M14+ main and J6R radial jib compare to other sails you have used in the past?

MK: I’ve been using Doyle sails since the last year. From the beginning I had a good feeling on them. I analysed Mark Mendeblatt and Paul Cayard performance on them and everything I learn from theory confirmed on the water. M14+ main is very interesting sail: from the deck it seems to be flat but you have always good amount of power on it. It’s also hard to over sheet it. Leech shape is just great. I like to play with the tension of the top batten and outhaul. J6R is great jib upwind when the crew is out hiking. In Porto Cervo we used only that sails configuration. We wanted to keep it simple. Doyle sails for Star are different than Quantum. Fritz main has similar shape to M14+ but is made out of different cloth. I always like to talk to crew I’m sailing with about his jib preferences. Shape and tuning. I feel it makes sense and work well for the team and its performance.

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Paul Cayard & Magnus Liljedahl during the 2019 Bacardi Cup Invitational Regatta © 2019 Martina Orsini

What is next for you this summer? And lastly, please tell us more about the SSL Nations Gold Cup, sailing's next big event that you and the Star Sailors League (SSL) are organizing.

MK: Summer time (vacations) we spend with my family on the Polish countryside but also we travel around Europe. But this time it will be also very intensive for me at work. I’m involved in 2 businesses in Poland and (what is my priority now) I’m responsible for Teams and Captains coordination at SSL Gold Cup. Yes, in 2021 SSL will organise first ever Mundial in Sailing. It’s going to be like World Cup in football. Sailing has never had an event like this! It’s not about individual athletes. This is not about technology. It’s not about offshore adventure. It’s about 100% national teams, fighting to make their country proud.

Top athletes led by the Captain will represent their country in the competition to crown best sailing Nation. Fans love cheering for their country’s heroes and support them! Eleven sailors in each team. Five selected from the SSL Ranking. Five selected by the Captain. Eleven stars, men and women, rookies and veterans; Olympians, America's Cup sailors and World Champions. Racing will be on big, one design, fixed keel, displacement monohulls that will be demanding to sail and exciting to watch. Star Sailors League will provide the fleet of SSL47 yachts at no charge to the teams, at our state of the art training center in Switzerland.

Teams from emerging sailing nations will be allowed more training days than established sailing nations. Training begins in 2019, building to the SSL Gold Cup Finals in October 2021.

The livestreams of all racing (training and competition) will be completely free to view globally. Communications will be in 27 languages. This world class sporting event will have world class marketing and communications.

100% national teams with the top sailors from each country.

2021 SSL Gold Cup will be hosted by Switzerland. It is expected more than 50 countries to compete in 2021 in the SSL Gold Cup. To crown best sailing Nation. It’s going to be interesting. And exciting!

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