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Finalists in eSailing World Championship

Published on October 7th, 2020

Following three days of racing in the 2020 eSailing World Championship PlayOffs, the top eight competitors have advanced to the 2020 Finals.

The PlayOffs, from September 30 to October 3, had 820 eSailors tested in three different challenges to make it to the last eight and seal their place in the third annual eSailing World Championship Final.

The first stage was the J/70 in Auckland, the second stage presented a challenge in the eF50 – the virtual version of the high-speed catamaran used in SailGP – in San Francisco, and the third stage used a Laser in Marseille, France.

The top eight players who have made it to the eSailing World Championship Final are as follows:

1. StipecoachCROATIA (CRO)
2. Donnie Gillies (GBR)
3. Joan Cardona (ESP)
4. Kaan Mazlumca (TUR)
5. Cruzolator (ESP)
6. ramon732@541TOP (ESP)
7. MCES valentinelisa (FRA)
8. MCES pepitõ (FRA)

They will join 2020 eSailGP Champion Déjà Vu (GBR) in the final showdown on November 7 (time TBC).

The PlayOff process was a difficult one; only two of the eventual 2020 finalists were ranked in the top 10 prior to this stage.

Plenty of previous finalists were also in the mix, such as defending champion Filippo Lanfranchi (ITA), Luca Coslovich (ITA) (3rd in 2019), Alessandro Merlino (ITA) (3rd in 2018), and LaMerNoire (FRA) (two-time finalist).

Joan Cardona, professional Olympic class sailor and Spain SailGP Team member, was runner-up in the eSailGP Championship, but sealed his place in the Final this time around with an exemplary performance in the J/70 stage.

The eF50 is known as one of the most difficult boats to sail on Virtual Regatta Inshore, and it proved tricky once more, with Spanish and Portuguese eSailors in particular shining in that stage.

Donnie Gillies, 2019 GBR National Champion and runner-up this year, was looking forward to the Laser challenge, along with MCES pepitõ and Filippo Lanfranchi.

Only one previous eSailing World Championship finalist had made it to the top 10 at that point – Cruzolator (ESP), who competed in the 2018 Final in Sarasota, USA.

However, a poor start from the Spaniard pushed him down to 14th overall and needing four wins in four races over 30 minutes to qualify.

But in a dramatic finale, Filippo Lanfranchi, who was just 20 minutes away from qualifying for this year’s Final, suffered a loss of connection during a race, putting his place in danger.

At this point, Cruzolator had already notched three of his required four victories – and in the final race of the entire PlayOffs, he took that much-needed last win to push Filippo Lanfranchi out of the top eight and seal his place in the Final.

Elsewhere, StipecoachCROATIA qualified as number 1 following a remarkable 363 races, but he came close to dropping out of the top eight after a loss of focus meant a loss of points in the best series score. After starting over with a new best series of 20 races, he struck a good series during the last day in the Laser to climb to third overall, winning two races in the final hour to seal first place.

The top eight PlayOff qualifiers present an interesting and exciting mix of eSailors. Previous finalists Cruzolator and Kaan Mazlumca will have experience of performing on the big stage, which they can certainly use to their advantage. Joan Cardona and MCES pepitõ are two young and talented sailors in both real-life and the virtual world, while Donnie Gillies and ramon732@541TOP are two of our older finalists who have proven they can keep up with their rivals. Finally, MCES valentinelisa and StipecoachCROATIA are two of the most determined and resilient eSailors around at the moment.

Here’s what some of our finalists had to say:

• Stjepan Ćesić (StipecoachCROATIA): “It was an exhausting three days with interesting races and fantastic opponents. Thanks GRE-9 for the great tips. I am proud to play with eight amazing players in the Final. Congratulations to all from the bottom of my heart.”

• Donnie Gillies: “I’m really elated to make the Final this year after a very close miss last year. The level of competition has improved significantly, with many new faces this year meaning that every PlayOff race had multiple top skippers to lock horns with. Looking down the top 100 in the results table, there are so many boats that could have made it on their day, so I feel quite lucky to have hit a hot streak during the Lasers to clinch a spot. Really looking forward to the Final, and I’ll be catching up on some of the sleep I lost during the PlayOffs before then!”

• Kaan Mazlumca: “It is an honour to be the only eSailor to qualify for the eSailing World Championship Final three times back-to-back. I will push myself to be the world champion in this Final.”

• Miguel Cruz (Cruzolator): “I did not think I would have enough time, but I did it at the highest level of racing with the time at the limit. For the last 10 or 12 races, I couldn’t stop doing the maths to see where I could go. At the end of the last regatta before I could see the final ranking, messages of congratulations began to reach me and I started jumping and screaming with joy. Never give up! Epic.”

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