SSL Gold Qualifying round 3 complete
Published on June 12th, 2022
Lake Neuchatel, Switzerland (June 12, 2022) – At the SSL Gold Cup 2022 Qualifying Series Round 3, which concluded today, Group 4 was about South America, with SSL Team Chile, SSL Team Peru, SSL Team Uruguay and SSL Team Venezuela set to battle for the right to compete at the Final Series in Bahrain (October-November).
In Group 5, four teams from Southern and Eastern Europe fought for one of two available Finals’ tickets: SSL Team Bulgaria, SSL Team Czech Republic, SSL Team Portugal and SSL Team Turkey.
On the first day of racing in the SSL Gold Cup Qualifying Series third round, SSL Team Czech Republic laid down a marker in Group 4 with an impressive win in Race 1 and a 2nd place in Race 2 to take the lead. In Race 1, the Czechs were the fastest out of the blocks at the start, but by the turn at Mark 1, they found themselves 28″ behind SSL Team Turkey, who recovered to take the lead despite receiving an early penalty.
The Czechs took back control of the race in Leg 2, overtaking Young Turks’ squad on a fast and direct line to the gate and ultimately to victory. Behind, SSL Team Bulgaria and SSL Team Portugal were locked in a tight battle, swapping positions several times until a penalty for the Navigators of Portugal at Mark 3 opened the door for the Bulgarian Lions to clinch third place.
Race 2 went right to the wire, with the lowest ranked team SSL Team Bulgaria (SSL Nation n°59) snatching victory on the finish line. Just one second separated them from the Czechs, who were left to rue a penalty at Mark 3 that likely cost them their second win of the day.
Third in their first outing, the last-gasp win in Race 2 meant the Bulgarians jumped to 2nd place overall in the provisional standings. It is unlikely the Czechs will be too unhappy with their first day’s racing however, sitting top of what was shaping up to be one of the closest groups seen so far this Qualifying Series.
After 2nd place in Race 1, SSL Team Turkey went into Race 2 in good form but despite holding the lead at the halfway point, they struggled to match the pace of the others and crossed the line 4th and last.
For SSL Team Portugal there was much work to be done after a disappointing first day, which ended with 3rd in Race 2. Given how close both Group 4 races have been so far, they were surely optimistic that they can turn things around when racing resumed the next day.
In Group 5, SSL Team Chile, SSL Team Peru, SSL Team Uruguay and SSL Team Venezuela. Race 1 was abandoned soon after the start due to light shifty winds. With no change in the conditions, the Race Committee confirmed no further racing would take place.
Just one race was scheduled for day 2 of the qualifying series.
After unfavorable wind conditions forced abandonment of racing on day 1, Group 5 finally got underway on day 2 with three back-to-back races in an all-South American contest.
In race 1, SSL Team Uruguay held off a strong challenge from Group 5 rivals SSL Team Chile to claim victory in the first race of the day. SSL Team Peru took 3rd with SSL Team Venezuela last to cross the finish line.
The ‘Finis Terrae Sailors’ of Chile led the fleet for the majority of the race but could not shake off the determined Uruguayans. La Celeste, led by captain Ricardo Fabini, made the decisive move at the turn into the final leg, and sailed downwind to glory. SSL Team Peru were in contention early on but lost crucial ground when forced to tack by Uruguay close to Mark 1.
SSL Team Uruguay dominated Race 2 from start to finish to make it two wins from two. SSL Team Chile had to again settle for runner-up spot, with SSL Team Venezuela just edging out SSL Team Peru to take two points in 3rd.
For Venezuela’s ‘Los Caciques’ it was a case of what might have been, holding 2nd place for more than half the race before conceding time to Pablo Lorca’s Finis Terrae Sailors in the third leg. In the end the chasing Paracas Warriors from Peru almost caught the Venezuelans, finishing just inches behind.
Bridesmaids in the first two races, the Finis Terrae Sailors of SSL Team Chile finally took the win in a tight final race. SSL Team Peru grabbed 2nd place ahead of early group pacesetters La Celeste, with SSL Team Venezuela relegated once more to last position. Coming to the top of the final leg, the race was firmly in the balance with all four teams still in the hunt for maximum points. But Pablo Lorca’s crew held their nerve to take maximum points, coming home with 15” to spare over hard-chasing Peru.
SSL Team Uruguay and Venezuela’s Los Caciques took turns trying to control each other in a busy third leg, but still trailed the leading pair at the final turn. Despite a final charge from La Celeste, they had left themselves too much to do.
After a full day of racing, SSL Team Uruguay and SSL Team Chile were in pole position to take the two available slots for the finals in Bahrain. Stefano Peschiera’s SSL Team Peru would no doubt take heart from their performance in the last race and the final day of racing might be their day to shine. Both they and group underdog SSL Team Venezuela know they were in a battle to stay in overall contention.
With only one race in Group 4 on day 3, SSL Team Czech Republic once again brought their ‘A’ game. The imperious Czechs fought off SSL Team Portugal to secure their second win in the group and extend their lead over their European rivals.
The day started badly for Joao Rodrigues and his Portuguese ‘Navigators’, docked one point in the overall standings for a late team declaration. Despite this setback, they started the race brightly and led at the halfway point. They looked in control until aggressive sailing by the Czechs in the third leg forced SSL Team Portugal over the layline and set up the victory for Ondrej Teply’s team.
SSL Team Turkey sailed home in third place, always close to the top two but never quite able to bridge the gap. Having won day one’s second race, SSL Team Bulgaria, captained by Yavor Kolev, did not want to dwell too long on this one. Forced to the side at the start, they lost a lot of time and never recovered.
Looking ahead to the last day of racing, the Czechs had established themselves as the team to beat. Behind, there were only two points separating 2nd from 4th, meaning the battle for Bahrain was still wide open in Group 4.
After SSL Team Czech Republic threw down the gauntlet to their European rivals the prior day of racing, and on day 3 that challenge was firmly met. SSL Team Portugal and SSL Team Bulgaria both posted victories to smash Group 4 wide open.
SSL Team Portugal clinched a crucial victory to keep their qualification hopes alive, but it was not all plain sailing. For the ‘Navigators’, disaster almost struck at the halfway point when they dropped their spinnaker in the water. But with the wind pressure favoring their side of the course in Leg 3, they overtook the fleet to take their first win.
Alican Kaynar’s Young Turks were the other major beneficiaries of the split conditions, following SSL Team Portugal over to the right side and securing a vital 3 points in 2nd place. Leading after an impressive first half to the race, SSL Team Bulgaria lost a lot of ground in the decisive second upwind leg.
Dominant the day prior, for SSL Team Czech Republic there was only disappointment. Lucky to escape a penalty when they narrowly avoided jumping the start, they trailed the fleet for the whole of the race.
The Lions of SSL Team Bulgaria dominated Race 5, taking victory well clear of SSL Team Portugal in second. For the second race in a row, SSL Team Bulgaria led from the off, taking a commanding lead by the halfway mark. Unlike the previous race, this time they kept their composure to close out the victory.
Having started the day bottom of the table, SSL Team Portugal were clearly enjoying the lighter winds on Day 3. While they could not match the impressive Bulgarians, Joao Rodrigues’s team looked comfortable throughout, capping a fine comeback day with 2nd place.
In Group 5 on day 3, having lagged behind a number of times yesterday, SSL Team Peru finally delivered, seizing maximum points on a dramatic third day on Lake Neuchatel.
In the first race of the day, SSL Team Peru stormed back into contention with an impressive first win of the series. The Paracas Warriors’ aggression at the start was rewarded with the lead, a position Stefano Peschiera’s team never relinquished. A problem dropping the spinnaker at Gate 2 caused a brief moment of panic, but was not capitalized upon by the chasing fleet.
SSL Team Chile held second place throughout but were harried all the way by Ricardo Fabini’s La Celeste. Their tense rivalry from yesterday continued, with several close encounters as each tried to take advantage of the other. SSL Team Uruguay ultimately had to settle for 3rd, just 15” seconds behind. SSL Team Venezuela took the turn at Mark 3 well in touch but a submerged spinnaker cost them too much time and ended their hopes of a higher placing.
In Race 5, Finis Terrae Sailors lose it on the line. SSL Team Peru once again took early control, leading all the way until a dramatic final leg. Always tracking just behind Peru, the Finis Terrae Sailors of Chile made their move after the turn on Mark 3. Timing their gybe to perfection, they nudged just in front of the Paracas Warriors.
Approaching the line, victory seemed likely for SSL Team Chile until a mistake with their spinnaker opened the door for Stefano Peschiera’s team to sail through and take maximum points. After the highs of the prior day (2 victories), it was another disappointing race for SSL Team Uruguay, who never looked likely to challenge the lead and finished in 3rd.
SSL Venezuela knew they needed a win to stand any chance of remaining in contention for the SSL Gold Cup Final Series in Bahrain. The die was cast early on when, caught in the crossfire of SSL Team Peru and SSL Team Chile at the start, Los Caciques made contact with the Chilean boat. Forced to restart after an individual recall penalty, the Venezuelans fate was sealed.
With only two places available for Bahrain, Group 5 was finely poised with only two points separating the top three. With double points available on the final ‘Golden Day’ (last day of racing) the scene was set for a thrilling South American showdown.
On this last day of racing, there would be one race for each group (total of two races) and the races on the last day are worth double points
In Group 4: Portuguese and Czechs rise to the top, with SSL Team Portugal taking victory in a gripping race to navigate their way to Bahrain. SSL Team Czech Republic edged out SSL Team Bulgaria and SSL Turkey in a dramatic final leg to take 2nd place in the race and in the overall standings.
Lining up before the start, all four European teams were still dreaming of a ticket to Bahrain. With double points available on ‘Golden Day’, SSL Team Czech Republic, SSL Team Bulgaria and SSL Team Portugal each knew that a top two finish in today’s race would be enough to take them to the Finals.
Yavor Kolev’s Bulgarian Lions made an aggressive start, taking the race to their rivals and leading around the first mark. But, like the group table, there was little to separate them from the chasing pack. As the battle intensified in challenging conditions, SSL Team Portugal and the Czechs traded places several times behind Kolev’s team, who still led the field at the turn at Mark 3.
For SSL Team Turkey, the equation was simple, to qualify they had to win today’s race. Despite rounding Mark 3 in last place, they were still well in contention only inches behind the Lions in front.
The stage was set for a thrilling final leg, and did not disappoint. Driven on by the lure of the approaching finish line, the teams went for glory. SSL Team Portgual, SSL Team Bulgaria and the Czechs all took turns to lead, the latter having made light of an earlier mistake hoisting their spinnaker.
SSL Team Portugal eventually punched ahead, closing out victory and sparking jubilant scenes on the Navigator’s boat. Behind, Ondrej Tepley’s Czechs benefitted from taking the middle line through the course to squeeze home in 2nd to deny the chasing Lions and Young Turks a place in the Finals.
In Group 5, SSL Team Peru clinched a dramatic win late on to seal qualification and top the group. SSL Team Chile’s 2nd place sees them join the Paracas Warriors in Bahrain. In a group that has served up tense racing and tight battles throughout this week, the South Americans’ final race was no exception.
For SSL Team Venezuela, with no possible route to qualification, today was about trying to bow out of the competition on a high. Los Caciques meant business from the start, leading the fleet around Mark 1. Almost stalling after a mistake during the second leg, they recovered and approaching the finish line, looked favorites to take an elusive first win. But the Paracas Warriors of Peru were not interested in second, and found the wind they needed at the right time to snatch their third win in a row.
With the Venezuelans and Peruvians dominant up front, SSL Team Chile and La Celeste of Uruguay spent much of the first leg locked in a tight battle for the last remaining qualifying spot. The two rivals tacked back and forth, attacking and defending, but SSL Team Chile, led by Pablo Lorca always seemed to have the edge. The Finis Terrae Sailors took control on the second leg and never looked back. Crossing the finish line in 3rd place they burst into wild celebrations, their place in Bahrain secured.
SSL Team Uruguay, so impressive on the opening day, will wonder how they have missed out.
Teams qualified in Round 1: SSL Team Antigua & Barbuda, SSL Team Estonia, SSL Team Ireland, SSL Team Tahiti
Teams qualified in Round 2: Team Slovenia, SSL Team Lithuania
The 2022 SSL Gold Cup hosts the top 56 sailing nations, selected with a proprietary ranking system, to compete in equally matched SSL47s (a modified RC44) with 11 sailors on a team to determine the best sailing nation.
Starting on May 19, all teams ranked from Top 25 to 56 in the January 2022 SSL Nations ranking meet in 8 groups of 4 teams each. There will be 5 stages of Qualifying Series running from May 19 to July 17.
After 3 to 4 days of racing, only the top two teams of each group will go through to the Final Series that will take place from October 28 to November 20 to defend their national colors.
Ultimately, 40 teams will compete in the Finals, which includes the host nation team, the top 23 ranked nations, and the 16 teams that advanced from the Qualifying Series.
Only the top two teams of each group will go through to the Final Series that will take place from October 28th to November 20th, 2022, in Bahrain.s
Source: SSL Gold Cup