SSL Gold Cup Qualifying Series
The second round of the SSL Gold Cup Qualifying Series came to an end today in Grandson, on lake Neuchatel (Switzerland), with another two teams earning the right to compete at the Final Series in Bahrain in November.
Slovenia and Lithuania finished first and second overall, leaving Ecuador in third and the only team in this round not to go ahead in the SSL Gold Cup 2022.
SSL Team Slovenia continued their impressive form from the first two days of racing, sailing precisely and fast to win Race 5. A pending protest for using a forbidden device (cellphone) on board by Captain Vasilij Zbogar briefly caused some anxiety for the Slovenian “Krpani1860”, but eventually, the protest was dismissed given the cellphone was used for compass only. With the victory finally confirmed, Slovenia secured their place in Final Series and crowned an outstanding qualifying performance with four wins in 6 races.
In the fight for the final qualifying spot, SSL Team Lithuania had to work hard during Race 5 to keep SSL Team Ecuador at bay to secure a vital second place. As a result, they knew that going into the final race, only a DNF (Do Not Finish), combined with a victory of SSL Team Ecuador, could have threatened their dream of qualification.
“La Tri” of Ecuador did everything they could, taking victory in the final race, but ultimately it was not enough, and Julio Velez’s team would not make it to Bahrain. Instead, Lithuania’s “Ambers” will accompany Slovenia to SSL Gold Cup 2022 Final Series.
SSL Gold Cup 2022 Qualifying Series Round 4 will take place June 8 – June 12 with two groups:
Group 4 – Chile, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela
Group 5 – Bulgaria, Czech Republic Portugal and Turkey
Vasilij Zbogar, SSL Team Slovenia Captain: “The team did a fantastic job by not making any mistakes in the maneuvers, in boat trimming and speed. We did win four of six races yet it was very dramatic, very tight racing, with excellent conditions and fair racing. We enjoyed it so much and coming out with a win it is even better. Now we have a ticket to Bahrain! We are in the Finals and we are looking forward to battling out with the best teams in the World”.
On the protest: “After crossing the finish line, we were told there was a technical protest for me using the phone. The happy mood of the win went immediately down and I felt so bad and responsible for the team. Fortunately, I could prove that I only used the phone as a digital compass and that I had no SIM card in it to communicate with shore. When the protest was dismissed, we went on celebrating, but it was some drama…”
Gintaré Scheidt, Captain of SSL Team Lithuania: “I am very happy with today’s result because it was all or nothing for us. If we didn’t qualifiy, it would have been a heartbreaker. So we are really happy now. For the Final Series, we certainly will have to train a lot. Of course, there are a lot of things to improve. We are a young team with not a lot of experience like Slovenia has. They were very solid and made very few mistakes, and they didn’t forgive yours. So there are still a lot of things to improve tactically and on maneuvers. Everything is still possible.”
Julio Velez, SSL Team Ecuador Captain: “We have to take the positive, we have learnt a lot of this boat, this Lake and these conditions. Racing was tight and challenging with light and shifty winds, and we can go back home with a win. We have to train more in order to come here for the next SSL Gold Cup as we surely want to come there again!”