SSL QS4 GROUP 6 – FINAL DAY: CUBA AND OMAN TAKE GOLDEN DAY GLORY
Last of their group heading into Golden Day, SSL Team Oman make it to the Finals by winning the day’s two races and topping the overall ranking of Qualifying Series Round 4! SSL Team Cuba will also go to Bahrain after finishing 2nd in both races! It is the end of the adventure for SSL Team Guatemala and SSL Team Mexico.
RACE 5: OMANI LIONS CLAW THEIR WAY BACK
SSL Team Oman capped an aggressive display with a priceless win to keep their qualification hopes alive. Forced to settle for 2nd, SSL Team Cuba move top of the table ahead of the final race. SSL Team Mexico take advantage of SSL Team Guatemala’s error to finish 3rd.
With the finish line approaching, SSL Team Cuba, led by three-time Panamerican champion Nelido Manso Lopez, looked favourites for the win. But SSL Team Oman, bottom of the table to start the day, had no intention of going down without a fight. The Lions of the Sea timed their attack to perfection in the final downwind leg, forcing the Cubans into a costly double-gybe that was to prove decisive.
A mini-battle behind between Las Catrinas of Mexico andSSL Team Guatemala was settled at the turn at Mark 3, when a delay hoisting spinnaker cost the Guatemalan Jaguars any chance of snatching a consolation prize in 3rd.
The result means the final race is a shootout for the top two places, where anyone can still qualify.
RACE 6: LIONS AND PIRATES SAIL TO GLORY
Joy for SSL Team Oman, who made it two golden wins from two to seal qualification for the Finals. In a dramatic finish, SSL Team Cuba fought off SSL Team Guatemala to clinch 2nd and join the Omani Lions in Bahrain.
A disastrous start for Las Catrinas of Mexico ended their hopes early and turned the final race into a three-way hunt for the coveted top two places.
At the halfway point, SSL Team Cuba and SSL Team Oman looked comfortable in 1st and 2nd, enough to take them both to Bahrain. But competitive nature took over, and both teams attacked each other to try to seize the win.
The Omani Lions of the Sea went for gold on the final approach, attacking Nelido Manso Lopez’s team and forcing them to tack out wide with SSL Guatemala lurking dangerously behind.
In a gripping climax, the rattled Cubans protested, the Guatemalans closed in, and briefly, it looked like the Pirates’ dreams of treasure were sunk. But SSL Team Cuba found their composure to deny the Jaguars at the death.
The result means a huge upset for the rankings with the top two ranked teams, SSL Team Mexico and SSL Team Guatemala, bowing out at the qualifying stage.
Just four more places remain.
The final round of the SSL Gold Cup 2022 Qualifying Series takes place on Lake Neuchatel from 14-17 July. Join us then as eight more hopeful nations do battle for the last four remaining tickets to Bahrain:
Group 7: China, India, Malaysia, South Africa.
Group 8: South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Ukraine.
Musab Al Hadi, SSL Team Oman, Helm: “As I told you before, the racing hasn’t ended until we get a first, and we get the firsts today – two bullets man. This is a big job for my crew, well done to the crew, because they have done their job very well. So this is a time to go to Bahrain I think!!”
Pedro Vega – SSL Team Cuba, Pit: “We are very happy because we had to work very hard for this. Downwind legs in both races were complicated for us. We still need to work hard on that. We dedicate this qualification to all people who followed us in our country and around the world, especially our families who woke very early every morning to watch us. I have goose bumps and all of us are the same. It means the world to us.”