Light airs forced a delay to the start of the fourth and final day of the SSL Qualifying Rounds to select ten teams for the SSL Finals 2016, which take place tomorrow. Diego Negri & Sergio Lambertenghi (ITA) won the Qualifying Rounds, giving the Italians a bye to the SSL Grand Final. Mark Mendleblatt & Brian Fatih (USA) finished the Qualifying Rounds in second place, giving the Americans a bye into the Semi Final. Sailors from Brazil, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Northern Ireland and Poland, will be joining the top two in the SSL Finals. Live coverage will be freely available on the internet, from 1600 GMT on Saturday 3 December.
“We are always the best in the qualification round!! We had some problem in the SSL City Grand Slam in Hamburg, with a big puff sending us into the water, hopefully it’ll go better here tomorrow, we will try to be more focus and do a better job than in Hamburg. I am very happy already to be straight into the final as in the last three years we were not so lucky and we were out at quarterfinal, so this will be our best results in the SSL Finals anyway.”
Two races were completed today, fulfilling the 11 race qualifying Rounds. Both races were won by Rio Olympic 470 Gold medallist, and SSL Finals VIP, Sime Fantela, racing his fellow Croatian crew Antonio Arapovic. The Croatians hugged each other as the went through the line, securing fourth spot for the Qualifying Rounds and a place in the SSL Finals.
“We came here to learn and every day we were going forward, today the wind was light like yesterday, the boat speed is good and also the tactic, so I am happy and it was good to have a fight with Robert, Diego, Xavier: this is why we came here, racing with these guys and I was happy to win two races today, three in total.”
Only the top ten teams from the Qualifying Rounds make it through to the SSL Finals 2016 knockout day. There was a dramatic final race, with two teams tied on points for the tenth and last spot. Rio Olympic silver medallist in the Laser, Tonci Stipanovic, racing with fellow Croatian Ante Sitic, scored a vital eighth place in the final race. Reigning Star World Champion, Augie Diaz racing with fellow American, Arnie Baltins was thirteenth. Both team were on 108 points but Stipanovic & Sitic were given the last SS Finals spot by virtue of a 2nd place countback from Race 4.
“I am so happy to be here for the second time and to be in the quarterfinal for the second time, but today was totally crazy I was sailing really, really bad. I was going from one corner to another and then I was last, but the race it’s not over until is over, like on any sport. I am very happy! Tomorrow I will try to trim the boat better, try to do my best, I will aim for the grand final even if I am only 10th. With a little more speed and luck I think I have good chances.”
“This is showing how close it is here and I think this is really the major league of sailing, the show and to be able to sail at this level is really a blessing, I am very fortunate. A bit disappointed, but I only have to blame myself because I really had the opportunity to jump on it, but my competitors, especially Tonci jumped a little higher. So I wish him luck, I wish Diego and Sergio luck also.”
Ten teams will contest the SSL Finals 2016 in a knock out format, the Quarter Final, Semi Final and Final will consist of single races with teams being eliminated until just four are left to contest the SSL Final. The winners will be crowned SSL Finals Champions and receive the lion’s share of the $200,000 Prize Purse. All three past SSL Finals champion skippers made it to the final round: Robert Scheidt (BRA)racing this year with Henry Boening (BRA), Mark Mendleblatt & Brian Fatih (USA) and reigning SSL Final Champions, George Szabo (USA) & Eduardo Natucci (ITA).
Full coverage of all five days of action will be streamed live on the Internet with expert commentary from special studio guests, including America’s Cup four time winner Dennis Conner and Olympic silver medalist in London 2012 Luke Patience. On the water, the latest in hi-tech camera technology, as well as Virtual Eye 3D Graphics, will provide thrilling viewing.