The Qualification Rounds for the SSL Finals 2015 kicked off today with four races held in light winds, off Montagu Bay, Nassau, Bahamas. The quality within the fleet was exemplified in the opening salvos, with four different team winning each of today’s races and seven teams gaining podium positions. With nine Olympic medallists and seven World Champions, the SSL Finals offers intense competition. The light conditions produced many position changes during the races, testing the stress levels of the world class fleet.
Rohart & Ponsot (FRA) made their intentions clear from the start winning the first race and gaining two second places to lead the regatta after four races. Negri & Lambertenghi (ITA) are second after four races, the Italian team showed great pace, especially upwind, but faltered in Race 3, giving up several places on the last downwind leg and then scored a last place in the final race to leave the Italian team with a fragile discard position. Pepper & Prada (NZL-BRA) recovered well from an 11th in the first race, to finish the day with a bullet and a second place, securing third after four races and top VIP team. Szabo & Natucci (USA-ITA) scored well in three of today’s races including two podium results to place fourth at the end of the day. Just a point behind was Kusznierewicz & Zycki (POL) who had a terrific battle with Bernaz & Rambeau (FRA) in Race 3, with tempers flaring at the finish.
After four races the battle to make the final day on Saturday is already taking shape with six teams fighting for 11th place (only the top 11 teams go through to the SSL Finals). Diaz & Baltins (USA) are top of the danger zone in 10th position but snapping at their heels are five VIP teams. Stipanovic & Canali (CRO-ITA), Chiavarini & Fatih (GBR-USA), Williams & Mitchell (GBR), Lawrence & Coleman (USA) and Gaspic & Sitic (CRO).
VIPs, SchÃ¼mann & Borkowski (GER) put in three consistent results today to put the team 8 points clear of the drop zone in 7th position. Polgar & Koy (GER) left their best result to the last, winning Race 4 to lift them into 8th position.
XAVIER ROHART (FRA)
It was a day of different conditions with light, medium and slightly stronger wind which allowed us to pump at the end. We read the wind conditions, current and our opponents well today.
In Race 4 we began to feel the fatigue, it was a complicated start at the pin end of the line. It was a race too far and we did not get the best start.
In one sentence: today was very hot, very hard mentally and very hard physically, but it is always a pleasure to come out on top!
DIEGO NEGRI (ITA)
It was a good day for us, a good start because we were leading at the top mark on Race 1 then a good fight with Xavier Rohart who passed us before the finish but ending second was very good. Then we won the second race. In the third we were playing in the middle of the fleet and finishing 5th very close to the leaders was still okay. I still donâ€™t know what happened in the last race, we pushed for the left because the pressure was coming from there, but it was a bad choice. We were not in good shape at the top mark and we rounded last at the bottom mark and that is where we finished. Anyway, we are second overall and we are focused on our goal: making it to the final day on Saturday.
HAMISH PEPPER (NZL)
It was a good day in the end obviously if you look at the scoreboard, I was a bit rusty at the beginning as I was trying to find my way again a little bit and re-learn the boat as quickly as possible, but it was a good day. On the third race we had an okay start and got a bit lucky when we were in the right place at the right time on the left. So we crossed the fleet and just held on, it was a good feeling!
Racing continues tomorrow (Thursday) with up to four races scheduled for the second day of the Qualification Rounds of the SSL Finals. Watch all the action live from the Star Sailors League Finals. With expert commentary from special studio guests. On the water, the latest in hi-tech camera technology, as well as Virtual Eye 3D Graphics, will provide thrilling viewing. Armchair sailors can also join the race with Virtual Regatta.
For more information visit the official SSL website www.starsailors.com