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SSL Gold Cup QS Round 5: the final four spots for Bahrain at stake

by SSL Gold Cup 13 Jul 06:29 PDT 14-17 July 2022
SSL Gold Cup Qualifying Series © Martina Orsini / SSL Gold Cup

After racing each other in September at the Test Event 1 in Grandson, on Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland, SSL Team Thailand and SSL Team Ukraine meet again in Group 8 of SSL Gold Cup Qualifiying Series Round 5.

Last time, team 'Chang Thai' had the upper hand over the Ukrainian 'Haydamaky' but Luka Rodion's crew are determined to do their country proud.

Group 7 sees also a déjà-vu battle between SSL Team Malaysia and SSL Team South Africa. Ian Ainslie's South Africans hold a psychological advantage, having won the Test Event 1 here last September.

Racing for the first time in Lake Neuchatel, SSL Team India complete Group 7. They must learn fast against their experienced rivals, but arrive confident as the highest-ranking team of the trio.

In Group 8, it will be the first time racing on SSL47 for SSL Team Singapore and SSL Team Korea in Lake Neuchatel, but all four of Group 8 teams know they have a chance of claiming one of the last two spots for the Finals in Bahrain.

Group 7

SSL Team India (SSL World n°40)

  • Team nickname: Indian Tigers
  • Captain: Nachhatar Johal
  • Motto: Powered By Billion Heartbeats

'Indian Tigers' are composed of young blood willing to give it all in the SSL Gold Cup. The team has some experienced hands on deck including Olympians and World class sailors.

Relatively new to big boats racing together, some of the sailors have experience in dinghy sailing. The challenge will be to make the transition from individual sailors to working as a team for success at the SSL Gold Cup.

The team selection consists of sailors qualified based on the SSL ranking results supported by those who have spent more than 15 years in Olympic classes and have vast international experience. A few first-timers have been picked to groom them for the future.

Squad: Vishnu Saravanan, Eabad Ali, Vishal Singh, Siddeshwar Indar Doiphode, Sandip Jain, Gitesh Nain, Ramya Saravanan, Pushparajan Pandian Muttu, Prince Kurisinkal Noble, Sakthivel Sekar, Prince Kurisingal Noble, Sakthivel Sekar

SSL Team Malaysia (SSL World n°60)

  • Team nickname: The Monsoon
  • Captain: Megat Danial
  • Motto: Making waves

Few people know that as early as the 3rd century, the Malays were skilled and sophisticated sailors and navigators. Ancient Chinese texts documented the Malays' skills in constructing large ships and how they traveled and traded with countries as far away as the Middle East and Africa.

Ancient tradition notwithstanding, the "Monsoon" team comprises both the old and new. Individually they have competed in the Olympics, Youth Olympics, Asian Games, SEA Games, and various World and National Championships. Their collective keelboat racing experience includes the World Match Racing Tour, China Cup, Boracay Cup, Boracay Bay to Subic Race, China Coast Regatta, Samui Regatta, Busan Super Cup, Royal Langkawi International Regatta, and Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta.

Now they will be sailing together under one flag, but this time as underdogs in a massive pool of big and formidable names. The team, however, is ambitiously looking to make waves. They aim to make their presence known with the support of their Patron, the Raja Muda (Crown Prince) of Selangor. With ancient history as their inspiration, the Malaysian team is looking to reclaim their place amongst the world's best sailing nations.

Squad: Mohd Saifullah Mohd Esa, Nur Shazrin Mohamad Latif, Mohd Azhar Sadon Zubir, Ahmad Faizul Aswad Mohamed, Ahmad Hakhimi Ahmad Shukri, Mohd Akiyuddin Mat Zaki, Nuraisyah Jamil, Khairulnizam Mohd Afendy, Mohamad Faizal Norizan, Juni Karimah Noor Jamali

SSL Team South Africa (SSL World n°43)

  • Team nickname: Ubuntu
  • Captain: Ian Ainslie
  • Motto: Our diversity is our strength

The team's nickname is Ubuntu. This African concept translates as: "I am only because of who we all are''. The concept is about the interconnectedness of all beings. It is about being humane and always ensuring human dignity is at the core of your actions and thoughts.

Suppose Nelson Mandela hoisting the rugby world cup in 1995 was an act of reconciliation and ubuntu. In that case, the sight of a racially transformed 2019 Springbok rugby team winning the world cup again was another huge hope moment. This was a team of players that the nation could recognize as representing them. They brought hope to a still divided nation that our strength is in diverse people helping each other to achieve a common goal. As the rugby coach told the players: "It is not about you. Be fearless, you are not fighting for yourselves, you are fighting to give a nation hope."

Fifteen years ago, South Africa had an improbable America's cup entry in Valencia with team Shosholoza. They could overcome a lack of experience and resources with a lot of passion for punching way above their weight. Black sailors filled meaningful roles within the team and contributed significantly to the success.

South Africans want to see that all the races are representing our sports teams, they must be united and be willing to make "big hits" for the team. South Africa's squad for the SSL Nations Cup will embrace this challenge.

"Sport has the power to change the world...it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. " Nelson Mandela.

Squad: Joweal Klaase, Inge Schabort, Howard Leoto, Murray Willcocks, Charles Nankin, Marlon Jones, Gareth Blanckenberg, Asenathi Jim, Mark Sadler

SSL Team China could not make it to Round 5 due to Covid restrictions.

Group 8

SSL Team Singapore (SSL World n°37)

  • Nickname: Guardians of the Bay
  • Captain: Jovina Choo
  • Motto: Fueled by youth, passion, and camaraderie

Relatively new to the international keelboat racing scene, the Singapore team will be heading into the SSL Gold Cup as underdogs. But what the team lacks in experience, they more than make up for in courage, confidence, and a never-say-die attitude. This fighting spirit has put the young city-state on the world map of dinghy sailing. Every team member has represented Singapore at some level, with three team members having competed at the Olympics.

Additionally, Singapore has medals at several high-profile keelboat events in the region. The country's sailors clinched the gold medal in Match Racing at the Asian Games 2006 and 2014, and the silver medal at the Nations Cup Oceania Regional Finals in 2015. Singapore also hosted and won the DBS Marina Bay Cup in 2019.

Squad: Daniella NG, Er Zixian, Edward Tan, Terena Lam, Xu Yuan Zhen, Katrina Yeo, James Lin, Bernie Chin, Tan Wei Chong, Tan Jen-E, Samuel Neo

SSL Team South Korea (SSL World n°56)

  • Nickname: Red Fury
  • Captain: Jee Min Ha
  • Motto: Rising Star Sailors from Korea

Although Korea is a peninsula, sailing is not as popular as other sports, so there are not many sailors despite the large population. Nevertheless, Korean sailors continue to dream, aim, and strive to become Olympians.

Although most of the team has no experience in keelboat racing, we are ready to compete at the SSL Gold Cup with enthusiasm because we are prepared to accept and learn about new opportunities and experiences anytime.

Squad: Hyeon Su Yoon, Minje Lee, Sunghwan Choi, Jihoon Kim, Sungmin Cho, Sangwoo Bae, Seung Kim, Sungwok Kim, Dongwoo Lee.

SSL Team Thailand (SSL World n°42)

  • Nickname: Chang Thai
  • Captain: Noppakao "Nai" Poonpat
  • Motto: CHAI YO Thailand! (This means Cheer Thailand, and it's commonly used to celebrate victory)

The sport of sailing in Thailand took off in the 1950s when the former King, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej, began promoting the sport. As a prominent racer and boat builder, sailing began to flourish under his Royal Patronage by opening marine sports centers and yacht racing centers. These centers are located in the Gulf of Thailand, the Royal Varuna Yacht Club in Chonburi province, and the Yacht Racing Association of Thailand, based in Sattahip. While our team is based in the Thai gulf, Phuket (located in the Andaman Sea) hosts the King's Cup Regatta. The King's Cup brings the fastest yachts in Asia to compete across the range in big boats.

With the support of the royal family and the world-class races, sailing has become one of Thailand's most successful sports. The country has led the medal table in the Asian and Southeast Asian games. It has become a reliable source of medals for the country at the Asian Games. The country has also seen success in the Optimist class. Over the past ten years, Thailand has been at the top of the world's Optimist fleet with numerous top tens, a World Champion title including Thailand's team Captain Nai in 2010, and more recently with Weka Bhanubandh winning the 2020 Optimist European Championships.

Squad: Anusorn Ngamrit, Sanont Khaisaeng, Nichapa Waiwai, Nut Butmarasri, Dylan Whitcraft, John Scott Heinecke, Chusit Punjamala, Navee Thamsoontorn, Don Whitcraft, Suthon Yampinid, Alex Frefel

SSL Team Ukraine (SSL World n°33)

  • Nickname: Haydamaky
  • Captain: Rodion Luka replaced by Ihor Matviienko
  • Motto: Beyond All

As a sea nation, Ukrainians were good seafarers for centuries. Sailing down the Dnipro river from ancient Kyiv to the Black Sea and further was a regular practice long before the Middle Ages. The emergence of sailing as a leisure and sports activity can be traced to the XIX century, with the first yacht clubs popping up in central and southern Ukraine along with shipbuilding industry development.

In the 20th century, Ukrainian sailors achieved fantastic results in Olympic sailing as members of the USSR team. This culminated in a phenomenal performance of Ukrainian-born Valentin Mankin (1938-2014). He won three Olympic gold and one silver medal in three yacht classes (Finn, Tempest, and Star) – a record that no one has managed to beat.

Also, Ukrainians are participants of the Whitbread Round the World Race as members of the famous Fazisi campaign (USSR, 1989-1990) and later, under the Ukrainian flag with two yachts in the 1993-94 season.

The 1991-2004 period was very successful for the Ukrainian national sailing team. In the 470 class, Ukrainians won gold in Atlanta by Braslavets/Matvienko male crew and two bronze medals (Atlanta and Sydney) by the crew of Taran/Pacholchik. In the 2004 Athens Olympics, Ruslana Taran went on to win silver in the Yngling class. Also, in 2004 Ukrainian crew Luka/Leonchuk took silver in the 49er class.

The generations gap started to affect the Ukrainian Olympic performance during that period. While seasoned crews continued to perform well on the international scene in classes like Soling, Star, and Dragon, the lack of trained young sailors made it impossible to achieve excellent results in the Olympics.

Therefore, youth development became the focus of the national sailing authority. It took more than 10 years to achieve the first decent results in Optimist and Cadet classes. But the process went on culminating recently in several world championship titles in Cadet and a world team racing championship silver medal for the Ukrainian team.

Squad: Andrii Klochko, Andrii Husenko, Vadym Okladnikov, Ihor Matviienko, Stansilav Mulko, Valerii Kudriashov, Oskar Madonich, Georgiy Paches, Borys Shvets, Ivan Zhukalin, Denis Osliak, Georgii Leonchuk

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