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On board and in the heart of the action on day 2 of the SSL Gold Cup 1/16 Finals

by Mark Jardine & Benedict Donovan / SSL Gold Cup 17 Nov 2023 09:37 PST 10 November - 3 December 2023

Every day at the SSL Gold Cup Final Series the action is streamed live, and the onboard cameras bring you the highs and lows, the slick hoists, the tight crosses and when disaster happens - nothing is missed.

Share the elation with the athletes who cross the finish line first, and commiserate with those behind. You can connect with your national team like never before.

We do our best to describe a summary of each day's competition, but make sure you check out the livestreams!

Fleet 4 - Race 2

Lithuania emerged as the front-runner at the first gate, closely followed by Slovenia, Canada and Japan. Despite a few tactical manoeuvres shaking up the order, the teams more or less maintained their positions throughout the race right up until the finish line, making it a second win in a row for the Lithuanian 'Ambers'.

Andrius Ramonaitis, grinder for the 'Ambers' said on the race:

"It was quite tough with quite big waves and not much wind. We had a good start and our helm Raimondas (Šiugždinis) did a great job and we managed to stay first.

On the communication on board Andrius highlighted how the relationship between the helm and tactician is key:

"Silence in the boat makes a fast boat, we're trying to keep as quiet as possible. Raimondas and Rokas (Milevicius), our tactician at the back of the boat, take care of decisions and tell us what to do."

There was also silent, focused concentration onboard the Slovenian boat. Back on shore Slovenian helm Igor Lah was similarly reserved:

"If there is no problem on the boat, then everything works."

Fleet 1 - Race 2

The start was all action, with Estonia squeezing out the two yachts from Malaysia and Austria at the committee boat end, which gave Chile the opportunity to get away cleanly, leading from start to finish. Well-oiled teamwork by the Chilean 'Finis Terrae Sailors' saw them keep the boat moving in the tough waves and maintain a 100 metre lead over the following pack.

Chile's helm Felip Robles emphasised that momentum on the boat in the tricky waves:

"Today we have light wind conditions and it was hard to keep the boat continually moving. We won the pin at the start and then, being to leeward of Estonia, it was all about making the boat go as fast as possible, and trying to find all the wind shifts. The crux of the race was getting to the windward mark first."

Malaysia beautifully timed a lee-bow tack to overtake Estonia on the first upwind leg, but the Estonian 'Icebreakers' kept their cool to power back past the Malaysian 'Monsoon' and finish second.

Austria once again struggled at the back of the fleet. As leader Chile rounded the second windward mark, the 'Austrian Eagles' were almost a kilometre behind. When asked about onboard comms, Austrian bowman Lukas Haberl appeared unfazed by their result:

"For me, the best thing here is being part of a big team. It's 10 people. But usually we're only two in a boat, so it's quite a big change. Communication is vital - the main comms come from the back, and they feed input to us at the front. We like a challenge, and these boats have been really great to sail."

Fleet 2 - Race 2

With the wind dropping off, keeping the yachts moving became imperative, especially with the difficult swell. It's hot out here in Gran Canaria, but cool and smooth was the order of the day.

At the start, Hungary and Finland weren't making it easy for Tahiti, who were at the pin end and tried to pull off a hard luff on the Hungarian 'Shamans', but 'The Black Pearls' ended up wallowing in the wind shadow of the windward yacht. Protest flags were flown on both boats, but the on the water umpires saw no reason to give either team a penalty.

This poor start showed the pressure was finally telling on the previously undefeated Tahitian team. Would they pull themselves together or had they reached breaking point?

The race briefly saw the reverse order from yesterday towards the leeward mark with Finland leading, Hungary second, Bermuda third and Tahiti lagging behind in last.

On the final downwind leg Hungary came in to take the win, with Tahiti staging an epic comeback to just pip Finland on the finish line. 'The Black Pearls' string of five wins came to an end, but they've maintained top spot on the Fleet 2 leaderboard with their runners-up result.

Hungarian helm Róbert Bakóczy said after the race on the win:

"It was a really hard race, so we are super happy now to get a first place. It's really tough taking on the teams who have been in the boats longer, but I hope as the time goes by we will get better and better. Yesterday Tahiti and Bermuda were sailing really nicely, handling the boats really well, but hopefully we're now reaching the level we want."

On the conditions, and keeping the boat moving Róbert added:

"It's really tricky and you have to keep thinking one step ahead, because if you just react to the feeling on the helm it's too late. In light winds, choppy, and big swell it's crazy."

Fleet 3 - Race 2

There was disaster for Race 1 winners Croatia on the start, who were unable to slow down enough at the pin end, having to gybe away behind the line, leaving them 100 metres behind from the off. In these light winds comebacks are hard work, so getting off the line cleanly is paramount.

South Africa took full advantage of Croatia's mistake and pulled away from the fleet to take a massive win.

Croatia were clutching at straws on the first lap, banging the corners both upwind and down, before realising they needed to rely on their boatspeed and tactics on the second lap, rather than trying to catch a lucky break. By then though they were 200 metres from the lead and had it all to do, but superb use of the wind shifts propelled them up to second at the final windward mark.

'Team Ubuntu' sang their way across the finish line, celebrating wildly, while Portugal retook second from Croatia on the downwind leg, while Antigua & Barbuda's languished in last place again. 'The Rum Runners' need to rediscover their mojo fast to get back in the running.

South Africa bowman Theodore Shade Yon was still happy on returning to the dock:

"We're really happy to win that race, it was a bit difficult but I'm glad we got it. Up front I'm trying to do everything the best I can, try and get the kite up as clean as possible, run the tapes and try and make it happen. We were fairly calm onboard today and did everything quite well. I think our team dynamics are getting better as we keep going in the competition. We're getting better every day."

On day 2 of the 1/16 Finals we saw many of the new teams quickly get up to pace in the SSL 47 yachts, challenging the 1/32 Finals winners, and Tahiti's perfect record finally ended.

Onboard cams showed the teams being thrown around on the Atlantic swell today. The light winds and sloppy waves produced tense, tight racing and narrowed the gaps at the top of the fleet leaderboards. It's all to play for going into day 3...

Follow us LIVE each day as we present you with all the latest SSL Gold Cup news from on and off the water:


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