QS5 - Day 3: South Africa through, Ukraine just one point away to qualify
QS5: South Africa through, Ukraine just one point away to qualify
After Day 3 of SSL Gold Cup QS Round 5, SSL Team South Africa are the first to qualify to the Finals in Bahrain. In Group 8, SSL Team Ukraine have just to finish the race to go through as well.
Group 7: South Africa Reign Supreme
SSL Team South Africa had a perfect day on Day 3 of SSL Gold Cup Qualifying Series Round 5 by winning both races and clinching their spot for the Final Series in Bahrain. After finishing two times 2nd with a bold move in Race 2, SSL Team India, led by Nachhatar Johal, is still alive before tomorrow's Golden Day, where points count for double.
Race 4: Race 4: South Africa wins, but Tigers on the prowl
SSL Team South Africa took control of Group 7 with another impressive win in Race 4. Resurgent SSL Team India kept their hopes alive with a much improved performance to finish 2nd. SSL Team Malaysia ended a disappointing race for them in 3rd.
SSL Team India knew it was do or die today and charged into an early lead. With the Malaysian Monsoon struggling to keep pace behind, the battle lines were drawn between the Tigers and Ian Ainslie's South African crew.
At the halfway point, 'Ubuntu' managed to overtake SSL Team India, but their lead looked fragile at just 6". The turn at Gate 2 was to prove pivotal, with SSL Team South Africa and the Tigers each taking a different side of the course for the downwind Leg 3.
The South African strategy was vindicated, finding the wind they needed to say clear and take another maximum points.
Race 5: South Africa are one point to go through; India is still alive
Jubilant SSL Team South Africa made it back-to-back wins and nearly booked their ticket to Bahrain. SSL Team India crossed the line in 2nd after a contentious battle with SSL Team Malaysia.
With the temperature rising, the imperious South Africans stayed cool as cucumbers, and from the outset, their fourth victory never looked in doubt.
The Indian Tigers' dream looked to be in the cactus after a collision with SSL Team Malaysia on the start line forced Nacchhatar Johal's crew to execute a penalty. However, the incident also caused problems for the Malaysians, with water seeping into their hull from a small hole in the starboard side of their boat.
After a difficult opening two days, SSL Team India's confidence flowered today, and by the turn at Mark 1 they had eked out a 20" advantage over the struggling Malaysians. A couple of mistakes with the spinnaker by the Tigers almost opened the door for the Monsoon, but the Indians were not to be denied.
Golden moment awaits for one team.
For SSL Team South Africa, they can sit back, relax and enjoy an ice cream this evening, knowing their work is done. Just a DNF (Do not finish) could prevent them to go to Bahrain. For SSL Team Malaysia and SSL Team India, tomorrow's Golden Day race is a straight shootout to see who will make it to Bahrain.
Mark Sadler, Tactician, SSL Team South Africa
"We had a good one today. The key was the start. It is a short start line for three boats. It's probably only 6 or 8 lengths, so we did a little push to the two boats in front, and as they were down the start line, we had the space for options. So we had a nice start to windward, and it was clean from there.
It is fantastic to qualify to Bahrain. We are still looking forward to tomorrow's race. It's amazing to qualify our country. That's why we came here for."
Group 8: Ukraine Just One Point Away From Bahrain
After another two races and two victories, SSL Team Ukraine are just one point away from qualification for the Finals in Bahrain. SSL Team Thailand look favourites to join them after two more 2nd place finishes.
Race 4: Ukraine deny Chang Thai again
SSL Team Ukraine held off a late charge from SSL Team Thailand to win Race 4 with just seconds to spare. Behind, SSL Team Korea edged their battle with SSL Team Singapore to finish in 3rd.
SSL Team Ukraine led the fleet after another excellent start, but always lurking in their rearview mirror was SSL Team Thailand, never more than 20" behind. Closing fast as the finish line approached, perennial bridesmaids SSL Team Thailand did everything they could to grab an elusive first win, but the Ukrainians held on.
For SSL Team Korea, the lowest ranked team in the group (56th), third place kept their qualification hopes afloat but both they and SSL Team Singapore knew they needed a big performance in Race 5.
Race 5: Glory for Ukraine, South Korea bow out.
SSL Team Ukraine embrace as they cross the line, sealing victory in Race 5 to all but qualify for the Finals in Bahrain later this year. For SSL Thailand it's no surprise with yet another 2nd place, while 3rd place from SSL Team Singapore is enough to end any chance of qualifying for SSL Team South Korea.
It was a dominant end to a dominant day for SSL Team Ukraine, clearly revelling in conditions that were like chalk and cheese compared to the light winds of earlier in the week. Unlike the previous race, this time Chang Thai were unable to trouble Ihor Matviienko's crew.
The real race was unfolding behind, with SSL Team Korea and SSL Team Singapore scrapping it out to keep themselves in overall contention. Jeemin Ha's Red Fury seemed to have contained the Singaporean threat until disaster struck at the halfway turn.
A problem dropping the spinnaker for SSL Team South Korea ended with a tear in the sail and saw the Singaporeans, captained by Jovina Choo, edge in front. If this was costly, a second mistake at the top mark proved catastrophic, and there was no way back for the Koreans.
Double or nothing on Golden Day
One final race for two Finals place. SSL Team Ukraine and SSL Team Thailand have the advantage but with double points available on Sunday, SSL Team Singapore still have a chance to leave Switzerland with a golden ticket to Bahrain.
Don't miss the Group 8 finale LIVE on YouTube from 11.00 CET Sunday.
Ihor Matviienko, SSL Team Ukraine captain:
"We are happy about our 2 races. The wind was good, not too many shifts or gusts. We just tried to control the fleet. To win the race in the lead is always easier than chasing the leader. We lead the group but we must be careful tomorrow because points count for double and we want to win it."