Neuchatel, 3 October 2021 - The Croatian National Sailing Team, led by Olympic gold and silver medalists Šime Fantela and Tonči Stipanović, won the first place at the regatta in Switzerland in preparation for the upcoming Team Sailing World Championships.
The SSL (Star Sailors League) Gold Cup preparatory regatta sailed the past week on the Neuchatel lake. The first four days were reserved for group sailing. There were four national teams in each group, and from each of them the first two national teams reached the grand final, and the third fourth sailed in the small finals.
Argentina, Hungary and Switzerland were in the group with Croatia, and after seven races, our team took the first place with 12 points that granted our sailors the entrance to the grand finals. The final race consisted of only one race in which the winner took everything. Our sailors had already achieved advantage over Brazil, Hungary and Switzerland by the first buoy and then knowingly controlled the situation until the finish line.
- It was a great week for Croatian sailing. We sailed against strong national teams like Brazil with Robert Scheidt, Argentina with Santiago Lange and the Swiss who are strong in duel sailing. We won gold, did a lot of regattas in which we learned a lot of things. We come home satisfied - commented Šime Fantela.
Along with the gold Olympian from Rio, Tonči Stipanović, Mihovil Fantela, Josip Olujić, Antonio Arapović, Stjepan Vitaljić, Marko Sorić, Pave Pleslić and Darko Hajdinjak sailed for Croatia in Switzerland.
- We did a great job. With nine people on board, this is a team sport, and we functioned perfectly throughout the entire regatta - said double silver Olympian Tonči Stipanović.
The sailing version of the World Cup, in which national sailing national teams will compete for the first time in history, will be held next year in Switzerland, and Croatian sailors will be among the more than 50 national teams. The idea is to gather all the best sailors from the Olympic classes, big competitions such as the Volvo Ocean Race, SailGP or America's Cup, and to form teams that will fight for the title of the best in the world. The concept of the competition includes qualifications in which all countries that are members of the World Sailing Federation can participate, and the final competition in Switzerland is limited to 56 best who will decide on the winner after sailing in groups through the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.
Golden Olympian and multiple world champion Šime Fantela is the captain of the Croatian sailing team that will sail alongside the best and most powerful sailing nations such as Great Britain, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Brazil in 2022…
- The project sounds great. The organizers of the competition took the best from football, tennis and other major sports and created this unique competition – the SSL Gold Cup. I like that there are no favored rich nations because we will all sail in the same boats – 47-foot cruisers and with a limited number of training days. We will all have a level playing field for training and regattas, so the emphasis is placed on the skill of sailing itself. I like the idea of the Team Sailing World Championships for national teams. If all the announcements are realized, it could be one of the strongest regattas in the history of sailing, explained Šime. (H. Bulešić)
The NOC of Croatia (COC) congratulates the National Sailing Team on winning at the preparatory regatta of the Team Sailing World Championships because it is confirmation that a team led by the great Olympians - Tonči Stipanović and the Fantela brothers - will be very competitive at this prestigious competition!