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For the Qualifying Series Round 1 (May 19-22), two groups will fight to reach one of the two top spots to get into Final Series. In Group 2, there will be Belgium vs. Estonia vs. Ireland vs. Serbia. There will be an interesting battle between two experienced captains who both won Olympic silver medalists: Estonia’s Tonu Toniste (470 at Seoul 1988) and Sebastien Godefroid (Finn at Atlanta 1996).

Group 2 : Belgium vs. Estonia vs. Ireland vs. Serbia

SSL Team Belgium
Team Nickname: The Belgian Sea Devils
Captain: Sebastien Godefroid
Motto: “Be passionate, live your dreams and always remember to laugh”

With several Olympic medalists, Belgium has put itself on the map of the sailing world. Let’s think about the remarkable achievements of Sebbe Godefroid in 1996 and Emma Plasschaert, ILCA6 (Women Laser) World Champion. Belgium has three sailing federations which are closely following the latest news and competitions: the Royal Belgian Sailing Federation, Wind-en Watersport Vlaanderen, and the Fédération Francophone du Yachting Belge.

In this supportive environment, the SSL Team Belgium crew was carefully selected. The Belgian team is made of a unique combination of professional sailors and young new talents. For many members of their team, the SSL Gold Cup is the ideal opportunity to experience an international regatta with like-minded experienced sailors.

Squad: Bram van der Biest – Pieter Tack – Emma Plasschaert – Wannes van Laer – Tom Pelsmaekers – Yannick Lefebvre – Timothee Deplasse – Thomas De Somer – Toon van Caneghem – Sophie Faguet

SSL Team Estonia
Team Nickname: The Icebreakers
Captain: Tonu Toniste
Motto: “Crushing all barriers”

Estonia is a tiny country of only 1.3 million people, but it is definitely not tiny in the world of sailing. Although Estonia might be best known for its digital society, Estonians truly love the nature of their homeland, including the Baltic Sea, which has undoubtedly contributed to the great results in water sports.

The SSL Team Estonia has two Olympic medallists on its team, plus several holders of World and European championships medals. For a country with only 1800 practicing sailors, Estonia has been represented in three sailing classes at the last few Olympic Games – Finn, Laser, and RS:X.

Squad: Toomas Toniste – Peter Saraskin – Mati Sepp – Tammo Otsasoo – Karl-Hannes Tagu – Karl Martin Rammo -Karl Kolk – Maiki Saaring – Deniss Karpak – Ingrid Puusta – Janno Hool – Taavi Valter Taveter – Juuso Roihu – Ago Rebane – Aleksander Kuusik – Henri Tauts – Andres Viisemann

SSL Team Ireland
Team Nickname: The Green Armada
Captain: Nicholas O’Leary
Motto: “From all walks of the Sport of Sailing (The Green Armada) brought together to battle it out with the best in the world of Sailing”

With a rich maritime history, Ireland consistently punches above its weight on the world stage, and their sailing is no different. With Olympic medalists, Volvo Ocean Race winners, America’s Cup sailors, and offshore sailing coming from the Emerald Isle, there is a long history of sailing success. Through this varied pool of sailing, inspiration and talent is rife, and above all the respect for what it takes to succeed in the sport is widely appreciated.

Strength in depth is key to a great team, from bow to stern, SSL Team Ireland has experienced from the array of disciplines within the sailing and look to leverage this mix of skill and talent in order to succeed when the starting gun goes. Drawing on a pool of talent from North and South of the Island of Ireland, the Irish Team is hungry to get racing the SSL Gold Cup.

Squad: Harry Durcan – Cian Guilfoyle – Annalise Murphy – Robert Dickson – Simon Johnson – Finn Lynch – Sean Waddilove – Peter O’Leary – Oisin McClelland – Stephen Milne

SSL Team Serbia
Team Nickname: The Eagles
Captain: Goran Stevanovic
Motto: “Who needs the Sea to sail?”

Since ancient times, sailing has spread around the globe, on every ocean and sea. However, some countries have developed sailing on lakes. As for Serbia, they sail on rivers!

Serbia has two great rivers flowing through: Sava and Danube. They also spend some time on the Sea, where we sail on one of the first RC44 prototypes. Since 2005, the team has been exceptional and has won many regattas in the Adriatic, helping Serbia reach the top level in the regional keelboat racing. Serbia is known for winning medals in all kinds of sports and now they are willing to win one more and continue their tradition.

Squad: Arsa Stefanov – Vladimir Švab – Dragan Petrovic – Aleksandar Jovanovic – Filip Radonic – Kristina Boja – Nikola Marjanovic – Luka Minic – Stefan Yuill – Mina Stanikic – Dusan Trbojevic – Nikola Banjac – Dejan Antic – Milos Dobrosavljev – Tihomir Zakic

Sebastien Godefroid
Team Captain of SSL Team Belgium

“I think as in many countries, or at least in small countries, once your Olympic sailing career is over, you have to stop and live a life without sailing – but we all know it’s impossible – or you try to continue in something else. If you don’t have a big sponsor, it’s really hard to continue. So I hope SSL Gold Cup will open the doors to younger sailors to get in contact with high level big boat sailing in such a way to continue their career on big boats and also help their owners to get Olympic sailors. Of course, they will need to learn sailing on those units but they have a knowledge very useful for sailing on any boats.»