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GRAN CANARIA IS READY TO HOST THE SSL GOLD CUP, THE FIRST SAILING WORLD CUP BY NATIONS

The competition was presented on Tuesday at a press conference held in the capital of the Canary Island.

SSL Gold Cup Press Conference in Gran Canaria © Belfi Aguilar
SSL Gold Cup Press Conference in Gran Canaria © Belfi Aguilar

From 10 November to 3 December, teams from 40 countries, including some of the world’s top sailing stars, will compete in the finals phase which is expected to be watched by a worldwide audience.

Exclusive to this competition with their trademark shiny gold hulls, four SSL47 One-Designs, guarantee equal opportunities.

The SSL47 yachts are already in Gran Canaria © Belfi Aguilar
The SSL47 yachts are already in Gran Canaria © Belfi Aguilar

During this month of November Gran Canaria is ready to become the sailing capital of the world. The SSL Gold Cup will put the intercontinental sailing title for nations at stake for the first time, and it will do so with an innovative format similar to that of the soccer World Cup.

Teams from 40 countries, including some of the big names of world sailing will compete in the finals phase in Gran Canaria for a worldwide audience.

The Canarian Luis Doreste, double Olympic medallist, is the captain of the Spanish team. Among the other countries competing for the title, there will also be sailors such as the Brazilian Robert Scheidt, the British skipper Ian Williams and the Italian ace Vasco Vascotto, among others.

Following the opening ceremony scheduled for the 9th of November, 40 teams with crews of 11 will compete between 10 November and 3 December, sailing in fleets in groups of four off the coast of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

All the teams will sail on the same boats: the spectacular SSL47 One-Design – 47 ft with striking gold hulls which are exclusive to this competition mean each team has an equal chance.

The Royal Canarian Sailing Federation are the local co-organiser of the event that aims to become a world reference, and in which 27 Olympic medallists and America’s Cup sailors, world champions in different classes, winners of The Ocean Race – the former Volvo Ocean Race – and some legendary sailors are all set to take part.

Antonio Morales, President of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria © Belfi Aguilar
Antonio Morales, President of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria © Belfi Aguilar

The SSL Gold Cup, presented in Gran Canaria

The President of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, Antonio Morales, was the host this Tuesday of the press conference in which the first final in the history of the Star Sailors League (SSL) Gold Cup was officially presented.

Morales emphasised the weather and sea conditions that make Gran Canaria “a world reference” for the practice of sports and pointed out that the competition that starts in November on the island “fits perfectly with our way of understanding the diversification of our tourism”.

Ángel Sabroso, deputy sports councillor of the Canary Islands Government © Belfi Aguilar
Ángel Sabroso, deputy sports councillor of the Canary Islands Government © Belfi Aguilar

Morales was joined at the event by the mayoress of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Carolina Darias; the island government’s sports councillor, Aridany Romero; the deputy sports councillor of the Canary Islands Government, Ángel Sabroso; and the president of the Royal Canary Islands Sailing Federation, Rafael Bonilla.

The deputy sports councillor of the Canary Islands Government pointed out that “talking about sailing in the Canary Islands is not a minor issue”, as it is the sport that gives the islands “the greatest number of sportsmen and sportswomen of international relevance”. Sabroso, who said goodbye with a “captain, we want the gold” [talking to Luis Doreste, the captain of the Spanish team], underlined the fact that, “unlike other major events, here the public contribution is by far the smallest”.

Carolina Darias, Mayoress of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria © Belfi Aguilar
Carolina Darias, Mayoress of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria © Belfi Aguilar

The Mayoress of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Carolina Darias, expressed her gratitude and satisfaction for the decision to hold this first final of the World Cup for nations in Gran Canaria: “We have one of the best race course in the world”, said the mayoress, who expressed her intention to “continue promoting sport in general and sailing in particular”.

The quick and unanimous reaction of the three administrations, together with the support of other public and private entities such as Naviera Armas Trasmediterránea – which has made the transfer of the boats to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria possible – is one of the keys that have made it possible for this historic regatta to take place on the island.

The history and philosophy of the Star Sailor League – the world dinghy sailing circuit created by a group of Olympic sailors in 2013 -, its motto – “by sailors for sailors” – and the elements that distinguish its flagship – the final of the SSL Gold Cup, which premieres in Gran Canaria – were presented by the directors of the organisation itself.

Gauthier Wuthrich, Director of the Sailing Athletes Foundation © Belfi Aguilar
Gauthier Wuthrich, Director of the Sailing Athletes Foundation © Belfi Aguilar

Representing the SSL – an organisation that believes that “the stars are the sailors, not the boats” – at the press conference were the league’s president Xavier Rohart; and the director of the Sailing Athletes Foundation, Gauthier Wuthrich.

They described the characteristics of a championship that seeks to provoke a global movement and bring sailing stars out of anonymity. “In sailing we have events like the America’s Cup, which is so expensive, and regattas, but we don’t have an equivalent to the football World Cup,” they said.

Luis Doreste, who also took part in the press conference, emphasised that the Spanish team will try to “get the best result” and that to do so they have looked for a crew capable “of adapting quickly” to the boat with which all the teams will be competing. The SSL seeks equal opportunities for all the teams and this objective dictates one of the characteristics of this competition: there are no training sessions.

The SSL Gold Cup has the recognition of World Sailing – the international sailing federation – as an official World Cup of nations and will proclaim for the first time in Gran Canaria the best country in this sport, according to them.

There will be a total of 25 days of competition in which 40 countries from five continents will compete in groups of four until the final. Another 16 countries were knocked out of the competition in the qualifying series that took place between May and July 2022 at Lake Neuchatel (Grandson, Switzerland) and 24 of the 40 that reach the finals do so directly by their position in the overall ranking of the SSL.

Eight countries advance directly to the quarter-finals: Spain, United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and Italy.

The competition programme foresees a total of 66 races, which will take place on the coast of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

The island’s capital is the first venue for this grand final, which will be broadcast around the world in different formats and with an estimated television audience of 10 million people worldwide.

The Gran Canaria SSL Gold Cup is organised by the Stars Sailors League (SSL) and the Real Federación Canaria de Vela, as local co-organiser, with the collaboration of the Federación Canaria de Vela Latina.

The regatta has the support of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, the Instituto Insular de Deportes de Gran Canaria, the Government of the Canary Islands through its Vice-Ministry of Sports, and the City Council of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria through the Municipal Sports Institute, and the departments of Tourism and Ciudad de Mar; and with the collaboration of Puertos de Las Palmas, Naviera Armas Trasmediterránea, the Ministry of Defence, the Canary Islands Naval Command and the sailing clubs RCNGC; RCNT, RCNA, CM Varadero, Gran Canaria, Grupo Ari and Coca-Cola.