The anticipation is building in Gran Canaria as the SSL Gold Cup Final Series approaches! The organisers are working non-stop to get everything in place to make this one of the most spectacular events that the sailing world has ever seen.
One of the most interesting and innovative aspects of the event is the format. There are forty national teams taking in the SSL Gold Cup, so devising a schedule which works for all is a complex process, but one which has been solved in an inventive and creative way.
The event starts with the Opening Ceremony and Draw on Thursday 9th November. This is where sixteen teams find out their groups for the 1/32 Finals, taking place between Friday 10th November and Tuesday 14th November. There are four groups of four national teams, where the top two in each go through to the next round.
The teams in the draw for the 1/32 Finals are Antigua & Barbuda, Tahiti, Estonia, Bermuda, Slovenia, Lithuania, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Peru, Chile, Oman, Cuba, South Africa, Malaysia, Ukraine and Thailand.
Next up are the 1/16 Finals, taking place between Thursday 16th November and Monday 20th November. This is where the national teams seeded between 24th and 17th enter the competition to take on the winners and runners-up from the four 1/32 Finals groups. Once again, the teams are split into groups of four with the top two from each group making it through to the 1/8 Finals.
The teams already allocated at the 1/16 Finals stage are Austria, Bahrain, Finland, Hungary, Croatia, Israel, Canada and Japan.
We then move on to the 1/8 Finals, taking place between Tuesday 21st November and Saturday 25th November, where the national teams seeded between 16th and 9th start their racing. As with the 1/16 Finals, each of the four groups is made up of two of the seeded teams and a winner and runner-up from the previous round. The winner and runner-up from each group move on to the next round.
The teams starting racing in the 1/8 Finals are the U.S.A., Argentina, Poland, Brazil, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and France.
Monday 27th November sees the start of the 1/4 Finals, with the national teams seeded between 8th and 1st entering the competition to take on the eight teams who have made it through the 1/8 Finals. There are the top sailing nations in the world, but will the experience gained by the lower-ranked teams mean they are more battle hardened at this stage of the competition? Come Friday 1st December we will know if the top ranked teams have made it through to the 1/2 Finals, or whether we have a surprise nation in the last eight. Time will tell!
The top eight seeded teams who only start racing in the 1/4 Finals are Great Britain, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, Italy and Spain.
The 1/2 Finals on Saturday 2nd December see the top two from each 1/4 Finals group battle it out in groups of four for a place in the Final. This one-day top four showdown will be filled with drama and tension as top eight teams are whittled down to the four who will contest the title in the Final on Sunday 3rd December.
It’s time to get set for nearly a month of top-class racing, nation against nation, in Gran Canaria.