Gran Canaria delivered on the first day of the SSL Gold Cup 1/32 Finals, with sparkling seas, a lovely swell left over from the strong winds, and a breeze hovering between 6 and 10 knots, providing ideal conditions for top-class racing.
The conditions on the course provided plenty of tactical options, with more wind pressure offshore, counterbalanced by lifts on port on the left. Calm heads were needed on board the challenging SSL47 yachts to seize the opportunities on the two-lap windward / leeward course, especially considering it was the first time teams were back in the one-design boats since 2022.
For Antigua & Barbuda, it was a dream return to the SSL47s, as Skipper Jules Mitchell describes:
"It was super cool getting back into it as we haven't sailed the boats for 16 months, so it was quite interesting to see how everyone would perform. Those 16 months did absolutely nothing to our performance. We are definitely taking a very conservative approach because there's a lot of racing to do, it's a marathon, not a sprint.
"We're really enjoying the swell. It's super nice to actually be driving the boat through the big waves and then surfing downwind, which I think is our strength, and we're just having a good time. Back home in Antigua, we get a lot of trade winds, so it's quite similar with the swell and the consistent breeze."
The Bermuda 'Privateers' led by Rockal Evans trawled their spinnaker on the final downwind leg when the halyard wasn't locked off fully. While the mistake cost them in the race, they were unfortunate not to catch any Vieja, one of the most appreciated and emblematic fish of the Canary Islands, when they hoisted the sail from the water.
Evans told www.islandstats.com, “It was a tough day on the water but we have our heads held high and are determined to do better tomorrow. We had some unlucky small boat rigging issues that were out of our control right from the start of the race.”
Fleet 3 Standings after 1 Race