Paul Cayard is one of the true US sports legends. Having participated in the Olympics as well as the America's Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race, SSL Team United States Captain gives a thougthful point of view on the SSL Gold Cup.
"It's been my honor to have been involved in the SSL for the last nince years, since its inception with the SSL Finals. I have been in Sailing for 50 years, so all my life, and the SSL has been the most remarkable project that I've seen in our sport. I did the America's Cup and dealt with the commercial side of sailing, and the SSL is a fantastic project regarding what all the SSL team has put together. I don't think anyone has done more for Sailing than the SSL did.
Nationality has always been the fundamental core of the SSL. The Olympics has it as well as we have the opportunity to represent our country. The America's Cup has struggled with that as I had raised four different countries in one of my seven America's Cup campaign. In terms of capturing interest for the public on an event, “nationalism” is something not to be lost. The SSL clearly understood that.
The other incredible tool the SSL has is the format: fleets going through the Qualifying Series, joining top seeded teams, and in the end, there is just one race with four boats on the track and it is a winner take all. It is so exciting. The Olympics could consider this format in future events.
The SSL Gold Cup is a format like the Football World Cup. It is a format that everyone can understand. The gift of this event is what we've seen in Grandson in the last three weeks. It's Chile, Peru, qualifying. It's South Africa winning the Test Event 1. Sailors like Robert [Scheidt], Mateusz [Kusznierewicz] or Torben Grael have been on the top of Sailing for ever because we come from countries that have a certain amount of support. But it is fantastic to have an event where everyone can show up on the exact level on the playing field and then, if you have the talent, win the race.
I am really looking forward to come in Bahrain to represent SSL Team United States but it's going to be very challenging. In fact, some of these teams who have been through all the rounds will have a bit of advantage over the ones who are seeded. I can't wait to be in Bahrain to defend our colors."
From the Olympics to the Volvo Ocean Race to the America's Cup; Paul Cayard is that rare sailor who shone on every series he sailed on.
He's a seven time world champion, a seven time America's Cup competitor, beginning in 1983, has twice circumnavigated the world and is a two time Olympian – first in 1984 and then 20 years later in Athens, where he placed 5th in the Star class. And he's a legend in the Volvo Ocean Race.
He was the first American to win what was then the last edition of the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1997-1998. He later skippered Pirates of the Caribbean to second place in the 2005-2006 race.