Tuesday, 6 October 2009

WMRT: 3 Kiwi Skippers in Argo Bermuda Gold Cup 2009 Line-Up

by Talbot Wilson

Tension rises as Appendix A of the Sailing Instructions released Sunday reveals groupings for important Stage 1 Round Robin in the Argo Group Gold Cup’s unique format. The top eight skippers on the World Match Racing Tour and last year’s champion Johnie Berntsson are evenly dispersed in the three groups.

Stage 1, round robin groupings were all the dock talk at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Sunday. Argo Group Gold Cup skippers and crews weighed in and completed the final stages of the entry process and got their race packets. The packets included the important Sailing Instructions with the all-important Appendix A. That’s the group parings list that tells the skippers which opponents they must face to reach stage 2, the quarter final round. The round robin is the first step on the path to the King Edward VII Gold Cup and $50,000... half of the total $100,000 prize purse.

Tovar Mirsky (AUS) Group 1, Adam Minoprio (NZL) Group 2, and Mathieu Richard (FRA) Group 3 are the top seeds. They rank as the top three in both the World Match Racing Tour and on the ISAF ranking list. Mirsky is ranked first on the WMRT while Minoprio is ranked first by ISAF. Richard is ranked third by both.

Joining Mirsky in Group 1 are Ian Williams (GBR), Damien Iehl (FRA), Keith Swinton (AUS), Eric Monin (SUI), Reuben Corbett (NZL), Robbie Allum (GBR) and Ian Evans (USA).

Paired with Minoprio in Group 2 are Sebastian Col (FRA), Ben Ainslie (GBR), Bjorn Hansen (SWE), Alvaro Marinho (POR), Dave Perry (USA), Rasmus Viltoft (DEN), and Paula Lewin (BER).

Matched in Group 3 with Mathieu Richard are Peter Gilmour (AUS), Johnie Berntsson (SWE), Mattias Rahm (SWE), Phil Robertson (NZL), Blythe Walker (BER), Don Wilson (USA), Charlie Enright (USA).

“We use a formula based on ISAF rankings and Tour experience to develop the parings.” said Argo Group Gold Cup Chairman Brian Billings. “We have the top eight skippers and last year’s champion divided among the three groups. Then we work from there to make the groups as equal as possible. It is a unique format on the World Match Racing Tour. Sixteen teams will be eliminated before the quarter finals begin. Even the top ranked skippers can be knocked out early.”

“In 2007, Billings continued, “local Bermuda favorite Blythe Walker showed that the ranking numbers aren’t proof of performance. He was unranked, not having sailed any Tour events, but he made it all the way to the semi-finals before losing to Bjorn Hansen. Some of the up-and-coming young sailors may just break into the big time here in Bermuda.”

From the round-robin stage, the top two from each of the original three groups automatically move into the quarter finals. The third and fourth finishers in each original group then meet in the ‘repecharge’ round-robin called Group 4. The top two will join the original six in the step up the ladder and advance into the quarter finals, with a chance to go to the semi-finals on Saturday and finals on Sunday.

World Match Racing Tour

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