Thursday, 8 October 2009

WMRT: Gilmour says his '97 Gold Cup win was the most challenging

Peter Gilmour (AUS) and Adam Minoprio (NZL) approach the start at St Moritz Match Race 2009. Image copyright Loris von Siebenthal/

Courtesy of the Bermuda Sun

by Colin Thompson

Peter Gilmour is one of the most feared sailors on the World Match Racing Tour.

The Aussie is a four-time World Match Racing Tour champion as well as a three-time Argo Group Gold Cup winner.

Gilmour has competed in five Americas Cup challenges and was victorious with the Alinghi syndicate in 2007.

He is currently in Bermuda taking part in this week's Argo Group Gold Cup with Yanmar Racing Team where he hopes to celebrate a first win on the World Match Racing Tour since capturing last year's Monsoon Cup in Malaysia and a first Gold Cup since 2003. Gilmour is currently fourth in this year's World Match Racing Tour championship points standings. Here he speaks with the Bermuda Sun's Colin Thompson.

Q: What are your impressions on Bermuda?

A: I love Bermuda and think it has this really unique place in the world of sailing generally. The first time I came we stayed with 'Shorty' Trimingham who was an old Olympic sailor from way back. It just sought of typified what Bermuda is. It is sort of a mix of societies and cultures.

In terms of the island itself and the beauty of people and natural resources, there is a genuine beauty about this place. This is a perfect arena for sailing and is absolutely what the world match racing tour is all about.

Even though it's expensive to get here all the top teams come here and they love the racing and camaraderie.

Q: Do you enjoy sailing in the international one-design racing sloop?

A: Absolutely! These style of boats probably suit the style of match racing that I do, which is more of what I call the traditional style.

Q: Of the lot, which of your Gold Cup triumphs do you cherish most?

A: Certainly 1997 would have been very significant because I would have had an all-Japanese crew and that was pretty challenging back then.

We had different languages and a whole different philosophy and way of thinking. It certainly would have been a very big year for us.

Q: Has the sport evolved much since you first began competing?

A: Certainly. What you are seeing today is a far more disciplined approach to it. A lot of teams now bring their coaches along with them and they are very well organized.

The level has certainly gone up and there is also a lot more physical training going in to it and as a result it's not good enough to just come along to a regatta and think you are going to do well.

You need to really prepare well for it and there's a lot of psychology involved in the game. Typically all 24 teams are equal as we sit here on opening day but as we get down towards the closing day the pressure comes on and everybody starts thinking about winning some money to cover their airfares or whatever else.

Q: As a sailing destination, how do you rate Bermuda?

A: I rate Bermuda as an absolute top sailing destination. If you look back 20 years ago Russell Coutts (multiple Gold Cup winner) was begging to get invited to become a competitor of the Gold Cup and now he's won the Americas Cup three times. That's what these type of events do; they launch these talents onto the world of sailing.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Junior Gold Cup?

A: I think the Junior Gold Cup is fantastic because importantly you must have youngsters aspire to where this is all going. You can't just have an elite level sport and not have it to do something to actually have a deep effect on the community.

Q: What advice would you give to any young aspiring sailor?

A: The first advice you give to a young sailor is to follow your dreams because situations change and evolve and suddenly doors open up where you didn't think they were.

I think following your dreams is the first good bit of advice although it's a difficult notion to explain to kids because they are looking for instant gratification. Sailing is a sport for life.

Sailing is a sport whereby you can't expect results quickly; you have to be patient and chip away over the long term to achieve results. It's really important to take a steady as it goes kind of approach. You also have to happy competing inside your own skin.

Q: Given Bermuda's reasonable success on the world stage, are you surprised the island has yet to medal at the Olympics?

A: Not really because if you look at the size of the population it's just a numbers game. Look at how well China can throw a billion people at the problem and it is solved.

I think Bermuda is already punching way beyond its weight on a per head basis. But if you go back to what I said about following your dreams, I generally think those dreams are attainable.

Q: What would be your most memorable achievement in the sport?

A: That's such a hard one because I have had so many memorable occasions. I can go all the way back to winning my first World Championship when I was 21 years old and then winning my first World Match Racing Tour championship when I was 30.

Q: How do you compare today's Gold Cup to those of yesteryear?

A: I think if you go back ten or 15 years the Gold Cup was a lot bigger than what it actually is now. I would say that as an event it probably has flat lined a bit.

Q: As a kid growing up, did you participate in other sports?

A: Yes, I actually played cricket and Aussie Rules football. However, sailing always got in the way.

Q: How did sailing become your first passion?

A: My interest in sailing really came from growing up around the water in Perth. I lived very close to the water and used to paddle around in little dinghies and explore - which is probably something every kid here gets to do at some point.

Q: What does it take to compete on the World Match Racing Tour?

A: It really just takes dedication, application and focus to be able to do it. You also need the support of a sponsor to be able to move around and compete at these different events."

Talbot Wilson
World Match Racing Tour

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