Thursday, 16 September 2010
Twenty-four teams representing fourteen countries match up in this classic battle October 5-10 in Hamilton, Bermuda. Five winners of the King Edward VII Gold Cup from 2006-2009… Ian Williams (GBR), Mathieu Richard (FRA) Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Ben Ainslie (GBR) and the 2002 winner Jesper Radich (DEN) return to Bermuda for this 2010 Argo Group Gold Cup
Argo Group Gold Cup racing on Hamilton Harbour. Image copyright Charles Anderson.
by Talbot Wilson
With the European phase of the ISAF World Match Racing World Championship now complete, all eyes are now on Bermuda’s Argo Group Gold Cup where twenty-four teams representing fourteen countries are set to match up in this classic battle.
The competition, which takes places from 5-10 October in Hamilton, Bermuda, will have added spice as all four winners of the King Edward VII Gold Cup from 2006-2009 and the 2002 winner will take to the water in Bermuda. Seven of the Tour’s nine Cardholders will do battle in the penultimate event of the 2010 Tour season. These Tour skippers are also seven of the top ten in the ISAF match race rankings.
Mathieu Richard (FRA), Saba Team. Image copyright Charles Anderson.
Seventeen other teams join them in the Argo Group Gold Cup’s unique 24-team format.
“We think we have one of the Tour’s top slates of world class sailors,” said Brian Billings, Argo Group Gold Cup Chairman and Past Commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. “Any one of the seven Tour Cardholders could win, but then again there is plenty of new talent to challenge them in Bermuda.”
“Sailing in Hamilton Harbour is always tricky with winds gusting between islands or rolling down the hills from the south. And when the wind comes through town from the north, it’s always a wild ride,” Billings continued.
“RBYC is open to all visitors for Argo Group Gold Cup Week, offering a ringside seat on the club’s marina bulkhead for six days of top flight sailing. Match racing in Bermuda is really a spectator sport. The Fairmont Princess Hotel, right on the harbour, offers special Argo Group Gold Cup rates. Balconies offer a Bermuda Longtail’s view of the action.”
Adam Minoprio (NZL), BlackMatch Racing. Image copyright Charles Anderson.
Looking forward to action in Bermuda will be Tour leaders Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team, Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/Black Match Racing and Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team. Each team has just fought hard matches at the Danish Open where in the semi-finals Minoprio handily defeated Francesco Bruni (ITA) Team Azzurra 3-0 whilst Mirsky made an astounding comeback from two down to defeat Richard 3-2. Minoprio then took the finals off Mirsky 3-2. History suggests it will be compelling action as Richard won the Bermuda Gold Cup in 2007 and Minoprio was runner-up in both 2008 and 2009.
Richard, with 105 points, still appears to have a firm grip on the lead in the Championship standings going into the Argo Group Gold Cup. Minoprio stands second with 88, Mirsky is third with 76. Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar, who sat out the Danish Open, is fourth with 72. Ben Ainslie (GBR) TEAMORIGIN and Bruni are 5th and 6th.
Ian Williams chases Ben Ainslie. Image copyright Charles Anderson.
The top four from Denmark will be joined for the Argo Group Gold Cup by last year’s Argo Group Gold Cup winner Ben Ainslie, who did not make the medal rounds in Denmark. Francesco Bruni, 2006 Gold Cup winner Ian Williams, and Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Global Team are all elite Tour Cardholders and will be competing in Bermuda.
The rest of the teams for Bermuda are topped by Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team (who won in 2008), Reuben Corbett (NZL) Black Sheep Racing - a hot young Kiwi who has been on his game all year and Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing Team,who just won the Knickerbocker Cup. Taylor Canfield (ISV) Team ISV has looked impressive in Chicago match racing this summer, and Jesper Radich (DEN) Radich Racing Team (winner of the 2002 Gold Cup) is finding his form and is 8th on the Tour. Blythe Walker (BER), Bermuda’s perennial match race champion will return and youngster Lance Fraser (BER) will take off from school to make his first Gold Cup attempt. The world’s top ranked woman match racer Lucy Macgregor (GBR) and third ranked Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) Gus, both Olympic women’s match racing contenders, cap off the fleet.
In Bermuda, teams are racing to put their name on the famous King Edward VII Gold Cup Trophy and to take a share of USD$100,000 in prize money. The winner takes half of the purse, so it pays to be first in Bermuda.
The Argo Group Gold Cup is followed by the prestigious season ending finale, the Monsoon Cup, from Nov 30 - Dec 5, in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia, where the ISAF Match Racing World Champion will be crowned.
Argo Group Gold Cup