Thursday, 30 September 2010

North American twins pre-race top rankers in Bermuda’s RenRe Junior Gold Cup

Image copyright Talbot Wilson.

by Talbot Wilson

A pair of US twins, Chris and Duncan Williford, look like the pre-regatta choices of the Optimist Dinghy sailors to beat in the 2010 Renaissance Reinsurance Junior Gold Cup. With four days of racing in this international invitational Opti regatta, three are scheduled for Bermuda’s Great Sound October 7th through October 9th. The regatta finishes on October 10th in Hamilton Harbour during an intermission in the finals of the Argo Group Gold Cup.

The Williford twins have great records in the Optimist class. Chris, among a handful of podium performances, has won the North American Championship two years in a row, 2009 and 2010. He was 1st in the 2009 Orange Bowl and 1st in the 2010 Yacht Club Argentina Race Week. Duncan came 2nd in the 2010 North American Championship, 3rd in the 2009 Orange Bowl, 2nd in the 2010 Yacht Club Argentina race week, and 2nd in the 2010 ScotiaBank Regatta in St. Thomas. They were 2nd and 4th in the USA World Team trials. Chris was 2nd in the 2008 Junior Gold Cup.

Kiwi Olivia McKay will press the twins and is expected to be top girl. Olivia was top girl in the New Zealand Opti Championship and 3rd place overall. She was also 3rd in the 2008 Junior Gold Cup, right behind Chris Wiliford.

Other girls are Meredith Megarry, two-time Canadian National Champion, and Justina Pacheco from the Dominican who was fourth female at the North American Championship and 19th overall. She was also 11th at the ScotiaBank Regatta and 3rd female there. Another repeat competitor is 12-year-old Odile van Aanholt from the Netherland Antilles who was top girl and 6th overall at Kiel Golden Optimist regatta in Germany.

Recent Danish National Champion Frederik Rask, who has been on fire recently, will also be in the medal hunt. Frederik was 1st in the Lake Garda Meeting, defeating 646 EU competitors, 1st in the Polish Open Championships, 2nd in the Belgium International Opti Spring Regatta and 6th in the Dutch Youth Regatta.

Image copyright Talbot Wilson.

The Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup attracts a spectacular group of young international sailors to compete against Bermuda’s top Opti sailors. Bermuda National Champion Sam Stan should expect a top five finish here. Sam was 14th at the North American Championships, 19th at the German National Championship and 33rd at the South American Championships. The Wollmann girls, Ceci and Ellie have competed overseas this summer and produced top finishes at the Canadian National Championships of 8th and 12th respectively.

Almost all overseas Opti sailors have now confirmed their invitations. Of the fourteen confirmed sailors, thirteen are on their respective Worlds Team for the 2010 IODA World Championships in Malaysia in December. Six are their nation's champion with a ranking of #1 and seven participated in last year’s IODA (International Optimist Dinghy Association) Worlds. Four of them finished in the top third.

The skipper’s ages range from 11-15yrs with three of the international sailors being girls and we have twelve different nations from North America, Europe, Oceania and the Caribbean represented.

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is proud to host this incredibly talented group of young sailors in Bermuda and thank Renaissance Re for making it possible.

Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup