Saturday, 2 October 2010

WMRT: Great Brit Looks for Gold Cup Repeat

Ben Ainslie and Ian Williams will once again battle in Hamilton Harbour for the Argo Group Gold Cup. Image copyright WMRT.

by Colin Thompson, Sports Reporter, Bermuda Sun

Triple Olympic gold medalists and ISAF World Sailor of the Year Ben Ainslie hopes Hamilton Harbour will once again prove to be fertile ground for Team Origin.

Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor defeated current World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) champion Adam Minoprio 3-1 in last year’s Argo Group Gold Cup final to lift the revered showpiece for the first time.

And if all goes accordingly the Americas Cup sailor plans to be sipping champagne on the docks at Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC) with his fellow Team Origin crew after all is said and done on the race course for the second straight year.

He said: “We really enjoy sailing in Hamilton Harbour and really enjoy the boats, the venue, the yacht club and all the people and so we feel kind of at home. I think it’s safe to say the boats and venue suits us and so I hope we can do well.”

The five-time Finn class world champion is fresh off a disappointing showing at last month’s Danish Cup in Denmark where he was denied precious points after making an early exit from the regatta.

With only two events remaining in this year’s WMRC Tour series, Ainslie openly admits his chances of landing the coveted prize are slim at best. Yet he is still determined to give it his best shot.

“We haven’t done enough events this year to get the points and realistically you have to give yourself more events in case things don’t go well. But I would say we have an outside chance,” said Ainslie, who has one win on the WMRC Tour this year (Match Cup Sweden).

“We’ve had some good regattas obviously in Sweden where we won and also in Marseille at the beginning of the year where we were second. But at the last two events (St. Moritz Match Race and Danish Open) we didn’t go so well, which was pretty disappointing for us.”

The five-time British Yachtsman of the Year currently lies fifth in the WMRT standings behind compatriot and past Argo Group Gold Cup winner Ian Williams, who is also back this year.

Lawyer-turned full-time sailor Williams is currently in the hunt for a third WMRT crown along with defending champion Minoprio (New Zealand), past Argo Group Gold Cup winner Matthieu Richard (France) and Tovar Mirsky (Australia).

Only skippers’ best five finishes count towards the WMRT Tour championship at the end of the season.

Ainslie added: “With the Argo Group Gold Cup being the penultimate regatta in the World Match Racing Tour this event will be crucial for the guys at the top leading into the final in Malaysia.

Sailing well

“The guys at the top of the leader board have done a lot of regattas and certainly sailed well in the majority of them. They’ve also had a few bad regattas but this has given them the opportunity to discard those regattas as it were.

“For us every event counts and having a bad result in the last race in Denmark really made life difficult for us.

“But we will just enjoy Bermuda and try and do as well as we can and see where that leads us.”

Bermuda Sun