Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Ainslie versus Berntsson during the semi-finals. Image copyright Charles Anderson/RBYC.
by Talbot Wilson and Laurie Fullerton
Yesterday afternoon Denmark’s Jesper Radich and Ben Ainslie of Great Britain won their Quarter Final and Semi-Final matches to reach today’s finals in the 2010 Argo Group Gold Cup. Radich, who won the Gold Cup in 2002, defeated Eric Monnin of Switzerland 3-0 and defending champion Ainslie beat Sweden’s Johnie Berntsson, the winner in 2008, three points to one. The Semi-Final matches went to the first team to three points.
Tension will be high today as Radich and Ainslie battle for the $50,000 prize purse that goes to the winner. The runner-up drops $30,000 to take $20,000 for second. There are also valuable Tour points that the winner will carry into the final Tour event of the year, The Monsoon Cup sailed at the end of November in Malaysia.
Commenting on his performance so far in the Gold Cup Radich said, “We feel that we have been lucky to have moved through the round robin, quarter and semi finals so well and we do realize the final against Ainslie will be especially tough.”
“We gained confidence all week as we continued to win but Ainslie has really had to fight hard through some tough situations and tough matches, so this makes him really ready. We are feeling very sharp, too, and I personally am really enjoying being in this final."
"Actually, my wife encouraged me to come back and race,” Radich added. “I thought, well, it is a risk. You don't know how it will turn out. Somehow, I have to say, my wife gave me the push to be here and well, it turned out OK so far."
Jesper Radich wins his semi-final. Image copyright Charles Anderson/RBYC.
Ben Ainslie looks forward to today’s contest with Radich. "The final races against Johnie Bernsston were tough,” he said. “We were sailing so close to so many spectator boats that I do know now what it feels like now to be a footballer. There was contact, too in our races and it is very hard to judge with these boats. It was it was a tough series to the end.
“We do feel we have had some battles,” he added, “but we are battle-hardened. We feel lucky because we love this venue, we like the boats and they are challenging. The atmosphere is great and we have a lot of friends here. So, we are really looking forward to another Gold Cup final.
Radich who has sailed a near perfect regatta said, “It occurs to me that we have had only one loss, and over 13 races I think that is actually a pretty good statistic.”
Radich went 6-1 in the Round Robin to qualify. Then he went 3-0 to take his Quarter-final match. With his 3-0 win yesterday, he enters the finals with twelve wins and one loss. the sole loss came to event newcomer Mike Buckley back on Tuesday in his first race in Group 1.
Ainslie came to the finals the hard way. He did not qualify for the Quarter-Finals directly. In Group 2, he had 4 wins and 2 losses and came out third. He had to sail in the repechage on Friday and won that in a three way-tiebreaker to advance to the Quarter-finals. Saturday morning he faced 2009 Tour champion Adam Minoprio of New Zealand and took the win having to sail all five races and finally take it 3-2.
Ainslie in the semi-finals. Image copyright Charles Anderson/RBYC.
In the afternoon, Berntsson was making a comeback. After being two nil down, he put on a strong showing to win the third race. At 2-1 Ainslie put Berntsson away by trapping him seconds before the start and forcing a double penalty. To add insult to penalties, Berntsson was also over the line early. Ainslie never looked back.
Matches were also sailed yesterday to determine fifth through eighth place. Adam Minoprio (NZL) was fifth, Taylor Canfield (USVI) was sixth, Reuben Corbett (NZL) was seventh and Torvar Mirsky (AUS) was eighth.
Video from quarterfinals and semi-finals in Bermuda:
The RenRe Jr Gold Cup Regatta moves into Hamilton Harbour for its final race. The Optimist Dinghy skippers hail from Bermuda and thirteen other countries. They are some of the top ranked young sailors in the world. The race will be sailed between flights of the Argo Group Gold Cup finals in the afternoon.
Royal Bermuda Yacht Club
World Match Racing Tour