Thursday, 24 March 2011

WMRT: Royal Bermuda YC issues Argo Group Gold Cup Invitation​s

Ben Ainslie with the Argo Group Gold Cup. Image copyright Charles Anderson/WMRT.

by Talbot Wilson

Can Ben Ainslie— invited as a ‘non-Tour Card’ skipper this year and winner of the last two Argo Group Gold Cup Regattas— make it a historic hat trick in 2011?

2011 Notice of Race posted at

Hamilton, Bermuda, March 23, 2011: Can Ben Ainslie, invited this year as a non-Tour Card skipper and winner of the last two Argo Group Gold Cup regattas, make it a hat trick? The two-in-a-row Gold Cup winner from Great Britain, who is targeting his fifth Olympic medal in 2012, has been invited back to to Bermuda to defend his title in the 2011 Argo Group Gold Cup this October 4-9.

Organizers have offered the British ace the chance to run his string of wins to a historic three-in a-row in this classic match race competition, the penultimate stage of the 2011 ISAF World Match Racing Tour (WMRT). Will Ainslie accept the challenge? Stay tuned.

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and Argo Group have posted the 2011 NOTICE OF RACE on line and issued invitations to apply for entry in the 2011 Argo Group Gold Cup. The invitations went first to the nine teams holding 2011 Tour Cards for the nine-stage World Match Racing Tour. Invitations have also been sent to a select group of top level ISAF match race skippers, America’s Cup level skippers and up-and-coming match race sailors. The Argo Group Gold Cup has a unique 24-team format on the WMRT. Along with the Tour Card holders, the winners of two qualifier events in the United States and one in Bermuda qualify for invitations.

Following the April 18 response date for the initial invitations, the selection committee will consider other applications for invitation. The Notice of Race and applications are in on the web site:

The Argo Group Gold Cup is the penultimate event of the nine-stage World Match Racing Tour. Argo Group International Holdings, Ltd, an international underwriter of specialty insurance and reinsurance products in niche areas of the property and casualty market, returns as title sponsor for the fourth year.

The 24-team format of the Argo Group Gold Cup is unique on the World Match Racing Tour. Nine of the team slots are available for World Tour Card holders, three are selected from qualifying events, the Knickerbocker Cup and the Detroit Cup in the USA, and the Bermuda National Match Race Championship.

The remaining teams are selected by application and invitation from among the top international match-racing sailors on the ISAF ranking list and leading up-and-coming sailors as identified by the RBYC. By having 24 entrants, room is available for young competitors to take on the world’s best match racers.

Argo Group Gold Cup finals 2010. Image copyright Charles Anderson/WMRT.

The 2011 World Match Racing Tour Card holders who have been invited to the Argo Group Gold Cup are #3 match race skipper as ranked by ISAF Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team, Torvar Mirsky #4 (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, Ian Williams #5 (GBR) Team GAC Pindar, Francesco Bruni # 8 (ITA) Mascalzone Latino, Phil Robertson #10 (NZL) WAKA Racing Team, Peter Gilmour #11 (AUS) YANMAR Racing, Damien Iehl #15 (FRA) French Match Racing Team, Johnie Berntsson #17 (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team, and Jesper Radich #20 (DEN) Radich Racing Team.

Non-Tour Card holders invited include two time Argo Group Gold Cup champion Ben Ainslie ranked #1 by ISAF and Adam Minoprio, ranked #2 plus eleven other skippers ranked in the top thirty.

In announcing Argo Group’s title sponsorship, Mark E. Watson III, President and Chief Executive Officer of Argo Group said, “Argo Group is proud to return as the title sponsor of the Argo Group Gold Cup match race tournament for the fourth straight year. Racing for the King Edward VII Gold Cup is one of Bermuda’s great traditions. The match race format requires outstanding skill, strategy and teamwork and those same qualities are equally important to our business.”

“While attracting some of the world’s best sailing crews, the Argo Group Gold Cup is a perfect showcase for Bermuda as an outstanding place to sail. Each year, the race itself introduces hundreds of new young people to the excitement of the sport. Sailing promotes self-reliance, discipline and team work in addition to being great fun.”

Watson concluded, “In partnership with the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, we’re looking forward to making this year’s event one of the best ever. And the Bermuda Family Festival of Sail, which coincides with the finals weekend of the Argo Group Gold Cup, is always a fun event for Bermuda families.”

Commodore Peter Shrubb, a match race umpire himself, thanked Argo Group for its continuing support and said, “Match Racing for The King Edward VII Gold Cup is recognized as one of the classic events on the World Match Racing Tour. It has always been a highlight for sailors and attracts the top sailors in the International Sailing Federation’s and World Tour match race rankings as well as top America’s Cup skippers. In 2008 we introduced sailing to all Bermudans with the first Family Festival of Sail. That will be bigger and better in its fourth year in 2011.”

The prize purse for 2011 will be $100,000, with $50,000 going to the winner. Match racing sailors throughout the world are invited to apply for an invitation by contacting Audrey Pope at the RBYC Sailing Office,

In addition to Argo Group, key sponsors include The Bermuda Department of Tourism as official host, Renaissance Re, Guy Carpenter, and AON. Renaissance Re will once again sponsor the Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup International Optimist Dinghy regatta sailed in Bermuda’s Great Sound and Hamilton Harbour.

Argo Group Bermuda Gold Cup