Tour newbie picks up $50,000
This was only Berntsson’s second Tour event this year as a skipper, and for his efforts Berntsson and his team of Johan Backman, Bjorn Lundgren, and Daniel Wallberg have won the top $50,000 prize of the $100,000 total purse. The 101 year old Gold Cup trophy was presented by Sir Richard Gozney the Governor of Bermuda.
Johnie Berntsson, Johan Bäckman, Björn Lundgren and Martin Berntsson celebrate winning the King Edward VII Gold Cup with RBYC Commodore Ralph Richardson
“This was a fantastic event for us,” said Berntsson, “because not only did I feel we sailed really well, but we also really had fun.” Winning must have certainly played a part in having fun, as Berntsson’s overall win-loss record of 15-3 in this long competition was indeed impressive: on his road to the Finals he led his group of eight skippers on a 6-1 Round Robin record into the Quarter-finals, then beat third-ranked Tour regular Mathieu Richard (FRA) and his French Match Racing Team/French Spirit 3-1. He then defeated fellow Swede Mattias Rahm and the Stena Bulk Sailing Team 3-0 in yesterday’s Semi-Finals before winning today 3-1 in the Finals.
“I’m only the guy holding the tiller, the credit goes to the guys on my team,” said a modest Berntsson. “When I would put us into trouble, it was always my guys who got us out.”
This trouble included having earned a pre-start penalty in Match Three of the Finals from umpires Sally Burnett (GBR) and Jan Stage (DEN) for not keeping clear of an aggressive Minoprio and his team at the start, but managed to get ahead off the start for an early lead in the match. Minoprio kept the race close, managing to challenge the Swedes for the lead at the second top mark rounding on the three-lap course. After a protracted dial-up well to windward of this mark, the pair broke off, Berntsson tacking to complete his penalty, but ceding the lead to the Kiwis downwind.
But Berntsson never gave up, chasing Minoprio around the track, splitting when the shifts were favorable, and managed to dig back to gain control once again at the top of the third and final beat. This time Berntsson held the lead and even managed to extend slightly to take the series to 2-1, and after having a slight edge off the start in the final match, the Swedes would simply extend and hold this lead all the way to the finish.
In Petite-Final action, Ben Ainslie (GBR) and his Team Origin held off an aggressive Rahm to win the first-to-three point series in three straight matches, using the same smooth style he’s displayed all week with excellent timing and calling of shifts with help from fellow Olympian Iain Percy.
1st Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team $50,000
2nd Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing $20,000
3rd Ben Ainslie (GBR) Team Origin $10,000
4th Mattias Rahm (SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team $7,000
5th Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar $5,500
6th Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing $4,000
7th Sebastien Col (FRA) French Team/K-Challenge $2,500
8th Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Team/Team French Spirit $1,000