Matches announced for Gold Cup
At this afternoon’s Seeded Skipper Press Conference, the topic on the minds of the eight international helmsman gathered on the dais was very much focused on the task at hand as well as the 33-foot International One Design (IOD) yachts used in competition and the fact that seven of the eight seeded skippers at this year’s edition of this famed regatta hail from Scandinavia.
Headlining the seeded roster is Denmark’s Jes Gram-Hansen, skipper of Team Victory Lane. Gram-Hansen is coming to the Bermuda Gold Cup for the fourth time, but unlike in the past, he arrives as a favorite due to his place atop the Swedish Match Tour Rankings and in the wake of his win at August’s Danish Open 2002.
“It’s been a great year for the whole team and we’ve really looked forward to returning to Bermuda,” said Gram-Hansen. “The conditions here are tricky and the boats are challenging, but we always have great fun and the hospitality is outstanding.”
After having raced around Hamilton Harbour a couple of times this afternoon to familiarise themselves with their surroundings and acclimate themselves to the boats, all the skippers were ready to share their thoughts on the unique racing sloops they’ll be sailing in these next few days.
“Fortunately, we have a couple of these boats in Sweden, so we’ve been out practicing the last few days before we came here,” said Mattias Rahm of Team Stena Bulk. “These boats are so unique that I think it would be hard for someone to come here for the first time without any practice and expect to do well.”
“These are slower boats than what we sail in Denmark or at other events on the Swedish Match Tour,” said Denmark’s Jesper Radich. “They turn much slower, so you’ll probably see fewer passes than you would in lighter boats. As a result, you need to plan your tactics accordingly and have a good sense of time and distance in the starts.”
When asked about the large Scandinavian contingent at the front of the tent, Sweden’s Bjorn Hansen, skipper of “Team GOL Sailing” and one of the driving forces behind the match race center in Stockholm, didn’t hesitate to attribute it to the concerted effort of the yacht clubs in Scandinavia to grow the sport.
“The match race centers in Skoveshoved, Denmark and in Stockholm, Sundsall and Gothenburg, Sweden, have all done so much to grow the sport,” said Hansen. “By managing a fleet of boats the centers are able to keep costs down and open the sport to people who don’t own their own boats as well as expose children to match racing early, so they are able to train the next generation of match racers at a young age.”
Tomorrow morning at 9am the talking will be done and the crews will take to the water for Round 1 of the Bermuda Gold Cup. The first-to-three-wins format will feature the following match ups:
Jes Gram-Hansen (SWE/Team Victory Lane) v. Mason Woodworth (USA)
Lars Nordjbaerg (DEN/Team Nordbjaerg) v. Paula Lewin (BER/Team Ace Group)
Mikael Lindqvist (Sweden) v. Andy Horton (USA)
Bjorn Hansen (SWE/Team GOL Sailing) v. Peter Bromby (BER/Team Ace Group)
Jesper Radich (DEN/Team Radich) v. Tucker Thompson (USA/Team T2 Productions)
Staffan Lindberg (FIN/Team Musto) v. Glenn Astwood (BER/Team Bacardi)
Mattias Rahm (SWE/Team Stena Bulk) v. Marie Bjorling (SWE/Team Goteborg Energi)
Karol Jablonski (POL/Team MK Café) v. Chris Law (GBR/”The Outlaws”)
Following Round 1, there will be a lay day on Thursday with the Colorcraft Pro-Am regatta, to be followed quarterfinals on Friday.