Ian Williams leads the field
It’s just a matter of days until the 24 Argo Group Gold Cup teams take to the practice course in Bermuda’s Hamilton Harbour. They all need to hone their match racing skills in the Classic International One Design sloops sailed in Stage 7 of the 2011 World Match Racing Tour.
Boat handling and tactical decisions in the traditional heavier boats used for the Argo Group Gold Cup will decide the champion and winner of $50,000 of the $100,000 total prize purse. Racing starts on 4 October.
As the hottest sailor on the Tour these days, everybody’s man to beat is Ian Williams (GBR) of Team GAC Pindar. He is on top of both the Tour rankings and the ISAF Open standings going in. But you have to remember how tough it is to win in Bermuda. After winning the 2006 Gold Cup, Williams finished 5th in 2008 and 3rd in 2009, and he was eliminated early in 2010 by a complicated tiebreaker. He will have a lot of new sailors to meet on the course who may bring different and unpredictable tactics into play.
An accomplished sailor but newcomer to Bermuda and IOD sailing, Italian Francesco Bruni was on top of the Tour leaderboard earlier in the season, but has slipped of late. Before the Tour points adjustment for the cancelled Danish Open, Bruni is just one point behind Williams. Aggressive practice for him and his team is essential. Dialing into the IOD sailing style early, during Tuesday’s opening Qualifying Session, will be critical if he is to move on into the final eight.
Standing third on the Tour, Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and The Wave, Muscat team are not new to Bermuda, but have never won the Gold Cup. In 2010 Mirsky came to Bermuda with high hopes, but fell to some newcomers himself and ended the week in 8th place, matching his 2009 performance.
As the senior member of the Tour, Peter Gilmour (AUS) heads up Yanmar Racing. He is now 4th on the Tour and has perhaps the most experience sailing IODs and sailing on Hamilton Harbour. He put his name on the Cup in 1995, 1997 and 2003, and will look to emulate that in what is his third decade of Gold Cup competition. In his last Bermuda appearance, the always aggressive Gilmour suffered from a string of penalties that led to his demise.
Other Tour Card Holders with their names on the Cup returning to Bermuda are Johnie Berntsson, Mathieu Richard and Dane Jesper Radich of Team Adrian Lee & Partners who was runner up in 2010, and the winner in 2002.
Not to be missed is Bermuda’s top IOD match racer Blythe Walker with Team RenaissanceRe. Blythe cut his teeth sailing IO’s in Bemuda with his father, the late B. W. 'Jordy' Walker and his uncle Penny Simmons - both Bermuda national champions and international champions. He has sailed in many Gold Cup regattas placing in the money with a 4th in 2007 and a 7th in 2009.
Two other young Bermuda Skippers will enter the fray. Lance Fraser returns for his second Argo Group Gold Cup in a row and Peter Miller will be at the helm in his first Grade 1 match racing event. It is quite an experience for these young skippers and their teams to face the top sailors in the world on their home waters. The twenty-four team format used in Bermuda makes it all possible.
Skippers racing in the 2011 Argo Group Gold Cup:
|Williams, Ian||1||1||GBR||Team GAC Pindar|
|Bruni, Francesco||2||2||ITA||Bruni Racing|
|Mirsky, Torvar||3||3||AUS||The Wave Muscat|
|Gilmour, Peter||4||11||AUS||YANMAR Racing|
|Hansen, Bjorn||5||4||SWE||Mekonomen Sailing Team|
|Iehl, Damien||6||17||FRA||French Match Racing Team|
|Richard, Mathieu||7||7||FRA||French Match Racing Team|
|Radich, Jesper||8||9||DEN||Adrian Lee & Partners|
|Berntsson, Johnie||9||16||SWE||Berntsson Sailing Team|
|Robertson, Phil||10||10||NZL||WAKA Racing|
|Monnin, Eric||15||13||SUI||Oklays Corum Sailing Team|
|Swinton, Keith||17||20||AUS||Black Swan Racing|
|Canfield, Taylor||32||ISV||Team ISV|
|Corbett, Reuben||14||NZL||Aon Racing|
|Ferrarese, Simone||23||ITA||Ferrarese Racing Team|
|Lindberg, Staffan||12||FIN||Alandia Sailing Team|
|Pawluk, Jakub||111||POL||Sailing Poland|
|Jury, Laurie||14||NZL||Zoke Kiwimatch|
|Walker, Blythe||BER||Team RenRe|
|Pearson, Sam||135||UK||Team Wight Match|