Apple cart upturned
The 2011 Argo Group Gold Cup burst into life today after several Tour Card Holders tasted defeat against wildcards and qualifiers in the second Qualifying Session in Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda.
In the opening exchanges, the headlines were all about the US Virgin Islands' Taylor Canfield and Bermuda's own Lance Fraser and his Freelance-Digicel team. A shock win for 18-year old Fraser against Torvar Mirsky and The Wave Muscat was then superseded by a great run of wins for Canfield against three Tour Card Holders.
Johnie Berntsson, Mirsky and Peter Gilmour of Yanmar Racing all fell foul to Canfield, the young skipper looking every bit as impressive as last year in the Gold Cup when he finished in sixth place. Reflecting on his performances, Canfield said: “Beating the top seeds in the group is the ideal start. This is our first Tour event for the year and we’re aiming to match, if not better, last year.”
There’s little room for error in the Argo Group Gold Cup Qualifying Sessions where just two losses can put a team into the repechage. A crop of teams in Group 2 face that very prospect after Gilmour, Mirsky and New Zealand's Phil Robertson all finished the second Qualifying Session on 2-2: “We should be winning our first races in the group stages - the guys who beat us deserved to win,” said Mirsky. “We may be able to pick things back up, but it depends on how the rest go. Usually two losses puts you into the repechage group. We’ve got tough matches coming up and every one of them counts now so the pressure is really on.”
In stark contrast to the opening day, a consistent breeze of 12 to 14 knots swept through a sunny Hamilton Harbour to allow plenty of racing. In Group 3, the Tour Card Holders started to assert their authority with Ian Williams of Team GAC Pindar sponsored by Argo Group and French Match Racing Team mates Mathieu Richard and Damien Iehl all posting 4-0 scorelines. The pressure in that group will rise tomorrow though when those three face one another with only two automatic qualification places on offer, something Williams is only too aware of: “With these IOD boats you have all three crew trimming and I've got three really strong guys, so that’s working well for us - when we started behind we were able to overtake, even with a penalty in one match. That said, it all comes down to tomorrow with Iehl, Richard and myself gunning for two spots.”
It was always going to be a tall order for Bermuda's Peter Miller to reach the knock out stages, however the young skipper was able to raise a smile after a winless day in Group 2: “It was a tough but fun day. I’ve never had so much fun getting my ass kicked! We got better as the day went on and we got more comfortable with the way things go. Hopefully we do better tomorrow and manage to get a win. Things can only get easier from here hopefully!”
Group 1 resumed their racing after completing only one flight on the opening day. After a series of shock wins for the wildcards and qualifiers earlier in the day, the Tour Card Holders continued to turn the screw. Francesco Bruni, who sits in second place in the overall Championship (and needs a high score here to really put the pressure on Williams going into Malaysia), was in fine form. Wins against Poland's Jakub Pawluk of Henri Lloyd Racing, Australian Jordan Reece, local skipper Blythe Walker (of Team RenRe and Australian Keith Swinton takes him to a 4-0 overnight score, alongside Dane Jesper Radich of Adrian Lee & Partners and Finland's Staffan Lindberg. Fellow Championship contender Bjorn Hansen finished the day on 3-1.
Again though, with only two automatic qualification places, one of these teams, if they’re still in the hunt after their seven races, will have to give way and fight it out in the repechage.
The third qualifying session gets underway at 0900 local time (-4hrs GMT) on Thursday 6 October.
Results after Qualifying Session Two:
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing 4-0
Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team 4-0
Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners 4-0
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekononmen Sailing Team 3-1
Blythe Walker (BER) Team RenRe 1-3
Jakub Pawluk (POL) Henri Lloyd Racing 0-4
Jordan Reece (AUS) True Blue Racing 0-4
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing 0-4
Johnie Berntsson Sailing Team 3-1
Taylor Canfield (ISV) Team ISV 3-1
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat 2-2
Reuben Corbett NZL) AON Racing Team 2-2
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 2-2
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 2-2
Lance Fraser (BER) Freelance-Digicel 1-3
Sam Pearson (GBR) Team Wight Match 1-3
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar sponsored by Argo group 4-0
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team 4-0
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 4-0
Eric Monnin (SUI) Oklays Corum Sailing Team 3-1
Simone Ferrarese (ITA) Ferrarese Racing Team 1-3
Laurie Jury (NZL) ZOKE Kiwi Match 0-4
Terry McLaughlin (CAN) Team Commonwealth 0-4
Peter Miller (BER) 0-4