Berntsson fights back
A troublesome shifting breeze on Hamilton Harbour made for exciting sailing in Bermuda today, as the remaining four skippers at the Argo Group Gold Cup were tested to their limits before time was eventually called on racing for the day.
Numerous course changes were necessary throughout the day, as Johnie Berntsson showed his versatility and made the most of the fluctuating wind directon to take a 2-0 lead over Alpari World Match Racing Tour Champion, GAC Pindar's Ian Williams. Despite being on the brink of progression to the event Final, Berntsson was happy to delay the match until the morning. He said: “I think it was correct to come off of the water, the conditions were tricky all day. It’s better to have a fair race with better quality sailing.
“We came in with the advantage because I think we made the fewest mistakes and found a compromised route up to the mark. We managed to do it a bit better than Ian [Williams] so far. At times it might have looked like either of us had a big advantage, but you’d just never know where the next puff was coming from.”
While feeling confident of a return to the event Final as he did in 2011, Berntsson will try to take his mind off of racing until his team are prepping to go back out on the water. The Swede continued: “We’ll actually try to un-focus now so we can come back to it fresh in the morning. Tomorrow we’ll have up to three new races and only need to win one of them, hopefully the first.”
Williams faces a real battle to remain in the running for the King Edward VII Gold Cup and is hoping that conditions will be more stable in the morning. He said: “It was a tough day, really fickle with big holes in the breeze. It’d be nice to have better quality racing and with the forecast tomorrow, hopefully that’ll happen. We just didn’t get it quite right in those two races today and now we have to go three nil tomorrow. It’s a challenge but that’s what we’ll try to do.”
In the other Semi Final, the form skipper of the regatta so far, Taylor Canfield maintained his cool exterior on the water and finished 1-1 against Switzerland's Eric Monnin and his Okalys Corum team. The day started perfectly for the US Virgin Islander as his opponent crossed the line from pre-start too early and was forced to return a second time.
Summing up the conditions of the day, Monnin chose to split tack to the right hand side of the course in his first upwind leg and despite initially losing several boat lengths, rounded the top mark ahead. Canfield managed to retake the lead downwind, catching a good gust of wind which allowed him to roll the Swiss despite keep clear shouts from the Okalys Corum boat. The manoeuvre was green flagged and Monnin failed to recover to give Canfield his win of the day. Canfield said: “We stayed relaxed on a tough day. It was all over the place out there and I think we sailed as well as we could have and made the best out of what we had."
Monnin was keen to keep the momentum going for as long as racing was possible but accepted that the decision had to be made. He said: “We were ready to sail today but unfortunately this is how it goes and this is sailing, we have to accept it. It wasn’t a case of no wind, but in this case just really unstable wind. Even for us, and we are used to that in Switzerland. Definitely the most difficult job was the one of the Race Officer today. They were trying to make something out of what we had whilst we just had to sail.
“It wasn’t all bad and it made for some very special and good races which could have gone both ways but it was difficult to be relaxed when we didn’t know what was coming next.”
Adam Minoprio returned to winning ways in the day’s ‘first point wins’ fifth to eighth place playoff, beating both Australia's David Chapman and Bjorn Hansen to take fifth place in the event. Hansen recovered to beat Finland's Steffan Lindberg to take sixth place over the Finn, who finished the regatta in seventh above Chapman.
The Argo Group Gold Cup Semi Finals will finish tomorrow from 1000AM local time (GMT-3) and will be followed by the Final and Petit Final at 1400PM local time (GMT-3).
Argo Group Gold Cup, Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda – Semi Final:
Taylor Canfield (ISV) Canfield Racing vs. Eric Monnin (SUI) Okalys Corum 1-1
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team vs. Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 2-0
Argo Group Gold Cup, Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda – 5th to 8th Play-offs:
5. Adam Minoprio (NZL) Team Argo Group vs. David Chapman (AUS) Flying Wasp Racing 1-0
6. Adam Minoprio (NZL) Team Argo Group vs. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team 1-0
7. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team vs. Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team 1-0
8. Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team vs. David Chapman (AUS) Flying Wasp Racing 1-0