The penultimate event of the World Match Racing Tour kicks off tomorrow with ISAF Match Racing World Champion, Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar squaring off against the local hero Blythe Walker (BER) Team RenRe.
Walker who’s returning for the first time in three years will open the 67th annual Argo Group Gold Cup with his crew of Adam Barboza, Somers Kempe, Will Thompson.
The quirkiness of the International One-Design (IOD) sloop used in the Argo Group Gold Cup can make a famous crew look average very quickly, and that aphorism will be put to the test first thing tomorrow.
“We’re a little rusty, we have to shake the cob webs out,” said Walker, who placed third in 2006. “For guys like me this is a great opportunity to do match racing at a level we don’t get on a regular basis here in Bermuda. We’re happy about the opportunity to compete against the world’s best.”
“We’ve had a strong year but really haven’t hit our straps yet,” said Williams, the five-time world match racing champion. “We’re hoping to hit the ground running and get a good result.”
The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club hosts the Argo Group Gold Cup annually. At stake is the prestigious King Edward VII Gold Cup trophy that was first awarded in 1907 and $100,000 in prize money, with $35,000 earmarked for the winner. It also is the penultimate event of the World Match Racing Tour, giving skippers one final chance to secure their invitation to the season-concluding Monsoon Cup.
The weather on the destination island in the Atlantic Ocean has returned to idyllic now that Hurricane Joaquin has passed. The Bermuda Weather Service is forecasting southwesterly winds of moderate strength tomorrow and the rest of the week looks good as well.
Group one features Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar followed by Denmark’s Joachim Aschenbrenner of Aschenbrenner Racing, the runner-up at the recent ISAF Youth Match Racing World Championship, world number three and last year’s runner up Eric Monnin (SUI) Team Sailbox, Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing, the two-time reigning event champion Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team, Chris Poole (USA) Riptide Racing, America’s Cup skipper Dean Barker of SoftBank Team Japan Dean Barker and Blythe Walker (BER) Team RenRe.
The eight crews in Group one are slated to sail the first four flights of their qualifying before giving way to Group two in the afternoon.
The seedings in Group two is 12-time entrant Björn Hansen (SWE) Naustika Racing. The group also includes world number two and former World Match Racing Tour champion Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One, Reuben Corbett (NZL) Corbett Racing and his compatriot Chris Steele (NZL) 36 Below Racing, Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing, Nicolai Sehested (DEN) TreFor Match Racing, Francesco Bruni of America’s Cup team Artemis Racing, and the return of 2009 World Match Racing Tour champion Adam Minoprio (NZL) BlackMatch.
The qualifying are expected to be completed by the end of Thursday at which point the top three teams in each group will advance to Friday’s Quarter-Finals round. The crews finishing fourth through seventh in each group will sail a repechage with the top two teams advancing to the Quarter-Finals. Racing in the Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Final are each first-to-three points.
Qualifying for Group one is scheduled to begin tomorrow at 0900hrs and for Group two is expected begin racing tomorrow afternoon at approximately 12:30 pm, depending on the completion of Group one.
World Championship Event – Argo Group Gold Cup 2015 Entry List
1. Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar
2. Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) Aschenbrenner Racing
3. Eric Monnin (SUI) Team SailBox
4. Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing
5. Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
6. Chris Poole (USA) Riptide Racing
7. Dean Barker (NZL) SoftBank Team Japan
8. Blythe Walker (BER) Team RenRe
1. Björn Hansen (SWE) Nautiska Racing
2. Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One
3. Reuben Corbett (NZL) Corbett Racing
4. Chris Steele (NZL) 36 Below Racing
5. Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing
6. Nicolai Sehested (DEN) Trefor Match Racing
7. Francesco Bruni (ITA) Artemis Racing
8. Adam Minoprio (NZL) BlackMatch