by Dobbs Davis
Berntsson struggles to keep clear of Minoprio on the final day of King Edward VII Gold Cup
On yet another spectacular day of match race sailing on Hamilton Harbor, Johnie Berntsson (SWE) and his Berntsson Racing Team has defeated Adam Minoprio (NZL) and his Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch team in a decisive 3-1 Final for the prestigious King Edward VII Gold Cup presented by Argo Group.
This was only Berntsson’s second Tour event this year as a skipper, and for his efforts Berntsson and his team of Johan Backman, Bjorn Lundgren, and Daniel Wallberg have won the top $50,000 prize of the $100,000 total purse. The 101 year old trophy was presented by Sir Richard Gozney, the Governor of Bermuda.
'This was a fantastic event for us,' said Berntsson, 'because not only did I feel we sailed really well, but we also really had fun.' Winning must have certainly played a part in having fun, as Berntsson’s overall win-loss record of 15-3 in this long competition was indeed impressive: on his road to the Finals he led his group of eight skippers on a 6-1 Round Robin record into the Quarter-finals, then beat third-ranked Tour regular Mathieu Richard (FRA) and his French Match Racing Team/French Spirit 3-1. He then defeated fellow Swede Mattias Rahm and the Stena Bulk Sailing Team 3-0 in yesterday’s Semi-Finals before winning today 3-1 in the Finals.
'I’m only the guy holding the tiller, the credit goes to the guys on my team,' said a modest Berntsson. 'When I would put us into trouble, it was always my guys who got us out.'
Johnnie Berntsson and crew celebrate their win as the croos the finish line on the final day of King Edward VII Gold Cup
This trouble included having earned a pre-start penalty in Match Three of the Finals from umpires Sally Burnett (GBR) and Jan Stage (DEN) for not keeping clear of an aggressive Minoprio and his team at the start, but managed to get ahead off the start for an early lead in the match. Minoprio kept the race close, managing to challenge the Swedes for the lead at the second top mark rounding on the three-lap course. After a protracted dial-up well to windward of this mark, the pair broke off, Berntsson tacking to complete his penalty, but ceding the lead to the Kiwis downwind.
But Berntsson never gave up, chasing Minoprio around the track, splitting when the shifts were favorable, and managed to dig back to gain control once again at the top of the third and final beat. This time Berntsson held the lead and even managed to extend slightly to take the series to 2-1, and after having a slight edge off the start in the final match, the Swedes would simply extend and hold this lead all the way to the finish.
In Petite-Final action, Ben Ainslie (GBR) and his Team Origin held off an aggressive Rahm to win the first-to-three point series in three straight matches, using the same smooth style he’s displayed all week with excellent timing and calling of shifts with help from fellow Olympian Iain Percy.
Current World Match Racing Tour Leaderboard (top eight teams):
Johnnie Berntsson (left) is congratulated by Adam Minoprio after the final of King Edward VII Gold Cup
1. Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar, 98 points
2. Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, 92
3. Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team/ French Team Spirit, 87
4. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, 53
5. Magnus Holmberg (SWE) Victory Challenge, 51
6. Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza, 43
7. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Alandia Sailing Team, 40
8. Mattias Rahm (SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team, 34
For more information about the King Edward VII Gold Cup, presented by Argo Group, visit the event website at www.bermudagoldcup.com.
For more information about the World Match Racing Tour, visit the WMRT website at www.worldmatchracingtour.com.
Final day of King Edward VII Gold Cup