The 2012 Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup is set to get underway on the 4th October and will bring sixteen international guest skippers— 13 are national champions— to compete against Bermuda’s top Opti sailors in what is truly a championship of champion’s event that showcases the world’s best young sailing talent.
2011 Renaissance Re Jr Gold Cup final race on the Argo Group Gold Cup Course on Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda.
Now celebrating its 10th year, this coveted regatta not only introduces Bermuda sailors to the world’s top young Optimist dinghy competitors, but it also gives young locals a chance to demonstrate their maturity both as equal competitors on the water and gracious hosts off the water.
The essence of the Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup is much more than three days of grueling racing on the Great Sound. It is on shore, too. There, the young sailors bond as lifelong friends while also gaining professional experience. They speak at a press conference, they sail the fourth and final day on Hamilton Harbour in front of a capacity crowd, they get advice from top coaches from the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and they meet their sailing heroes who are simultaneously racing in the Alpari World Match Racing Tour’s penultimate event – the Argo Group Gold Cup.
Additionally, the final race in the Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup sailed on the finals Sunday is always sailed close to shore in Hamilton Harbour. This is a spectator showcase for these young sailors. This year, to accommodate a live TV broadcast of the Argo Group Gold Cup, the Junior Gold Cup will be sailed just prior to the ‘senior’ Gold Cup finals, so the huge spectator fleet and crowds on shore really add to the excitement.
To honor the decade of support by Renaissance Reinsurance, Sunday’s Hamilton Harbour race will be sailed for the Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup 10th Anniversary Trophy. The winner of the overall Junior Gold Cup will be crowned on Sunday with their prize giving in the same venue at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club as the Argo Group Gold Cup winners. The special 10th Anniversary Trophy will be awarded to the winner of the Sunday Harbour Race.
The new Dick Kempe Trophy will go to the top Bermuda sailor in the whole Jr Gold Cup. This trophy has been donated by Mrs. Neil Kempe in memory of her late husband. Dick Kempe was a past commodore and long-time loyal RBYC member, a well respected International juror and a devoted sailor, father and grandfather who passed away in 2010.
Of the 16 foreign skippers, 11 attended the Worlds, 13 are either National Champion or female National Champion from their home country. While Opti sailors at this level of competition quickly reach a point where they are too old or too big to compete in the Junior Gold Cup, each year a few returning sailors get a chance to race here again. This year, the two-time NZL National Champion Leonard Takahashi-Fry is back and he is very keen to build on his performance of 10th place in the 2011 RenRe Junior Gold Cup. Canadian sailor Justin Vittecoq will be returning and new talent Emil Jarudd of Sweden will be among the ones to watch this year.
Additionally, six of this year’s foreign sailors went to the South American Championship in Argentina, often considered the most competitive regatta after the World Championship. Argentinian Tomas Di Luciano finished as second South American entrant and seventh overall and also won the prestigious Semana del Mar de Plata in Argentina in February as well as his National Championship. There will definitely be a lot of eyes on the young Argentinian this year particularly because of the impact his countrymen have had on this regatta in the past.
'The shifty and unpredictable conditions found here in Bermuda always seem to take sailors by surprise and it is anyone’s game again this year with any of these guest sailors being serious contenders and there could be a ‘sleeper’ in the group that surprises us all,' said regatta organizer Dede Cooper.
'The last time a sailor from Argentina was here in 2009, he won the regatta by 59 points over the next competitor winning nine of the 13 races sailed,' noted Cooper. 'Bermuda’s new high performance coach Martin Jenkins is also from Argentina, and he was a back to back Optimist World Champion in 1994 and 1995.'
On the Bermuda front, it would be hard not to see the Wollmann siblings as easy front-runners from the Bermuda squad. Last year, Mikey Wollmann thrilled the hometown crowd on the last day of racing on Hamilton Harbour, where he port tacked the entire Junior Gold Cup fleet in a technique he says he learned from his sister, Ceci.
'The two of them battled it out in Canada with Ceci winning the CORK regatta and Mikey winning the Canadian National Championships,' added Cooper. 'At the USODA National Championships Mikey finished 12th overall. Youngster Campbell Patton (11), son of current Bermuda Sailing Association President, sailed his first IODA event at the Europeans in July finishing a credible 94th and finished the Canadian Nationals in 11th.'
With both the local and international talent raising the bar each and every race, this year’s 10th anniversary will really be anyone’s race. And, whatever the outcome, watching youth sailors at the top of their game sail with heart and soul put on the line is always a huge and unique part of this event.
List of Foreign Entrants:
ARG Tomas Di Luciano
AUS Jaime Swavley (F)
BRA Pedro Zonta
CAN Justin Vittecoq
DEN Amanda Ammundsen (F)
DEN Kristian Praest
FIN Pietari Airakorpi
GBR Milo Gill-Taylor
IRL Douglas Elmes
ISV Paige Clark (F)
MEX Mauricio Rodriguez
NZL Leonard Takahashi-Fry
POL Adam Klogowski
SWE Emil Jarudd
SUI Damian Suri
USA Audrey Giblin (F)