For Bermuda’s 2014 Argo Group Gold Cup the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and Argo Group issued 17 initial invitations. All of the 8 Alpari World Match Racing Tour (Alpari WMRT) Card Holders have told Alpari Tour management that they will sail in Bermuda. Match racing for the King Edward XVII Gold Cup Trophy is scheduled to start Tuesday October 21st on Hamilton Harbour in Bermuda. The finals are scheduled for Sunday October 26th.
Invitations were sent to the top 12 skippers in the current ISAF Open Match Race rankings. This includes the 8 Alpari WMRT Cardholders and 4 others who round out the ISAF leaders group. In addition, invitations went to 3 previous Gold Cup winners from the current America’s Cup rosters and another America’s Cup skipper who has yet to win the Gold Cup.
Francesco Bruni, (ITA) Luna Rossa Challenge, will be back to defend his 2013 title. Bruni who had been tactician with the Italian America’s Cup team won 17 out of 20 races to put his name on the King Edward VII Gold Cup with other America’s Cup notables— Russell Coutts, Chris Dickson, John Kolius, Peter Gilmour, Rod Davis, James Spithill and Sir Ben Ainslie. Bruni would also like to take home the winner’s $50,000 share of the $100,000 prize purse.
When asked if he would feel more pressure this year as defending champion Bruni replied, 'Every race is an event unto itself. A good result gives you the awareness that the team is going in the right direction, but the commitment and the determination with which you face a race does not change based on a win or a loss. We are always focused before an important event and we definitely want to repeat last year's result. Needless to say, excessive pressure is never a good friend.'
Bruni had raced in Bermuda’s Gold Cup once before, in 2011, when he reached the semi-finals. In 2013 he came straight from sailing in a 72 foot AC34 foiling cat and in 2014 he will come from training with the Luna Rossa Challenge for AC35.
'The basics of the match race remain the same,' Bruni said, 'whether you are racing on a monohull or a catamaran. For sure, there is a huge difference when you go from the AC72 to the IOD: in San Francisco it was the pure speed to make the difference; in the World Tour the aggressiveness in the pre-start and good tactics are what determine the difference between victory and defeat.'
'The Alpari World Match Racing Tour is one of the most selective international competitions, he noted. 'Each team is a potential winner and you compete on equal terms, which makes it the best field to measure ourselves in a real race.'
Asked to recall his best and worst moments in 2013 he said, 'My best memory of the Argo Group Gold Cup and Bermuda was last year’s victory with Luna Rossa, especially so because I wasn’t expecting things to go so well. The guys who were there with me did a great job and we beat Ben Ainslie in every start of the tough 3-2 final. I think we deserved the win. The worst memory of Bermuda was when I take the flight back home.'
Taylor Canfield (USVI) the 2013 Tour winner and ISAF World Champion and winner of the Gold Cup in 2012 will also be back in the chase for his second Gold Cup title.
Commenting on the Bermuda experience Canfield said, 'The Argo Gold Cup is a classic event on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. It allows younger up and coming teams to get a taste of the Tour and a chance to compete against the best match race teams in the world.'
'Having sailed in 3 Argo Gold Cup's as a non Tour Card Holder and one as a regular on the Tour, we are really looking forward to coming back again. While the IODs are quite unique compared to boats sailed in any other venue, the variety of sailing conditions and beautiful weather make this event one of the best in the world. There is an incredible line up on the tour this year, and it is an honor to sail against the best.'
The RBYC sent automatic invitations to the 8 Alpari World Match Racing Tour Card Holders and 9 more invitations went to top sailors in the ISAF Match Race ‘Open’ Rankings, to some past participants in the Gold Cup and to skippers with top match racing records over years on the match racing scene. Two more entries, unless they have already accepted from an invitation, automatically come from winners of qualifying events - the Knickerbocker Cup and the Bermuda National Match Race Championship.
The 2014 event will be sailed with the same 20-team format used for the first time in 2013. This Argo Group Gold Cup format is unique on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. It now allows for two 10-team groups. Skippers in each group are ranked and divided by Alpari World Match Racing Tour officials and the organizers at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
Rankings in the groups are based on international AWMRT and ISAF rankings and other performance factors. Each group will sail a round robin with their top four teams moving directly to the quarterfinals.
Alpari World Match Racing Tour Card Holders for 2014 include Francesco Bruni (ITA) Luna Rossa Challenge, Bjorn Hansen (SWE) eWork Sailing Team, Taylor Canfield (USVI) US One Sailing Team, David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour, Mathieu Richard (FRA) Luna Jets, Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing Team, Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing, Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar.