The first day of the 2011 Argo Group Gold Cup saw Bermuda’s top match racer Blythe Walker (BER) and Team RenRe fall to Jesper Radich (DEN) and Adrian Lee & Partners on a day when rain and shipping movements blotted out much of the programme.
In that opening match, both Walker and Radich were over the line when the start gun fired, and had to turn back to re-start. Radich made a clean dip and Walker thought he had also, but as the local team headed towards the windward mark, they were recalled again when Principal Race Officer David Campbell-James ruled he had not cleared the line correctly.
That mistake, and Walker's attempt to split downwind on a long-shot flyer that didn’t pay, handed the match to Radich. Jesper won the Gold Cup in 2002 and was runner up in 2010 - his return year to the match racing circuit.
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing got an early penalty in Match 2 against Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team. He tried to wipe it off near the committee boat, by pushing Lindberg into a penalty move, but was unable to make it stick. Lindberg went on to win the match in the only race of the day with any drama.
In the other two matches in Flight 1, Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team handily defeated young Jordon Reece who came to Bermuda through the Detroit Cup qualfier event. Franchesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing defeated Jakob Pawluk (POL) Henri Lloyd Racing, another young match racer earning his stripes in the 24-team Bermuda match race series.
Racing was initially delayed as a weather front brought a downpour and strong shifting winds to the harbour. Two cargo ships then passed through and the Race committee waited for a cruise ship that then decided to anchor out. By then the wind had died for the day and the remaining flights for Group 1 and all those in Group 2 and 3 were postponed until Wednesday or Thursday.
Bermudian Adam Barboza, main trimmer for Blythe Walker, summed up the conditions best, saying, 'The only good thing about the morning was that the rain filled the Walker’s swimming pool!'
Winds are expected to improve through the week. Steady breezes of 8-12 kts are predicted for Wednesday and Thursday and up to 22 kts on Friday. Organizers expect to make up for lost time in the next few days.
Racing starts daily at 09:00 ADT. These initial qualifying rounds decide two automatic qualifiers from each group who move into the quarter-finals. Then third and fourth places in each group enter another six-boat Repecharge round-robin Thursday, to select the final two for the quarter final slots.
Argo Group Gold Cup website
World Match Racing Tour website