The stakes are high at the 2012 Argo Group Gold Cup with twenty teams from around the world spending Monday training on Hamilton Harbour before competing in a gruelling round robin of qualifying matches that start Tuesday morning. Racing ends with the Argo Group Gold Cup finals on Sunday, Oct. 7. It’s the seventh stage of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour.
Williams and Minoprio in action at the 2010 Argo Group Gold Cup.
This year’s Argo Group Gold Cup features 20 teams – with familiar names like former King Edward VII Gold Cup Champions Johnie Berntsson of Sweden (ISAF ranking No.6) and Ian Williams of the UK (ISAF ranking No.1 and Tour No.1) heading the field along with ISAF and Tour No.2 ranked Bjorn Hansen. Will Tiller (NZL) is coming on strong from his second place in Match Race France and may indeed be a spoiler for the Tour leaders.
Yet, the Argo Group Gold Cup – which is the penultimate event on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour – has also always been about opportunity for challenging the field and raising the bar. For those teams who receive an invitation to sail here, this event is a platform for competitors to launch or re-launch their match racing careers.
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) defeated Adam Minoprio (NZL) in the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club's King Edward VII Gold Cup presented by Argo Group in 2008. Stage 8 of the World Match Racing Tour. Credit Talbot Wilson - 2012 Argo Group Gold Cup
For Kiwi Adam Minoprio, who has returned after competing in and finishing second in the round the world Volvo Ocean Race earlier this summer, getting back to match racing is something he is really looking forward to. Minoprio was World Match Racing Tour champion in 2010, and has finished the Gold Cup in second place in 2008 and 2009 and reached the quarter finals in 2010. Minoprio is now ranked 552 by ISAF (formerly ranked No. 1) but as a professional sailor with classic match racing training and execution, his will be one of the teams to watch.
'This is only the third day of match racing I have done this season so it is going to be fun to be out there,' Minoprio said.
When asked what the major difference was between sailing here on Hamilton Harbour and in the Southern Ocean during the Volvo Ocean Race, Minoprio joked that, 'there is food and something to eat here in Bermuda.' However, Minoprio is also keen to meet this challenging field and said that 'we have come in second here on two occasions, it would be nice to come in first.'
For Dutch skipper Jurjen Feitsma, (ISAF ranking no. 28), this will mark his debut at the Argo Group Gold Cup and his first time racing on the classic meter-style IOD sloops. After today’s training, Feitsma said, 'the biggest challenge I see with the boats is getting up to speed and choosing your moments at the start. The start will be very important.'
Feitsma added that he feels it is both an honor and an opportunity to be invited to the King Edward VII Argo Group Gold Cup. 'I think this is an opportunity to raise our level of sailing and compete against the world’s best. I also really like the social aspect of it here, staying with families and getting to know people that way.'
'What is great too,' he added, 'is that you can have a drink with your opponent at the bar and have a war on the water. We are really looking forward to this week whatever happens. One thing I can say about being in Bermuda is win or lose it is a really nice place to be.'
Ian williams and Ben Ainslie approach the weather mark as Minoprio and Hansen head downwind in the 2010 Argo Group Gold Cup. ©Talbot Wilson- Argo Group Gold Cup - 2012 Argo Group Gold Cup
Team GAC Pindar including (L-R) Mal Parker, Bill Hardesty, skipper Ian Williams, and Gerry Mitchell is currently tops on the Tour. Williams is the top seed in the Argo Group Gold Cup 2012 with racing Oct. 2-7 in Hamilton, Bermuda. Stage 7 of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour.©Talbot Wilson - 2012 Argo Group Gold Cup
Argo Group Gold Cup website