The Argo Group Gold Cup will welcome all nine of the World Match Racing Tour Card Holders into the competition which is set to take place from October 4-9 at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, though they may not all race each other in the event.
Jesper Radich and Ben Ainslie battle downwind in the finals of the 2010 Argo Group Gold Cup
The unique 24-team format divides the skippers into three eight-team groups for the qualifying sessions which knock sixteen skippers out early in the week. Some of the Card Holders may lose in the early rounds to eager young skippers hungry for Tour cards in the future. Bermuda’s Gold Cup competition is fierce from the start.
Bermuda’s Argo Group Gold Cup is the penultimate event on the Tour. Championship points gained here will be critical going into the Monsoon Cup, the Tour finale in December. At the top of the skipper’s list in Bermuda, leading the Tour after five events, is Francesco Bruni (Bruni Racing) from Italy. He leads the Tour today with 81 points and is second in the ISAF Match Race Open rankings.
'This will be my first time in Bermuda,' Bruni commented, 'and it is my first time to sail in the Gold Cup boats, the International One Design. I'm very excited to race in Bermuda for the first time.'
'We know it is going to be very hard to compete against our opponents' [five of the 2011 skippers have won the King Edward VII Gold Cup before], Bruni added. 'Everything will be new for us; but at the same time, I usually like slow and heavy boats. I hope to get a good feeling with the IODs very quickly.'
Peter Gilmour (AUS) of Yanmar Racing now stands second on the WMRT leaderboard. He took the Gold Cup three times— in 1995, 1997 and for the last time in 2003. The last time he was in the Bermuda event was in 2009. He had a tough time that year with penalties and was knocked out in the early rounds. Gilmour will be a tough competitor in 2011, as always.
Ian Williams (GBR), Team GAC Pindar, is now third on the Tour and hopes to redeem himself in Bermuda after missing the cut in the Repechage Round in 2010. Williams is hot this year with two firsts and a third in the last three WMRT events. He will be a force to be reckoned with in the final three events of the year. Experience counts in Bermuda, and Williams has that on his side. He won the Gold Cup in 2006. Williams is now first in the ISAF Match Race Open rankings.
Other Tour Card Holders on the Bermuda list with their names already on the Gold Cup are Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team who won in 2008, Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team who won in 2007, and Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners who won back in 2002 and then was runner-up in 2010.
Rounding out the group of nine WMRT Card Holders signed up for 2011 are Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team (winner of Match Race France 2011), Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat and Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing.
The Tour Card Holders are joined by some top level ISAF ranked match racers: Bjorn Hanson (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team who won the 2011 Korea Match Cup, Taylor Canfield (ISV) Team ISV, Ruben Corbett (NZL) Black Sheep Racing, Simone Ferrarese (ITA) Farrarese Racing Team, Staffan Lindburg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team, Eric Monnin (SUI) Swiss Match Race Team, Jacub Pawluk (POL) Sailing Poland, Laurie Jury (NZL) Kiwi-Match Sailing, Terry McLughlin (CAN) McLaughlin Racing, Keith Swinton (AUS) Swinton Racing and William Tiller (NZL) Full Metal Jacket Racing. The list includes 15 of the top 25 ISAF ranked skippers.
Three additional slots will be filled by skippers who receive automatic invitations by winning one of the qualifiers… the Bermuda National Match Race Championship, the Knickerbocker Cup and the Detroit Cup. If any of the winners of these events has already accepted a Bermuda invitation, the organizers will select a team from the waiting list.
In addition to Argo Group, key sponsors include The Bermuda Department of Tourism as Official Host, Aon Benfield as Presenting Sponsor, and Renaissance Re and Bacardi as Primary Sponsors. Trott & Duncan and XL are Contributing Sponsors. Renaissance Re will once again sponsor the Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup, an invitational International Optimist Dinghy youth regatta sailed in Bermuda’s Great Sound and Hamilton Harbour.
Argo Group Gold Cup website