Sandwiched between the final throws of Hurricane Joaquin and the start of the ACWS event in Bermuda 16-18 October, one of the island’s best known and longest running events starts today as the Argo Group Gold Cup gets underway.
If you thought that the lure of high performance foiling 45ft cats would render an event that is held in classic IOD’s irrelevant for teams’ path to the America’s Cup, a glance down the crew lists suggests otherwise.
Among those competing in the match racing event are two Cup teams. One is Artemis Racing with a full Cup crew that includes Francesco Bruni, Christian Kamp, Luke Parkinson and Iain Percy. The second is Dean Barker’s Soft Bank Team Japan where he is joined by his Cup crew, Chris Draper, Jeremy Lomas and Kazuhiko Sofuku.
Meanwhile, Great Britain is represented by a man who has been the World Match Racing Tour champion five times and continues to be at the top of his game, Iain Williams. In the first of the matches today he faces an opponent one who’s returning for the first time in three years, Bermudian ace Blythe Walker.
“We’ve had a strong year but really haven’t hit our straps yet,” said Williams. We’re hoping to hit the ground running and get a good result.”
His opponent Walker was also keen to under play the opening event.
“We’re a little rusty, have to shake the cob webs out,” he said.
Walker had finished 3rd in 2006. “For guys like me this is a great opportunity to do match racing at a level we don’t get on a regular basis here in Bermuda. We’re happy about the opportunity to compete against the world’s best.”
The Argo Group Gold Cup is hosted by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. At stake is the prestigious King Edward VII Gold Cup trophy that was first awarded in 1907 and $100,000 in prize money, with $35,000 earmarked for the winner. It also is the penultimate event of the World Match Racing Tour, giving skippers one final chance to secure their invitation to the season-concluding Monsoon Cup.
The round robins are expected to be completed by the end of Thursday at which point the top three teams in each group will advance to Friday’s quarterfinal round. The crews finishing fourth through seventh in each group will sail a round robin repechage with the top two crews advancing to the quarterfinals. Racing in the quarterfinals, semifinals and final are each first-to-three points.
ARGO GROUP GOLD CUP GROUP SEEDINGS AND CREW LIST
- Ian Williams (GBR), Crew: Chris Main, Gerry Mitchell, Mal Parker
- Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN), Jeppe Ditlev, Jonas Funk, Hans Christian Wegge
- Eric Monnin (SUI), Simon Brugger, Jean-Claude Monnin, Marc Monnin, Mathieu Richard
- Phil Robertson (NZL), Sylvain Barielle, Sam Bell, Luke Payne
- Johnie Berntsson (SWE), Jakob Gustavson, Robert Skarp, Carl Uckelstam
- Chris Poole (USA), Sam Barron-Fox, John Colburn, Chris Kennedy
- Dean Barker (JPN), Chris Draper, Jeremy Lomas, Kazuhiko Sofuku
- Blythe Walker (BER), Adam Barboza, Somers Kempe, Will Thompson
- Björn Hansen (SWE), Massimo Bortoletto, Mathias Bredin, Phillip Kai Guhle
- Taylor Canfield (ISV), Garth Ellingham, Hayden Goodrick, Mike Rehe
- Reuben Corbett (NZL), Tom Dawson, Jay Halligan, Robert Nyberg
- Chris Steele (NZL), Stewart Dodson, Adam Negri, Justin Wong
- Keith Swinton (AUS), Ted Hackney, Henry Kernot, Björn Lundgren
- Nicolai Sehested (DEN), Brad Farrand, Jonas Hviid, Peter Wibroe
- Francesco Bruni (SWE), Christian Kamp, Luke Parkinson, Iain Percy
- Adam Minoprio (NZL), Nick Blackman, Andrew Burgess, Tom Powrie