The Swedish Match Tour’s Bermuda Gold Cup starts tomorrow morning in Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda

With the conclusion of the inaugural Bermuda International Women’s Match Racing Championship and the completion of the seeded skippers practice round of racing, the Swedish Match Tour’s Bermuda Gold Cup, the 54th running of the world’s premier match racing regatta is ready to get underway tomorrow morning.

At the Seeded Skipper Press Conference, the topic on the minds of the eight international helmsman gathered was very much focused on the task at hand as well as the 33-foot International One Design (IOD) yachts used in competition and the fact that seven of the eight seeded skippers at this year’s edition of this famed regatta hail from Scandinavia.

Headlining the seeded roster is Denmark’s Jes Gram-Hansen, skipper of Team Victory Lane. Gram-Hansen is coming to the Bermuda Gold Cup for the fourth time, but unlike in the past, he arrives as a favourite due to his place atop the Swedish Match Tour Rankings and in the wake of his win at August’s Danish Open 2002.

‘It’s been a great year for the whole team and we’ve really looked forward to returning to Bermuda,’ said Gram-Hansen. ‘The conditions here are tricky and the boats are challenging, but we always have great fun and the hospitality is outstanding.’

When asked about the large Scandinavian contingent at the front of the tent, Sweden’s Bjorn Hansen, skipper of Team GOL Sailing and one of the driving forces behind the match race center in Stockholm, didn’t hesitate to attribute it to the concerted effort of the yacht clubs in Scandinavia to grow the sport.

‘The match race centers in Skoveshoved, Denmark and in Stockholm, Sundsall and Gothenburg, Sweden, have all done so much to grow the sport,’ said Hansen. ‘By managing a fleet of boats the centers are able to keep costs down and open the sport to people who don?t own their own boats as well as expose children to match racing early, so they are able to train the next generation of match racers at a young age.’

Tomorrow morning at 9am the talking will be done and the crews will take to the water for Round 1 of the Bermuda Gold Cup. The first-to-three-wins format will feature the following match ups:

Jes Gram-Hansen (SWE/Team Victory Lane) v. Mason Woodworth (USA)

Lars Nordjbaerg (DEN/Team Nordbjaerg) v. Paula Lewin (BER/Team Ace Group)

Mikael Lindqvist (Sweden) v. Andy Horton (USA)

Bjorn Hansen (SWE/Team GOL Sailing) v. Peter Bromby (BER/Team Ace Group)

Jesper Radich (DEN/Team Radich) v. Tucker Thompson (USA/Team T2 Productions)

Staffan Lindberg (FIN/Team Musto) v. Glenn Astwood (BER/Team Bacardi)

Mattias Rahm (SWE/Team Stena Bulk) v. Marie Bjorling (SWE/Team Goteborg Energi)

Karol Jablonski (POL/Team MK Café) v. Chris Law (GBR/The Outlaws)

Following Round 1, there will be a lay day on Thursday with the Colorcraft Pro-Am regatta, to be followed by the quarterfinals on Friday.