The first racing day of the Renaissance Reinsurance Junior Gold Cup saw exciting action yesterday in Bermuda

The first racing day of the Renaissance Reinsurance Junior Gold Cup saw exciting action as the two scheduled races were sailed in an afternoon of stiff breezes that sent the Investors Guarantee King Edward VIIth Gold Cup racers back to the RBYC marina yesterday. The Optimists were not unscathed as Bermudian Mackenzie Cooper (son of past RBYC Commodore Somers Cooper) broke his tiller extension in the first race and had to retire.

The course was a large triangle with the marks ‘maxed’ out for this enclosed and shifty water. International sailors held the top five places at the end of the two races. Niclas Wallin of Sweden (5 pts.) holds a slim lead over Jas Farneti of Italy (6 pts.). Other positions are close as Jas prevails over Great Britain’s deBoltz only as a result of Jas having a first place finish. Vincent Berthez of France, Frankie Lardies of New Zealand and Bermuda’s first sailor Ryan Saraiva are close at 9, 10 and 10 points. Frankie unfortunately hit the pin end of the finish line in the second race: without that he might well be in the lead.

The defending champion, Bermuda’s Oliver Riihiluoma holds a slim lead over Netherland’s Jochem-Bart Haakman at 15 points each. Bermuda’s top female sailor Eleanor Gardner and Finland’s Teemu Rantanen similarly share 20 points in the next two positions. USA’s Mike Russom recovered from a difficult first race to come back to 12th position. Australia’s Nicholas McPharlin struggled in 28th place as a result of the high winds.

The visiting sailors are selected as ‘deserving sailors’ by their class associations to come to Bermuda as guests of Renaissance Re. The efforts of parents and volunteers led by Judith Gardner made the rest happen. The countries of the sailors are selected to match the seeded skippers in the Gold Cup.

In the previous days the Optimist sailors have enjoyed workshops, coaching and white board talks with Gold Cup skippers including Mason Woodworth and Russell Coutts. They have had front row seats at the Gold Cup trials and have had some time off to enjoy the pleasures of Bermuda as a world class tourist destination.

The forecast is for high winds through Sunday.