Cameron Dunn leads six unseeded teams into Gold Cup
After three days of classic match race sailing on Hamilton Harbour, six teams now qualify for round one of The Investors Guaranty presentation of the King Edward VII Gold Cup which begins Thursday with New Zealander Cameron Dunn at the top of the leader board after finishing the series with a score of 9-1.
During Monday’s final round robin, 20 knots of breeze and shifty conditions gave those teams that got off the starting line first and played the shifts the winning ticket. Certainly Dunn and his team seized every opportunity handed to them.
“We really just got better each day and that is the most important thing for us,” Dunn said. He is racing the Gold Cup with his Mascalzone Latino America’s Cup challenge teammates Michele Paoletti, Marco Constant and Matteo Auguadro.
“Today we got off the starting line and tried to go with the windshifts more than match race. Now, we are here to stay and want to win it. We want to go as far as we can. This is my third time qualifying to sail for the Gold Cup. I hope this third time is a charm.”
New Zealander Cameron Appleton, who sails under the Triangle Rigging of Bermuda flag with teammates Britt Jones, Peter Marington and Dee Smith, is a popular favorite here. He has demonstrated decisive sailing and after placing second in the round robin qualifiers is now closer to his goal of winning The King Edward VII Gold Cup.
“If we want to win the Gold Cup, we have to beat the best teams in the world so know what we are up against,” Appleton said. “This remains an event that I really enjoy coming to, and although the last three days have been very tough, we are happy with how we have sailed. We approached the day focusing on staying in front and staying in control.”
Polish sailor Karol Jablonski arrived late to the regatta because of passport issues but has made up for lost time to finish third qualifier. He is new to these classic International One Design keelboats but has quickly come to terms with them. Not only did he sail brilliantly in the light air breezes on Sunday, finishing top skipper that day and lost only to Cameron Dunn in the heavier winds on Monday.
“I prefer the light air but had a lot of assistance from my tactician John Cutler out there,” said Jablonski who sails with Cutler and fellow teammates Domingo Monnique of Spain, and American Hartwell Jordan in the Spanish America’s Cup challenge team Desafio Espanol.
“I have participated in this event a number of times,” added Cutler, who is a veteran New Zealand match-racing sailor. “I always say that Bermuda has very shifty conditions and it is always important to get good starts and sail where the pressure is coming from.”
American Bill Hardesty and his team from San Diego, California finished in fourth place and are pleased that he will continue to the qualifying rounds.
“We were really playing the shifts as best we could,” Hardesty said. “We are ready to go as far as we can in this event. I think we can do it this time.”
In fifth and sixth place are Takumi Nakamura of Japan and Eric Monnin of Switzerland. Monnin recovered well from a less than stellar day on Sunday to finish in sixth place while Nakamura consistently sailed with good boat speed.
“We were very careful to keep our boat speed up the entire time,” said Takumi Nakamura whose team includes Tetsuya Sasaki, Norio Igei, and Yasuhiro Okamoto.
Among those to miss the cut was Bermuda’s Alec Cutler who sailed a consistent and steady regatta and finished on the losing end of a three-way tie for sixth place.
“Match racing is difficult but this event gives great exposure for Bermuda,” said crew member Adam Barboza. “We are on the world circuit of match racing and we are recognized as one of the oldest sailing nations in the world. The people competing here are the Tiger Woods of sailing and you can’t get any better than this.”
Ian Ainslie and his team from South Africa who finished in seventh place is new to match racing have just taken the helm of his Country’s America’s Cup challenger Team Shosholoza a steep learning curve, which makes it challenging.
“We are on a steep learning curve but felt each day that we were getting closer to the good ones,” Ainslie said.
This grade 3 round robin qualifying series had determined the top six teams that, along with the winner and runner-up of the Virtual Spectator ISAF women’s Match Racing World Championship, enter the Gold Cup on Thursday. They will sail against the world’s best ‘open’ match race sailors to ultimately decide the winner of The King Edward VII Gold Cup and a share of the $100,000 prize purse.