Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ed Baird leads after first day of Bermuda Gold Cup

[Source: World Match Racing Tour] In a classic Bermuda day resplendent with sunshine and a westerly wind around 15 knots, the 59th annual King Edward VII Gold Cup got underway today with three flights in all three round robin groups. The 21 teams have been split into three groups of seven for the initial round robin racing.

America’s Cup-winning helmsman Ed Baird of the U.S. is the only skipper to go 3-0 on the day and leads Group A. He’s closely followed by the event’s reigning champion Ian Williams of the U.K., who’s at 2-0.

In Group B there’s a three-way tie between Johnie Berntsson of Sweden, Staffan Lindberg of Finland and Mathieu Richard of France, each at 2-0.

Group C is led by Paolo Cian of Italy and Daniel Glomb of Brazil, both with 2-0 records.

The top two finishers in each group at the end of the round robin advance to the Quarterfinal Round while the third- and fourth-place finishers advance to a Repechage Round.

Baird, who helmed Alinghi to victory in the 32nd America’s Cup in July, is the only skipper at 3-0 because he’s the only leader who hasn’t had a bye. Each team receives one bye in round robin racing.

“It’s the first time I’ve stepped on a boat since the Cup,” said Baird, of St. Petersburg, Fla. “It’s also the first time the four of us have sailed a match race regatta together. We’re just trying to sort it out as we go along.” Baird is sailing with Alinghi teammates Rodney Ardern, Lorenzo Mazza and Piet Van Nieuwenhuyzen, who all sailed the Cup.

Ed Baird leads the Bermuda Gold Cup. Hamilton, 9 October 2007. Photo copyright Bermuda Gold Cup/Charles Anderson

“It was a vintage Bermuda day,” said Williams, the skipper of Team Pindar. “It was lovely wind, lovely sun and good for us because we got two wins.”

Lindberg, sailing in his sixth consecutive Gold Cup, is one of three tied for the lead in Group B.

“We started well and did well on the racecourse,” said the tall Finn who is ranked No. 5 in the world. “We had good communication on the boat and good crew work on the racecourse. We’re looking forward to tomorrow.”

Cian is tied with Glomb for the lead in Group C.

“Our team is working very well,” said the Italian who helmed South Africa’s Team Shosholoza in the Louis Vuitton Cup last May.

Local heroes Glenn Astwood and Blythe Walker also fared well on Day 1. Walker, who placed third overall last year, is third in Group A with a 2-1 record, which is identical to the spot and record Astwood holds in Group C.

Walker might’ve been at 3-0 tonight if not for a penalty he incurred in his Flight 2 match against Ian Williams, the event’s defending champion. Walker was able to pull even with Williams on the final run, but then got penalized for taking his competitor past the layline to the finish.

Astwood, however, moved to 2-1 after overcoming Brian Angel of the U.S. in their Flight 3 match. Trailing on the second upwind leg, Astwood initiated a tacking duel that eventually allowed him to get to the right of Angel where he found more wind.

“When I’m behind I love to start a tacking duel, so that’s what I did,” said Astwood, who won the Bermuda National Match Racing Championship in August.

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