Thursday, October 08, 2009

Ainslie, Richard and Williams lead the charge at Bermuda Gold Cup

[Source: World Match Racing Tour] British Olympic Gold medal winner Ben Ainslie was first out of the box in the first match of flight 2 for Group 2 at the Argo Group Gold Cup Wednesday morning. He took the win from Bermuda’s Olympian Paula Lewin-Crews. Ainslie went on to win three matches today. With another first in Tuesday’s dying breeze, he stands at the top of Group 2 with 4-0, four wins and no losses.

Following Ainslie in Group 2 with 3-1 records are Adam Minoprio (NZL), Seb Col (FRA), and Bjorn Hansen. Dave Perry (USA) is 2-2, Alvaro Marinho (POR) stands 1-3 while Rasmus Viltoft (DEN) and Paula Lewin Crews (BER) are winless at 0-4.

Video highlights from the 2nd day of the Bermuda Gold Cup. Bermuda, 7 October 2009. Video copyright World Match Racing Tour

Group 3 took to the water after the 4th flight for Group 2 and also completed four flights after a slight pause to allow a powerful wind and rain squall to pass. They raced the two pre-squall with jib and main only, but the rainstorm dampened the wind enough to allow the boats to sail with spinnakers. Group 2 and 3 will complete their round robin on Thursday, weather permitting.

Former Bermuda Gold Cup champion Mathieu Richard was in perfect form taking all four of his matches today to stand 4-0 going into the group’s last three flights scheduled to be completed along with Group 3’s final three on Thursday. Last year’s champion Johnie Berntsson lost one match today to Chicago, Illinois skipper Don Wilson and is tied for second in the group with three time Gold Cup champ and past World Tour champion Peter Gilmour (AUS) at 3-1. Gilmour lost his Flight 3 race to Phil Robertson (NZL).

Team Origin storms ahead. Bermuda, 7 October 2009. Photo copyright Bermuda Gold Cup Charles Anderson

Group 1 then returned to the water late in the afternoon and after several breakdowns were repaired the racing was about to get underway in 22 knots of wind when Eric Monnin (SUI) and Torvar Mirsky (AUS), undefeated on Tuesday, tangled rigs. The jumper struts on Mirsky’s rig were damaged and he could not sail so he returned to the Royal Bermuda YC. His Match 1 Flight 5 with Keith Swinton will be sailed Thursday.

In Group 1, Flight 5 Match 2, between Ian Evans (USA) and Eric Monnin, Evans got a black flag for too many outstanding penalties and the win went to Monnin.

Then in match 3 reigning World Tour Champion Ian Williams (GBR) and Damian Iehl (FRA) had a battle down to wire. Iehl was ahead but had to make a penalty turn before finishing. He made the turn but came out on port and did not keep clear of Williams. He was penalized again and the win went to Williams.

Williams’ next match was short lived after Keith Swinton (AUS) broke his boom at the vang fitting doing a gybe during the pre-start. With Swinton unable to start the umpires black flagged him handing the win to Williams. Williams then went on to defeat Torvar Mirsky in the final match of the day and leads Group 1 with six wins.

The other matches in that flight turned into survival tests with the boats taking one death roll after another coming downwind in blustery 25 knot gusts. Damian Iehl gave Torvor Mirsky his first defeat of the competition, and taking one final roll right at the finish, Rueben Corbett (NZL) defeated Ian Evans.

It was a testing day for the crews and their boats. Bermuda, 7 October 2009. Photo copyright Bermuda Gold Cup Charles Anderson

Match racing action in the Argo Group Gold Cup, Stage 8 of the World Match Racing Tour, continued Wednesday with the one-hour early 7:00AM skippers meeting and the 8:00AM first warning for Flight 2 for Group 2. With the sun barely up in Bermuda, in a breeze that built all morning with gusts in the low twenties, spinnakers were only used for the first flight of the day. Group 2 flights 3 and 4 were non-spinnaker matches.

Penalty flags flew everywhere just like the matches on Tuesday, every match in Group 2 Flight 2 garnered a penalty or two. In Group 3 racing later in the day there was even a collision between Don Wilson (USA) and an umpire boat, a collision between boats racing and rumors of a boat colliding with the harbour wall. Mattias Rahm was black flagged in Flight 1 of Group 3 against Phil Robertson (NZL), getting an immediate disqualification for three simultaneous penalties.

This was the second black flag DSQ in the 2009 Argo Group Gold Cup.
The third black flag came out in the Group 1, Flight 5 Match 2, between Ian Evans (USA) and Eric Monnin (SUI) with Monnin getting the automatic, instant win. The fourth black flag came out in the Group 1 Flight 6 Match 4, between Swinton and Williams with the win going Williams way.

Racing will get underway on Thursday at 9.00am weather permitting. The forecast is for 40 knots of wind to come through so there might be some waiting around before the action starts again.

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