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Argo Group Gold Cup to challenge crews beginning today

by Royal Bermuda Yacht Club 8 May 2018 04:18 BST 8-12 May 2018
Swedish skipper Johnie Berntsson (right, in red shirt with cap) works hard to clear a windward mark during the 2015 Argo Group Gold Cup © Charles Anderson / RBYC

The 68th running of the $100,000 Argo Group Gold Cup commences today with round robin racing scheduled.

The matches in Flight 1 pit Poland's Marek Stanczyk against Australia's Sam Gilmour, Italy's Ettore Botticini against Women's World Match Racing Champion Lucy MacGregor of the U.K., Australia's Torvar Mirsky versus Sweden's Nicklas Dackhammar and Sweden's Johnie Berntsson against Chris Poole of the U.S.

Other skippers in the field include Joachim Aschenbrenner of Denmark, and Taylor Canfield and Charlie Lalumiere, both of the U.S. They'll take to the water in Flight 2.

The field of 11 crews will sail a round robin with the top four advancing to the Quarterfinal Round. The remaining skippers will sail a Repechage Round with the top four advancing to the Quarterfinals.

The Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Final are knockout rounds. The crews will be paired with the winner of the round robin choosing their opponent, followed by the next highest finisher from the round robin picking their opponent and so on. The winners of the Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Final will be the first to score 3 points. They're all vying for a shot at the $30,000 winner's check.

The weather for the week looks to be stunning. According to the Bermuda Weather Service the wind is forecast to blow from south or south/southeast between 10 and 18 knots through Friday, ideal conditions for Hamilton Harbour.

Updates will be posted regularly on the Argo Group Gold Cup Facebook page.

IOD's on the Loose

The return of the Argo Group Gold Cup reintroduces the legendary International One-Design (IOD) sloop to match racing. Designed in 1936 by Bjarne Aas, the 33-foot IOD weighs 7,100 pounds, has long overhangs on the bow and stern and a full keel with the rudder mounted on the trailing edge. The boats are classically beautiful and their momentum from the heavy displacement serves to level the playing field in Bermuda.

"The boats are old school. They're all about momentum," said Mirsky, who won the King Edward VII Gold Cup in 2010. "It's a challenge to play the match racing game with your momentum as well as keeping an eye on the wind shifts. But it makes it interesting. Those who understand it and follow carefully know there's a lot going on."

Berntsson, a two-time winner of the King Edward VII Gold Cup (2008, '14), is looking forward to getting back in the IOD. His ranking has dropped to No. 154 the past few years because he hasn't competed in many events, but he welcomed the return of the Gold Cup.

"It's great coming to Bermuda. We're so happy the Gold Cup is back on," said the 47-year-old Berntsson. "We practiced some yesterday and we also have some IODs at home in Stennungsund, Sweden. We haven't over trained but our time away has made us hungry to get back. We're very much looking forward to it."

The Return of Mirsky

The 31-year-old Mirsky from Perth, Western Australia, is the reigning world champion of open match race sailing. He won the title in his second year of sailing after a four-year hiatus. He took time off to complete his studies and found the break refreshing.

"I was out for four years and now I've been back for two," said Mirsky. "I wasn't old enough to get the jobs I wanted so I went back to school and completed a mechanical engineering degree. Having a few years more under my belt and having completed my degree I'm less panicked about finding results. I worked so hard to get the results that I wanted. I was in a huge rush before to conquer everything I could. I'm still hugely competitive, but I'm enjoying it all now more than before."

Youth Served

Italy's Botticini, 22 years old, holds the title of youngest skipper at the Argo Group Gold Cup. Botticini's CNVA Sailing Team started match racing in 2016 and in 2017 placed second overall in the Youth Match Racing World Championship. He and his team followed up that performance by placing second at the European Youth Match Racing Championship and won the Italian Youth Match Racing Championship.

Botticini comes into his first Argo Group Gold Cup as the World No. 7-ranked match racer. Botticini said he watched many videos from past Gold Cups to get an understanding of the racing and also sought advice from Italian legend Francesco Bruni, who won the King Edward VII Gold Cup in 2013.

"It has been our goal to get to an event such as the Argo Group Gold Cup and we are very happy to be here," said Botticini. "We met Bruni a few months ago and he gave us some advice. He said because the boats are so heavy that you have to keep your speed and be a little less aggressive in the pre-start. We are used to sailing big boats, such as 46-footers, so we are looking forward to it."

Botticini might be the youngest skipper in the fleet, but he's not the only first-time entrant. Lalumiere (23, New York, NY), Dackhammar (28, Sweden) and Gilmour (24, Perth, Western Australia) are also competing on Hamilton Harbour for the first time.

The Return of Gilmour(s)

There was a time in the 1990s and 2000s when Peter Gilmour, the America's Cup skipper from Perth, Western Australia, was a terror the Argo Group Gold Cup. He won the coveted trophy three times (1995, '97 and 2003) and placed runner-up on other occasions. While the titles added to his fame, he was infamous for the number of Y flags he flew seeking penalties on his opponents and some of the liberties he took with the boats.

Now, two of his progeny are on site and looking to continue the winning tradition.

Sam Gilmour brings his Team Neptune into the Gold Cup for the first time as the World No. 20-ranked match racer. He held the No. 1 ranking last year. Another Gilmour, Lachy, is the tactician for Mirsky's crew. He is the youngest Gilmour at 21 years of age.

If the two follow in their father's footsteps you can expect to see a lot of Y flags.

Argo Group Gold Cup Entry List (Subject to change):

  • Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN, World No. 38, 2nd Gold Cup appearance)
  • Crew: Ian Coleman, Will Mackenzie, Rob Scrivenor
  • Johnie Berntsson (SWE, World No. 154, Gold Cup champion 2008, '14, 9th Gold Cup appearance)
  • Crew: Oscar Angervall (trimmer), Bj√∂rn Lundgren (main trim), Robert Skarp (bow/tactics)
  • Ettore Botticini (ITA, World No. 7, 1st Gold Cup appearance)
  • Crew: Simone Busonero, Andrea Fornaro, Lorenzo Gennari
  • Taylor Canfield (USA, World No. 6, Gold Cup champion 2012, 6th Gold Cup appearance)
  • Crew: Mike Buckley, George Peet, Eric Shampain
  • Nicklas Dackhammar (SWE, World No. 17, 1st Gold Cup appearance)
  • Crew: Olof Lundgren, Eric Malmberg, Jakob Wilson
  • Sam Gilmour (AUS, World No. 20, 1st Gold Cup appearance)
  • Crew: Adam Negri, Keith Swinton, Pat Voss
  • Charlie Lalumiere (USA, World No. 238, 1st Gold Cup appearance)
  • Crew: Scott Ewing, Bleddon Mon, Ian Storck
  • Lucy MacGregor (GBR, Women's World No. 18, 2nd Gold Cup appearance)
  • Crew: Bethan Cardin, Hannah Diamond, Annie Lush, Kate MacGregor
  • Torvar Mirsky (AUS, World No. 27, Gold Cup champion 2011, 4th Gold Cup appearance)
  • Crew: Lachy Gilmour (tactics), Cameron Seagreen (trimmer), Graeme Spence (bow)
  • Chris Poole (USA, World No. 54, 4th Gold Cup appearance)
  • Crew: Brian McMarton, Trent Turigliatto, Ryan Zupon
  • Marek Stanczyk (POL, World No. 22, 2nd Gold Cup appearance)
  • Crew: Stefaniuk Jedrzej, Jakob Pawluk, Michal Szmul

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