Seven are World Match Racing Tour regulars
Hamilton, Bermuda – After the seventh and last flight of the Round Robin, six of eight teams have qualified today to advance to the Quarter-final round in the King Edward VII Gold Cup presented by Argo Group, with a five-flight Repechage round amongst six teams also determining the final two slots. Among these are two undefeated teams from the UK, reigning World Champion Ian Williams and his Team Pindar along with Olympic Gold Medalist Ben Ainslie and his Team Origin. These two will meet, respectively, Mattias Rahm (SWE) and his Stena Bulk Sailing Team and Tour newcomer Keith Swinton (AUS) of Black Swan Racing when sailing resumes tomorrow morning.
Other teams qualified from the Round Robin include Mathieu Richard and his French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit, Johnie Berntsson (SWE), Sebastian Col and his French Match Racing Team/K Challenge, and on count back, Adam Minoprio (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing Team. Racing today was once again in ideal 6-12 knot conditions in Hamilton harbor.
Despite the top-two qualifying positions of their rivals, Rahm and Swinton may have an initial advantage coming into this first-to-three point series for having had to battle an additional five flights of racing in the Repechage round.
“We definitely feel the extra competition has helped hone our skills coming into tomorrow,” said Rahm, though rival Williams jokingly pointed out that while Rahm may have won every match today, he lost every match yesterday, “so I wonder which Rahm we’ll face tomorrow?” Williams then remarked “No, I think he will bring their A game, so it will likely be a tough fight.”
Ironically, it was against fellow qualifier Swinton that Rahm had one of his tougher matches in the Repechage. During their initial pre-start encounter, Rahm hesitated just a little too long on port tack to avoid Swinton, and the two collided, earning Rahm a penalty from match umpires Brad Dellenbaugh (USA) and Bob Duffy (BER). Rahm went on to get off the start without further incident and extend to enough of a lead to peel off his penalty and take the match. But a post-race hearing to determine fault due to the damage caused to the International One Designs (IOD’s ) used for this event determined partial blame to go to Swinton as well as Rahm, with the unusual outcome of Rahm being assessed a ¼ point scoring penalty and Swinton a ½ point penalty.
“It definitely was confusing to us,” said Swinton, “but it makes sense after we went through the hearing.” A Perth native and late entry to the Gold Cup, Swinton is making his first appearance at a Tour event and by qualifying for the quarter finals is certainly turning a few heads.
“King Edward VII Gold Cup is special for match race sailors”
At 101 years old, the King Edward VII Gold Cup is something of a holy grail for match racers, and Ian Williams, who has been racing at the Gold Cup since 1998 and was crowned champion in 2006, he faces a number of hungry, young competitors looking for a chance to win it all. While Ainslie has been an Olympic medalist since the age of 19, he has yet to best the field here at the King Edward VII Gold Cup.
“The King Edward VII Gold Cup is special for match race sailors and winning it in 2006 certainly gave a lot of momentum to my career,” Williams said. “It is a very special event and one of the ones we all look forward to on this World Match Racing Tour.”
Defending champion of the King Edward VII Gold Cup Mathieu Richard of France (6-1) will have his work cut out for him tomorrow as the quarter final match leaves little room for error.
‘We are very happy with the victory and we have to sail our very best tomorrow if we are to get to the semi-finals,” Richard said.
While a number of top American sailors were invited to the King Edward VII Gold Cup including veteran racer David Perry, Olympian Sally Barlow, Etchells World champion Bill Hardesty and veteran match racer Brian Angel, none of the American sailors made it to the quarter finals.
‘The Gold Cup is where a match racing sailor cuts your teeth and you get addicted to match racing and the spectators and the sponsors and the people here that make it such a great event for amateurs and professionals,” said Hardesty.
For first-time match racing sailor Don Wilson from Chicago, it is his hope to build match racing in the United States and help American sailors stay competitive with their European counterparts.
“The US sailors don’t all have the opportunities to match race professionally but this is such a great venue and it is so exciting to be here.” Wilson said. “We could be doing a lot more of it in the United States. It seems telling that all of our American teams were eliminated early.”
For American sailor David Perry, the end of the road for him at the King Edward VII Gold Cup is not necessarily the end of his commitment to match racing.
“Sailing here is no longer for sailors, it is for athletes,” he said. “Match racing puts a huge demand on the team and it is a great challenge sailing against people who are at the pinnacle of this sport.”
American and Olympic Yngling Sailor Sally Barkow, was beaten by Briton Ben Ainslie today. As the only female invited to participate in the King Edward VII Gold Cup, showed her that the depth of talent is difficult to find in women’s match racing circuits.
“This kind of racing makes tough going and we are fortunate to come here and get the valuable experience among these men,” she said. “We learn valuable lessons and the field of talent is very deep. There is no room for mistakes here.”
After three days of racing at the 2008 King Edward VII Gold Cup presented by Argo Group in Hamilton harbor, the field is narrowing as sailors vie for the coveted honor of becoming the king of this great match-up. With the frontrunners going into the quarter-finals tomorrow primarily from England, France and Sweden current World Champion Ian Williams from the UK (7-0) and 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist in the Finn Class Ben Ainslie (7-0) of the UK are topping the scoreboard.
Results after Two Stages:
Ben Ainslie (GBR) V Keith Swinton (AUS)
Ian Williams (GBR) V Mattias Rahm (SWE)
Sebastien Col (FRA) V Adam Minoprio (NZL)
Mathieu Richard (FRA) V Johnie Berntsson (SWE)
Mattias Rahm (SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team, 5-0
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing, 4-1
Eric Monnin (SUI) Search.ch, 3-5
Andrew Horten (USA), 2-5
Ben Ainslie (GBR) Team Origin, 7-0
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit, 6-1
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team, 5-2
Mattias Rahm (SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team, 4-3
Chris Van Tol (USA) Van Tol Match Racing Team, 1-6
Takumi Nakamura (JPN) Team Albatross, 2-5
Brian Angel (USA) King Harbour Yacht Club, 2-5
Sally Barkow (USA) Team 7 Racing, 1-6
Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar, 7-0
Adam Minoprio (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing Team, 5-2
Keith Swinton (USA) Black Swan Racing, 3-4
Andrew Horten (USA), 5-2
Rasmus Viltoft (DEN), 3-4
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Alandia Sailing Team, 2-5
Erik Koppernaes (CAN), 1-6
Jon Singsen (USA), 1-6
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team, 6-1
Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K Challenge, 5-2
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, 3-4
Donald Wilson (USA), 4-3
David Perry (USA), 3-4
Pierre Antoine Morvan (FRA) ETM Match Racing, 2-5
Eric Monnin (SUI) Search.ch, 3-4
Blythe Walker (BDA), 2-5
Current World Match Racing Tour Leaderboard (top eight teams):
1. Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar, 98 points
2. Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, 92
3. Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team/ French Team Spirit, 87
4. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team , 53
5. Magnus Holmberg (SWE) Victory Challenge, 51
6. Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza, 43
7. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Alandia Sailing Team, 40
8. Mattias Rahm (SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team, 34
For more information about the King Edward VII Gold Cup, presented by Argo Group, visit the event website at www.bermudagoldcup.com
For more information about the World Match Racing Tour, visit the WMRT website at www.worldmatchracingtour.com