HAMILTON BERMUDA, October 7, 2008: Today Ben Ainslie (GBR) took his Olympic Gold Medal skills to the King Edward VII Gold Cup presented by Argo Group. The British skipper of Team Origin was a perfect three for three in Group One matches on the event’s first day. Ainslie defeated reigning champion Mathieu Richard (FRA), French Match Racing Team/French Spirit, in a hot battle in the second flight of the day. Their race included a hook-up between Ainslie’s bow and Richard’s loose mainsheet in a complicated windward mark rounding. Ainslie took the inside track from behind and when Richard gybed he didn’t give Ainslie room to keep clear and the two hooked up in a slow French minuete. Richard was double flagged, and that was it. Ainslie also defeated Richard’s countryman Damien Lehl and American Chris Von Tol.
In other Group One racing Mattias Rahm (SWE), Stena Bulk Sailing Team, also stands 3-0 with wins over Takumi Nakumura (JPN) and Brian Angel (USA) and Sally Barkow (USA). Barkow and Angel were winless today. Angel and Damien Lehl were involved in a head-on collision at the start of their third flight match.
As the winds picked up during the afternoon, there was more damage. Two booms were broken and Ian Willliams’ opponent in his third race had a breakdown before the start. That race will be sailed first thing on Wednesday. Williams (GBR) Team Pindar, the leader on the World Match Racing Tour, is the only skipper in the group with a chance to go 3-0 in the first three flights. With all the mayhem in Group Two, Williams is 2-0, Adam Minoprio (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing, is 2-0, Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing and Bjorn Hansen (SWE) of Alandia Sailing is also 2-0.
Group Three action ran later than expected because of breakdowns and repairs. The committee plans to finish all racing that was scheduled for today except for the Williams-Horton match. That Group 2 match will be sailed on Wednesday.
An update will follow when racing is concluded today.
The two top teams from each group move on to the Quarter finals and the third and fourth place finishers in each group sail off in a “repecharge” round robin on Thursday afternoon for their second chance to win one of the last two Quarter final slots. Following the Quarter finals on Friday, winners move into the semi finals on Saturday and the top two go to the finals on Sunday. There is a $100,000 prize purse with $50,000 going to the winner, $20,000 for second and $10,000 for third. Fourth through eighth divide the remainder.