Hamilton, Bermuda – 6 October 2010- Torvar Mirsky kept his perfect score in racing Thursday morning to lead Group 3 in the 2010 Argo Group Gold Cup. His Mirsky Racing Team, ranked #3 of the World Match Racing Tour before the event, moves on to the Quarter-Finals with the best record so far. Also qualifying automatically in Group 3 was 2008 Argo Group Gold Cup Champion Johnie Berntsson of Sweden with 5 wins.
Mirsky defeated Great Britain’s 4th ranked Ian Williams and the Team GAC Pindar sponsored by Argo Group in their Flight 7 match to maintain his momentum. Williams was knocked into the repechage ‘second chance’ series by the loss to Mirsky.
But the story of the day had to be the top-flight performance of Argo Group Gold Cup newcomer Taylor Canfield from St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. He earned automatic entry into the Quarter-Finals from Group 1 with 5 wins. Canfield, a 21-year-old student at Boston College, lost only to the other Group 1 automatic qualifier Jasper Radich from Denmark. Radich won the King Edward VII Gold Cup trophy in 2002 and his Gaastra Racing Team stands in 8th place on the Tour. Radich was #1 in the group and Canfield #2.
Canfield, who is a rookie in the event, said going into the event, “I think the IODs will be very challenging as far as their responsiveness and lack of time in the boats. This is also my first world tour/grade 1 event, making it extremely stressful and nerve-racking. We are a young team with nothing to lose. We have sailed tougher for quite some time now.
Yesterday, he praised his crew for the great result so far: “They are doing a great job getting us around the course. We feel like we are comfortable in the IOD”s now.”
“This is my first world match racing tour event and it has been really great," said Canfield. "In the Virgin Islands we do a lot of keel boat match racing and now - all of a sudden - it is catching on in the USA. One of our bigger college events this fall will be a match race. I can see that this World Tour is a great opportunity...my goal right now is to finish college, and I even have a paper due on Friday at midnight, but I wouldn't mind giving this a try as soon as I graduate.”
Canfield’s father, Bill Canfield a director of the Rolex Regatta in St. Thomas wasn’t planning on such a good result. He is leaving Friday on business and said, “ I’m pleasurably pleased. He’s a good sailor and proving it here. It is great that colleges in the United States are starting to match race. It brings a new group of young people into the sport.”
Over in Group 2, Swiss sailor Eric Monnin was alone at the top with a 5-1 record. A surprised Reuben Corbett, who was moved up 2nd in the group, joined him directly in the Quarter-Finals. Sailing into the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club marina after loosing his match today with Jakub Pawluk, Corbett thought he would have to sail the repechage to qualify. However, Ben Ainslie’s win over Adam Minoprio put both of them into the repechage and moved the young New Zealander directly into the finals.
Relaxing at Royal Bermuda YC after winning his group Monnin, who finished 4th in 2009 said, “We won the round robin and we are thrilled with that. We have had quite a good year and with the same team as last year. Everything is going well for us. We are here at the Gold Cup for the seventh time and in the sixth prior times we have been here, we have raced twice in the final rounds on Sunday so yes, being around until Sunday is a big goal for us.”
Today was great sailing for us,” he added. “We actually like the light air and since we are Swiss so we are used to the light, fluky air in the Swiss lakes. We are a light crew and so the light air is good for us. tomorrow (Friday) will be a little more challenging for us as it is meant to be a very windy day.”
World Match Racing Tour points-leader Mathieu Richard from France, who won here in 2007, had only 2.5 points and failed to make the cut. This loss is a serious threat to his hopes of winning the overall Tour Championship. He must win the Monsoon Cup in November to stand a chance.
The six teams that were third and fourth in each group will sail the ‘last chance’ repechage with the winner and runner-up filling the last two Quarter-Final slots. In Group 1, 3rd place went to Denmark’s Bjorn Hansen, #9 on the tour, and 4th place was 23-year-old Kiwi Phil Robertson. Group 2 skippers Ben Ainslie, #5 on the tour and Adam Minoprio, #2 ranker, will have another chance. Group 3 rounds out the six-team fleet with Ian Williams, Great Britain’s #4 on the Tour and Alvaro Marinho from Portugal.
The repechage group was scheduled to sail Thursday afternoon but thy only got on flight in due to lack of a breeze. Winners in the 3-5 kt drifter were Minoprio, Williams and Ainslie.
Flights 2-5 matches were postponed until 8:00 this morning. The repechage will be followed directly by the Quarter-Finals. If weather permits, the popular Pro-Am that matches sponsors and dignitaries with Gold Cup teams for shore-course fleet racing on Hamilton Harbour will be sailed as scheduled this afternoon.
With the big wind predicted today, there should be some exciting competition among this group that includes some of the top ranked sailors in the world.
Royal Bermuda Yacht club is the perfect place to watch the racing. Action continues all week with the finals of Argo Group Gold Cup and the RenRe Jr. Gold Cup and the Family Festival of Sail all scheduled for Sunday.
Tune in for more Argo group action today and all weekend. At home, spectators can enjoy all the action on www.wmrt.com with live commentary, streaming video and all the results and news of the day. Also featured is the Argo Group Gold Cup World Match Racing Tour “Play of the Day” and plenty of photos and video, too. -- Talbot Wilson
In Bermuda, the Bermuda Sports Network hosts live video and commentary.