By Talbot Wilson and Laurie Fullerton
"We got the win today against Taylor" Bruni said "and this is only the second time perhaps that we have met on the race course. He is young and I am somewhat like an older diesel engine and he is like a fast sports car so that is something we are up against."
Hamilton BERMUDA, Oct 13, 2013 – It was a battle of America's Cup tacticians Sunday in Bermuda. In one of the most exciting finals in Argo Group Gold Cup history, Francesco Bruni (ITA) Luna Rossa put a stop to the comeback kid, Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR) BART/Argo Group. Bruni won the first two races and then Ainslie took two and looked like he was going to add a Gold Cup comeback to his America's Cup record.
Bruini would have nothing of that and sailed flawlessly in the final race to win the King Edward VII Gold Cup and US$50,000 of the $100,000 prize purse.
Bruni had great pace at the start of the final race. He was on starboard, to weather of Ainslie and on the line right on time. In the Northeasterly breeze, he took Ainslie all the way up to the wall at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel gaining separation on the way.
When they tacked for the obstruction, Bruni was clearly ahead and then gained on the long port tack to the weather mark. Ainslie couldn't pull another catch up out of his trick bag
Bruni and his crew Pierluigi de Felice, Xabi Fernandez and Nick Hutton were jubilant. This was the first time an Italian has ever won the King Edward VII Gold Cup. It was a historic victory for Bruni who comes from Palermo, Sicily who had lost only one race in reaching the finals. Ainslie had lost only two, so the cream had really risen to the top.
Both Bruni and Ainslie had come through the Semi Finals Sunday morning with perfect 3-0 records there. Ainslie defeated Adam Minoprio (NZL) Team Alpari FX. Bruni handled defending champion Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone. Canfield went on to beat Minoprio in the Petite finals and take 3rd place and putting Minoprio into 4th.
Francesco Bruni - $50,000
Sir Ben Ainslie - $20,000
Taylor Canfield - $10,000
Adam Minoprio - $7,000
Bjorn Hanson - $5500
Ian Williams - $4000
Keith Swinton - $2500
Phil Robertson - $1000
Ian Percy won the Wedgwood trophy and Nicoli Sehestead won the Jordy Walker Trophy as the most improved sailor in Match Race Association or Tour events.
Quotes of the Day:
Francesco Bruni: "I am very happy about our win and I didn't really think we would be here at the start of it all. We went very well throughout the regatta – we did not come up through a repechage or other ways we just sailed well almost the entire race. Hamilton harbor is a very tricky racecourse and everyone makes mistakes including us. We sailed very well all week.
"To win every start against Sir Ben Ainslie in the finals is pretty big. We were quite sure we could separate it and the plan in our mind worked beautifully. Every cross, we were ahead. After we were 2-2 we are very happy we didn't let it slip away from our hands. We sailed Sir Ben to the wall and he asked for room to take. It was a huge setback for Ben because when he tacked around we just had him and powered ahead.
"It has been a really great return to the world tour. And, I need to thank Luna Rossa for bringing us here. It has been a great reward for all of us after a lot of hard work.
Sir Ben Ainslie: "It was a great final. Ultimately we were beaten by a better team. They started their races better and they became the team that we could not beat today. We are here to honor the memory of our friend Andrew "Bart" Simpson and we have gotten a lot of support from everyone here for our foundation. We sailed well today and we are glad we got the band back together in honor of Bart who was such an ambassador to the sport."
Iain Percy: "This has been a very memorable regatta and we have been through something very hard and it has been a tough six months. Being in Bermuda has helped us with this and we are grateful to all of the goodwill of everyone here."
Adam Minoprio: "It is great to be sitting here in the final four. It was a disappointing end to the regatta for us but we have sailed hard throughout this event. This is our sixth time at the Gold Cup so we are just very honored to be here."
Taylor Canfield: "I can't deny that it was tough for us not making the finals as we were sailing well enough. We are happy to get 3rd and we learned we are still leading the tour. We were disappointed by the call in the final race against Francesco Bruni by the umpire but we also made small errors that hurt us. Whether you make it through or not it is still an amazing event. I feel privileged to be around an incredible group of sailors. This harbor does get the best of you sometime and it truly did. We are on to the Monsoon Cup next and we actually leading the tour so we are really looking forward to that."
Semi Final Quotes
Francesco Bruni: "I know Ben very well so going up against him in the finals is not that overwhelming and the best way to approach it is to say that it is just a match race as the more I think about it does not help me. I know I should relax and do what I know."
Ben Ainslie: "When I got here this week I didn't expect to be in the finals. It is very special and although it is tough to be in the finals against Francesco for us Bermuda is a very special place and a Bermuda final is even more spectacular. We love it here and we are very happy to be out there racing in the finals."
Adam Minoprio: "It was a very tough loss for us and the semi-finals were raced in very shifty conditions. We made a couple of errors around the course and it gave an edge to Ben. We had the lead and we really fudged it on the bottom mark so we made two mistakes. It will be good to race against Taylor who is leading the tour right now and we are looking forward to the next time."
Taylor Canfield: "Bad umpiring calls. If the umpires knew what they were doing, we would have won the last race. And, you can quote me on that."
Meet the Finalists:
Francesco Bruni, from Palermo, Sicily was the America's Cup tactician for Luna Rossa and will play a key role in their next challenge. He is one of the most complete, eclectic and winning active Italian sailors in 30 years of the sport. He has won 7 world, 5 European and 15 Italian championships in different classes: from Laser to Offshore, from Star to 49er. He has also reached first place in ISAF's Match Racing World ranking. He has raced with Team Luna Rossa in three America's Cup campaigns (2003, 2007, 2013). Bruni's crew is Pierluigi de Felice, Xabi Fernandez and Nick Hutton.
Sir Ben Ainslie from Lymington, England is fresh out of the 34th America's Cup where he was the spirit of the now famous Oracle AC72 comeback from the brink of sudden death. He has won the Agro Group Gold Cup twice, in 2009 and 2010. Ainslie is the most successful sailor in Olympic history having won four gold and a silver medal. Sailing with Ainslie are Iain Percy, Matt Cornwell, and Christian Kamp.