It was a battle of the America's Cup teams for a shiny old cup, but it wasn't on San Francisco Bay. The match racing action for the King Edward VII Gold Cup took place in Bermuda's Hamilton Harbour in October, and it came down to a battle of America's Cup tacticians, with Italy's Francesco Bruni and team Luna Rossa beating out Oracle's Team USA's Ben Ainslie racing as team BART/Argo Group.
It came down to the final race, with the teams tied 2-2 when Bruni sailed flawlessly in the final race to win the cup and the $50,000 prize purse. Bruni had great pace at the start of the final race in the light north- easterly breeze, when he took Ainslie all the way up to the wall. When they tacked for the obstruction, Bruni was clearly ahead and gained all the way to the finish.
Bruni and his crew, Pierluigi de Felice, Xabi Fernandez and Nick Hutton celebrated the first time an Italian has ever won the Gold Cup.
"To win every start against Sir Ben Ainslie in the finals is pretty big," said skipper Francesco Bruni. "It has been a really great return to the world tour."
"It was a great final. Ultimately we were beaten by a better team," Ainslie said. "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 got a lot of support from everyone here for our foundation."
Ainslie's friend died during an accident onboard the Artemis AC72 yacht in San Francisco Bay during the lead up to the America's Cup. An event held during the regatta raised more than $100,000 for the Andrew Simpson Foundation, which was founded by Ainslie, Iain Percy and Simpson's widow Leah to promote youth sailing.
"This has been a very memorable regatta," Percy said. "We have been through some- thing 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."
The Argo Gold Cup is part of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, a series of seven events that awards more than $1.72 million in prize money each year.