HAMILTON, Bermuda – The seedings for the 67th annual Argo Group Gold Cup have been determined and racing for Group A is scheduled to begin tomorrow at 9 am (ADT).
The first match pits a skipper on top of his game, world No. 1 Ian Williams of Great Britain, against one who’s returning for the first time in three years, Bermudian ace Blythe Walker. The quirkiness of the International One-Design (IOD) sloop used in the Argo Group Gold Cup can make a famous crew look average very quickly, and that aphorism will be put to the test first thing tomorrow.
“We’ve had a strong year but really haven’t hit our straps yet,” said Williams, the five-time world match racing champion. “We’re hoping to hit the ground running and get a good result.”
“We’re a little rusty, have to shake the cob webs out,” said Walker, who placed 3rd in 2006. “For guys like me this is a great opportunity to do match racing at a level we don’t get on a regular basis here in Bermuda. We’re happy about the opportunity to compete against the world’s best.”
The Argo Group Gold Cup is hosted by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. At stake is the prestigious King Edward VII Gold Cup trophy that was first awarded in 1907 and $100,000 in prize money, with $35,000 earmarked for the winner. It also is the penultimate event of the World Match Racing Tour, giving skippers one final chance to secure their invitation to the season-concluding Monsoon Cup.
The weather on the destination island in the Atlantic Ocean has returned to idyllic now that Hurricane Joaquin has passed. The Bermuda Weather Service is forecasting southwesterly winds of moderate strength tomorrow and the rest of the week looks good as well.
Group A features Williams as the No. 1 seed. Also in the group (in order of seeding) are Denmark’s Joachim Aschenbrenner, the runner-up at the recent ISAF Youth Match Racing World Championship, world No. 3 and last year’s runner up Eric Monnin of Switzerland, Phil Robertson of New Zealand, the two-time reigning event champion Johnie Berntsson of Sweden, Chris Poole of the U.S., SoftBank Team Japan CEO and skipper Dean Barker and Walker.
The eight crews in Group A are slated to sail the first four flights of their round robin before giving way to Group B in the afternoon.
The No. 1 seed in Group B is 12-time entrant Björn Hansen of Sweden. The group also includes world No. 2 and past champion (2012) Taylor Canfield of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Reuben Corbett of New Zealand and his compatriot Chris Steele, Keith Swinton of Australia, Nicolai Sehested of Denmark, Francesco Bruni of America’s Cup team Artemis Racing, and Adam Minoprio of New Zealand.
Group B is scheduled to begin racing tomorrow afternoon at approximately 12:30 pm, depending on the completion of Group A.
The round robins are expected to be completed by the end of Thursday at which point the top three teams in each group will advance to Friday’s quarterfinal round. The crews finishing fourth through seventh in each group will sail a round robin repechage with the top two crews advancing to the quarterfinals. Racing in the quarterfinals, semifinals and final are each first-to-three points.
The Argo Group Gold Cup is sponsored by the Argo Group, an international underwriter of specialty insurance and reinsurance products in areas of the property and casualty market. Additional sponsors include the Bermuda Tourism Authority, Bacardi, Guy Carpenter, RenaissanceRe, Aon Benfield, and the World Match Racing Tour and Match Racing Association.
ARGO GROUP GOLD CUP GROUP SEEDINGS AND CREW LIST
1. Ian Williams (GBR), Crew: Chris Main, Gerry Mitchell, Mal Parker
2. Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN), Jeppe Ditlev, Jonas Funk, Hans Christian Wegge
3. Eric Monnin (SUI), Simon Brugger, Jean-Claude Monnin, Marc Monnin, Mathieu Richard
4. Phil Robertson (NZL), Sylvain Barielle, Sam Bell, Luke Payne
5. Johnie Berntsson (SWE), Jakob Gustavson, Robert Skarp, Carl Uckelstam
6. Chris Poole (USA), Sam Barron-Fox, John Colburn, Chris Kennedy
7. Dean Barker (JPN), Chris Draper, Jeremy Lomas, Kazuhiko Sofuku
8. Blythe Walker (BER), Adam Barboza, Somers Kempe, Will Thompson
1. Björn Hansen (SWE), Massimo Bortoletto, Mathias Bredin, Phillip Kai Guhle
2. Taylor Canfield (ISV), Garth Ellingham, Hayden Goodrick, Mike Rehe
3. Reuben Corbett (NZL), Tom Dawson, Jay Halligan, Robert Nyberg
4. Chris Steele (NZL), Stewart Dodson, Adam Negri, Justin Wong
5. Keith Swinton (AUS), Ted Hackney, Henry Kernot, Björn Lundgren
6. Nicolai Sehested (DEN), Brad Farrand, Jonas Hviid, Peter Wibroe
7. Francesco Bruni (SWE), Christian Kamp, Luke Parkinson, Iain Percy
8. Adam Minoprio (NZL), Nick Blackman, Andrew Burgess, Tom Powrie
ABOUT ARGO GROUP
Argo Group International Holdings, Ltd. (NasdaqGS: AGII), is an international provider of specialty property and casualty insurance, reinsurance and managed risk solutions. The companies that make up Argo Group share a firm commitment to working together with our independent agents and wholesale and retail brokerage partners to deliver innovative products for niche markets. Through our operating companies, we offer a comprehensive line of high-quality products and services designed to meet the unique coverage and claims-handling needs of our clients in four business segments: Excess and Surplus Lines, Commercial Specialty, International Specialty and Syndicate 1200 at Lloyd’s. For more information, visit www.argolimited.com