Eric Monnin’s Swiss Match Race Team has streaked out to an early lead at the 67th annual Argo Group Gold Cup. With Group A having completed four flights, Monnin’s crew won three to top the early standings.

Monnin, last year’s runner-up, could be a dark horse contender this week. Trimming main and helping with tactics is Frenchman Mathieu Richard, the 2007 champion. Richard has a fine touch for the IOD and could be a difference maker.

Second is held by Ian Williams’ GAC Pindar crew, which has 2.5 points from three victories. Williams lost his first match to Blythe Walker’s RenRe team from Bermuda, in which he was penalized for running into Walker’s transom around the leeward gate. Williams then went on to win his next three matches.

Monnin’s match against Dean Barker’s SoftBank Team Japan was another slam-bang affair. With the wind gusting to 28 knots, the two crews were rocking and rolling downwind. The IOD is a hard boat to handle in those conditions because the beam is so narrow that the spinnaker pulls the boat from side to side. Baker wiped out numerous times and was forced to douse the spinnaker to get the boat back under control. During one wipe out the crane at the top of the mast broke, which forced a postponement of his match against Johnie Berntsson.

Barker and Berntsson both have 2 points from three matches, while Phil Robertson’s WAKA Racing has 2 points from four matches. Chris Poole, Joachim Aschenbrenner and Walker all have 1 point from four matches.

The wind has abated to a more manageable 15 knots and Group B is preparing to head to the water.