Top skipper Berntsson set for Gold Cup return
Past King Edward VII Gold Cup winner Johnie Berntsson has accepted an invitation to compete in Octobers Argo Group Gold Cup, The Royal Gazette can reveal.
The Swede, who triumphantly raised the oldest match racing trophy for one-design yachts in 2008, is among the first skippers to have accepted invitations to compete in this years Alpari World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) sanctioned regatta.
Berntssons compatriot and fellow WMRT Tour Card Holder Bjorn Hansen has also accepted an invitation to participate in this years Argo Group Gold Cup, as has non-WMRT Tour Card Holder Eric Monnin.
Berntsson finished runner up behind Torvar Mirsky after losing 3-2 to the Australian in last years Gold Cup final that went right down to the wire in Hamilton Harbour.
Mirsky has not been included in this years WMRT list of Tour Card Holders but has been invited to return to defend his title along with fellow past Gold Cup winners and non-Tour Card Holders Ben Ainslie (England) and Mathieu Richard (France).
Richard won the Gold Cup in 2007 while Ainslie had back-to-back wins in 2009 and 2010.
Argo Group Gold Cup hosts, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC), issued invitations for this years event last week.
All current WMRT Card Holders were granted automatic invites to compete in the 62nd staging of match racing for the King Edward VII Gold Cup. An additional 13 invitations were sent out to a selection of top sailors in the ISAF Match Race Open Rankings, past Gold Cup participants and up-and-coming skippers on the match racing scene.
Three slots for the Argo Group Gold Cup are to be selected from qualifying events such as the Knickerbocker Cup and the Detroit Cup in the United States and the Bermuda National Match Race Championship.
The deadline for acceptance by the initial group consisting of WMRT Card Holders expires May 14. All WMRT Tour Card Holders entry in the event will not be guaranteed following this date as the Gold Cup selection committee will consider additional ranked skippers and other applicants to fill all available slots.
Last year saw Mirksy become the first Australian skipper to win the $100,000 Argo Group Gold Cup in nearly a decade after beating Berntsson in the best-of-five final.
This years list of WMRT Tour Card Holders includes Englands Ian Williams, Italys Simone Ferrarese, Australias Peter Gilmour and Keith Swinton, New Zealands Laurie Jury and Phil Robertson, Frances Pierre-Antoine Morvan and Swedens Berntsson and Hansen
Williams, who is also a past King Edward VII Gold Cup winner, is the reigning WMRT champion.
The 2012 Argo Group Gold Cup, the eighth and penultimate stage of the WMRT, will be held October 2 -7.
The International One Design (IOD) classic racing sloop is the class designated for Gold Cup racing.
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