Gold Cup’s future left hanging in balance

  • The future: the World Match Racing Tour is switching to M32 high-performance catamarans next year

    The future: the World Match Racing Tour is switching to M32 high-performance catamarans next year

The Argo Group Gold Cup’s World Match Racing Tour status hangs in the balance after Tour officials rolled out plans for next year’s professional racing circuit.

Tour officials announced at the weekend that the M32 high-performance catamaran will be the featured class on the WMRT next year.

This means that organisers of the Gold Cup, the oldest match racing trophy in the world for competitions involving one-design yachts, will have to amend the class rule from the International One Design sloop to the M32 catamaran if the local event is to retain its WMRT status.

Peter Shrubb, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club rear commodore, who is responsible for international events, said discussions between the Gold Cup organising committee, Tour officials and Gold Cup title sponsors Argo Group are ongoing.

“We are negotiating with our sponsor and the new owners of the Tour on what’s the best direction for us to go,” Shrubb said. “As soon as we have completed negotiations on any deal that’s satisfactory for all stakeholders we will make an announcement.”

Mark Watson, the Argo Group chief executive, believes the Gold Cup will retain its Tour status.

“Bermuda is a fantastic sailing venue and let’s not forget that the America’s Cup organising committee picked Bermuda as it’s venue,” he said. “So, it’s hard to imagine that we won’t have some sort of World Match Racing Tour event here in Bermuda, but it’s got to work for everyone.

“Things change and we need to recognise that when things change we might want to consider that. On the other hand, I don’t think we should feel pressured to change quickly because the reality is that this event has one of the longest histories in yacht racing.

“It’s one of the most prestigious regattas in yacht racing, and the sailors look forward to coming here because of the way it’s organised. The prize money is important. But there’s a whole lot of reasons that professional sailors come here so we need to think about all those things.”

Watson added: “We have talked about keeping tradition in mind when making decisions about the event going forward and the reality is it’s a business. Professional yacht racing is a business and people are going to follow the money, too.

“We need to make the right decisions for the event for the long term — but that’s really up the organising committee.”

The 2016 WMRT schedule is shorter than normal and will run from February to July with a provisional schedule showing events to be held in the Middle East (February), Australia (March), America’s (April, May and June) and Marstand, Sweden, from July 4 to 9.

Meanwhile, Tour officials also announced the dates for the 2016 M32 Winter Series in Bermuda.

The first event will be held from January 8 to 10, the second February 26 to 28 and the third March 11 to 13.

n Nacho Davila won the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup in Hamilton Harbor yesterday.

The Spaniard finished the twelve race series nine-points clear of nearest rival Mia Nicolosi, of the US Virgin Islands, after discarding his worst score.

Mathias Berthet, of Norway, rounded off the podium.

Topping the local leaderboard was Micah Raynor Thomas in tenth overall followed closely by Tayte Stefanuik in eleventh and Jordan Etemadi in fourteenth.

Christian Spodsberg, the defending champion, finished seventh.

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Published Oct 12, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated Oct 12, 2015 at 1:09 am)

Gold Cup’s future left hanging in balance

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