Debutant Price leads the way
Harry Price conceded his surprise at holding the lead after an intriguing opening day of the 69th Argo Group Gold Cup.
With 36 matches completed, the 23-year-old debutant who, was the 2017 Youth match racing world champion, leads the regatta with five wins from six races in Hamilton Harbour.
He stands tied with six-times match racing world champion Ian Williams, of the United Kingdom, who also clinched five wins but finds himself behind his rival having lost to Price in a head-to-head in flight six, who holds the tiebreak advantage.
“It was an awesome day out there, the wind was all over the place and racing was really interesting,” said Price, of Australia.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting to be in the this position after the first day but we’re obviously delighted to be leading.
“I think the highlight of the day was to get a win over Ian Williams. I think that might be the first time I’ve ever beaten him and so that’s great for me personally.
“Most of the races were extremely close and I’m in no doubt there will be a lot more tight racing to come.”
Williams, 42, remained gracious to his much younger rival, while being content with his efforts from the first day.
“I’m really impressed with Harry,” said Williams, who won the Argo Group Gold Cup in 2006 when Price was 11 years old. “The boats are difficult and there’s a lot to get your head around. So good on him.
“It was a long day for us but I’m pleased we got through it with five wins and can come back tomorrow. For us, we just have to keep pushing and get through to the quarter-finals.”
Holding third place is Chris Poole, of the United States, with 4.33 points, who had it not been for a collision with Ettore Botticini and subsequent one- point penalty, would be equal on points with Price and Williams. “We tried to head up and avoid the collision but then he headed up, too,” said Poole, who protested to the international jury after racing, which resulted in his penalty being reduced to 0.67 points.
Behind the top three, Johnie Berntsson, of Sweden, and Torvar Mirsky, of Australia, lead the remainder of the chasing pack, tied for fourth, both with four points.
“It’s great to be back among these boats and enjoying some really close races,” Mirsky said. “We had a few close calls go against us, but hopefully they’ll go our way as we go ahead.
“We’re halfway through racing everyone in the round-robin and I just can’t wait for more.”
After the top five, Eric Monnin, of Switzerland, and Maxime Mesnil, of France, each has three points, but Monnin holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.
“We definitely need to improve on a few things,” Mensil conceded. “It was a good day first day in shifting winds, but we need to improve going ahead.”
Nicklas Dackhammar, of Sweden, finished the day in eighth with two points, with Lucy Macgregor, of the United Kingdom, one place further behind.
“We really struggled with the pre-starts, but hopefully we’ll get into our groove soon,” Dackhammar said. “If we can do that then I’m confident we can wins some more races and have a good week.”
Having been given a 0.33 point penalty for his part in the collision with Poole, Botticini finds himself in tenth place on 1.677 points, narrowly ahead Pauline Courtois’s all-female crew, who struggled to master the ever-changing conditions.
“It was a difficult day for us,” Courtois said. “It’s our first time on these boats so it was difficult but it is great for us as a team to be here.
“We are trying to learn as much as we can, as quickly as we can, and hopefully we’ll get stronger each day.”
Another competitor who endured a difficult day on the water was Bermuda’s Kelsey Durham, who is yet to win a race in his match racing debut and was also disqualified from his third race when he failed to complete a pre-start penalty turn.
“Altogether, we definitely learned a lot,” Durham said. “If we thought we knew the rules we certainly know them a lot more now! That was my first ever black flag. I went past the boundary and then missed the turning, it was certainly an easy win for our opponents.
“We’ll have to see what tomorrow brings but hopefully it will be better.”
At the completion of the round robin, the top four advance to the quarter-finals while the remaining eight crews sail a repechage round with the top four advancing.
Racing resumes today with 30 matches scheduled to complete the round-robin stage.
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