Challengers set for very different style of racing
By Colin Thompson
Match racing around Hamilton Harbour in the International OneDesign sloop will be a far cry from the high-performance foiling catamaran for America's Cup challengers Artemis Racing and SoftBank Team Japan who are among this year's stellar Argo Group Gold Cup fleet.
“It is about as far away from the new look America's Cup racing as you can get,” Dean Barker, the skipper and CEO of Team Japan, said. “The IOD is a classic sailing yacht stepped in history.
“They are long, narrow boats with a serious lack of manoeuvrability. In contrast, the foiling catamarans are incredibly fast, require split-second decision-making, and punch you for every single mistake.”
Team Japan and Artemis Racing, the Swedish challenger, are using the World Match Racing Tour-sanctioned event as a warm-up for stage three of the 2015-16 Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series to follow on the heels of the Gold Cup.
“It is a great opportunity for SoftBank Team Japan to get out on the water in Bermuda and enjoy the sailing conditions,” Barker said.
“The style of match racing that we have been doing in the catamarans is certainly very different to the World Match Racing Tour style of sailing. I cannot remember the last event that I raced but it was a long time ago.
“I am sure I will be incredibly rusty and will make plenty of mistakes, but it will be great to get back out there and race against the guys who have been doing this for the last few years.”
This year marks Artemis' second straight appearance in the Gold Cup.
The America's Cup racing syndicate failed to advance from the round-robin stage on their first attempt at winning the oldest match racing trophy in the world for competition involving one design yachts and are keen to improve on that showing.
“The competition is always tough on the World Match Racing Tour, but we have a couple new sailors this year and are hoping to improve on our results from last year,” said the team in a statement.
“The team are very much looking forward to coming back to Bermuda and back to the Argo Group Gold Cup. Plus, any extra-time sailing and in particular match racing on the Great Sound is always a bonus in the lead up to the America's Cup.”
The Gold Cup will be held from October 6 to 11 and feature 16 teams, four fewer than last year.
This year's field includes 2015 WMRT card holders Johnie Berntsson, the defending champion and 2008 winner and five times WMRT champion Ian Williams, Joachim Aschenbrenner, Eric Monin, Reuben Corbett, Bjorn Hansen, Keith Swinton and Nicolai Sehested.
Invites Taylor Canfield, another past winner and WMRT champion, Chris Poole, Phil Robertson and Chris Steele are also among the field, which will be completed when the Bermuda match racing champion is confirmed this month.
Somers Kempe, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club commodore, and Lance Fraser represented Bermuda at last year's Gold Cup, both skippers posting 2-7 records.