Williams on course for record
Ian Williams and team GAC Pindar will be looking to make further inroads towards an unprecedented fifth World Match Racing title at next week's $100,000 Argo Group Gold Cup in Hamilton Harbour.
The English skipper, who has been nominated for the 2013 ISAF Rolex Sailor of the Year Award, presently holds a nine-point advantage over reigning Gold Cup champion Taylor Canfield (US Virgin Islands) and past world match racing champion Adam Minoprio (New Zealand) at the top of the leaderboard heading into the penultimate regatta on this year's Tour.
Williams led the Tour standings by the same margin upon his arrival in Bermuda for the previous Gold Cup where he finished third after defeating Switzerland's Erik Monnin (3-0) in the Petite Final.
He eventually went on to secure a fourth world match racing championship to draw level with multiple Gold Cup winner Peter Gilmour (Australia) for the most titles.
Williams reckons this year's event will have a big say in determining which team wins the Tour championship.
“With the scoring this year, the Gold Cup will be pivotal,” he told The Royal Gazette. “We can leave it as much as 17 points ahead in the title race or as much as 16 behind, so it could have a huge bearing on the final result.”
Williams, the first Brit to gain the ISAF World Champion and AWMRT Champion titles, is making his eighth appearance in the Gold Cup and is returning with the same crew — Bill Hardesty, Mal Parker and Gerry Mitchell — he had for last year's edition.
“All of us on the GAC Pindar team are really looking forward to the Gold Cup this year,” he added.
This year's Gold Cup features all eight AWMRT card holders and two past Tour champions.
The fleet also boasts five sailors who were involved in the 34th America's Cup and Louis Vuitton Cup in San Francisco Bay, among them the most decorated sailor in Olympic history, Englishman Sir Ben Ainslie who is also a two-time Gold Cup winner.
“It is a very strong line-up and very good for the event to have Sir Ben adding to the challenge,” Williams said. “There's a great line-up in place and the results will also be pivotal to deciding the Alpari World Match Racing Tour this year.”
Williams' sole win to date on the 2013 Tour arrived at May's Match Race Germany in Langenargen. He defeated Minoprio in a final reduced to a single race due of low wind.
Williams, who took a sabbatical from his profession as a lawyer to pursue a professional sailing career, is one of five previous winners in this year's Gold Cup fleet.
In 2006 he became the first Englishman to win the prestigious King Edward VII Gold Cup since 1999 after prevailing against Frenchman Mathieu Richard (3-1) in the best-of-five final.
The King Edward VII Gold Cup is the oldest match-racing trophy in the world for competition involving one-design yachts.
The regatta is contested for in the International One Design (IOD) classic racing sloop.
“I think the IOD, when the boats are in matched pairs, provide for very interesting match racing and really reward good sailing,” Williams said. “So I would say they are very suitable.”
The event starts next Tuesday, contuining until 13.