Six of the best sail in quarter-finals
Six of the eight Alpari World Match Racing Tour (AWMRT) 2013 Card Holders have reached the quarter-finals of the $100,000 Argo Group Gold Cup.
Joining past Gold Cup winners Ben Ainslie (8-1) and Ian Williams (8-1) in the last eight at the end of yesterday's round robin qualifiers were Francesco Bruni (8-1), defending champ Taylor Canfield (7-2), past Tour winner Adam Minoprio (7-2), Keith Swinton (6-3), Bjorn Hansen (6-3) and Phil Robertson (5-4).
Past Gold Cup winner Johnie Berntsson (4-5) and Pierre-Antoine Morvan (5-4) were the two Tour Card Holders making early exits.
Reigning Tour champ and top seed Williams led Group Two while Bruni finished top in Group One on a day that saw the cream rise to the top.
Williams, who is gunning for an unprecedented fifth Tour title, currently leads Canfield and Minoprio by nine points in the 2013 AWMRT points standings with Hansen a further point adrift.
The 2006 Gold Cup winner and his GAC Team Pindar team-mates have been in sparkling form this week, losing only once so far to Hansen in their final round robin match.
As the winner of his group Williams earned the right to pick his opponent for today's quarter-final.
And he went straight for the jugular in choosing Canfield in the hope of eliminating perhaps the biggest threat to his title defence.
Canfield, the defending Gold Cup champ, welcomed the challenge.
“We're ready”, he declared. “Bring on the challenge.”
Group One winner Bruni chose Robertson who reached the last eight on a tiebreak after completing the round robin stage level on points with two other skippers.
Remaining quarter-final match-ups will see four-time Olympic gold medallist and two-time Gold Cup winner Ainslie take on Hansen while Minoprio will do battle with Swinton.
Aussie Swinton produced an amazing comeback under pressure yesterday to advance to the next stage.
“We had to win all three races to go through to the quarter-finals and we managed to do that,” he said. “It is always great to go into the quarter-finals and we are looking forward to tomorrow (today).”
• Campbell Patton leads the local contingent at the 2013 RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup.
After four races in the Great Sound Patton remained third in the 49-boat Optimist fleet, 16 points adrift of leader Max Quirk (Australia) and one behind second-placed Manon Van Dijk (Netherlands).
Patton made a sluggish start to the regatta, finishing 23rd in the opening race. But he bounced back with a second in the second race before going one better with a bullet in the third. Felix Cutler is the next highest local sailor and seventh overall followed by Adam Larson who is currently 13th.