Canfield opens up race for Tour title
Defending Argo Group Gold Cup champion Taylor Canfield (USoneSailing) threw the race for the 2013 Alpari World Match Racing Tour (AWMRT) championship wide open in Hamilton Harbour yesterday.
The US Virgin Islands skipper entered this year's Gold Cup trailing reigning world match racing champ Ian Williams (GAC Pindar) by nine points in the Tour standings.
But a convincing 3-1 demolition of Williams in yesterday's semi-finals — contested for in fluky conditions — means Canfield will go top of the pecking order after the regatta is completed, albeit by a slim margin.
Canfield sealed the deal in the penultimate match which saw his rival flagged for a penalty behind the line in the pre-start.
Williams failed to stay clear of Canfield's bow while attempting to tack to port to avoid crossing the pin end of the line early.
Thereafter Canfield led every leg and didn't afford his rival any room to complete his penalty turn before crossing the finish.
Reflecting on his massive win, Canfield said the series was tougher than the score line suggested.
“It was definitely one of the hardest quarter-finals we've been presented with all year,” he said. “It's always a tough match when the number one guy on the Tour picks you and obviously we are in a tough spot because we're getting towards the edge of being pushed out of the chance to win the title towards the end of the year.
“Being picked and coming and winning against the defending world champion is that much better. We are feeling good about the win and hopefully we can continue the momentum.”
Williams said: “Tough day for GAC Pindar with a 3-1 loss to Canfield. But will keep fighting till the end in Malaysia.”
Also navigating safely through to the semis was two-time Gold Cup winner Ben Ainslie (Ben Ainslie Racing Team) who came from behind to defeat Bjorn Hansen (eWork Sailing Team) 3-1.
The four-time Olympic gold medallist shook off a penalty he incurred during the pre-start to clinch the series with a match to spare.
“Obviously we are really happy to be through to the semi-finals,” Ainslie said. “It was really difficult out there and the day was windy with a lot of tricky shifts.
“We are juggling a lot here in and out of the boat so staying focused has been a bit of a challenge. But we are enjoying the racing and doing well.”
Storming into the semi-finals was Francesco Bruni (Luna Rossa) who recorded a 3-0 shut-out win against Phil Robertson (WAKA Racing).
It is the second time the Italian skipper has made it this far in the Gold Cup.
“We have been to the semi-finals here before but did not win our match then against Johnnie Berntsson,” Bruni said. “This time we are hoping to make it all the way.”
Past Tour champ Adam Minoprio (Alpari FX Trading) secured the remaining semi-final spot after edging out Keith Swinton (Black Swan Racing) 3-2 in a quarter-final series that went down to the wire.
“The last race came down to the shifts and we came into the top mark and Swinton tacked to find breeze and we kept our course,” Minoprio explained.
“We got the shift and powered ahead and that is what gave us the race.”
Today's semi-final match-ups will see Ainslie take on Minoprio while Canfield will lock horns with Bruni.
• Campbell Patton lost precious ground on the leaders on day two of the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup.
He slipped seven places down the leaderboard from third to tenth.
He ended the day on a high, though, scoring his second bullet of the regatta which went some way towards compensating for a string of disappointing finishes that triggered the slide.
Patton still leads the local fleet after nine races and one throw out.
Adam Larson (15th) and Felix Cutler (18th) are the next highest local sailors in the 49-boat fleet.
Swede Emil Jarud currently leads the regatta by a slim margin.