Durham to fly flag for Bermuda in Gold Cup
Rubbing shoulders with the world's elite match racing sailors in the Bermuda Gold Cup is “like a dream come true” for Kelsey Durham.
The 26-year-old sailor made his debut in the World Match Racing Tour sanctioned regatta last year and pulled off a stunning upset by upstaging Torvar Mirsky, the world champion, during the initial qualifying round.
“It was a boost of confidence for the rest of the regatta,” Durham said. “But you can imagine the amount of pressure I was under leading from the start.
“That was my first match race regatta and I didn't do too well the first two days. But as the days progressed I started actually competing.”
He added: “When I did the Junior Gold Cup I always looked up to the guys that were doing the real Gold Cup like Sir Russell Coutts [seven-times champion]. I still have the life jacket he signed years ago and now just for me to compete in it is like a dream come true.”
Durham's debut in the Gold Cup ultimately proved to be a baptism of fire as he bowed out at the first hurdle.
“Match racing and fleet racing are two completely different things and going into the regatta I thought I knew enough about match racing, but I didn't,” he said. “It was a rude awakening.”
Since then, Durham has gained more experience in the art of match racing under his belt.
“I have been sailing a lot more match racing regattas since last year's Gold Cup,” he said. “I did two regattas at Royal Canadian Yacht Club in Toronto, two at Oakcliff Sailing Centre in Long Island and I also did two in Bermuda.
“I also got a new job with Manhattan Yacht Club with sailing, so I am doing what I love and I have been with them since last November.”
Durham will represent the island again at this month's Bermuda Gold Cup, which will also serve as the 2020 Open World Match Racing Championship, and has returned home early to prepare for upcoming battles in Hamilton Harbour.
“I have got this month off just do so some training and do a lot of sailing and preparations have been going good,” he said. “I am just prepping for the race and trying to be as ready as possible.”
He added: “Last year, I made a mistake and didn't do that much training before the regatta. But I learnt a lot last year and now have had quite a bit of experience since then.
“It's the Gold Cup and the World Championship so the competition is going to be crazy. This is the big one.”
Durham will be competing with an all American crew, which includes bowman Alex Ellis, trimmer Edward Lebens, and tactician and main Charlie Lalumiere.
“I have a crew that know a lot of about match racing,” Durham said.
The dual regatta will be held from October 26 to 30 in Hamilton Harbour, where the teams will do battle in the International One Design sloop for the prestigious King Edward VII Gold Cup and share of the $100,000 purse.
Ian Williams, of Britain, is the defending champion and will be gunning for a third Gold Cup and record seventh world match-racing title.