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Williams and crew step up preparations for Gold Cup defence

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Ian Williams and Team GAC Pindar have stepped up preparations for their defence of the Argo Group Gold Cup and bid for a record seventh world match-racing title in local waters.

Ian Williams is back to defend his title in the Argo Group Gold Cup

The British professional sailing team took advantage of an opportunity to spend additional time practising in the International One Design sloop in Hamilton Harbour, where the Gold Cup and 2020 Open Match Racing World Championship will be contested from October 26 to 30, since arriving on island on Sunday.

“Three of us got our [Covid-19] test results through in time to practise on Monday, then all four of us on Tuesday,” Williams told The Royal Gazette.

“[Royal Bermuda Yacht Club] then required the boats to prepare them for the event from Tuesday evening, so we cannot practise any more until the official practice day on Sunday.”

He added: “IODs have a very different feel from the other boats we sail on the circuit, so it’s been great for GAC Pindar to start to get a feel for them. We are also sailing with Christian Kamp on GAC Pindar for the first time, so it was also really good to start to get familiar with each other as a group.

Ian Williams, right, and Team GAC Pindar round a windward mark during the final of the 69th Argo Group Gold Cup last year (Photograph by Charles Anderson)

“Now we get to enjoy the island for a few days and get fired up again on Sunday.”

Williams won a maiden Gold Cup in 2006 and a second after beating two-times winner Johnie Berntsson, of Sweden, 3-1 in the final last year.

The six-times world match-racing champion is among four previous Gold Cup winners competing, including Berntsson, Australian Torvar Mirsky and Taylor Canfield, of the US Virgin Islands.

The star-studded field also consists of Phil Robertson, the world champion from New Zealand, as well as the top-ranked match racers in the men's and women's categories — Eric Monnin, of Switzerland, and Pauline Courtois, of France.

They will be joined by Anna Östling, the two-times women's world champion from Sweden.

Also in the mix are Chris Poole, the top-ranked American competing and seventh in the world, Sweden's Nicklas Dackhamma and Lance Fraser, who is no stranger, having grown up on the island. He will be representing Canada.

Flying Bermuda's banner for the second straight year will be Kelsey Durham, while Estonia's Mati Sepp, the Netherlands' Jelmer van Beek, Denmark's Jeppe Borch and Matthew Whitfield, of Britain, are making their Gold Cup debuts.

The King Edward VII Trophy, awarded to the winner of the Bermuda Gold Cup, presented by Argo Group, is the oldest trophy in the world for competition involving one-design yachts.

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Published October 22, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated October 21, 2020 at 10:24 pm)

Williams and crew step up preparations for Gold Cup defence

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