World’ finest primed for thrilling racing in Gold Cup
The last of the 16 teams competing in the Bermuda Gold Cup was due to arrive on island yesterday.
The arrival of 36th America’s Cup challenger Stars & Stripes Team USA, led by skipper Taylor Canfield, was delayed owingto their involvement in another regatta at the weekend.
“Taylor was racing a regatta in Charleston, South Carolina this weekend and so they are taking a flight this evening ,” Sean McNeill, the Bermuda Gold Cup press officer, said.
“They always planned to come in late and they are scheduled to get in a little bit of a practice session tomorrow morning (today) and they’ll be good to go at that point.
“They are in the afternoon group and so they won’t race probably before 1pm at the earliest.
“Taylor has plenty of experience here and knows the boats well.
“He is confident in these boats as any boat he’s sailed and I know he’s looking forward to it.”
Canfield and his team-mates have been placed in group 2 which also includes defending Gold Cup champion Ian Williams of GAC Pindar/Williams Racing.
The US Virgin Islands sailor will face former Bermuda resident Lance Fraser, who now resides in Toronto and is representing Canada, in his opening qualifying round-robin match in Hamilton Harbour today.
Canfield is a two-times Gold Cup champion having captured a maiden title in 2012 with USone Sailing Team and added a second in 2018.
“The Bermuda Gold Cup is definitely one of my favourite events,” Canfield, who is also a past World Match Racing champion, said. “I love the shifty racing on Hamilton Harbour; it caters to my style of sailing.”
The 31-year-old sailor is among four previous Gold Cup winners competing which also includes Sweden's Johnie Berntsson, Australian Torvar Mirsky and Williams, of Britain.
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.
The 70th Bermuda Gold Cup will also serve as the 2020 Open World Match Racing Championship.
It is the second time that Bermuda has hosted the Open Match Racing World Championship having done so previously in 1991.
The Bermuda Gold Cup, which was postponed from mid-May, has rejoined the World Match Racing Tour for the 2020 season.
“It is great to see the Bermuda Gold Cup back on the World Match Racing Tour after a few understandable years away due to the focus on the America's Cup,” said defending champion Williams, who is gunning for a third Gold Cup and record seventh world match-racing title.
The Bermuda Gold Cup was one of four World Championship-level competitions on the Tour's 19-event calendar, however, because of Covid-19, many events were forced to take place on a local capacity or were cancelled.
“Our schedule was affected quite a lot, like everyone,” said Swiss skipper Monnin said. “We’ve done some sailing at home since June, but very little match racing. It’s very difficult to know where we stand with the others.”
Representing Bermuda for the second straight year is Kelsey Durham who is competing with an all American crew.
The 26-year-old skipper and his Triangle Racing Team team-mates have been placed in group 1 and will face Monnin’s Capvis Swiss Match Racing Team in the opening match of the regatta.
Durham’s crew arrived on island Friday and spent the weekend getting in as much practise as possible.
“We had a great day yesterday (Saturday) and today (yesterday), Charlie Lalumiere, the team tactician, said.
“Yesterday we just focused on boat handling and today was more of the match race game.”
Durham added: “We’re feeling good.
“I’ve done a lot more match racing in the past year than I did for last year’s Gold Cup, so I’m feeling a little bit more confident.
“I know more of what has to be done and just knowing the basics.
“Last year I barely even knew the basics and now I have guys that also know match racing so I’m not on my own trying to figure it out.”
History will be made at the dual regatta as Sweden’s Anna Östling and Frenchwoman Courtois are poised to become the first female skippers to compete in the Open Worlds.