Robertson, Mirsky set the Gold Cup standard
Phil Robertson and Torvar Mirsky stamped their authority during the opening day of the Bermuda Gold Cup and Open Match Racing World Championships in Hamilton Harbour yesterday.
Both skippers blazed their way to perfect 4-0 records competing in puffy and shifty breezes to lay down an early marker.
Robertson, the defending match-racing world champion, chalked up wins over Sweden’s Anna Ostling and Nicklas Dackhammer, Britain’s Matt Whitfield and Switzerland’s Eric Monnin to top the group one qualifying standings.
“It’s not a bad start,” Robertson, who hails from New Zealand, said. “We’re very rusty but a bit of it came back.
“We managed to settle down after the first race or two and get into a nice groove.
“It was a very Bermuda-style day with puffy and shifty conditions, so it was heads out of the boat. We were just getting puffs out of everywhere.
“We’re not as good as what we were in the past here, but it’s all about ramping it up so good learnings today.”
Mirsky, the 2011 Gold Cup winner and 2017 match-racing world champion, brushed aside Estonia’s Matti Sepp, Canada’s Lance Fraser, American Taylor Canfield and France’s Pauline Courtois to top the group two qualifying leaderboard.
“Our team did well today; four wins no losses,” Australian Mirsky said.
“A couple of the races came down to some close situations.
“We got lucky against Lance Fraser, who had a good lead on us. We were over the start early but fortunately we were able to pull that back.
“We still got lots of good racing to come, so we’re not counting anything just yet.
“We’re just focused on trying to learn how to sail again because it’s been so long.”
The Bermuda Gold Cup was one of four World Championship-level competitions on the World Match Racing Tour's 19-event calendar. However, because of Covid-19, many events were forced to take place in a local capacity or were cancelled.
Meanwhile, also making solid starts yesterday were Britain’s Ian Williams, the defending Gold Cup champion, USA’s Chris Poole, Sweden’s Johnie Berntsson and Denmark’s Jeppe Borch, who each posted 3-1 records.
Williams, who is gunning for a third Gold Cup and record seventh match-racing world title, was denied a sweep after squandering a lead in his final match of the day against Canfield’s Stars & Stripes USA, the 36th America’s Cup challenger.
“We controlled the race pretty well until the bottom gate and then just got a little bit out of phase with the shifts and a little bit out of phase with our communication as well,” Williams said.
“It’s early days. I think that once we can make sure we’re clear with our communication and our decision-making. Hopefully, we won’t make those mistakes again.”
Canfield, the two-times Gold Cup winner and 2013 Open World Match Racing champion, is among a bunch of skippers who recorded 2-2 records. They include Monnin, Dackhammar, Sepp and the Netherlands’ Jelmer van Beek.
“Not our best day but not our worst, that’s for sure,” said Canfield, whose team arrived on island only on Sunday night.
“We’re looking forward to just kind of growing as a team. We‘ve learnt a lot just from racing today.
“We’re going to keep learning and getting stronger as the event goes on.”
Bermuda’s Kelsey Durham found the going tough as he and his team-mates posted a disappointing 0-4 record.
“Was a long day, had some mistakes but we were in it every race,” he said.
“It gave us a boost of confidence seeing that we can actually compete with the top guys. We will just have to wait and see what tomorrow will bring.”
Durham’s first match today will be against Ostling, whose team boasts fellow Bermuda sailor Julia Lines.