Taylor Canfield heralds Gold Cup trumph as ʽunbelievable’
Taylor Canfield joined an exclusive group of company after winning the Bermuda Gold Cup and Open Match Race World Championship with Stars+Stripes USA in Hamilton Harbour yesterday.
The US Virgin Islands skipper conquered old foe Ian Williams and GAC Pindar and the blustery conditions to triumphantly raise the Gold Cup for the third time overall and second in two years.
Canfield won the first-to-three points final 3-0.25 and in doing so joined the revered likes of New Zealand’s Sir Russell Coutts and Bermuda’s A.F. “Bert” Darrell as skippers to have won the prestigious showpiece three or more times.
“We love to be here racing and to come away with the win is just a bonus so we are thrilled,” said Canfield, who also clinched a second world match-racing title.
“It’s unbelievable. I can’t thank my team enough. I put us in a lot of tough spots this week and they got us out of almost every one of them.
“I think we were the fastest boat out there because of how focused everyone was on board, no matter where we were. These guys push right to the end no matter what. If we’re behind or ahead they wanted more all the time and everyone stayed super focused and did their jobs well the last two days.
“We are so thrilled. It’s obviously just great to be here racing and awesome the World Match Racing Tour and Bermuda as a whole came together to put on this event during these hard times.”
Taylor was in full control of the final after jumping out to a 2-(-0.75) advantage.
The 31-year-old skipper came from behind to win the opening race.
Williams led the first lap around the racecourse.
But the lead swapped hands for good on the second beat when Canfield passed Williams on starboard tack, rolled back on port and tagged a penalty on his rival in a luffing match.
Williams closed the gap on the final downwind run but was hit with another penalty after his spinnaker made contact with Canfield’s boat.
The second race was virtually over before the boats were on course side as Williams was hit with two penalties and involved in a dramatic collision in the prestart.
Having incurred an early penalty, things quickly went from bad to worse as he picked up another after getting tangled up with Canfield among the spectator boats outside the pin end of the line in the area known as “Coffin Corner”.
The mishap occurred as Williams, on port, attempted to wipe Canfield by sailing below the commentary boat. Canfield, who had the right of way on starboard, appeared to try and put his bow between the commentary boat and Williams. Instead his bow collided with Williams and spun him into the commentary boat.
Williams was required by the rules to complete one of his penalty turns immediately after crossing the start line, as Canfield made his way upwind and sailed the rest of the way virtually uncontested to move to match point.
Adding insult to injury, Williams later was assessed a penalty of 0.75 points by the race officials, which left him with no margin for error and having to win four consecutive races to win the championship.
Still, he battled on courageously and finally got a foothold in the match after winning the third race to signal “game on”.
Williams seized early control after Canfield was hit with a penalty in a luffing match in the prestart and then had to restart after crossing the line early attempting to tack away from Williams’s transom and avoiding the committee boat.
Canfield made up considerable distance on the leader on the run to the finish but ultimately ran out of racetrack.
However, Williams’s reprieve proved temporary as Canfield came from behind for the second time in the final to win the next race and clinch the dual regatta.
Williams led around the first two marks and seemed firmly in control when the penalty he incurred in the pre-start was offset after Canfield’s spinnaker made contact with his backstay on the first downwind run.
But again Canfield’s never-say-die attitude and decision to opt for the right side of the course heading up the final beat paid off as he passed Williams and then covered his rival the rest of the way to seal the deal with a race to spare.
“I guess it was exciting for the spectators today,” Williams, the two-times Gold Cup winner, said.
“It was a pretty rough one for us as you can tell. The umpire decisions were critical today and we were on the wrong side of them.
“But we just have to accept that and move on and try and come back stronger next year.”
Earlier, dethroned world champion Phil Robertson beat Gold Cup debutant Jeppe Borch 2-0.25 in the first-to-two points Petit Final to round off the podium.
(first to 3pts)
Flight 1 (Thursday)
M1: Ian Williams (Britain) bt Jeppe Borch (Denmark)
M2: Taylor Canfield (United States) bt Phil Robertson (New Zealand)
Flight 2 (Thursday)
M1: Williams bt Borch
M2: Canfield bt Robertson
M1: Williams bt Borch (Williams wins 3-0)
M2: Robertson bt Canfield
M2: Robertson bt Canfield
M2: Canfield bt Robertson (Canfield wins 3-2)
Final first to 3pts)
Canfield bt Williams
Canfield bt Williams (Williams penalised 0.75 points for collision)
Williams bt Canfield
Canfield bt Williams (Canfield wins 3-0.25)
(first to 2pts)
Robertson bt Borch
Borch bt Robertson (Borch penalised 0.75 points for collision)
Robertson bt Borch (Robertson wins 2-0.25)