Sixteen teams for Bermuda Gold Cup
Published on February 18th, 2020
The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club’s 70th Gold Cup for the King Edward VII trophy returns to its traditional format this year with a field of 16 crews plotting to win the venerable trophy and the lion’s share of the $100,000 prize purse.
Scheduled May 11-16, the King Edward VII Gold Cup is the second World Championship-level event of the 2020 World Match Racing Tour, with such designation affording competitors greater points on the world tour leaderboard and their qualification towards the WMRT Grand Final.
The crew-on-crew racing in International One-Design (IOD) sloops will be held on Hamilton Harbour, directly in front of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club docks where the pre-start circling action is often played out within feet of the docks.
For the first time since 2015, the King Edward VII Gold Cup will feature a supersize 16-team format. The past two events in 2018 and ’19 featured 12 teams as the regatta reestablished its place on the calendar after the destination island hosted the America’s Cup in 2017.
Among the 16 entrants are three past Gold Cup champions, including reigning champion Ian Williams (Lymington, England), two all-women crews, including the World No. 1 and No. 2-ranked skippers, and three dynamite youth crews under 25 years of age, including the reigning Youth World Champion.
“It was a club decision to increase the size of the field to 16,” said event chairperson Leatrice Oatley, a Past Commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. “We had a lot of interest expressed from potential competitors and after discussions with the PRO, David Campbell-James, from a scheduling perspective, it was decided the event could accommodate 16 teams. Everyone involved is very happy and supportive that we’ve expanded the event.”
Early entrants include three two-time winners: Williams, the reigning champion who also won in 2006, Johnie Berntsson (Stenungsund, Sweden), who won in 2008 and ’14 and who has also finished runner-up four times, and Taylor Canfield (Miami, Fla.), the 2012 and ’18 champion.
The all-women crews are led by World No. 1-ranked Pauline Courtois (Brest, France), who’s back for a second try at the Gold Cup after debuting last year, and World No. 2-ranked Anna Östling (Lerum, Sweden), a two-time Women’s Match Racing World champion (2014, ’16) who also placed 2nd last year in the Women’s International Match Race Series.
Östling, 35, and her crew of Anika Carlunger, Anna Holmdahl, and twin sisters Annie and Linnéa Wennergren will be making their first appearance at the Gold Cup and the skipper says it’s a “big step forward” for her team.
“In 2015 we did our first World Match Racing Tour Open event in Marstrand after winning the qualification that spring,” Östling says. “It was a big challenge and we loved everything except the result. After that we decided to aim for doing the WMRT the year after but that year it changed into M32 catamarans.
“Even though we did jump into the M32 right away, it was too physical to race the guys. Now that the Tour is going back to events with different boats, we said we really wanted to take on this task and dream again. Therefore, this invite means a lot.”
Youth is served with 24-year-old Harry Price (Sydney, Australia), who placed third overall last year in his Gold Cup debut, 21-year-old Nick Egnot-Johnson (Auckland, New Zealand), who won the New Zealand Match Racing Championship and Match Race Germany last year, and 21-year-old Tom Grimes (Belmont, New South Wales, Australia), the reigning Youth Match Racing World Champion. It will be the first time Egnot-Johnson and Grimes have raced the Gold Cup.
“The Gold Cup obviously has a long and proud history as one of the great match racing trophies you want to win. All the greats have, and we are looking forward to our first opportunity to compete,” says Grimes. “It looks like quite a tight and tricky start box so the pre-start will be interesting! We have seen any condition on the water from our research.”
Bermuda will be represented by the winner of the Bermuda National Match Racing Championship, scheduled March 1, as well as 26-year-old Lance Fraser (Toronto, Canada).
Fraser grew up on Bermuda and learned how to sail in the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club youth program. He moved to Canada for education and work and is now an Assistant Vice President at Chubb and leads the transactional risk business for Canada while also retaining his membership at Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
“Since my last Gold Cup, I took a break from sailing at a high level due to career priorities which I think helped a lot as it allowed me to approach the game from a fresh perspective once we started match racing more consistently again,” said Fraser, who has coached the Royal Canadian Yacht Club match racing program as well as helped out with the Canadian National Sailing Team.
“Answering questions about tactics from great sailors with limited to no match racing experience has been extremely helpful for my own tactics,” Fraser said. “When we took a step back, the plan was always to keep our ranking up high enough so that when we wanted to, we could start sailing at a higher level again and the whole team is extremely excited to get back racing at the Gold Cup level.”
2020 KING EDWARD VII GOLD CUP PRELIMINARY ENTRANT LIST:
• Bermuda National Match Racing Champion (to be determined)
• Johnie Berntsson (49, Stenungsund, Sweden) – World No. 7 Open Match Race Rankings,
• Taylor Canfield (31, Miami, USA) – World No. 31 Open Match Race Rankings, 7th , two-time winner (2018, ’12)
• Pauline Courtois (30, Brest, France) – World No. 1 Women’s Match Race Rankings, 2nd King Edward VII Gold Cup
• Nicklas Dackhammar (30, Gothenburg, Sweden) – World No. 15 Open Match Race Rankings, 4th , 6th place 2018
• Nick Egnot-Johnson (21, Auckland, New Zealand) – World No. 2 Open Match Race Rankings, first New Zealand Match Racing Championship, Nespresso Youth Match Racing Championship and Match Race Germany
• Lance Fraser (26, Toronto, Canada) – World No. 38 Open Match Race Rankings, 6th
• Tom Grimes (21, Belmont, New South Wales, Australia) – World No. 18 Open Match Race Rankings, reigning Youth Match Racing World Champion, 1st King Edward VII Gold Cup
• Maxime Mesnil (30, Le Havre, France) – World No. 4 Open Match Race Rankings, 2nd King Edward VII Gold Cup
• Torvar Mirsky (33, Sydney, Australia) – World No. 27 Open Match Race Rankings, 5th King Edward VII Gold Cup, 5th place in 2019
• Eric Monnin (44, Immensee, Switzerland) – World No. 1 Open Match Race Rankings, 13th , 8th place in 2019
• Anna Östling (35, Lerum, Sweden) – World No. 2 Women’s Match Race Rankings, World No. 36 Open Match Race Rankings, first King Edward VII Gold Cup, two-time Women’s Match Racing World champion
• Harry Price (24, Sydney, Australia) – World No. 5 Open Match Race Rankings, 2nd , 3rd place in 2019,
• Jelmer van Beek (25, The Hague, Netherlands) – World No. 11 Open Match Race Rankings, 1st King Edward VII Gold Cup
• Ian Williams (42, Lymington, England) – World No. 3 Open Match Race Rankings, 12th King Edward VII Gold Cup, two-time champion (2019, ’06), six-time Match Racing Worlds champion
• Patryk Zbroja (42, Szczecin, Poland) – World No. 9 Open Match Race Rankings, 1st King Edward VII Gold Cup, 2018 Polish Open Match Racing Champion
(Rankings based on Jan. 8, 2020 World Sailing Rankings – Match Racing)
Founded in 2000, the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) promotes the sport of match racing around the world and is the longest running global professional series in the sport of sailing. The World Tour represents a series of independently organized and officially sanctioned match racing events. Teams accumulate points from each of the events towards an overall WMRT global ranking, the top twelve teams from which compete in the WMRT Championship Finals at the end of the season.
2020 World Match Racing Tour Schedule
1. April 24-26 – Ficker Cup, Long Beach CA, USA
2. April 29–May 3 – Congressional Cup® Regatta, Long Beach, California, USA*
3. May 8-10 – Porto Montenegro Match Race, Montenegro
4. May 11-16 – Argo Gold Cup, Bermuda*
5. May 14-17 – Slovenia Match Race Cup, Portorož, Slovenija
6. May 22-24 – NJK Open Spring Cup, Finland
7. May 27-June 1 – Match Race Germany, Langenargen, Germany
8. June 18-21 – Świnoujście Match Race – Polish Match Tour, Poland
9. July 1-5 – GKSS Match Cup Sweden*
10. July 23-26 – Internationaux de France de Match Racing, France
11. July 29-August 1 – Baltic Match Race, Estonia
12. Aug 8-11 – AIRCALIN Match Race, Noumea, New Caledonia
13. Aug 14-16 – Chicago Grand Slam, Chicago, USA
14. Aug 19-23 – International Match Race for the Detroit Cup, USA
15. Aug 27-31 – Oakcliff International, Oyster Bay, USA
16. Sept 2-5 – Thompson Cup, Oyster Bay, USA
17. Sept 17-20 – DBS Marina Bay Cup, Singapore
18. WMRT FINAL – TBA Nov/Dec
* WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Event
The WMRT takes place in identically supplied racing yachts which change for each event and has been awarded ‘Special Event’ status by the sport’s world governing body – World Sailing. The winner of the WMRT each year is crowned World Sailing Match Racing World Champion.
Previous Champions include Bertrand Pace (FRA), Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR), Jesper Radich (DEN), Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Peter Holmberg (ISV), Peter Gilmour (AUS), Ian Williams (GBR), Adam Minoprio (NZL), Taylor Canfield (ISV), Phil Robertson (NZL), and Torvar Mirsky (AUS).
Since 2000, the World Match Racing Tour and its events have awarded over USD23million in prize money to sailors which has helped to contribute to the career pathway of many of today’s professional sailors. www.wmrt.com
Source: Royal Bermuda Yacht Club