2020 Match Racing Worlds in Bermuda

Published on September 16th, 2020

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and World Match Racing Tour have agreed for the 70th Bermuda Gold Cup to also host the 2020 Open Match Racing World Championship as sanctioned by World Sailing.

Originally scheduled in May, the Bermuda Gold Cup – which rejoined the World Match Racing Tour for the 2020 season – was postponed in March due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, but is now planned for October 26-30 in Hamilton, Bermuda.

Typically the world title is awarded to the World Match Racing Tour season champion, but due to travel restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic impeding participation in the 2020 schedule, many events were forced to take place on a local capacity or were canceled.

As a result, the tour was not maintaining its leaderboard, requiring another solution to award the world title. A field of 16 entrants will be in Bermuda including top World Match Racing Tour cardholders.

“We couldn’t be happier that the World Match Racing Tour has selected the Bermuda Gold Cup to host the Open Match Racing World Championship,” said Leatrice Oatley, chairperson of the Bermuda Gold Cup. “The Bermuda Gold Cup has always been a standard setter in the match racing arena and we’re thrilled to host the Worlds for a second time.

“The pandemic has made it a long year for everyone around the globe, and the hurricane we just endured was a cruel joke, but a competitive Gold Cup and world championship would be a great way to flip the script positive.”

“As the single World Championship event for the 2020 World Match Racing Tour, we are delighted to see the world’s best competitors have committed to sailing at the Bermuda Gold Cup,” said Alastair Fox, the Director of Events for World Sailing. “The event is renowned for its exceptional delivery and we are confident the 2020 Worlds will be a resounding success.”

The preliminary lineup includes the reigning World Champion, New Zealander Phil Robertson who currently lives in Gothenburg, Sweden. Robertson won the worlds in 2016 and 2019 and has been sailing multihulls predominantly the past few years. But having competed at the Bermuda Gold Cup five times previously, he’s well aware of the difficulty racing the International One-Design (IOD) sloop on Hamilton Harbour.

“Winning a World Championship event is never easy. You have to peak at the right time,” said the 33-year-old Robertson. “Winning a third championship will be very difficult, but I wouldn’t attend if I didn’t think my crew could put forth a winning performance. The IOD is about as far away as possible from my skill set right now, given all the multihull sailing I’ve been doing, but we’ll do all we can to hone in on mastering it.”

Spoiling to thwart his attempt are a few past world champions. Six-time champion Ian Williams (Lymington, England) will go for a record seventh title while the 2017 champion, Torvar Mirsky (Fremantle, Western Australia), aims to add a second title to his résumé. There’s also Anna Östling (Lerum, Sweden), a two-time winner of the Women’s Match Racing World Championship. If she were to succeed in Bermuda, she’d become the first woman to win both the Women’s and Open Match Racing World Championships.

“We are delighted to stage the Open Match Racing World Championship this year and I am very grateful to Royal Bermuda Yacht Club for their support in hosting the event,” said James Pleasance, Executive Director of the World Match Racing Tour. “Besides having past world champions in the competitive lineup, it’s fantastic to welcome Anna and her world-caliber crew to the event. It would be a wonderful story if she were to become the first woman to win the Open Worlds.”

This will be the second time that Bermuda hosts the Open Match Racing World Championship. In 1991, the regatta was held on Hamilton Harbour the week after the Bermuda Gold Cup. Amid deteriorating conditions due to a tropical storm, New Zealander Chris Dickson defeated American Peter Isler. The final was sailed in 30- to 35-knot winds which forced the two crews to double-reefed mainsails and storm jibs on the Hunter 35 sailboats.

The winner of the Bermuda Gold Cup will receive the King Edward VII Gold Cup, the oldest trophy in the world for competition involving one-design yachts, as well as the $30,000 winner’s check. For winning the World Championship the skipper will be presented the sterling silver World Match Racing Tour Trophy that was made by Garrard & Co., the royal jeweler that crafted the America’s Cup trophy in 1851.

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Entry list before postponement:
• 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: click here

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

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