Countdown to Bermuda Gold Cup 2023
Published on September 25th, 2023
The lineup for the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club’s Bermuda Gold Cup, a World Championship event of the World Match Racing Tour scheduled October 3-7, is complete with all 16 entrants confirmed.
Fourteen of the 16 teams were revealed in August with three-time defending champion Taylor Canfield (Miami), World No. 1-ranked and newly minted U.S. match racing champion Chris Poole (Cold Spring Harbor, New York), the reigning Open Match Racing World Champion Nick Egnot-Johnson (Auckland, New Zealand), the reigning Women’s Match Racing World Champion Pauline Courtois (Brest, France), and the reigning Youth Match Racing World Champion Jeffrey Peterson (Santa Ana, California) highlighting the list.
The field was recently completed with the addition of Joshua Greenslade (Pembroke), winner of the Bermuda Match Racing National Championship, and Gavin Brady (Auckland, New Zealand), a past America’s Cup tactician.
Greenslade won the Bermuda championship by defeating Kelsey Durham (Smiths) in mid-August, 3-1.
“It was a light air day,” said the 32-year-old Greenslade. “In the first two races, Kelsey got out in front of us but made a couple of mistakes that we capitalized on. He got away from us in the third race to win that one, and in the fourth race we played the shifts a little better and got in front and took it to the finish. It was a long, hot day and we were able to do just better than him and got the spot.”
Greenslade raced the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup 2003-06 and the Bermuda Gold Cup in 2013 but hasn’t been match racing much lately as he helps run the youth sailing program at Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. He plans to race with locals Dale Brangman (mainsail trimmer) and Ruiri Brown (headsails trimmer) and Peter Dill (bowman) of Michigan.
“We’ll get out there and see what we can do, hopefully cause some problems for the others,” he said. “You like to think there’s local knowledge in the harbor, but it’s very hit or miss. I just hope the wind’s good are not super weird either way. I hope that I can see something that no one else sees, but I can’t guarantee that.”
The 49-year-old Brady, who finished runner-up in the 2001 Bermuda Gold Cup and last sailed the event in 2005, gained entry through the Oakcliff International, the concluding event of the 2023 US Grand Slam Series (a series of four Grade 2 match race regattas in the U.S.). Brady’s True Blue Racing team lost the final to Poole’s Riptide Racing, but gained the berth because Poole is already entered.
“I’m still passionate about match racing but it’s been hard to fit in,” said Brady, who’s the tactician and organizes the crew for three racing programs. “I’ve spent a lot of time and effort on Maxi 72s, TP52s, Pac 52s, and MOD70s, but little time on my own skills. I thought it was time to hone my skills and it’s been great motivation. I’ve been having a great time doing it.”
The championship trophy for the Bermuda Gold Cup, the King Edward VII Gold Cup, dates to 1907 and is the oldest match racing trophy in the world for a competition involving one-design yachts and is one of the most coveted championships in match racing.
New Zealander Russell Coutts, who’s won the America’s Cup five times as a skipper or Chief Executive Officer, is the all-time winner with seven Gold Cups between 1990 and 2004. The regatta has been run in its current format, as a ladder-style tournament on the confines of Hamilton Harbor, since 1985.
Besides racing amid the natural beauty of Bermuda, part of the allure of the regatta is the class of boat, the International One-Design, or IOD as it’s popularly known. Designed in 1936, the IOD is 33 feet long overall, 21 feet long on the waterline, nearly 7 feet wide and displaces more than 7,100 pounds.
Far from a hydrofoiler, the IOD is a glider that carries its speed for long stretches due to its weight. It’s a throwback in today’s age of lightweight flyers.
Canfield, who won the previous Gold Cup in October 2000 when it was also the Open Match Racing World Championship, has adapted well to the classic design despite racing multihulls and lightweight planers.
“You have more time to process what’s happening on the racecourse in an IOD than you do in a multihull such as the M32,” said Canfield. “In M32 fleet racing, you have split-second decision making. Match racing IODs the crew has more time to prepare for maneuvers.”
Canfield and his Stars+Stripes Team USA, including longtime tactician Mike Buckley, Robby Bisi, Ian Liberty, and Erik Shampain, will be late arrivals in Bermuda after racing in the 2023 M32 World Championship on September 28-Octoboer 1 in Newport, RI.
“The plan is to fly into Bermuda on Monday (October 2) morning and train in the afternoon,” said Canfield. “We haven’t focused much on match racing so I’m not sure where we stand with the current field, but Bermuda is one of my favorite venues. We’ve always done well there, and we have a great team. We’re aware of each other’s personalities and the chemistry is good.”
Anna Östling (Lerum, Sweden) is skipper of one of the three female crews slated to race the Bermuda Gold Cup, joining Courtois and New Zealand’s Celia Willison, and is returning for her second run at the prestigious trophy. Östling’s WINGS crew, the newly minted winners of the Women’s World Match Racing Tour, first raced in 2000 and placed 10th overall.
Östling eyes the starts as critical to any success her team, including Anna Holmdahl White (main trim and tactics), Linnéa Wennergren and Elisabeth Nilsson (trimmers) and Annika Carlunger (bow), will enjoy.
“We have been focusing on faster boats this last year so it will be great fun and a challenge to step into the IOD again,” said the 39-year-old skipper. “Last time was the first time for most of the crew, including me, and it took some time for us to understand the boat. So, I think with that experience I’m more prepared this time.
“I remember we had to plan the strategy a lot more before starting because we didn’t want to tack as often. So, we really need to be on our toes and take every chance to start ahead. In this fleet it will be difficult but if we can pull off some good starts, I’m confident my girls onboard will know how to sail the boat fast around the course,” Östling said.
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 winner of the WMRT each year is crowned World Sailing Match Racing World Champion.
Previous champions include Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR), Taylor Canfield (USA), Peter Gilmour (AUS), Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Peter Holmberg (ISV), Adam Minoprio (NZL), Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Bertrand Pace (FRA), Jesper Radich (DEN), Phil Robertson (NZL), and Ian Williams (GBR).
Since inception, 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.