Berntsson wins storm-shortened Bermuda Gold Cup

Published on October 7th, 2023

Swedish skipper Johnie Berntsson won the 2023 Bermuda Gold Cup (October 3-7) for the third time since 2008. Hosted by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, 16 teams competed in this World Championship event of the World Match Racing Tour.

After racing was paused on October 5-6 due to the approach of Tropical Storm Philippe, strong winds of 25 to 35 knots in Hamilton Harbour on the last day forced the cancellation of the Semifinal and Final rounds. The final results were based on each team’s record in the round robin and Quarterfinal stages.

The Berntsson Racing Team—including Herman Andersson on tactics, Björn Lundgren on mainsail trim, and Patrik Sturesson on headsail trim—finished the regatta with a perfect score of 11-0 and won $25,000 of the $75,000 prize purse.

“I can recall being over the moon the first time I won this trophy. I never thought it would happen. Now it’s happened a third time and I’m super grateful,” said the 51-year-old Berntsson from Stenungsund, a medical IT consultant. “Sailing with Patrik, Herman and Björn, they pushed me all around the course. The tactics were excellent, the trimming was excellent, and it all helped me grow as a helmsman and build our confidence.”

Berntsson previously captured it in 2008 and 20144. He also finished runner-up four times (2011, ’12, ’18, ’19) and has the second-most finals appearances behind the event’s all-time winner Russell Coutts of New Zealand, who won the trophy seven times between 1990 and 2004 and finished runner-up twice.

Berntsson won all 11 of his races but should’ve sailed only 10 races. A scoring penalty in Race 3 of the quarterfinals for causing damage in a collision resulted in an additional race to score the 3 points required for advancement. Even at 10-0 he still would’ve won the regatta.

Taylor Canfield (USA), a three-time winner (2012, ’18, ’20), posted a 9-2 record to finish second with crew Robby Bisi, Mike Buckley, Ian Liberty, Erik Shampain, earning $12,000 of the prize purse.

“It’s disappointing we didn’t get to race,” said Canfield. “We came here to win, and I think we had the crew to get the job done.”

Ian Williams (GBR) with crew Jon Gunderson, Gerard Mitchell, Richard Sydenham finished third at 8-2 and won $10,000. Williams is a two-time winner (2006, ’19) of the trophy and a runner-up (2020).

Harry Price (AUS) team of Taylor Balogh, Julia Lines, Connor Mashlan placed fourth with an 8-4 record and won $8,000. Price’s crew included Bermudian Lines, who worked the bow. Price previously finished third in 2019.

At the awards ceremony two special trophies were presented. The Jordy Walker Trophy, presented in honor of past commodore B. W. “Jordy” Walker, is awarded to the most improved young match race sailor at the Bermuda Gold Cup. This year’s recipient was 21-year-old Jeffrey Petersen of Santa Ana, Calif.

The Wedgwood Heritage Trophy, awarded in honor of Lord Piers Wedgwood, is presented to the sailor or support staff who best represents the traditional values and history of sailing. This year’s recipient was Nicole Butterworth, the Bermuda Gold Cup’s Regatta Manager and the Sailing Secretary for the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club who was a driving force behind getting the Bermuda Gold Cup back on the water after a two-year absence.

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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.

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