WMRT Argo Group Gold Cup first day frustrations

WMRT Argo Group Gold Cup 2011
© Chris Davies/AWMRT
The 2011 Argo Group Gold Cup is the penultimate stage of the World Match Racing Tour and is being held from fourth-9th of October at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Today’s opening day witnessed ISAF Match Racing World Championship contenders Jesper Radich, Bjorn Hansen and Francesco Bruni take victories in their first matches on what proved to be a frustrating opening day of racing in Bermuda.

Despite the promise of wind in Hamilton Harbour, the breeze failed to arrive and settle. If there was already increased pressure to qualify for the knock-out stages here in Bermuda, the light winds could yet add to it. With a tight schedule involving 24 teams, every postponement brings the increased chance of a shortened schedule when tie-break situations become more probable – suddenly every race has an even greater significance.

Jordan Reece (AUS) True Blue Racing, who lost his opening match against Bjorn Hansen (DEN) Mekonomen Sailing Team, said: 'It gets a bit frustrating not being able to race and it’s especially hard for the teams in group one as we don’t have the chance to watch the others and see how they’re performing. With such little racing happening today, it puts a lot more emphasis on doing well in each of your early races.'

The prospect of a shortened schedule is a long way off and with winds expected to build over the course of the week to over 30 knots by Friday, the fleet of IODs will soon be in action.

Current Tour leader Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar sponsored by Argo Group, knows only too well that there is the very real prospect of a Championship challenger being eliminated altogether before the knock-out stages.

Teams are looking forward to similar weather conditions to last year which saw some great racing - Argo Group Gold Cup 2011
In 2010, Williams himself was eliminated after a three way tie-break with Adam Minoprio and eventual winner Ben Ainslie. This year though, he feels the pressure if off his shoulders as his consistently strong performances this season means he will have five high points scores to calculate his overall Championship total going into the Monsoon Cup regardless of his performance in Bermuda.

'We are looking forward to seeing the results from here as it's an easy event to get sent home from after the first stage,' said Williams. 'We are in the enviable position that if we bomb out we are still in good shape on the Tour but our closest rivals need good results so the pressure is really on them.'

Whoever does qualify, there will be no easy pick, the first of which will be awarded to the winner of Group 3 which includes top seed Williams, as well as the French Match Racing Team duo of Mathieu Richard and Damien Iehl. The top seed in Group 2 which includes the four Tour Card Holders of Peter Gilmour (AUS) Yanmar Racing, Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat, Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team and Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing will have second pick.

The second qualifying session gets underway at 0900 local time (-4hrs GMT) on Wednesday 5 October with the second flight of the first group.

Results after Qualifying Session One- Group One:

Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners 1-0
Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team 1-0
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekononmen Sailing Team 1-0
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing 1-0
Blythe Walker (BER) Team RenRe 0-1
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing 0-1
Jordan Reece (AUS) True Blue Racing 0-1
Jakub Pawluk (POL) Henri Lloyd Racing 0-1

Overall Championship Standings – after six stages:

1 Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar – 90pts
2 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing – 89pts
3 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat – 84pts
4 Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing – 74pts
5 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team – 73pts
6 Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 67pts
7 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 63pts
8 Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners – 61pts
9 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team – 48pts
10 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing – 43pts

World Match Racing Tour website