The star-studded match racing fleet that has assembled in Bermuda for the 70th Bermuda Gold Cup and 2020 Open Match Racing Worlds is primed and ready for racing to begin tomorrow after a day of practice out on Hamilton Harbour.
After a year in which so many regattas were postponed or cancelled due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, the spectacle of International One-Design (IOD) sloops thrashing about the harbour is a welcome sight for all associated with the long-awaited event which begins tomorrow.
“Our schedule was affected quite a lot, like everyone,” said Eric Monnin of Switzerland, the world’s No. 1-ranked match racer and leading Bermuda Gold Cup veteran who’s making his 13th appearance. “We’ve done some sailing at home since June, but very little match racing. It’s very difficult to know where we stand with the others.”
In his first travel outside of Switzerland since the pandemic began, Monnin doesn’t feel threatened by the coronavirus. Everyone associated with the event had to get tested within one week of traveling to Bermuda and then again at Bermuda’s L.F. Wade International Airport upon arrival. All 69 sailors, race officials, umpires and support staff have tested negative with the regatta set to begin.
“I’m impressed with the efforts, it’s above expectations,” said Monnin. “Here on the island, the testing is organised very well. It’s much better than I thought. We’ll see how the week goes, but I think we’ll show the world that if you do things responsibly, it’s possible to host a world caliber regatta.
“The prospect of having a world championship event is quite unique,” Monnin continued. “It’s been a long time since the world championship was one event in monohulls. That’s also why this event is so interesting for all of us.”
The first warning signal is scheduled for 1030 Monday morning with Monnin’s Capvis Swiss Match Racing Team taking on Bermuda’s son, 26-year-old Kelsey Durham and his Triangle Racing Team. Sweden’s Berntsson Racing Team, led by Johnie Berntsson, a six-time finalist at the Bermuda Gold Cup, races top-ranked American Chris Poole’s Riptide Racing in Match 2.
Match 3 sees young Matthew Whitfield’s Dragon Racing Team of Great Britain racing Nicklas Dackhammar’s Essiq Racing Team of Sweden while New Zealander Phil Robertson and his China One Ningbao Team, the reigning world match racing champion, races Sweden’s Anna Östling’s Team WINGS, a two-time winner of the Women’s Match Racing Worlds, in Match 4.
In afternoon racing, the Bermuda Gold Cup reigning champion Ian Williams’s Team GAC Pindar of Great Britain races France’s Pauline Courtois and her Match in Pink by Normandy Elite Team, the women’s World No. 1-ranked match racer, in Match 1. Match 2 sees Denmark’s Borch Racing Team, led by Jeppe Borch, square off against Jelmer van Beek’s Team Dutch Wave of the Netherlands.
In Match 3 the Mirksy Racing Team, led by Australian Torvar Mirsky, a past event and world champion, races Mati Sepp’s Gleam Energy Sailing Team of Estonia. The final match pits the Stars+Stripes Team, led by Taylor Canfield of the U.S., also a past event and world champion, against Lance Fraser of Canada in Match 4. (Full crew list at bottom of release.)