By Laurie Fullerton
Hamilton, BERMUDA: Oct. 7, 2012- Hamilton harbor set the stage for the final race of the Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup today. Swiss sailor Damian Suri besting the fleet of 38 international and Bermuda sailors to win the 10th anniversary Renaissance Re trophy for his first place finish today.
Suri had a fantastic race in front of a huge spectator fleet. The race also featured sailors like American Audrey Giblin and Bermudian Chase Cooper very much in the hunt finishing in the top five today.
The Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup, the overall top prize, went to Douglas Elmes of Ireland who won it after 11 races with 50 points. Second place finisher Tomas di Luciano of Argentina had 54 points.
“I know today I had to cover Tomas from Argentina and so that is all I did. It worked out well. It was the right thing for me to do,” Elmes said, who has been sailing consistently well over the four days in both rough and light air conditions. “I am really amazed that I won the Junior Gold Cup. It is fantastic.”
Although Elmes had a very strong event, particularly in the shifty conditions on the Great Sound, Suri outpaced the fleet today and played every shift on Hamilton harbor.
“It was pretty cool to come in first in front of all the spectators,” said Suri, who jumped out of his Optimist and into the warm Bermuda water the minute he crossed the finish line. “I think I am now the only one in the regatta to get three bullets. I think I had a lot of good luck and many of us practiced the strategy of going to the left of the course. That seemed to work out well. It is just such a great place to be as it is beautiful, warm and great people.”
As this was the 10th anniversary of the Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup it seemed most fitting that a former junior Opti sailor who attended this event in 2003 won the Argo Group Gold Cup today. Taylor Canfield, who is from the US Virgin Islands and is in his early 20s, was brought here by Peter Holmberg when he was 14.
Canfield claims he caught the match racing bug then. He said, “I think when I was here nine years ago I did better in the heavier breezes, but the great camaraderie that we had than has continued. I think international Optimist sailing is so great for the sport. It inspired me then and I aspired to come back here and win the Gold Cup.” He won the Gold Cup today 3-0 over Johnie Berntsson of Sweden.
There is no doubt that the event stays in the minds of both the young sailors from overseas but it also raises the level of sailing for Bermuda’s youth sailors who would not normally get to meet world’s best. The support for youth sailing here has always been important to people like the late Dick Kempe and in his honor Chase Cooper was given the inaugural Dick Kempe award for being the top Bermuda sailor in this event. Cooper finished in seventh place overall.
“I definitely would love to race in the Gold Cup someday,” Cooper added. “I think this regatta went really well and I didn’t think I had been sailing well all summer, but things really improved for me this week.”
Bermuda’s Cecilia Wollmann also won an award for being the top girl finisher in the event.
The Renaissance Re Junior Gold Cup has had the kind of support that enables sailors to dream of their own futures as sailors and for event chairman Somers Cooper they could not have done it without sponsorship support like this.
“The kids love coming here because they know the competition is good and they really get to get out there with the best,” said event chairman Somers Cooper. “This event is also unique because it is tied to a world class match racing event. The young kids get to see and establish their sailing heroes and it continues to inspire their love of sailing and the sport. We really do have to thank our sponsor for making this happen. We could not do it without them.”