Hamilton, BERMUDA: Oct. 2, 2012 – The first day of sailing in the 2012 Argo Group Gold Cup was intense. After finishing four flights of four matches each in each of the two groups, three skippers were standing 3-0 and four were standing 3-1. Each flight has two skippers drawing a bye, so some skippers at this point have sailed four races, some three.
In Group 1, Taylor Canfield (ISV) of Team CMRC ranked 11by ISAF, and Staffan Lindberg (FIN) ranked 19 are both 3-0. Lindberg defeated top ranked Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar in a tight battle to set Williams back to 3-1 and Canfield handed Bermuda’s Blythe Walker his only loss of the day in Flight 1 to put Walker at 3-1 tied with Williams.
Williams was carrying a penalty in his first match against Magnus Sandberg (SWE/CAN) but there was a big wind shift and the committee blew off the match. The match was restarted. Williams kept clear this time and went on to win handily. The wind settled in generally from the Southwest, but remained light and shifty.
In Group 2 only Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team is undefeated at 3-0 after handing 19 yr old Bermudian Lance Fraser’s Digicel Sailing Team its only loss. Fraser is at 3-1 as is Bjorn Hansen (SWE) moving into Flight 5 on Wednesday.
The match of the day in Group 1 was between Ian Williams and Staffan Lindberg. Williams had an early lead and had put a penalty on Lindberg. Staffan fought back and cleared the penalty at the leeward mark and then stayed close going back to windward.
Going down wind to the finish Williams pushed Lindberg to the starboard close to shore but Lindberg was able to pass above Williams then gybe clear ahead to carry the lead all the way to the finish.
“It was a very good race with a couple of lead changes and taking on a penalty then coming back and managing to get the win,” Lindberg said. “It was a little bit of skill and a lot of luck. You take what you can get, of course.”
The match of the day in Group 2 was the final of the day between Fraser and Berntsson. Fraser got a penalty on Berntsson in the pre-start trapping him for not keeping clear. Berntsson kept a close lead going up wind and kept pushing Fraser away to the left side. At the windward mark, he pushed Fraser past the mark. In the ensuing luffing duel, Berntsson got enough separation, stalled Fraser and popped in his penalty turn taking the lead.
Fraser pushed hard engaging Berntsson on the second beat but a spinnaker twist in the last run kept him from recovering. He ended 3-1 while Berntsson ended the day at 3-0.
“We had to fight hard for our point,” said Berntsson. “Lance did a really good job all the way through that race. He and his team were fighting hard. We had some luck at the end and it was very good racing. This was an important day. We are glad to be up on points going into tomorrow.”
Racing continues on Wednesday with four more Qualifying flights and on Thursday with three more flights. The top four in each group then move on to the Quarter Finals. The Gold Cup winner takes $50,000 of the entire $100,000 prize purse.
In the 2012 Argo Group Gold Cup, the two–group round robin qualifying stage means that all 10 teams in a group will sail against each other once. The top four teams in each group will move up to the Quarterfinals. There is no second chance this year.