Bermuda Gold Cup – Harry Price through to semis

Bermuda Gold Cup through quarter-finals with tropical storm on horizon

Berntsson, Canfield, Price and Williams advance to semifinals

HAMILTON, Bermuda (Oct. 4, 2023) — In a thrilling match that saw a tiresome combined 24 tacks in the span of about two and a half minutes, Harry Price’s (AUS) Down Under Racing Team defeated Eric Monnin’s Capvis Swiss Match Racing Team, 3-2, to advance to the Semifinal Round of the 71st Bermuda Gold Cup.
 
Price, who finished third at the Bermuda Gold Cup in 2019, joins multiple winners Johnie Berntsson’s (SWE) Berntsson Racing Team, Taylor Canfield’s (USA) Stars+Stripes Team USA and Ian Williams’ (GBR) Chinaone.Ningbo team in the next round. The three veterans combined to go 10-1 in the quarterfinals, which included Berntsson winning four races to get the requisite three points to advance.
 
Instead of building on the momentum of an exciting day of racing, the Bermuda Gold Cup is being postponed for two days due to the threat of Tropical Storm Philippe. The Bermuda Weather Service issued a bulletin this evening stating that the closest point of approach to Bermuda within the next 72 hours (three days) is forecast to be 31 nautical miles to the west/northwest at 12:00 pm on Friday, Oct. 6, with forecast wind strengths of 35 to 45 knots.
 
Given the forecast, Principal Race Officer David Campbell-James completed the rounds robin and then rolled into the quarterfinals. A total of 40 races were held in an easterly wind of 12 to 15 knots on Hamilton Harbour.
 
Following the completion of the rounds robin, the top eight skippers were: Berntsson, 7-0, Monnin, 6-1, Canfield at 6-1, Williams at 5-2, Price at 5-2, Gavin Brady’s (USA) True Blue Racing at 5-2, Jeppe Borch’s (DEN) Borch Racing Team, 5-2, and Nick Egnot-Johnson’s (NZL) KNOTS Racing, at 4-3.
 
For the quarterfinals, Berntsson chose to race Egnot-Johnson, Monnin picked Price, Canfield selected Brady and Williams raced Borch.
 
The Monnin-Price match was easily the best of the bunch. “We were happy he picked us,” said Price, winner of the Jordy Walker Trophy for most improved newcomer to the regatta in 2019. “We were sailing the boat fast and gave him his only loss in the round robin. We were comfortable with the matchup.”
 
Monnin, however, jumped out to a 2-0 lead, mostly due to Price’s mistakes. “The first two races didn’t go our way,” said Price. “We got a penalty in the first race. We had a good lead but couldn’t complete the penalty turn in time. It sort of started raining and everything kind of hit the fan. Then we got two penalties in the next one.”
 
With no margin for error, Price’s young crew settled down. They won Flight 3 to get on the board and then won Flight 4 to even the score. On the second upwind leg Monnin was hit with a penalty for windward/leeward as the leeward boat, which he felt could’ve gone either way. “It was a tough call,” said Monnin. “I think the umpires felt I didn’t give him time to maneuver.”
 
In the deciding Flight 5 Price led by about one boatlength after the first lap, where both crews rounded the right-hand gate mark on starboard. With his regatta on the line, Monnin initiated a tacking duel that saw the two crews tack 12 times each. “I thought we were gaining on him,” said Monnin. “We were carrying our speed better.”
 
Price held the power of positioning, inside on port tack, and luffed Monnin head-to-wind as the two drifted past the windward mark. Price faked bearing away a couple of times before finally pulling out of the dial-up and sailing towards the finish for an eventual win of two boatlengths.
 
“In the last race we went into protection mentality,” said Price. “Wherever possible we wanted to be next to him. All you have to do is win by one millimeter and you win the race and progress through to the semis. It felt like we did 600 maneuvers; maybe not really but the crew was gassed.”

Berntsson could’ve advanced to the semis with a 3-0 record, but he ran afoul of the umpires in his Flight 3 match against Egnot-Johnson. Berntsson picked up a penalty in the pre-start for windward/leeward when the pair was fishtailing approaching the start, sailing up and down while overlapped with Berntsson trailing.
 
Egnot-Johnson led at the windward mark and Berntsson pulled a quick jibe to starboard and Egnot-Johnson had a slow set. But Berntsson was hit with a second penalty for what he presumes was not giving enough room to keep clear.
 
Forced to do one of his penalty turns Berntsson’s crew lowered their spinnaker and headed up but then Egnot-Johnson was penalized for failing to keep clear as windward boat. Berntsson’s crew rehoisted the spinnaker to leeward of Egnot-Johnson, both on starboard, as they continued down the run.
 
In a controlling position to leeward, Berntsson forced the match well above the layline to the gate and was able to unload his second penalty by tacking to port and heading to the leeward gate. It’s a classic old man’s move in match racing.
 
“In that position, he couldn’t do anything,” said Berntsson. “I was looking at him and I don’t know if he was sure about what was going on. There were so many things happening. I don’t think he realized we could equalize the penalty at the windward mark.”

Canfield seems well on his way to defending the title he won in 2020, the last time the Bermuda Gold Cup was held. He defeated Brady 3-1 and is happy with the way the crew is progressing.

“We always talk about getting better every day, especially after not match racing for three years and with two new guys (Robbie Bisi and Ian Liberty) in the crew,” said Canfield. “We need to make sure we’re getting off the start line even. If we do that, we’re confident in our boathandling and tactics to get around other people.”

Williams took care of Borch in three races, continuing a winning streak against the Dane that began in the semifinals in 2020, where Williams also won 3-0.

“I think that experience in these boats is important, especially when conditions change,” said Williams. “Yesterday was light air and today was windier and we all haven’t had a lot of time in the boats this week. Due to the time we’ve had in previous years sailing in breeze, we knew what to expect and what was going to be important and how to manage the situations. I think that was the difference. I think we were faster at sailing the boat, tacking and getting the rhythm of boats.”

Racing has been cancelled for Thursday and Friday due to the impending storm. The top four teams will be back at Royal Bermuda Yacht Club on Saturday morning in the hope of sailable conditions.

Rights free images for editorial use only may be downloaded at the Bermuda Gold Cup Photoshelter page. Visit the Bermuda Gold Cup and World Match Racing Tour websites for more information.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Nicole Butterworth, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Sailing Office, sailingoffice@rbyc.bm
Sean McNeill, Bermuda Gold Cup Press Officer, bermudagoldcup@gmail.com
James Pleasance, World Match Racing Tour, info@wmrt.com

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