Stanczyk takes an early lead at Argo Gold Cup

Despite the best efforts of Tropical Storm Fay and then Hurricane Gonzalo, the Argo Group Gold Cup, the sixth stage of the 2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour, set sail on Bermuda’s Hamilton Harbour today, albeit postponed by 24 hours. 
Holding a slender lead after the opening day is surprisingly not one of the eight Alpari World Match Racing Tour card holders, nor one of the America’s Cup teams, but an amateur crew from Poland. Marek Stańczyk builds and sells boats for a living, while in his crew are a lawyer and a computer programmer.
Stańczyk’s team was the only one to end the day on four points (Ian Williams’ GAC Pindar crew won all its races, but was docked 0.5 points for a collision). “For sure we are very motivated to sail as well as we can because one of our crew members died recently and we have two new crew members,” explained Stańczyk, whose finished second overall in this year’s Polish match racing circuit. “We just sailed relaxed. We were maybe slower in manoeuvres than other crews with our hoists and drops, but our boat speed was good.” 

The clinching match of the day for the Poles came in the final flight when they lined up against Switzerland’s Eric Monnin, also unbeaten at that point. Monnin explained: “We controlled him at the start, but in the end he was able to tack away. We followed him with a little gap, but he got better wind. Then we were behind him all the time, although we got closer at the finish.” 

Monnin confirmed that most vital today was reading the shifts and puffs right: “That got you quite a long way in front. It looked easy, but it wasn’t. Even when there was a small gap between boats you could have big differences.”

This is Monnin’s 11th consecutive Argo Group Gold Cup. “For us it is the last event of the season, but we also like the island, the people and the boats, because they are going a bit back in time.” 

With a substantial line-up of teams – 20, representing 13 nations – Qualifying has been split into two groups and today the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club’s race committee managed to complete five flights in each. Racing was held under an overcast sky in a southerly breeze requiring a course to be set-up across the Harbour. However the wind blowing off the land made conditions extremely challenging for the crews. 

As Team Alpari FX’s Keith Swinton described it: “They were really difficult conditions, probably the toughest we’ve had to race in all year on the Tour – very shifty with big holes in the breeze. It was really hard to make decisions, you just had to keep calm and sometimes you’d lose a lot, but then you might get it back later.” 

In Group 1, Team Alpari FX got off to a disappointing start losing to the Raymarine/Ocean Electronics team of Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore Somers Kempe. They then went on to win their next three matches, ending the day second in Group 1 to Ian Williams’ GAC Pindar team, level with France’s Pierre-Antoine Morvan’s Vannes Agglo Sailing Team and Stena Match Cup Sweden winner Björn Hansen.

Argo Group Gold Cup defending champion Francesco Bruni was not in the best of spirits coming off the water on 1.5 points, a half point having been deducted due to a collision during his team’s boisterous second match against Ian Williams. “We were in the lead in many races, but it was not easy with the wind shifts,” bemoaned the Luna Rossa skipper. “We made a couple of bad decisions about when to tack or when to gybe, so the lead was changing all the time. We should have been in much better shape.”

However one of Bruni’s wins was also one of the most compelling races of the day. Up against Dutch skipper Dirk-Jan Korpershoek, Bruni picked up two penalties at the start for barging but managed to rid himself of one while pulling into the lead and extending. However he was unable to get rid of his last penalty and was forced to match race his opponent past the finish line and beyond. A prolonged series of dial-ups ensued by which time all the other matches in the flight had long since finished. Finally Korpershoek gently collided with the Italian team’s yacht cancelling out their penalty, Bruni then calmly bore away to gain the point. 

Qualifying continues tomorrow, however the weather is set to turn again overnight as a front associated with a depression off the US East Coast brings rain and 20+ knot winds to Hamilton Harbour. Five days after Hurricane Gonzalo’s strike, the locals are barely likely to notice.

Stage 6 Argo Group Gold Cup, Alpari World Match Racing Tour

Group 1 Results After Flight 5
1 Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 3.5-0
2 Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 3-1
3 Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 3-1
4 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team 3-1
5 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team 2-2
6 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Luna Rossa 2-2
7 Arthur Herreman (FRA) Match The World 1-3
8 Somers Kempe (BER) Raymarine/Ocean Electronics 1-3
9 David Storrs (USA) Pequot Racing Team 0.5-3
10 Dirk-Jan Korpershoek (NED) Korpershoek Racing 0-4

Group 2 Results After Flight 5
1 Marek Stanczyk (POL) Henri Lloyd Rainmaker Racing 4-0
2 Eric Monnin (SUI) Swiss Match Race Team 3-1
3 Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 3-1
4 Staffan Linberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team 3-1
5 Nathan Outteridge (SWE) Artemis Racing 2-2
6 David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour 2-2
7 Chris Poole (USA) Riptide Racing 2-2
8 Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets 1-3
9 Lance Fraser (BER) Digicel Bermuda 0-4
10 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 0-4

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