Young US Virgin Islander Taylor Canfield made a big statement of his future Alpari World Match Racing Tour (AWMRT) intentions today, taking a 3-0 victory over Johnie Berntsson at the Argo Group Gold Cup in Bermuda.
Canfield (ISV) Canfield Racing joins a list of previous winners including Russell Coutts (7), Peter Gilmour (3) and Ben Ainslie (2), who each have their names etched on the side of the historic King Edward VII Gold Cup. As a non-Tour Card Holder, Canfield is now looking to appear more regularly at the top table of match racing in the coming years. He said, "This is the most prestigious event we've ever won and to join names like Russell Coutts on the trophy with seven wins, I guess that's a good goal for us to try and aim at in the next few years.
"Winning a Tour event has always been a dream so this means a tonne to me and the crew, who did so well every day. We've put a lot of time and money into getting to this stage and for a young team, this is a great reward.
"We have big aspirations and the next step after this is to see if we can get a place at the Monsoon Cup in December. Looking ahead, we'll put an application together for a Tour Card next season so that we can start racing these top guys more regularly and some of this prize money will go towards preparing for our Tour application."
Taylor Canfield becomes the second US Virgin Islander to win the event since Peter Holmberg lifted the trophy in 2001. The youngster has competed at the event three times since getting his first experience of Bermudian sailing when competing at the Junior Gold Cup in Opti's as a youth. Canfield, said, "We're used to the sailing area and the IOD boats out here and we felt pretty good all week. We knew the Final was going to be tough because Johnie [Berntsson] has also been here a few times."
The Final enjoyed 9 to 12 knots of consistent wind on Hamilton Harbour, and Canfield wasted no time in taking the win in the first match with racing tight throughout. It remained a close contest into the second and third races but key manoeuvres went the way of the US Virgin Islander. A turning point came in the second match as Canfield responded to being rolled by Berntsson on the first downwind leg, luffing his opponent until umpires decided that the Swede was guilty of not keeping clear. The resulting penalty was quickly taken by Berntsson by crossing Canfields stern - a new rule introduced on the Tour this year - which kept the Swede in contention. Canfield managed to retain the lead and went to match point, setting up a tense third match.
A penalty on Berntsson in the third prestart coupled with a poor start left a spirited comeback out of reach. Berntsson reflected on his second consecutive Argo Group Gold Cup Final, remaining gracious in defeat, "I'm happy to have challenged for the Final again this year but when they sail as well as they did today, it was really tough for us to get into the matches. We're really disappointed not to have taken the title but all credit to Taylor [Canfield], they're a nice team and we're happy for them.
"I felt that we had to choose our tactics and stick with them. If things change, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It's tight racing here and you can't take anything for granted.
"We've got some extra points to take us up the Tour leaderboard so we're looking ok for the Monsoon Cup. If we can do well there then we'll finish the year in good shape."
Earlier in the day, Berntsson had closed out his Semi Final match after restarting against reigning Tour Champion Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar with a 2-0 lead carried over from yesterday. He knew he needed one win from three to progress and he had to be fully focused to close out the tie 3-0 at the first time of asking. Having lost the lead to the Brit going into the final downwind, Berntsson found enough breeze to roll his opponent coming into the finish.
Williams was disappointed with the loss but remained bullish about his overall Tour prospects for the season, saying, "This regatta wasn't the most important for our overall standings for the year but we wanted to win and haven't. Conditions were still shifty out there but certainly more stable than yesterday. No excuses though, we just didn't do what we had to."
Eric Monnin (SUI) Okalys Corum was Williams' opponent in the Petit Final, the Swiss having lost out to eventual winner Canfield 3-2 in their morning Semi Final, despite having held match point himself. Monnin tasted further defeat against Williams to take fourth in the event for the fourth time but his team gave a good account of themselves, fighting back from a point down before losing 2-1. Monnin, said, "Both in the Semis and the Petit Final today we were in a position to win so there are certainly a lot of regrets. Overall we're happy with our regatta and we matched our ambitions. We could have been out after a close Qualifying so if we'd thought we'd get so close to the Final, we'd have taken it.
"The Petit Final is a tough match to race after the disappointment of not making the Final, especially after being 2-0 up on Taylor [Canfield]. Today could have been very different.
"The positive is that we were able to come close to both of these top sailors, so we're not too far away ourselves."
A full replay of the Argo Group Gold Cup Final is available at http://new.livestream.com/WorldMRT/ber-day6
and highlights from the rest of the day's sailing will be available at http://www.youtube.com/worldmrt
Live updates are from the Alpari World Match Racing Tour are available at:
Tour regular Twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/wmrt
Live event Twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/wmrt_liverace
Argo Group Gold Cup, Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda - Final:
Taylor Canfield (ISV) Canfield Racing vs. Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
Argo Group Gold Cup, Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda - Petit Final:
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar vs. Eric Monnin (SUI) Okalys Corum 2-1
Argo Group Gold Cup, Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda - Semi Final
Taylor Canfield (ISV) Canfield Racing vs. Eric Monnin (SUI) Okalys Corum 3-2
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team vs. Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 3-0
Alpari World Match Racing Tour Standings - After 7 Stages:
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar - 102
Björn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team - 93
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing - 79
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing - 71
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team - 71
Laurie Jury (NZL) Kiwi Match Sailing - 65
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team - 57
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing Team - 56
Taylor Canfield (ISV) Canfield Racing - 41
William Tiller (NZL) Full Metal Jacket Racing - 37
Average points for the cancelled Portimao Portugal Match Cup will be calculated and added shortly. For full standing visit: http://www.wmrt.com/result/leaderboard