Britain's Andy Green, from that country's GBR Challenge for the America's Cup and winner of the 1999 Colorcraft Gold Cup, won the top prize money at today's Renaissance Reinsurance Challenge Cup.
The $10,000 tournament served as a warmup day for the eight seeded skippers in this year's Colorcraft Gold Cup, plus an opportunity for guest sponsor crew members selected by Renaissance Reinsurance to join the top international crews match racing on Hamilton Harbor. The Colorcraft Gold Cup is the third event on this year's Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour.
German skipper Marcus Wieser became the last unseeded skipper to win his way to the championship round which starts tomorrow when he won a sailoff early today for a wildcard slot against Mårten Hedlund from Sweden with two straight victories.
Under brilliant, sunny skies with a puffy 8 to 12-knot breeze, Green and his America's Cup crewmembers won the Challenge Cup 5-1, losing only to Denmark's Jes Gram-Hansen. Green almost lost his match to American skipper Ed Baird after committing a foul at the start but he controlled Baird brilliantly at the last weather mark, forcing him away from the mark and building sufficient separation to complete a penalty turn and stay in front to win.
The Colorcraft Gold Cup Championship Round One begins on Wednesday morning. In Group 1 action Team Stora Enso's Magnus Holmberg from Sweden, and the world's number one seeded match racer, faces American Andy Horton; Team Stars & Stripes' Dennis Conner matches up against native Bermudian Peter Bromby; Green faces Kiwi Gavin Brady sailing for Italy's Prada Challenge for the America's Cup; while Morten Henriksen of Germany's illbruck Challenge for the America's Cup locks horns with Briton Mark Campbell-James, at 21 years of age the event's youngest competitor.
Group 2 features Gram-Hansen and his Team Marienlyst against fellow Dane Lars Nordjberg; American Ed Baird battling Great Britain's Chris Law; Markus Wieser of Germany going toe-to-toe with Ken Read of Team Stars & Stripes; and Oracle Racing's Peter Holmberg squaring off against Kiwi Scott Dickson who now lives in California.
At a press conference at the hosting Royal Bermuda Yacht Club tonight, Conner was asked about his opponent tomorrow, Bermuda's champion sailor Peter Bromby.
"He reminds me of Seattle's Bill Buchan who had such natural ability and competed at a world class level," Conner said. "I have tremendous respect for what Peter has accomplished. I have had a chance to race him in the Etchells Class and if he is not one of the top, very, very best sailors in the world, I don't know who is. I guess I'd like to beat him in at least one race tomorrow so he won't have bragging rights on me for the rest of the week."
Green, who sails against Kiwi Gavin Brady tomorrow said: "There's nothing like starting off with a big one. Today helped enormously in getting the team together. We feel a lot better obviously after a day's practice. Things seemed to go reasonably well for us today but Gavin is never easy. I think it will be a great match up."
The following Bermuda guests of Renaissance Reinsurance sailed with the seeded skippers. Larry Richardson with Andy Green, Elspeth Brewin with Peter Holmberg, Burt Golinski with Magnus Holmberg, Dave Comry with Ed Baird, Hank Hubbard and Dima Mnushkin with Morten Henricksen, Lloyd Holder with Dennis Conner and Jo Lord with Jes Gram-Hansen.
Results, showing Wins-Losses and Prize Money:
1. Andy Green (GBR/GBR Challenge) 5-1 $4,000
2. Magnus Holmberg (SWE/Team Stora Enso) 4-2 $2,200
3. Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN/Team Marienlyst) 4-2 $1,300
4. Peter Holmberg (USA/Oracle Racing) 3-3 $1,000
5. Dennis Conner (USA/Team Stars & Stripes) 2-4 $500
6. Ed Baird (USA/Team XL Capital) 2-4 $500
7. Morten Henriksen (GER/illbruck Challenge) 1-5 $500