Hometown favorite Peter Bromby prevailed against fellow Etchells sailor and America’s Cup winner Dennis Conner today, beating the American 3-0 in the opening championship round of the Colorcraft Gold Cup.
The win boosted Bromby through to the quarter-finals to be sailed Friday at the host Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, and knocked Conner out of the competition. The America's Cup champion did not go without a fight. Twice he fought back to lead Bromby only to see his advantage evaporate in the puffy six to 12 knot winds on Hamilton Harbor.
In a series of tough, hard-fought matches, punctuated by lead changes, protests and at least two collisions, seven other international skippers advanced today to the quarter-finals of the Colorcraft Gold Cup, third event on the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour.
World number one-ranked match racer Peter Holmberg from Sweden won 3-1 against young American Andy Horton. Gavin Brady, the New Zealander who is helmsman for Italy's Prada Challenge for the America's Cup prevailed against Briton Andy Green, starting helmsman for Britain's GBR Challenge for the Cup in a protracted, incident and protest-filled series that went to 3-2. German skipper Morten Henricksen, match racing coach for the illbruck Challenge for the America's Cup won 3-1 against 21-year-old Briton Mark Campbell-James.
Fellow Danes Jes Gram-Hansen and Lars Nordjberg raced each other and Gram-Hansen won, 3-2. Ed Baird, from St Petersburg, Florida, who skippered the USA's Young America challenger at the last America's Cup beat veteran British skipper Chris Law 3-1.5 in another series filled with protest flags and changed places. Law was docked the half point by umpires after his boat hit Baird's while crossing tacks. American Ken Read, who skippers for Dennis Conner's Team Stars & Stripes won 3-1 against German match racer Markus Wieser. Peter Holmberg, afterguard for the Oracle Racing Challenge for the America's Cup from San Francisco, defeated Kiwi Scott Dickson, who lives in Long Beach, California, 3-0.
In the quarter finals on Friday, Magnus Holmberg will meet Bromby, Brady will race Henrickson, Gram-Hansen will start against Baird and the two American America's Cup rivals Read and Peter Homberg will be matched.
Dennis Conner told a crowded press conference he wondered how he could explain three straight losses to Bromby: "I thought I could ask how could I beat the local champion on his home ground, especially with the sea wall as close as it was? I would have been getting tomatoes in the boat. But I didn't think that would go over so well. So, I thought I could blame my crew, but I have a great crew, especially with Paula Lewin from Bermuda, the best woman sailor in the world. But I didn't think that would go over so well. The bottom line was, he just sailed better and he beat me and its going to be a long two years (Conner will be at the Louis Vuitton Cup in Auckland New Zealand during the Colorcraft Gold Cup next year). We are good friends so I know all our friends in common are going to be hearing about this a lot."
Bromby praised his crew at the conference. "We started this effort about three weeks ago," he said. "And a couple of weeks ago (at the Bermuda National Match Racing Championships), we were looking a little untidy. The guys put in some effort without any cooperation from the weather. Consequently we were able to overcome Dennis. I thought he took it easy on us a little bit"
The closest and most tactical series of a crowded day was between Andy Green who won the Colorcraft Gold Cup two years ago. "We always seem to put on a bit of a show in Bermuda and today was no exception," he said. "Gavin Brady sailed very well and it was about as close as it gets."
For the race committee, close was too close, when Brady smashed through its side as he fought for advantage against Green on the starting line.
"We had a pretty tough day out there today," Brady said. "We ended up with a penalty in every race and that was five incidents in five races, and one of them was without Andy. We got ourselves into trouble near the committee boat and ploughed into it. We scared the people on the committee boat and ourselves.
"We came off the water today not sure that the best team went through. Andy and his crew did an outstanding job. They sailed smoother than we did and for some remarkable reason . . . the conditions out there . . . we came out on top.
"The highlight for us today was at the finish line. The race committee had their lifejackets on and that was the only smile that we had on our boat today."
Brady presented Principal Race Officer Charlie Tatem with a Team Prada Challenge shirt, while Tatem reciprocated with a nine-inch wide chunk of the committee boat's topsides.
This is the third year that Colorcraft has sponsored the Gold Cup event. With its international corporate headquarters in Bermuda, Colorcraft is a print and publishing project manager sourcing a wide variety of printing, color separation and binding facilities for many of the world's leading publishers. The company also creates and distributes an extensive line of non-book items such as clothing, accessories and novelty items for the publishing, media and film industries. The Walker family founded Colorcraft in Hong Kong in 1970. It is now recognized as the leading print project manager in the Far East, Australia and New Zealand.
Peter Bromby 3-0
Morten Henriksen 3-1
Magnus Holmberg 3-1
Gavin Brady 3-2
Andy Green 2-3
Mark Campbell-James 1-3
Andy Horton 1-3
Dennis Conner 0-3
Peter Holmberg 3-0
Ken Read 3-1
Ed Baird 3-1.5
Jes Gram-Hansen 3-2
Lars Nordjberg 2-3
Chris Law 1.5-3
Markus Wieser 1-3
Scott Dickson 0-3