Five international skippers are tied 3-0 after racing yesterday on the opening day of competition in the Colorcraft Gold Cup on Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda.
The annual match racing championship hosted by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is the third event on this year's Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour. Yesterday was the first of two day's racing by unseeded skippers to select eight teams to race against seeded skippers in the Championship Round of the Colorcraft Gold Cup that starts on Wednesday.
Bermudian skipper Peter Bromby, New Zealander Gavin Brady, Americans Andy Horton and Ken Read and young British skipper Mark Campbell-James each won all their races in difficult, gusty and shifty west to south west winds that ranged from 15 knots in the morning to five knots by late afternoon.
Read, from Newport, Rhode Island, who lost one start to veteran British match racer Chris Law but then sailed around him on a wind shift, was quick to acknowledge the part that luck played in the day's racing.
"These are tough conditions and it doesn't matter if you have one knot extra in boat speed if you get on the wrong side of a 30-degree wind shift," Read said. The Newport sailmaker is the skipper for Team Dennis Conner, representing the New York Yacht Club's challenge for the next America's Cup in Auckland, New Zealand.
Read isn't the only America's Cup challenger in the unseeded ranks. Brady is a helmsman for Italy's Prada Challenge.
America's Cup challengers amongst the seeded ranks include Conner, Sweden's Magnus Holmberg who sails for that country's Victory Challenge, Peter Holmberg who races with Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing Challenge from San Francisco, and Briton Andy Green, a former Colorcraft Gold Cup champion and starting helmsman for England's GBR Challenge.
Three top America's Cup skippers withdrew from the event after the commencement of American military action in Afghanistan. Frenchman Bertrand Pacé who now sails for Team New Zealand, was subject to a blanket freeze on overseas travel imposed by the Kiwi America's Cup defense syndicate. Australian skipper Peter Gilmour, skipper for the OneWorld Challenge in Seattle, Washington, stayed in Washington to allay the fears of his young family. Australian James Spithill had last minute crew problems.
Racing started on time yesterday despite an intense two-day storm on Thursday and Friday with sustained hurricane-force winds of 60-75 knots and gusts over 90 knots. One of the International One Design sloops used for racing sank after breaking free from its mooring and skippers and crews were delayed reaching the island after airlines curtailed their flights.
The second day of racing for unseeded entries will be sailed Monday morning. The top four skippers from the two groups will then go forward to meet seven seeded skippers in the Colorcraft Gold Cup Championship Round, plus an eighth seed who will be the winner of a best-of-three series between the fifth place winners in each group.
Racing in the Championship Round starts on Wednesday morning. On Tuesday, the seven seeded skippers will sail with corporate guest crews in the Renaissance Reinsurance Challenge Cup fleet racing event.