With three weeks and one World Match Racing Tour event to go, the Argo Group Gold Cup in Hamilton, Bermuda looks like it will be the race of champions.
Sailors are certainly not looking past the Danish Open, 9-13 September, in Aarhus, Denmark, but competition for the 102 year-old King Edward VII Gold Cup is always hot; and the 2009 skippers will battle to the end to get their name etched on the golden prize beside those of the world's top match race sailors.
The top eight teams on the World Tour will be in Bermuda from 6-11 October to test their skill in the classic International One Design sailboats used for the Argo Group Gold Cup. They will be joined by last year's Gold Cup champion Johnie Berntsson
(SWE) and 15 other up-and-coming match race skippers.
"The historic story about the Gold Cup event," said defending champ Berntsson. "Is something that the other events on the World Match Racing Tour can not come close to. Not many other sailing events at all and not many other worldwide sports events in general can compare with the Gold Cup tradition."
(FRA), winner in 2007, put it this way. "Bermuda is very unique place and this makes for a special atmosphere during the week of competition. That's a very special event, that I really do love."
Winner of the St Mortiz Match Race, Adam Minoprio
(NZL) and ETNZ/BlackMatch stands on the top World Tour rankings. With 86 points, he is 12 points ahead of Torvar Mirsky
(AUS) and another six points ahead of Richard and two more ahead of Ian Williams
(GBR) and two more ahead of Peter Gilmour
(AUS). These top five World Tour teams will all be in Denmark and Bermuda before moving on to the final tour championship event, The Monsoon Cup, sailed from 1-6 December in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia.
Richard, Williams and Gilmour have all won the King Edward VII Gold Cup before. Minoprio was runner-up in 2008. Mirsky was out of the money last year, not making the cut for one of the top eight positions. Of the initial 24 teams, 16 teams are eliminated in the first three days of racing leaving the top eight teams to battle for a finals slot and a shot at the $50,000 first place prize. The second through eighth place teams divide the rest of the $100,000 purse.
International teams include four from the USA, three each from Australia, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Sweden, two from Bermuda, one each from Denmark, Portugal and Switzerland.
Biographies of all twenty-four 2009 Argo Group Gold Cup skippers are posted here
ISAF Match Racing World Championship Leaderboard
(Top eight teams after Stage 6 of 9)
1. Adam Minoprio (NZL), ETNZ/BlackMatch, 86 points
2. Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team, 74 points
3. Mathieu Richard (FRA), French Match Racing Team, 68 points
4. Ian Williams (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar, 64 points
5. Peter Gilmour (AUS), YANMAR Racing, 62 points
6. Damien Iehl (FRA), French Match Racing Team, 44 points
7. Sébastien Col (FRA), French Match Racing Team / K-Challenge, 41 points
8. Ben Ainslie (GBR), Team Origin, 40 points
The winner of the annual World Match Racing Tour is crowned as ISAF Match Racing World Champion. Find out more at www.sailing.org/matchworlds.