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12 October 2006, 08:12 am
Electrifying Start To 58th Gold Cup
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King Edward VII Gold Cup 2006
Hamilton, Bermuda

The ISAF Grade WC King Edward VII Gold Cup commenced in varying conditions on Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda, but it is safe to say that never in the previous 57 editions has it experienced a morning quite like yesterday. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) and Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) both got off to 4-1 starts, whilst James SPITHILL's (AUS) boat was struck by lightning.
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The event is in its preliminary round robin stages. In Group A Björn HANSEN (SWE) and Brian ANGEL (USA) dashed out to 2-0 records before racing for the group was prematurely halted around 1130.

Group B took to the water at 1330 and completed five flights. ISAF Nations Cup winner RICHARD and WILLIAMS seem assured of advancing to Friday's quarter-final round. Both skippers went 4-1 in racing with just two flights remaining to complete the group.

'Four-and-one is a good result,' said RICHARD, who placed sixth last year. 'I think we might be into the quarter-finals, but we have two matches tomorrow.'

Lightning Strike

Group A's racing was suspended when a squall pushed through that raised the hairs on the back of necks and sent three sailors and an umpire to a doctor for check ups. The squall produced heavy rains and a bolt of lightning that struck three race boats.

One boat, Peppercorn, saw its masthead windex blown off and a hole put in the bow when the lightning presumably travelled down the forestay and into the water through the hull. It was as if someone took a marlinspike and punched through the hull from the inside out.

'We had quite a surprise today when we were struck by lightning,' said reigning event champion SPITHILL, 1-1 in Group A, who had just switched into Peppercorn. 'It blew up the mast step. It smelled a bit like a sauna. I've never had that happen.'

The sailors who went to the doctor are Karl ANDERSON and Mark IVEY, both crew for Chris LAW (GBR) and Eric BOOTHE, bowman for ANGEL, all three Americans. The umpire was David PELLING of Canada. According to attending physician Dr. Stephen SHERWIN, none was seriously injured.

'They were treated for diffuse electrical shock,' said SHERWIN. 'All had a thorough cardiovascular and neurological exam. They suffered from mild superficial burn and muscle spasms. Thankfully, nobody had entry or exit wounds, which could have indicated deep tissue burn injury.'

How It Happened

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Graeme SPENCE, bowman
for Torvar MIRSKY, sets the
spinnaker pole as Paula
LEWIN and crew loom in
the background
© Gold Cup/Charles ANDERSON

IVEY described what happened, 'We had just changed boats after the SPITHILL race and it began to downpour. We went below and were holding out. Then we heard a huge bang and sparks came out of the mast step. I was sitting on the partners and it shot through me and out my feet. I felt real weak and crawled out of the cabin and laid on the cockpit sole for awhile as it was pouring rain.'

BOOTHE is living proof that lightning can strike twice. He was competing in a collegiate regatta in 1999 when lightning blew out the mast step of the FJ dinghy he was sailing. He was not hurt in that incident, but he was a bit woozy today. His ear was next to the mast when the bolt hit.

'I kind of had to sit down,' BOOTHE said. 'I was standing on the bow looking aft at the wind and had to take a seat.'

PELLING was holding onto a metal steering wheel when the lightning struck. 'I felt a tingling up through my arms,' he said. 'It made me jump off the wheel.'

Today's schedule calls for Group B to complete its two flights in the morning and then Group A to finish its round robin afterwards. The quarter-finals are slated for Friday, the semi-finals on Saturday and the final on Sunday.

The Bermuda Department of Tourism is an Official Host Sponsor of the Gold Cup. Event sponsors include Renaissance Re, Max Re, Bermuda Telephone, Bermuda Premium Spirits and Oleander Cycle.

King Edward VII Gold Cup Results

Round Robin Standings

Group A
(After 2 of 7 scheduled flights)

1. Brian ANGEL (USA), King Harbor Match Race, 2-0
1. Björn HANSEN (SWE), Team, 2-0
3. Scott DICKSON (USA), Dickson Racing Team, 1-1
3. Chris LAW (GBR), The Outlaws, 1-1
3. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), Alandia Sailing Team, 1-1
3. James SPITHILL (AUS), Luna Rossa Challenge, 1-1
7. Sandy HAYES (USA), 0-2
7. Jon SINGSEN (USA), 0-2

Group B
(After 5 of 7 scheduled flights)

1. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), Saba Sailing Team, 4-1
1. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Williams Sail Racing, 4-1
3. Alvaro MARINHO (POR), 3-2
3. Eric MONNIN (SUI), Team Monnin, 3-2
5. Torvar MIRSKY (AUS), 2-3
5. Blythe WALKER (BER), 2-3
7. Jes GRAM-HANSEN (DEN), Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia, 1-4
7. Paula LEWIN (BER), 1-4

For all the news on the King Edward VII Gold Cup CLICK HERE.

World Match Racing Tour Leaderboard
(After Stage Three)
Pos Skipper Nation ISAF World
Match Race
Team Pts
1 Sébastien COL FRA 1 Areva Challenge 29
2 Jes GRAM-HANSEN DEN 16 Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia 27
3 Paolo CIAN ITA 2 Team Viano Mercedes Benz 25
3 Chris DICKSON NZL 4 BMW ORACLE Racing 25
5 Ed BAIRD USA 10 Alinghi 20
5 Jesper BANK DEN 56 United Internet Team Germany 20
5 Magnus HOLMBERG SWE 41 Victory Challenge 20
8 Staffan LINDBERG FIN 11 Alandia Sailing Team 16

World Match Racing Tour Schedule
(2006-2007 Season)

Stage Event Venue Date
Stage 1 Portugal Match Cup Cascais, Portugal 18-23 July 2006
Stage 2 Danish Open Copenhagen, Denmark 9-13 August 2006
Stage 3 St. Moritz Match Race St. Moritz, Switzerland 15-20 August 2006
Stage 4 Bermuda Gold Cup Hamilton, Bermuda 10-15 October 2006
Stage 5 Allianz Cup San Francisco, USA 24-29 October
Stage 6 Monsoon Cup Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia 28 November-3 December 2006
Stage 7 Match Race Germany Langenargen, Germany 23-28 May 2007
Stage 8 Portugal Match Cup Cascais, Portugal 01/07/2007
Stage 9 Danish Open Copenhagen, Denmark 01/08/2007
Stage 10 St. Moritz Match Race St. Moritz, Switzerland 01/08/2007
Stage 11 ACI Adris Match Race Cup Rovinj, Croatia 01/09/2007
Stage 12 Locman Cup - Elba Island Porto Azzurro, Elba Island, Italy 01/09/2007
Stage 13 Brasil Sailing Cup Angra dos Reis, Brazil 01/10/2007
Stage 14 Bermuda Gold Cup Hamilton, Bermuda 01/10/2007
Stage 15 Monsoon Cup Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia 20 November-2 December 2007

The World Match Racing Tour is an ISAF Special Event. Skippers earn points towards the World Championship at the nine events of the World Tour and the highest scoring skipper at the end of the season is the ISAF Match Racing World Champion.

The World Tour Partner and Official Car is BMW AG (Munich, Germany). World Tour sponsors include Sebago (Rockford, USA), the Official Footwear Supplier, Travel Places (West Sussex, Great Britain), the Official Travel Partner and Wedgwood (Cheshire, Great Britain) the Official Trophy Supplier.

For more information on the World Match Racing Tour, its competitors and events, visit the official World Tour website - World Match Racing Tour television programmes may be viewed on demand by clicking on the television icon on the home page of the website.

For all the news on the World Match Racing Tour CLICK HERE.

Sean MCNEILL (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Ian WILLIAMS posted a 4-1 record on day one:© Gold Cup/Charles ANDERSON
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