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6 October 2006, 09:46 am
Successful Bermudian Sailors Look To Win First Championship
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King Edward VII Gold Cup 2006
Hamilton, Bermuda

Bermudians Paula LEWIN and Blythe WALKER have competed frequently at the King Edward VII Gold Cup through the years, but never won. They get another chance to correct that next week at the ISAF Grade WC stage four of the 2006-2007 World Match Racing Tour on Hamilton Harbour.
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LEWIN and Walker are two of the 16 entrants in the $50,000 Gold Cup regatta,for which racing is scheduled for 11-15 October and will be conducted in the International One Design (IOD), a 33 foot sloop designed in the 1930's.

The line up includes reigning event champion James SPITHILL (AUS) of Italy's Luna Rossa Challenge for the America's Cup. SPITHILL, 27, won last year's Gold Cup with victory over the event's leading winner, Russell COUTTS (NZL). SPITHILL faced a 2-1 deficit in the final but rallied for a 3-2 victory.

Gold Cup Veterans

While SPITHILL guns for back to back victories neither LEWIN, 35, nor WALKER, 38, can recall how many Gold Cups they have participated in. Both began racing in the event back in the late 1980's and early 1990's and simply say they have done many since.

LEWIN has enjoyed past success at the Gold Cup. Bermuda's four time Female Athlete of the Year, LEWIN is the only woman skipper to advance through the qualifying rounds of the Gold Cup, which she did in 1999, 2002 and 2003. In 2002 LEWIN finished fifth overall, the best finish for a female skipper in the history of the Gold Cup. LEWIN recently placed fifth in the women's championship at the ISAF Nations Cup.

'I love to match race, I love Hamilton Harbour and I love the boats,' said LEWIN. 'I've spent a lot of time racing overseas and it's so pleasurable to be in home waters with all the support.'

LEWIN's crew includes sister Peta WHITE, Lisa NEASHAM, Leatrice ROMAN and Diana MITCHELL.

'Diana's new to the crew,' said LEWIN. 'We feel comfortable with each other. We're competitive and want to win, but we're also out to have a good time as well. That was foremost in putting together the team. If things fall the right way, it'll be great.'

WALKER National Champion

WALKER, Bermuda's representative in the 470 class at the 1992 Olympic Regatta in Barcelona, recently won the 2006 Bermuda National Match Racing Championship.

'I love the intensity of match racing,' said WALKER, a father of two daughters. 'You can get a lot of great racing in a short time. It tests your skill and ability to respond.'

WALKER will be racing with Adam BARBOZA, Somers KEMPE and Carola COOPER. COOPER raced with WALKER in the nationals, but BARBOZA and KEMPE are replacements for the other crewmembers who had conflicts.

'We have a lot of experience, particularly in the IODs, it's a matter of how well we come together,' said WALKER. 'We've never sailed together so it'll be interesting.'

Although they cannot recall how many events they have raced, both noted the change in format as the biggest difference for this year's Gold Cup.

New Format

In the past the event featured 24 teams. 16 teams raced in a three-day qualifier with the top eight advancing to meet eight seeded skippers in a knockout round.

This year, the 16 teams will be split into two groups of eight. Each group races a single round robin with the top four advancing to the quarter-finals. The quarter-finals, semi-finals and final are all knockout rounds of three or five races.

The old format lent itself well to upsets as the qualifiers were well practiced when they met the seeds in round one. But WALKER thinks the new format will have its own benefits.

'The round robins will be a little more intense than in the past,' said WALKER. 'The guys typically in the seeded rounds are now in the round robins, so you get a flavour of the level they're competing at from the start. You need to hit the ground running, but if you get through to quarters, I think it'll be a little more level.'

Youth Stars Take To The Water

Running concurrently with the Gold Cup is the Junior Gold Cup for junior sailors from around the world. 37 sailors, including twelve from overseas, will sail four races per day from 12-14 October on Great Sound. The final day, Sunday 15 October, will see the championship sailed on Hamilton Harbour during the final rounds of the King Edward VII Gold Cup.

The Gold Cup is stage four of the 2006-2007 World Match Racing Tour. The events of the World Tour determine the ISAF Match Racing World Champion.

The oldest one design match racing event in the world, the Bermuda Gold Cup rejoined the World Tour after a one year absence. This year's event marks the seventh time in eight seasons that the Gold Cup is part of a World Tour schedule. Also, it is the 58th match race competition for the cup, first presented to the legendary C. Sherman Hoyt in 1907 at a regatta marking the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Virginia Colony.

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is a private club and is the third oldest club holding a Royal Warrant outside the British Isles. The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club was established on 1 November 1844. There are now approximately 850 resident and non-resident members.

The Bermuda Department of Tourism is an Official Host Sponsor of the Gold Cup. Event sponsors include Renaissance Re, Max Re, BTC, Bermuda Premium Spirits Ltd., local distributors of BACARDI rum, and Oleander Cycles.

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, Paula LEWIN has plenty of Gold Cup experience:© Segio DIONISIO/Oceanfashion
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