Blythe WALKER won the Bacardi Cup, Bermuda's National Match Racing Championship today on Hamilton Harbour when he beat Adam BARBOZA 3-1 in the "first to 3" final round.
The winner and runner-up of the Bacardi Cup will sail as "Team Bacardi" in the qualifying round and have their entries paid for by Bacardi in this month's Investors Guaranty presentation of the King Edward VII Gold Cup scheduled for October 18-26 at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
Walker and Barboza advanced to the final round today after winning each of their respective semi-final round match-ups earlier this morning. Walker beat Ricki HORNETT, while Barboza beat Pete RAMSDALE. Sailing with Walker were Craig DAVIS, Lars SIMMONS and Paul FISHER. Barboza's crew consisted of Garry ROMAN, Somers COOPER and Stephen KING.
Both skippers are experienced with the International One Design (IOD) sloops traditionally used in the Bacardi Cup and the King Edward VII Gold Cup. Due to Hurricane Fabian the IODs were unavailable as they are undergoing restoration.
Barboza, a past Bacardi Cup champion and known as one of Bermuda's most talented sailors, took the first race off Walker. The next two races easily went to Walker, taking the round to a fourth and final race.
"We were leading the first race, but lost it to Adam right after the start when we let him duck us,"
said Walker, who competed for Bermuda at the 1992 Olympic Games in the 470 class. "We tacked on top of him, but he still got by us. Then, he came back and got the next two, but the fourth race wasn't as easy."
Off the line, in oscillating breeze, Walker led to the weather mark, rounding approximately one boat length ahead of Barboza. Downwind the boats battled in a gybing duel, but it was Walker first around the leeward mark. Stretching his lead to the weather mark a second time, Walker rounded well ahead, held off Barboza's advances and sailed to a clean finish. "This is a great win. I'm happy to get to the Gold Cup, but now I guess I have to forget everything I learned about the J/24 and go back to match racing in the IOD!"
In the petit-final for third and fourth place, Ricki HORNETT defeated Pete RAMSDALE 3-1.
The Bacardi Cup Trophy will be presented to Walker and team at a special ceremony during the Investors Guaranty presentation of the King Edward VII Gold Cup. Now 55 years strong, the regatta is an ISAF Grade 1 Event and will offer a record $100,000 prize purse.