HAMILTON, BDA (#1226) – Ian Williams (GBR) and his Team GAC Pindar have won a second major match-racing regatta in just more than a month. Williams and crew won the 69th Argo Group Gold Cup on Saturday, catching Johnie Berntsson (SWE) in the final 100 yards of Race 4 to win the final 3-1. It was Williams’ second victory in Bermuda and he becomes the 12th multiple winning skipper of the King Edward VII Gold Cup, joining Ben Ainslie (GBR), Taylor Canfield (US), Chris Dickson (NZL) and Berntsson. Williams won his first Gold Cup in 2006 and he’s waited 13 long years for the second.
“When I was getting into match racing, this was the first big event I came to in 1998. This was the one you really wanted to win,” Williams said. “To win in 2006 was huge for us, it was our first big win. I’ve been coming back since and always fell at the final hurdle. We traditionally struggle here. To win for the first time in 13 years is incredible.”
Williams’ win came just more than a month after he won Long Beach Yacht Club's Congressional Cup in Long Beach, CA.
The Team GAC Pindar crew, including Gerry Mitchell, Tom Powrie and Richard Sydenham, won $30,000 of the $100,000 prize purse in the regatta hosted by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
Berntsson made his fifth consecutive appearance in the Argo Group Gold Cup championship since 2011 (he didn’t race in 2013 and ’15). He won his second championship in 2014 and now has a fourth runner-up finish after finishing second last year.
“Standing here now it’s disappointing to not win, but looking at the regatta it has been a good fight to get to the top and finish second,” he said. “The development in my team, the guys have been extraordinarily good, Anders (Dahlsjo), Erik (Malmberg) and Carl-Johan (Uckelstan). I think we sailed equal with Ian, but sometimes it comes down to small margins. Congrats to him, we had a good fight with him and we’re happy about that.”
In the petite final, Harry Price (AUS) defeated Lucy Macgregor (GBR), 2-1, to place third overall. Macgregor was fourth for the second straight year.
Price and his all-New Zealand crew of George Anyon, Taylor Balogh and Connor Mashlan won $15,000 and Price was awarded the Jordy Walker Memorial Trophy for the most improved sailor at the regatta. Price had two highlights this week, leading after Day 1 and taking down countryman Torvar Mirsky, 3-2, in a stunning quarterfinal result.
“Thanks to my team. They’re all Kiwis and I’m and Aussie, but it works well,” Price said. “To Lucy, thanks for a weird petite final. It was a roll of the dice.”
Price, representing the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, is a former winner of the prestigious Governor's Cup, Balboa Yacht Club's annual youth international match racing championship, and won the 2017 Youth Match Racing World Championship. He and Ettore Botticini (ITA) were the youngest skippers, both only 23 years of age.
The final was streaky with the wind ranging from the southeast to the south/southwest at only 5 to 8 knots. It was in contrast to the first four days of racing and set a different tone for the crews. Instead of sheeting in and hiking out they had to remain nimble.
The first race saw the lead change hands four times before Williams won. The second race had two lead changes, with Berntsson scoring the win. Williams won the third race and it appeared Berntsson would win the fourth race to set up the fifth and deciding right. He led by about four boat lengths beginning the run to the finish. And then Williams found a streak of wind and from his right to win the race and the regatta.
“Over the four races you get bits of luck and bad luck. You just have to put yourself in position to take advantage of the luck and minimize the bad luck,” Williams said. “The thing I think we did well this week as stay loose enough with the shifts, keep our speed up and not get too bunched when things went against us. It’s been shifty all week, really tricky conditions. You just have to roll with the punches and take advantage when you can.”
The Team GAC Pindar crew (from left) Gerry Mitchell, Richard Sydenham, skipper Ian Williams and Tom Powrie, winners of the 69th Argo Group Gold Cup. Photo: Charles Anderson / Royal Bermuda YC.
Australian Harry Price and his crew of New Zealanders placed third overall. Price, only 23 years old, was the youngest skipper along with Ettore Botticini (ITA), also 23, who finished seventh. Price was awarded the Jordy Walker Memorial Trophy for most improved. Photo: Charles Anderson / Royal Bermuda YC.