Bermuda Skippers battle for Gold Cup qualification

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Lance Fraser ( BDA) prepares to turn around the leward mark in the 2012 Argo group Gold Cup. Fraser will sail in the Bermuda National Match racing Championship facing Bermuda’s recent Olympian Jesse Kirkland and Joshua Greenslade. The winner bags an automatic invitation to the Argo Group gold Cup Oct 8-13. © Charles Anderson/RBYC

By Colin Thompson
from the Royal Gazette –

Hamilton BERMUDA, August 30, 2013 Three of the Bermuda’s’s top match racing teams will do battle in the International One Design (IOD) on the weekend for the right to represent Bermuda in the 2013 Argo Group Gold Cup.

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Skippers Jesse Kirkland, Joshua Greenslade and Lance Fraser have assembled experienced crews in the hope of securing a place in October’s Alpari World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) sanctioned Gold Cup during Saturday’s Bermuda Sailing Association (BSA) Match Racing Nationals to be held in Hamilton Harbour.

Kirkland, who represented Bermuda in the 49er skiff at the 2012 Summer Olympics in England with sibling Zander, is competing with Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC) flag officer Somers Kempe, Cameron Pimental and Peter Martin.

Greenslade will be joined on deck by Blythe Walker, RBYC sailing director Tom Herbert-Evans and RBYC high performance sailing coach Sean Evans.

Walker has represented Bermuda in the Gold Cup as a skipper in his own right for the past several years but has given up the helm to pass on some of his match racing experience to the next generation of match race sailors.

Fraser, who is currently ranked among the top 100 match racers in the world, is sailing with Adam Barboza, Carola Cooper and Paul Ring.

Kirkland sailed with Fraser in the previous Gold Cup while Walker’s crew from the previous event has been spread among the three teams seeking to qualify for October’s WMRT event.

“It’s going to be an interesting day because these guys are all very talented,” said BSA president and RBYC flag officer Leatrice Roman. “Blythe’s team has been split up and so they are each vying for the same spot they have already sailed which really makes it quite interesting for all of us.”

Fraser will enter the match racing nationals among the favourites to qualify for the Gold Cup having been more actively involved in the format this year in the United States.

“Lance knows a lot about match racing and is probably the one to beat,” added Roman. “But the other guys have been out there practising every week and are doing well — it’s going to be good.”

Saturday’s event will see teams compete in a round robin format with a final.

The eventual winner will join this year’s Gold Cup fleet that includes, reigning champion Taylor Canfield (US Virgin Islands), defending WMRT champion Ian Williams (England), four-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie (England), Johnie Berntsson (Sweden) and Mathieu Richard (France). Ainslie, Williams, Berntsson and Richard are also past Gold Cup winners.

Defending WMRT champion Williams currently holds a nine-point lead over nearest rivals Canfield and Adam Minoprio (New Zealand) in the 2013 Tour points standings.

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