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Wednesday, October 04, 2023
Bermuda Gold Cup Day TWO

In a thrilling match that saw a tiresome combined 24 tacks in the span of about two and a half minutes, Harry Price’s (AUS) Down Under Racing Team defeated Eric Monnin’s Capvis Swiss Match Racing Team, 3-2, to advance to the Semifinal Round of the 71st Bermuda Gold Cup.

Price, who finished third at the Bermuda Gold Cup in 2019, joins multiple winners Johnie Berntsson’s (SWE) Berntsson Racing Team, Taylor Canfield’s (USA) Stars+Stripes Team USA and Ian Williams’ (GBR) Chinaone.Ningbo team in the next round. The three veterans combined to go 10-1 in the quarterfinals, which included Berntsson winning four races to get the requisite three points to advance.

Instead of building on the momentum of an exciting day of racing, the Bermuda Gold Cup is being postponed for two days due to the threat of Tropical Storm Philippe. The Bermuda Weather Service issued a bulletin this evening stating that the closest point of approach to Bermuda within the next 72 hours (three days) is forecast to be 31 nautical miles to the west/northwest at 12:00 pm on Friday, Oct. 6, with forecast wind strengths of 35 to 45 knots.

Given the forecast, Principal Race Officer David Campbell-James completed the rounds robin and then rolled into the quarterfinals. A total of 40 races were held in an easterly wind of 12 to 15 knots on Hamilton Harbour.

Following the completion of the rounds robin, the top eight skippers were: Berntsson, 7-0, Monnin, 6-1, Canfield at 6-1, Williams at 5-2, Price at 5-2, Gavin Brady’s (USA) True Blue Racing at 5-2, Jeppe Borch’s (DEN) Borch Racing Team, 5-2, and Nick Egnot-Johnson’s (NZL) KNOTS Racing, at 4-3.

For the quarterfinals, Berntsson chose to race Egnot-Johnson, Monnin picked Price, Canfield selected Brady and Williams raced Borch.

The Monnin-Price match was easily the best of the bunch. “We were happy he picked us,” said Price, winner of the Jordy Walker Trophy for most improved newcomer to the regatta in 2019. “We were sailing the boat fast and gave him his only loss in the round robin. We were comfortable with the matchup.”

Monnin, however, jumped out to a 2-0 lead, mostly due to Price’s mistakes. “The first two races didn’t go our way,” said Price. “We got a penalty in the first race. We had a good lead but couldn’t complete the penalty turn in time. It sort of started raining and everything kind of hit the fan. Then we got two penalties in the next one.”

With no margin for error, Price’s young crew settled down. They won Flight 3 to get on the board and then won Flight 4 to even the score. On the second upwind leg Monnin was hit with a penalty for windward/leeward as the leeward boat, which he felt could’ve gone either way. “It was a tough call,” said Monnin. “I think the umpires felt I didn’t give him time to maneuver.”

In the deciding Flight 5 Price led by about one boatlength after the first lap, where both crews rounded the right-hand gate mark on starboard. With his regatta on the line, Monnin initiated a tacking duel that saw the two crews tack 12 times each. “I thought we were gaining on him,” said Monnin. “We were carrying our speed better.”

Price held the power of positioning, inside on port tack, and luffed Monnin head-to-wind as the two drifted past the windward mark. Price faked bearing away a couple of times before finally pulling out of the dial-up and sailing towards the finish for an eventual win of two boat lengths.

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