Day One at the Colorcraft King Edward VII Gold Cup in Bermuda always provides thrilling action. Prize money and world-ranking points only go as far as eighth place, and you have to survive the first round to secure yourself a spot among the top eight. Yesterday, eight seeded skippers paired off against eight qualifiers from the weekend, and tension was, as always, high because theres a $70,000 purse on the line.
My team, made up of Mark Mendleblatt, Andy Herlihy, Drew Buttner, and myself, raced against 1999 College Sailor of the Year, Dalton Bergan of Seattle. Having qualified second from his group, Bergan did a fine job sailing in his first major match-racing event. We were able to come out ahead 3-1, but it was the scariest day of the event. No one wants to go home after one day!
As one of the seeded teams, we watched with concern as the morning's racing saw three of the four seeded skippers dispatched by the qualifiers. Dennis Conner and current No. 1-ranked match racer Dean Barker, along with Gold Cup defending champ Andy Green are all going home due to having been defeated yesterday. Only Peter Holmberg survived among the seeded skippers in that group. But the qualifiersChris Dickson, Murray Jones, and James Spithillare all strong competitors, and its fitting that they advance.
In our group, all the seeds advanced, yet it was anything but easy in the 15 to 25-knot, shifting breezes that slammed across Hamilton Harbor. Rounding out the quarterfinal group are Peter Gilmour, Russell Coutts, Magnus Holmberg, and our team.
Today (Thursday) is Pro-Am day for the sponsors, then the quarterfinal racing begins on Friday. Log on here at SailNet to follow the action everyday.