HAMILTON, Bermuda (Oct. 19, 2020) - Another glass ceiling for women in sailing will be shattered next week at the 70th Bermuda Gold Cup and 2020 Open Match Racing World Championship when two accomplished female skippers - Frenchwoman Pauline Courtois and Anna Östling of Sweden - will race in the Open Worlds for the first time ever.
Women's crews have been regular entrants at the Bermuda Gold Cup since the regatta was reformatted to a ladder-style tournament in the mid-1980s. Successful racers such as Betsy Allison, Sally Barkow and JJ Fetter of the U.S., Bermudian Paula Lewin and Klaartje Zuiderbaan of the Netherlands are among those who have tried to tackle the International One-Design (IOD) sloop on Hamilton Harbour.
In the past two years Lucy Macgregor's Team Mac from Great Britain posted back-to-back fourth-place finishes, the best showings ever by an all-women's crew at the famed regatta.
The Open Worlds, however, have long been the domain of men. Never has a woman skipper raced in the Open Worlds, let alone two. Next week, that record changes.
A brief history of the storied King Edward VII Gold Cup
If it’s October it must be time for the Bermuda Gold Cup, featuring competition for the King Edward VII Gold Cup, the oldest trophy in the world for competition involving one-design yachts.
Luminaries such as Ben Ainslie, Francesco Bruni, Russell Coutts, Briggs Cunningham, Chris Dickson, Peter Gilmour, Peter Holmberg, Peter Isler and James Spithill have all starred in the America’s Cup arena while also winning the King Edward VII Gold Cup.
Crafty veteran sailors and blue water racers such as Warren Brown, A.F. “Bert” Darrell, C. Archie Hooper, Cornelius Shields, Jr., E.S. “Penny” Simmons, B.W. “Jordy” Walker and William S. Widnall won the King Edward VII Gold Cup between 1951 and 1983 when it was a regatta between the U.S. and Bermuda.
More recent winners such as Johnie Berntsson, Taylor Canfield, Adam Minoprio, Torvar Mirsky and Ian Williams are match racing afficionados who view winning the King Edward VII Gold Cup among the pinnacle achievements in their career.
Since being reorganized to the current tournament format in the mid-1980s October has been the month for King Edward VII Gold Cup drama. The autumnal winds are punchy and shifty and can wreak havoc on the racecourse. Herewith a listing of some championship moments over the past 30 years in the month of October.
"It's all about making as few mistakes as possible and in these conditions, you will never win without being lucky. We learned from a week of sailing here that conventional match race tactics don't work in these boats. The IODs are so heavy and have so little sail area that anytime you have a little bit of wind, you have to go for it," said Radich.
2005 – Sally Barkow of the U.S. is recognized for winning the Women’s Match Racing World Championship on this date, the day before the 57th King Edward VII Gold Cup began. She defeated Betsy Allison of the U.S. 3-0, including two come-from-behind victories in fluky winds on Hamilton Harbour.
“We had some aggressive racing in the pre-start today and then received two penalties. It is so easy to make a mistake in match racing, but we made very few mistakes in our overall sailing. I have a team (Debbie Capozzi, Carrie Howe and Annie Lush) with great instincts when it comes to calling the breeze and I think that was critical to our results,” said Barkow.
2006 – Ian Williams of Great Britain wins the King Edward VII Gold Cup for the first time with a 3-1 defeat of Frenchman Mathieu Richard. In a final marked by light and shifty winds, Williams pointed to his starting as the being the difference.
"There've been moments this week where I've lost it and didn't know what was going on. My crew kept me going at all times. In the end I think Mathieu sailed a little faster than us around the course, but we won four out of four starts. And from there, with those shifts out there, you do that and you can pick your own shifts. One race we got it wrong, but the other three we got it right. It's just fantastic to have finally won one," said Williams (in white cap).
2007 - Mathieu Richard of France wins the 59th Bermuda Gold Cup, 2-0, over Swede Bjorn Hansen. Richard completed a 12-2 run during the regatta and he is the only Frenchman to win the King Edward VII Gold Cup.
“I don’t know what to say. We went 3-0 in the quarterfinals and semifinals and 2-0 today. I guess it was our week. Everything worked well onboard. To win such a prestigious event is great for us,” said Richard (on left with Hansen).
“I am very happy about our win and I didn’t really think we would be here at the start of it all. We went very well throughout the regatta – we did not come up through a repechage or other ways we just sailed well almost the entire race. Hamilton harbor is a very tricky racecourse and everyone makes mistakes including us. We sailed very well all week,” said Bruni (holding trophy).
1996 – New Zealand’s Russell Coutts wins his fourth King Edward VII Gold Cup championship with a 3-2 victory over Australian Peter Gilmour after trailing 2-0 in the final series.
“We set ourselves three major goals for this year. We wanted to win the match race world championship, the $250,000 special prize (for winning three events of the match race tour) and we wanted to reclaim the No. 1 position on the international ranking list.”…
“Two years ago, we set out with the challenge to get on the circuit and beat Russell, who has been the only standard. It gives us a great sense of accomplishment to win today and to feel we have stuck to our task,” Gilmour said.
“This was a fantastic event for us because not only did I feel we sailed really well, but we also really had fun. I’m only the guy holding the tiller, the credit goes to the guys on my team. When I would put us into trouble, it was always my guys who got us out,” Berntsson (second from left) said.…
“We had two good races at the beginning today. There were big splits out there and the crew were helping and we got it right in those two races. In the third race we didn’t slow down enough to avoid a confrontation with Adam. We have found out some of our tactical weaknesses and the team and I have some areas to work on,” said Ainslie (second from left).
“I’m ecstatic. It’s amazing. I’ve been trying to win this event for a long time and to do so feels wonderful. Some of my crew talked me into coming back here and we were able to get some good results and have a good time,” said Minoprio (right).…
“We made it hard for ourselves all week, but we were battle hardened and I think it helped us today. Today’s final was classic match racing all the way, and it was fantastic sailing against Radich. We did put the match in the umpires’ hands. All of us know that when you play at this level, the race is sometimes decided by the umpire. We were lucky in both the third and the final race that the call went our way,” said Ainslie (at left in picture).
“We are over the moon with winning. We’ve never done that well in Bermuda and we’ve never had many Tour wins so this is fantastic, we’re really on a roll. I’m so proud of the way the team sailed this week, everyone just knew what they were doing on board and we felt comfortable and confident. Johnie really tested us in the final which made for some great sailing,” said Mirsky (at right in picture).
2012 – Taylor Canfield wins the 64th King Edward VII Gold Cup with a 3-0 defeat of Sweden’s Johnie Berntsson “We came in here this week with the goal of making it to the quarter finals, but we’ve been very confident all week with our boat handling skills. We are ecstatic with our win. It has been a great week for us… I would also especially like to thank my father, Bill, who has been supporting me since sailing the Opti’s... Thanks, Dad.”