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.

  • October 29 +

    On this date: October 29 2000 - Russell Coutts of New Zealand wins his sixth King Edward VII Gold Cup with a 3-0 victory over two-time champion Chris Dickson of New Zealand.

    "I spent enough time looking at the breeze sometimes to give my input, but it's usually Brad's (Butterworth) call as to where we start. It's up to me, Warwick (Fleury) and Simon (Daubney) to position the boat on the line and to have it with enough speed to get that. The trimming of the boat to get what we wanted was a big factor. I don't even have to worry about the trim and that gives me more time to concentrate on other factors in the race. Brad didn't put a foot wrong with the breeze and there were a couple of calls a minute and a half before the start that really turned out to be the race. Maybe I am little biased, but they are the best guys in the business," Coutts said of his crew.

  • October 26 +

    On this date: October 26 2003 - Peter Gilmour’s Pizza-La Sailing Team defeats Chris Dickson and Oracle BMW Racing, 3-2, to win the 55th King Edward VII Gold Cup and earn the third of his three titles.

    “Congratulations to my team. They were very smooth all week, but this was a real test for all of us. The King Edward VII Gold Cup is one of the grand-prix events on the Swedish Match Tour and we’re delighted to have won and look forward to defending next year,” Gilmour said.

    2014 - Johnie Berntsson of Sweden becomes a two-time winner of the King Edward VII Gold Cup with a 3-1 victory over Eric Monnin of Switzerland.

    On this date: October 26 Berntsson

    “We’re so lucky, so happy to win this time. We were never safe. The races we won we had to fight hard for. Eric Monin’s team really drive the boat fast. We were lucky to win by such small margins, really by inches. My crew did such a good job calling tactics and keeping us going fast. As far as winning the King Edward VII Gold Cup, this is the top event for us. This is a huge win for us. One of the best events for us and one of the

  • October 24 +

    On this date: October 24 2004 - Russell Coutts of New Zealand becomes the all-time winner of the King Edward VII Gold Cup with a 2-1 victory over Australian James Spithill. Coutts' seventh title places him one ahead of A.F. "Bert" Darrell of Bermuda, who won six titles between 1939 and 1959.

    On hearing that Coutts had bested their father's record, Darrell's three daughters - Toni Moutray, Jennifer Darrell and Debbie Darrell Mackenzie - presented a miniature Gold Cup, once won by their father, to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club to present to Coutts. "This is fantastic to win the Gold Cup but to also receive this family heirloom from the Darrell family is a real honor. This is a total surprise and it's special, really, to be remembered in this way. It's an honour to hold this record here in the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, which I feel very much a part of," Coutts said.

    The miniature King Edward VII Gold Cup is engraved with Coutts' name and is on permanent display at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

  • October 23 +

    On this date: October 23 2005 - Australian James Spithill wins the 57th King Edward VII Gold Cup with a thrilling, 3-2 victory over defending champion Russell Coutts of New Zealand. It was the second consecutive year that Spithill and Coutts went head to head in the final, and this time Spithill turned the table on the match racing maestro.

    "I have wanted to win the Gold Cup for a long time. I have been 2nd and 4th and we really wanted to win it against Russell because this is his event. It all came down to making good starts, and I shut him out on the last one," said Spithill (right).

  • October 22 +

    On this date: October 22 1995 - Peter Gilmour of Australia wins the first of his three King Edward VII Gold Cup championships with a 3-1 defeat of Chris Law of Great Britain. The final, sailed in light and shifty winds around 5 knots, was a disappointing climax to what had been a fantastic week of sailing. Law won the first race but then Gilmour swept in the next three.

    "It's a great excitement to win. Bermuda is the only venue at which I haven't won. This is a great personal and team achievement," said Gilmour.

  • October 21 +

    On this date: October 21 2001 - Peter Holmberg of the U.S. Virgin Islands wins the 53rd King Edward VII Gold Cup with a 3-0 victory over Gavin Brady of New Zealand. Holmberg, racing for the Oracle Racing Team with Paul Cayard as tactician and bowman, and they dished out a tactical lesson to Brady, who represented Italy's Prada Challenge and incurred four penalties in the three races.

    "Gavin was a good opponent," said Holmberg. "We made a game plan for today. That's what Bermuda is all about – you look at the conditions, you look at your opponent and I think in our team we had a good group that could come up with a good game plan and it paid off for us. We went in ready for a big fight but it went our way. That's all part of the game."

  • October 20 +

    On this date: October 20 2002 - Jesper Radich becomes Denmark's first winner at the King Edward VII Gold Cup with a 3-1 victory over countryman Jes-Gram Hansen.

    "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.

  • October 18 +

    On this date: October 18 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.

  • October 15 +

    On this date: October 15 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).

  • October 14 +

    On this date: October 14 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).

  • October 13 +

    On this date: October DATE 2013 – Francesco Bruni becomes the first Italian to win the King Edward VII Gold Cup with a 3-2 victory over Ben Ainslie of Great Britain.

    “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.”

  • October 12 +

    On this date: October 12 1997 – Australia’s Peter Gilmour captures his second King Edward VII Gold Cup title with a 3-0 sweep of New Zealander Russell Coutts.

    “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.

    On this date: October 12 2008 – Sweden’s Johnie Berntsson wins the 60th King Edward VII Gold Cup with a 3-1 victory over New Zealand’s Adam Minoprio for his first Gold Cup championship.

    “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.

  • October 11 +

    On this date: October 11 2009 – Ben Ainslie of Great Britain wins the first of his two consecutive King Edward VII Gold Cup championships with a 3-1 victory over New Zealander Adam Minoprio.

    “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).

    On this date: October 11 2015 – New Zealander Adam Minoprio wins the 67th Bermuda Gold Cup, 3-2, over Australian Keith Swinton for his first victory in six tries.

    “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).

  • October 10 +

    On this date: October 10 2010 - Ben Ainslie wins the 62nd King Edward VII Gold Cup with a 3-1 victory over Denmark’s Jesper Radich for his second consecutive Gold Cup championship.

    “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).

  • October 9 +

    On this date: October 9 2011 - Torvar Mirsky wins the 63rd King Edward VII Gold Cup with a 3-2 victory over Johnie Berntsson of Sweden.

    “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).

  • October 7 +

    On this date: October 7 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.”

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