Reigning men’s and women’s Open Match Race world champions Torvar Mirsky and Lucy MacGregor were among the skippers securing the remaining four quarter-final spots up for grabs on day three of the Argo Group Gold Cup in Hamilton Harbour yesterday.
The duo were among the seven skippers that battled it out in the repechage round for the right to join the other fours who automatically qualified for the last eight in the round-robin stage.
Joining Australian Mirsky and Britain’s MacGregor in the last eight were Italy’s Ettore Botticini and Charlie Lalumiere, from the United States.
Mirsky, the 2011 Gold Cup winner, had the best record of 5-1 in the repechage, while Macgregor, Botticini and Lalumiere all finished with an identical 3-3 record.
Taking route one to the quarter-final were Taylor Canfield, of the US, Denmark’s Joachim Aschenbrenner and Sweden’s Johnie Berntsson and Nicklas Dackhammar.
The top three skippers in the round robin got to choose their quarter-final opponent. Canfield earned the right to pick first after completing the round robin with an unblemished 10-0 record and promptly chose Botticini.
While he is the red-hot favourite, Canfield is not taking anything for granted against his opponent.
“We have to beat everyone to win the event, that being said no race will be easy in this field,” Canfield said. “Hamilton Harbour is a special place and the real game is about managing your speed relative to the other boats and choosing your time to do manoeuvres.”
Botticini, who is making his debut in the Gold Cup and is also the youngest skipper in the fleet, has gone from strength to strength as the regatta has progressed.
“The week didn’t start too well but we’ve been improving and learning match by match,” he said. “Our crew work is very good, but the problem is how to accelerate with these boats. When it’s gusty we need to move the traveller more and we need to have better communication because the helm isn’t very responsive.”
Second pick went to two-times Gold Cup winner Berntsson who chose to tangle with Lalumiere, who is also making his debut in the Gold Cup.
“It’s a tough decision because they are one of four teams that have been doing another day of racing and that will fire them up a bit,” Berntsson said.
The last pick went to Aschenbrenner who has fancied his chances against MacGregor, the sole female skipper in this year’s regatta, leaving Dackhammar to do battle with Mirsky.