Canfield wins Gold Cup in Bermuda
Published: October 8, 2012
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U.S. Virgin Islands sailor Taylor Canfield made a big statement of his future Alpari World Match Racing Tour intentions when he took a 3-0 victory over Johnie Berntsson at the Argo Group Gold Cup in Hamilton, Bermuda, on Sunday.
Canfield, a 23-year-old St. Thomas native, joins a list of previous winners that includes Russell Coutts (seven), Peter Gilmour (three) and Ben Ainslie (two). Each winner has their names etched on the side of the King Edward VII Gold Cup.
As a non-tour card holder, Canfield is now looking to appear more regularly at the top table of match racing in the coming years.
"This is the most prestigious event we've ever won and to join names like Russell Coutts on the trophy with seven wins, I guess that's a good goal for us to try and aim at in the next few years," said Canfield, an Antilles School graduate, who had a stellar collegiate sailing career at Boston College before he earned his degree in 2011.
"Winning a Tour event has always been a dream so this means a ton to me and the crew, who did so well every day. We've put a lot of time and money into getting to this stage and for a young team, this is a great reward."
The regatta's spokesperson, Leigh Ireland, said Canfield started racing Optimists after St. Thomas sailor Peter Holmberg won the event in 2001. Holmberg encouraged Canfield to get involved in the Optimist Class and 11 years later, Canfield walks away with $50,000 in prize money after Sunday's win.
"We have big aspirations and the next step after this is to see if we can get a place at the Monsoon Cup in December," Canfield said. "Looking ahead, we'll put an application together for a Tour Card next season so that we can start racing these top guys more regularly and some of this prize money will go towards preparing for our Tour application."
Canfield and Holmberg are the only USVI sailors to raise the cup.
Canfield has competed at the event three times since getting his first experience of Bermudian sailing when he competed at the Junior Gold Cup in Optimists as a youth.
"We're used to the sailing area and the IOD boats out here and we felt pretty good all week," Canfield said. "We knew the final was going to be tough because Johnie Berntsson has also been here a few times."
Sunday's final enjoyed 9-12 knots of consistent wind on Hamilton Harbour, and Canfield wasted no time in taking the win in the first match with racing tight throughout. It remained a close contest into the second and third races but key maneuvers went the way of the USVI native.
A turning point came in the second match as Canfield responded to being rolled by Berntsson on the first downwind leg, luffing his opponent until umpires decided that the Swede was guilty of not keeping clear.
The resulting penalty was quickly taken by Berntsson by crossing Canfield's stern - a new rule introduced on the Tour this year - which kept the Swede in contention. Canfield managed to retain the lead and went to match point, setting up a tense third match.
A penalty on Berntsson in the third pre-start coupled with a poor start left a spirited comeback out of reach.
"I'm happy to have challenged for the final again this year but when they sail as well as they did today, it was really tough for us to get into the matches," Berntsson said.
Canfield and his team defeated Eric Monnin Okalys Corum, 3-2, in the semifinal, which started Saturday and concluded Sunday.
After the win, Canfield Racing is in ninth place with 41 points in the Alpari World Match Racing Tour Standings. The circuit has completed seven stages. The final stage will be for the Monsoon Cup from Dec. 3-8 in K.Terengganu, Malaysia.
The Alpari World Match Racing Tour (AWMRT) is the leading professional sailing series featuring nine World Championship events across the globe, sanctioned by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) with "Special Event" status.
The World Tour awards over $1.75 million in prize money with points awarded at each event culminating in the crowning of the ISAF Match Racing World Champion.