Hamilton, Bermuda - Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team was put to the sword by reigning Women’s Match Racing World Champion, Lucy Macgregor (GBR) Match Race Girls on day one of Qualifying at the Argo Group Gold Cup in Bermuda. The added grit of the lesser known teams who also attacked Richard on the front foot means the current Championship leader now faces more than a formality to reach the Quarter-Finals.
Although Macgregor held a slight advantage at the start of the titanic battle, the two boats looked very evenly matched up the first beat. However the gutsy Macgregor crossed just ahead of the French skipper as they approached the windward mark. On the first downwind leg the 24-year-old Brit played the gusts to perfection, extending her lead to five lengths at the leeward mark. After that the girls stormed ahead, ignoring Richard and tacking on the windshifts to build an unassailable lead.
Macgregor reflected: “Our match against Mathieu was a good one but we made silly mistakes in the second one, handing victory to Phil Robertson. We’re learning all the time – the boats here need a different skill set to the ones we normally sail which makes it tough out there.”
Elsewhere, Jesper Radich (DEN) Gaastra Racing Team and Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Global Team didn’t have it their own way either. Mike Buckley (USA) MB Racing, a newcomer to the match racing scene this year, stormed to victory against the Danish team in the opening flight. The young and impressive Taylor Canfield (USA), a 21-year-old skipper from the USVI, defied expectations by winning his first two matches, the second against the mighty Hansen.
Richard’s authority was challenged from the outset – he played catch-up in his opening race with Terry McLaughlin(CAN). Richard tried desperately to get close enough to the Canadian to deny him room to complete a penalty he collected before the start. It was all to no avail and, with a lead of a length at the finish, McLaughlin set the scene for a day of disappointments for Richard.
A hollow victory against Mike Buckley in his third race today couldn’t hide Richard’s frustrations:“It was not a good day for us – this is a tricky place to sail and the boats are also difficult. We made some big mistakes and don’t feel good right now. We know we must make some changes to have a chance of going through to the Quarter-Finals."