Wednesday October 26th marks the start of the 14th annual RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup held each year at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
The regatta — which normally coincides with the World Match Racing Tour, formally the Argo Group Gold Cup — represents an opportunity for Bermuda’s top sailing talent to test their mettle against some of the best sailors from around the world.
A total of 43 sailors between the ages of 11 and 15 will be competing in 16 races over the course of four days in the Great Sound. Out of those 43 sailors, 16 have arrived in Bermuda from 15 different countries, and all will be staying with local host families for the duration. Sailors hail from Antigua, Argentina, Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, United States and the US Virgin Islands.
“The essence and the spirit of the regatta, while competitive, emphasizes the Corinthian, fair play aspect of sailing. It’s about sailing and friendship, competition and having fun,” said Dede Cooper, Regatta Chairperson, her 9th year as part of the organizing authority.
The regatta has historically had a high level of competition and this year will be no different. All eyes will be on Mathias Berthet from Norway. After placing 3rd in last year’s Junior Gold Cup, he went on to win the Lake Garda Meeting in Riva Del Garda, Italy and finished 2nd in the Opti World Championship this summer in Portugal. Not to be overlooked is Roko Mohr from Germany, who placed 7th in the Worlds and Tom Higgins of Ireland who won the Irish National Championships and placed 1st in the UK National Championships as well.
On the female side and back again after placing 2nd in the last Junior Gold Cup is Mia Nicolosi of the US Virgin Islands, who was 4th overall and the Female North American Champion this past summer in Antigua. “It is exciting to see that 25% of the fleet is female, including five girls coming from overseas,” added Cooper.
Bermudians to watch are Micah Thomas Raynor who was top Bermudian at the 2015 Junior Gold Cup and placed 27th in the North American Championships and Jordan Etemadi who had a very good 2016 placing as the top Bermuda sailor at the Optimist World and South American Championships.
Thanks to Renaissance Re’s sponsorship, the Optimist sailors are invited as guests to Bermuda with a large portion of their expenses covered. Since only one sailor per country is invited (bar Bermuda), the sailors branch out and are able to make friends from other countries.
“We are proud to be the title sponsor of the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold Cup, now in our 14th year,” said Kevin O’Donnell, President and CEO of Renaissance Re.
“This event is all about sportsmanship, skill, striving for excellence, and passion – qualities we value as an organization and want to foster amongst young people. With the America’s Cup, Bermuda’s reputation as a world-class sailing destination has never been stronger and we’re pleased so many athletes and visitors are experiencing the best of our Island, which RenaissanceRe has called home for over 20 years.”
Full report to follow. Complete results posted.
|1st||Opti||ESP 2611||Nacho Davila||50.0||39.0|
|2nd||Opti||ISV 642||Mia Nicolosi||58.0||48.0|
|3rd||Opti||NOR 3819||Mathias Berthet||62.0||48.0|
|4th||Opti||IVB 911||Rayne Duff||78.0||55.0|
|5th||Opti||GBR 6350||Julia Mellers||76.0||58.0|
|6th||Opti||SUI 1749||Max Wallenberg||86.0||70.0|
|7th||Opti||DEN 8516||Christian Spodsberg||140.0||94.0|
|8th||Opti||IRL 1543||Peter Fagan||115.0||96.0|
|9th||Opti||GER 13622||Daniela Bartelheimer||167.0||121.0|
|10th||Opti||BER 1001||Micah Raynor Thomas||161.0||136.0|
In a sport that’s traditionally dominated by boys, it’s becoming more common to see girl sailors on the water. That fact is no more apparent than at the RenaissanceRe Jr. Gold Cup. The Organizing Authority has made special allocations to ensure that 25% of the invited competitors are female. With girls achieving sailing success all over the world, it has not been difficult to find those accomplished females for this special invitational.
Mia Nicolosi, age 12, from the US Virgin Islands is proving that the girls have come to compete. She’s had two great days on the water. On day one, she finished third overall and after a bullet in her first race on day two is now in fourth place overall after 8 races. She’s no stranger to Bermuda, having competed here in 2013 for the North American Championships. Her older brother, Teddy Nicolosi, was also invited in 2013 for the Junior Gold Cup where he finished 7th overall. Her competitive spirit might very well have been encouraged at home - when asked if her brother gave her any tips for the race, she politely said no, but added “my goal is to place higher than he did!” With how she’s been sailing, that outcome is certainly possible.
Nicolosi’s hostess, local Leyli Walker is also familiar with having inspiring sailors in the family. Her father, Blythe Walker, is one of Bermuda’s most recognized sailors. Having competed in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, he is also competing in this year’s Gold Cup, marking his 12th appearance this regatta. Blythe’s father, Jordy Walker, has been credited with rekindling the Gold Cup by introducing fiber-glass IODs to the fleet and reinventing the format of the long standing regatta. With a rich familial history in this special event, Leyli age 11, is excited to be a part of her third Jr. Gold Cup. Since her first appearance, she’s climbed the ranks each year, hoping this year will be no different.
The Regatta Co-Chair, Dede Cooper, in her 8th year running the regatta says, “it’s great to have these talented girls here in Bermuda highlighting the potential for our local female sailors to recognize that they can compete at a high international level and be right in the mix with the boys”.
For full results, please go to http://juniorgoldcup.com/results
By Christina Sgobba