The repechage round of the 69th Argo Group Gold Cup was expected to produce close-quarter racing as eight teams fought for one of four spots in the quarterfinal round. And it delivered.
With a gusty and shifty northeasterly breeze changing headings nearly every second, skippers Chris Poole of the U.S., Lucy Macgregor of the U.K., Ettore Botticini of Italy and Eric Monnin of Switzerland led their crews to the quarterfinals of the $100,000 match racing regatta hosted by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. It is the second consecutive year that Macgregor and Botticini have forged this path to the quarterfinals.
Poole won the round with a 5-2 record and was largely unscathed in his seven races. Macgregor also finished with a 5-2 record but had one half point deducted from her score for a collision in her final match. Botticini and Monnin both advanced after a three-way tiebreaker.
Previously Ian Williams of the U.K., Australians Torvar Mirsky and Harry Price and Johnie Berntsson of Sweden advanced to the quarterfinals by placing in the top four in the opening round robin.
By winning the initial round robin Williams earned the right to choose his opponent in the quarterfinals and he selected Botticini. Berntsson selected Poole, Macgregor and Monnin will race each other and, in a surprise, Mirsky selected Price.
Common theory suggests that the first four qualifiers select a skipper from repechage round because they might not be at the same level of skill. But they do come in with more practice, seven more races to be exact.
For Botticini, advancing to the quarterfinals is cathartic. Last year’s winner of the Jordy Walker Award for most improved crew at the Argo Group Gold Cup lost his way this year on Day 1 after a significant collision with Poole. Botticini thought Poole altered his course, as evidenced by Poole’s bow riding into his boat between the boom and the deck. Botticini was further upset when the international jury penalized him .33 points for failure to keep clear.
The incident rattled Botticini and he lost his focus. But after finishing the repechage at 4-3, he feels back on track.
2019 ARGO GROUP GOLD PROVISIONAL REPECHAGE ROUND STANDINGS
1. Chris Poole (30, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., USA) – 5 points Crew: Emily Nagel, Patrick Vos, Josh Wijohn 2. Lucy Macgregor (32, Poole, England, U.K.) – 4.5 Crew: Sally Barkow, Bethan Carden, Francesca Clapach, Kate Macgregor 3. Ettore Botticini (23, Porto Santo Stefano, Italy) – 4 Crew: Simone Busonero, Luca Camilli Meletani, Andrea Fornaro, Lorenzo Gennari 4. Eric Monnin (43, Immensee, Switzerland) – 4 Crew: Simon Brügger, Lukas Gerig, Marc Monnin, Alain Stettler 5. Nicklas Dackhammar (SWE) – 4 Crew: Olof Lundgren, Eric Malmberg, Jakob Wilson 6. Maxime Mesnil (30, Le Havre, France) – 3 Crew: Yann Chateau, Hugo Feydit, Yves-Marie Pilon 7. Pauline Courtois (30, Brest, France) – 3 Crew: Cédric Chateau, Nathalie Corson, Eric le Joliff 8. Kelsey Durham (25, Smiths, Bermuda) – 0 Crew: Stevie Dickinson, Campbell Duffy, Heath Foggo (The top four crews advance to the quarterfinal round.)