The 20th International Knickerbocker Cup, hosted by the Knickerbocker Cup Foundation will take place on August 29 - September 3, on Manhasset Bay at the Knickerbocker Yacht Club. As a stop on the World Match Racing Association professional tour, The Knickerbocker Cup is one of two ISAF Grade 1 match racing events in the United States, and the only one taking place in the Eastern U.S. in 2001.
In 1977 Ed du Moulin and his long time friend, the late Arthur Knapp, were watching the Congressional Cup in Long Beach, CA. At that time the annual event was the preeminent match race event in the US, and it was Arthur Knapp who helped find candidates from the East Coast to compete. It made sense to create an East Coast Match Race Series, with the winner given an invitation to the Congressional Cup. Thus the Knickerbocker Cup was born, and the first competition took place in 1982 on Manhasset Bay and was sailed in J-36s. In 1994, the Knickerbocker Cup became part of the Omega Grand Prix of Match Racing, an international professional match racing series, and in 1995 the Cup became affiliated with Brut by Faberge Sailing Series, which was held in five countries around the world. In 1997 the Knickerbocker Cup became affiliated with the Cigna New York Harbor Series. Also added was the Continental Airline Corporate Regatta sailed in New York Harbor, just prior to the Cup competition on Manhasset Bay.
Sailed in identical J-105's, match racing is the ultimate test of skill in boat handling, strategy, and teamwork. For many skippers, match racing events like the Knickerbocker Cup are considered a "tune-up" for the America's Cup. This year the event has attracted some of the most celebrated match racing skippers in the history of the event. They include:
Peter Gilmour, Perth, Western Australia, is part of the USA Oneworld Challenge for the America's Cup. Gilmour has competed in seven out of eight events in the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour in 2000. He was the 2000 Nippon Challenge Skipper, and took first place in 1990, 1997 and 1998 World Match Racing Championships. He is back to defend his win at the Knickerbocker Cup in 1999. He is rated 5th in the ISAF (International Sailing Federation) World Match Race Rankings.
Jes Gram-Hansen, Denmark, was the 1997 Scandinavian Champion, took 2nd in the 1998 European Match Race Championship, was 4th in the 1999 Bermuda Gold Cup, was the winner in the 2000 TMC Cup. He is 5th in the overall standing of the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour, and was 9th in the Swedish Match Tour's Danish Open 2001, in mid-August at Skovshoved Harbor, Denmark. He is ranked 7th in the World Match Race Rankings.
James Spithill, USA, is part of the USA Oneworld Challenge for the America's Cup, was the skipper on Young Australia in 2000, was 3rd in the 2001 Pedrini Cup (Grade 1 event), 1st in the 2001 BluRimini Match Race and 2nd in the Nippon Cup (Grade 1 event). Spithill is credited as the youngest skipper of an America's Cup entry (with Young Australia in 1999). Spithill came in 7th in the Danish Open 2001, which is part of the Swedish Match Grand Prix Tour. He is ranked 4th in the World Match Racing Rankings.
Morten Henriksen, Germany, is manger of Germany's first-ever America's Cup campaign, Illbruck Challenge. He spent most of 2000 coaching the Soling teams of Ed Baird (USA) and Herman H. Johannesen (Norway). He was 2nd in the 2001 MRC Challenge; 2nd in the 2001 Algarve Cup; 3rd in the 2000 Danish Championship; and 1st in the Audi Challenge. He was 6th at the Danish Open 2001 in Skovshoved Harbor, Denmark and is 7th in the overall standings of the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour. He is listed 16th in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings.
Lars Nordbjerg, Denmark, was the 2001 winner of the TNT-Qualifier, winner of the 2001 Roskilde Cup; 5th in the 2001 Algarve Cup; 5th in the 2001 Riva Match Race Cup; the 2000 Winner Hostmatchen; 2nd in the 2000 Essen Euro Cup; and 6th in the 2000 European Championships. In the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing Tour, he is 9th in the overall standings. He is ranked 25th in the ISAF World Match Race Standings.
Mathieu Richard, from France, took 3rd in the 2000 Land Rover Cup, 2nd in the 2000 French Championships, won the 2000 Youth French Championships; was 3rd in the 2000 Jylinge Open; and 2nd in the 2000 Oslo Match Cup. His match racing ranking is 30th.
Cameron Appleton, from New Zealand, is part of Team New Zealand for the America's Cup; took 3rd in the 2001 Steinlager Line 7 Cup; 4th in the 2001 Sundsval Open Match Race; 2nd in the 2000 Steinlager Line 7 Cup; 1st in the 2000 Gotland Round Offshore Race; 1st in the 2000 New Zealand Keel Boat Championships; 4th in the 2000 Match Racing Championships. Most recently, he is in Cowes for the America's Cup Jubilee, as the Team New Zealand skipper on Kiwi Magic. He is ranked 32nd in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings.
Ken Read, USA, is the helmsman for Team Dennis Conner's Stars and Stripes challenge for the America's Cup, was the 1995 member of Young America America's Cup team; six time J-24 World Champion; four time J-24 North American Champion; two time Corel-45 World Champion; two-time Etchells22 North American Champion; and 1985 and 1994 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. He is ranked 110th.
Andrew Arbuzov, from Moscow, Russia, was 1st in the 2001 Yava Trophy; 1st in the 2001 Ekaterinburg Cup; 4th in the Audi Baltic Match Race; 1st in the 2000 Yava Trophy; and 1st in the 2000 Russian Championship. He is ranked 54th in the world.
Gustav Nilsson, from Sweden, was 5th in the 2001 Swiss Cup/Swedish Match Cup Qualifier; 5th in the 2000 TNT Cup; 2nd in the 2000 Cap Gemini Qualifier, 1st in the 1999 Swedish Junior Match Racing Championships. He is listed 59th in the ISAF Match Racing Rankings.
Ed Baird, from St. Petersburg, FL, is returning to defend his winning title from the 2000 Knickerbocker Cup. He also won the Cup back-to-back in 1993 and 1994. He was the skipper on Young America Challenge for the America's Cup; was the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year in 1995; and a Soling campaigner in the 1996 Olympics. He is ranked 29th in the ISAF Match Racing Rankings.
The Knickerbocker Cup has grown to become a leading Match Race Event, having gained status as part of The World Match Racing Association, of which Knickerbocker Past Commodore Ted Weisberg is the current President (and also a director of the Swedish Match Grand Prix Sailing). Ed du Moulin and Arthur Knapp's dream of an East Coast Match Racing Event has become much more than they ever expected. It is a top grade match racing event that attracts the best skippers and crews, and provides a venue for a week of exciting match racing on Manhasset Bay.