There will be only 21 teams in this year's Argo Gold Cup instead of the usual 24. *Photo supplied
There will be only 21 teams in this year's Argo Gold Cup instead of the usual 24. *Photo supplied

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28: Two post-deadline team cancellations and difficulty with travel schedules from Europe have reduced the expected field of 24 teams to 21 in the 2012 Argo Group Gold Cup.

The field includes nine of the top 20 ISAF ranked teams and the two leading Alpari World Match Tour Skippers.

With the reduced numbers, the schedule and format will be modified. This year the teams will be divided into two groups of 10 and 11 teams determined by international rankings and other performance factors.

Each group will sail a round robin with their top four teams moving directly to the quarterfinals.

Bjorn Hansen (SWE), of Mekonomen Sailing Team, currently leads Ian Williams (GBR) of Team GAC Pindar on the Tour leaderboard by six-points and the pair will probably be the top seeds at the event and fall into different groups.

Johnie Berntsson (SWE) and the Berntsson Sailing Team, a past Gold Cup winner, and Adam Minoprio (NZL) BlackMatch Racing, the 2009 Tour and ISAF World Champion, will likely fall into opposing groups as well.

Minoprio has yet to win the Gold Cup, but came second to Johnie Berntsson in 2008 and second to Ben Ainslie in 2009.