from Adam Minoprio
Saturday saw the remainder of the top 8 round robin completed and also the semi-final stage of the Sopot Match. We had an excellent day, winning the top 8 with 5 wins and two losses and then taking out our semi final 3-0 to qualify for our first ever Grade 1 final.
On completion of the top 8 round robin, the three other teams to proceed through to the semi finals were Keith Swinton, Ian Ainslie and Eric Monnin. Surprise omissions from the semi finals were defending champion Peter Wibroe who is the world #8 and also world #7 Torvar Mirsky. One of our losses in the top 8, however, was against Torvar. In extremely light conditions the Perth team did an excellent job to get a small advantage off the start line. They sailed extremely well throughout the race to take the victory but unfortunately this was not enough to see them through to the final four as they could only manage 3 wins from their 7 races.
As we qualified top of the table we had the choice of who to race in the semi-final. We chose South African Ian Ainslie, which left Keith Swinton to race Eric Monnin from Switzerland. The two teams to proceed through to the finals would be the first to reach 3 wins. We managed to totally dominate the world #20 and took out the semi-final in style 3-0, while Eric Monnin sailed extremely well to come out victor over Keith Swinton 3-1.
Our first race against Ian did see him gain a small advantage off the start line when he got the first wind shift and lead us around the top mark. We had an excellent first mark rounding though and found ourselves gybing and rolling over the top of the South African team. They luffed us very violently and we responded straight away but there was contact between the boats. The umpires deemed that they had not given us enough room and opportunity to keep clear so they were penalised. The battle continued downwind and Ian assumed he still had luffing rights so he sailed us past the bottom mark. We were however confident that we had broken the overlap and this meant Ian had no right to take us past our 'proper course' so we protested him and he received a second penalty to be taken immediately; essentially game over. The other races were pretty standard with Adam managing out-manoeuvre our opponent to gain the upper hand in the pre starts and the boys keeping the boat fast around the track to gain comfortable victories.
It is great to be in our first Grade 1 Match Racing final and such an awesome event to do well at. No doubt it will be a tough final tomorrow against the gritty Swiss team and we are looking forward to the challenge ahead of us.
BlackMatch would like to again thank our sponsors: FedEx Express and Ross Munro from Line 7, their ongoing support is helping make this opportunity possible for the BlackMatch boys. To the RNZYS and everyone else, thank you for your support.
2008 Toyota Sopot Match Race