Sunday, 31 August 2008

Danish Open Match Race 2008 - Day Three

Ian Williams and Team Pindar finished top of the Round Robin with 8 wins. They lie 1-1 with Johnnie Berntsson in the best-of-five race semi-final at the end of Day 3. Image copyright Per Heegaard.

by Yvonne Reid

The warm sunny weather returned to the shores of Frederikshavn in Denmark, bringing out a record crowd of spectators to watch the final flights of the round robin and see the semi-finalists emerge. As the crowd eagerly watched from the rocky shores overlooking the race area, 12 teams fought hard to determine who would make it to the Semi Final round to compete for their share of the $100,000 total purse in this fifth stage of the World Match Racing Tour.

With four flights left in the round it was all wide open with 6 teams capable of getting to the magic number of seven wins and the possibility that 6 wins might get you there on count back.

Ian Williams on 7 points had to beat local Peter Wibroe to assure his place in the semi’s but Wibroe was not going to lie down as he also needed the win to get to 7 wins. In the end it was Williams that controlled the match from the start, never letting Wibroe into the race.

Johnie Berntsson (SWE) earns his place in the semi-finals, beating Mads Ebler (DEN) on Day 3 of the Danish Open 2008. Image copyright Per Heegaard.

Johnie Berntsson started the day on 4-4 and knew he had a bit of a mountain to climb to make the cut. After vowing to try and keep away from umpire decisions he immediately got stuck in, forcing 2 penalties onto Sebastien Col in his first match, 3 penalties onto Torvar Mirsky in the pre-start of his second match, earning Mirsky a black flag DSQ, and one penalty onto Mads Ebler in his third match.

Opening the day at 5-3 Sebastien Col had a good chance to qualify but a loss to Johnie Berntsson in match one meant he needed to pull out all the stops against both Adam Minoprio and fellow Frenchman Mathieu Richard. Against Minoprio he led at mark 1 and held off a charging Kiwi all the way round the course to take the win and consign Minoprio’s hopes of making the semi-finals to a watery grave.

Col’s next match against Richard was nip and tuck all the way round with the boats never more than a few feet apart. No matter what Richard did he couldn’t rattle Col who kept control and stopped Richard’s regatta in its tracks.

Sebastien Col and his French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge win through to the semi-finals on Day 3 of the Danish Open. Image copyright Per Heegaard.

“This week has not been so easy. We have a new tactician who I have sailed with twice so we are learning but we have a good curve. It’s been hard”, said Col.

The lucky man of the day award went to Torvar Mirsky. “I just won the lucky dip, I can’t believe we got through on 6 points”, said an elated Mirsky after seeing how the 5 way tie was unravelled. “I thought we were gone, I’d better grab the lads from out of the bar!”

So it was Ian William’s Team Pindar that topped the Round Robin followed by Johnie Berntsson in second, the French Match Racing Team/K Challenge of Sebastien Col in third and Torvar “Lucky man” Mirsky rounding out the Semi-finalists.

As winners prerogative, Ian Williams was given the opportunity to choose his opponent in the semi-final which was a little trickier than you might think as Johnie Berntsson and Torvar Misky had both beaten him in the Round Robin and a lucky wave and gust had helped him snatch defeat from Col in the dying seconds of their match. In the end he chose Berntsson, leaving Col and Mirsky to fight it out in the second semi-final.

In semi-final one against Johnie Berntsson, Ian Williams was over the line early but a big left shift saved his bacon and propelled him back into a lead he never relinquished. In the second match Berntsson struck back leading Williams from start to finish to level the score.

In semi-final two Torvar Mirsky capitalised on a big right shift to get the jump he needed on Sebastien Col to take a big lead and the win. Their second match was much closer with Col leading at the first mark. Mirsky put the pressure on downwind but with an outstanding penalty he had some work to do. By the bottom of the run Col had to defend hard and a fast luff was judged too fast by the umpires and the penalties were offset. Col scrambled to the leeward mark getting there just ahead of Mirsky, a lead he defended well to the the finish.

Racing starts again on Sunday at 10am local time, with the completion of the first to three point semi-finals followed by the finals in the afternoon.

Standings After Day 3:

Ian Williams v Johnie Berntsson 1-1
Sebastien Col v Torvar Mirsky 1-1

7th/8th Place Sail-Off
Adam Minoprio v Magnus Holmberg 1-1

Note from SailRaceWin: See the report below for an account of the first tantilisingly close 7th/8th place match between Minoprio and Holmberg. Minoprio won the second match by 1 minute 35 seconds.

Danish Open 2008
World Match Racing Tour

No comments: