Friday, 10 October 2008

Quarterfinalists Decided at Bermuda Gold Cup 2008

Mattias Rahm, winner of the 2008 Match Cup Sweden, won the repechage for the last two quarterfinal places in Bermuda. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

by SailRaceWin

Two qualifiers from each of the three Groups of 8 teams went directly through to the quarterfinals at the Gold Cup in Bermuda today. These were:

Group One - Ben Ainslie (GBR) and Mathieu Richard (FRA)
Group Two - Ian Williams (GBR) and Adam Minoprio (NZL)
Group Three - Johnie Berntsson (SWE) and Sebastien Col (FRA)

Damien Iehl and his French Match Racing Team focused on reaching the quarterfinals via the repechage, after defeat by compatriot Mathieu Richard left him in third place in Group One, but didn't make it through. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

A repechage round robin was held on Hamilton Harbour for the last two quarterfinal places, composed of the teams finishing third and fourth in each group.

The repechage round robin was won by Mattias Rahm (SWE), with Keith Swinton (AUS) filling the last quarterfinal place.

In summary, two Antipodeans, two French, two British and two Swedish teams will fight it out for the top eight places at the 2008 Bermuda Gold Cup.

World Match Racing Tour

RC 44s show their light wind potential in the fleet race event

The RC 44 fleet at the start of race 1. Image copyright Guilain Grenier.

by Bernard Schopfer

After another long postponement, the fleet regatta finally started Thursday afternoon at 3:00 PM. Patrick de Barros’ Banco Espirito Santo made the best of the light breeze and won the race ahead of BMW ORACLE Racing (with Peter de Ridder at the helm) and Armando Giulietti’s Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano.

The Adriatic Sea off Trieste was once again better suited for water skiing than sailing today. Nevertheless, the nine strong RC 44 fleet managed to sail the first fleet regatta in a 5-6 knots breeze dying to 2-3 knots by the end of the regatta.

After an excellent start, Chris Bake’s Team Aqua was the first to approach the windward mark. However, Bake tacked too early and struggled to make it to the mark, looking frustratingly as several teams sailed past.

Patrick de Barros’ Team Banco Espirito Santo benefited most from this situation, taking the lead and controlling the rest of the fleet until the finishing line.

BMW ORACLE Racing, with Peter de Ridder at the helm, followed a few boat lengths behind whilst Armando Giulietti’s Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano – sailing without Sébastien Col (busy trying to win the world match race title in Bermuda) finished third.

Team Aqua finally crossed the arrival line 6 seconds before the time limit in seventh place, whilst Cro – A - Sail and ITA 7 didn’t make it in time.

Already winner of the three matches completed earlier in the week as tactician onboard BMW ORACLE Racing, Russell Coutts - calling the shots on Banco Espirito Santo for the fleet regatta – is currently unbeaten in Trieste.

They said:

Patrick de Barros, owner, Team Banco Espirito Santo: “We trained during three days before the beginning of the event and this has certainly paid off. Russell has also done a fantastic job: during the first beat, we tacked precisely when we needed to and this has allowed us to take the lead.”

Sara Roberts-Thomson, helmswoman, Artemis: “It was very exciting for me to steer Artemis in this fleet regatta. I had never sailed with a wheel before in my life, so it took a bit of time to adapt. The boat is very exciting and fun to sail and steer, it reacts very well.”

Peter de Ridder, helmsman, BMW ORACLE Racing: “I introduced the tillers on the TP 52 Class, so needless to say that I usually prefer them. However the steering is very interesting on the RC 44. The boat responds very well, you can feel the load on the wheel. I think that the boat is great. It is like a small Cup boat. I also like the idea that they got rid of all the silly IMS inside requirements such as the kitchen or toilets. This is just a pure race boat.”

Armando Giulietti, Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano: “With this light wind it is difficult to catch up when you are behind. We were in the lead after the start but then we lost some places. All in all, we are quite happy with our third place. It is our goal in this regatta to be always amongst the top boats, and more than anything to avoid bad results that can affect the overall ranking badly.”

Provisional results after one race - (Ranking, name of team, helmsman, results, points)

1) Team Banco Espirito Santo, Patrick de Barros, 1, 1
2) BMW ORACLE Racing, Peter de Ridder, 2, 2
3) Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano, Armando Giulietti, 3, 3
4) Artemis, Sarah Roberts-Thomson, 4, 4
5) Ceeref, Igor Lah, 5, 5
6) Organika, Maciej Navrocki, 6, 6
7) Team Aqua, Chris Bake, 7, 7
8) Cro-A-Sail, Miroslav Reljanovic, DNF, 10
9) ITA 7, Peter Heerema, DNF, 10

RC44 website

BlackMatch remain in the hunt for quarterfinals in Bermuda

Adam Minoprio versus Andy Horton in Bermuda. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

by David Swete

Day two of racing at the King Edward VII Gold Cup was sailed in perfect match racing conditions. Although extremely shifty there was an 8-12 knot breeze making for great racing that provided many upsets.

All of the groups still have one race left to complete the round robin and in our group despite the hiccup with our boom breaking yesterday. We kept ourselves in contention today with 2 wins and a loss to World Champion, Ian Williams.

We come up against Australian Keith Swinton in our final race of the round robin tomorrow. It is a must win for us to remain in contention for a direct route to the quarterfinals. Ian Williams has already qualified with a perfect scorecard while a big surprise is Andy Horton from the US who only has 1 loss. Horton and his talented Prada crew are racing Williams tomorrow and if the Brits can continue their winning form and we take the victory over Swinton, we will qualify for the final 8.

The biggest surprise of our pool was perhaps the poor form of last year's runner up Bjorn Hansen. The talented Swede has only managed 2 wins so far and is faced not only with missing out on the quarterfinals, but also the repechage series. Bjorn dominated the majority of the pre-start during our confrontation until Adam managed to out manoeuvre him in the last 30 seconds to lead off the start line. We sailed the shifts very well to extend our lead throughout the race while the World #6 was left helplessly in our wake.

With 4 wins, 2 losses we are looking forward to tomorrows racing and the Australia verses New Zealand showdown for our shot at the quarterfinals.

We would again like to say a special thank you to our sponsors, FedEx Express and Ross Munro from Line 7, their ongoing support is making this opportunity possible for the BlackMatch boys. To the RNZYS and everyone else thank you for your support.

BlackMatch Racing

Bermuda Gold Cup: Brits and Swedes lead the charge

Ben Ainslie's Team Origin leads Group One in Bermuda. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

by Dobbs Davis and Talbot Wilson

With only one match remaining in the Round Robin, Ben Ainslie’s (GBR) Team Origin, Ian Williams’ (GBR) Team Pindar, and Johnie Berntsson’s (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team are the only three teams of 24 which have definitely qualified for the next Quarter-Final stage at the King Edward VII Gold Cup presented by Argo Group.

The top two teams from each group move on to the Quarter finals and the third and fourth place finishers in each group sail off in a “Repechage” round robin on Thursday afternoon for their second chance to win one of the last two Quarter final slots. Following the Quarter-finals on Friday, winners move into the Semi-Finals on Saturday and the top two go to the Finals on Sunday. There is a $100,000 prize purse with $50,000 going to the winner, $20,000 for second and $10,000 for third. Fourth through eighth divide the remainder.

Close racing between the teams in Bermuda. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

Among those in contention are the three French teams - Mathieu Richard’s French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit, Sebastien Col’s French Match Racing Team/K Challenge, and Damien Iehl’s French Match Racing Team – as well as Andrew Horton (USA), Keith Swinton (AUS), and Adam Minoprio (NZL) and his Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing Team. And if they win in their final matches, other contenders in the Repechage include Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and his Mirsky Racing Team, David Perry (USA), and Mattias Rahm (SWE) and his Stena Bulk Sailing Team.

Amongst the leaders, Ainslie’s record remained unblemished at 6-0 despite tough matches against Rahm and Brian Angel (USA). This is Ainslie’s first match racing event since his gold medal winning Olympic campaign, yet he has clearly been on point in Group 1 and sailing in excellent form.

“We sailed much of today like the fleet racers we are,” said Ainslie, “focusing on staying in phase in these shifty conditions.” The northeasterly breeze today was much abated from yesterday, down to 6-12 knots, but very shifty within the confines of Hamilton harbor, where all but the largest leads were safe from attack.

Also in Group 1, defending Gold Cup champion Mathieu Richard had a great day to earn a 5-1 score on three wins in three matches sailed, but will be pitted against his countryman Iehl on the same score to determine who will be runner-up to Ainslie to go through to the Quarters.

Williams’ Team Pindar, currently the top-ranked team on the World Match Racing Tour leaderboard, also had a perfect day and stands on top of Group 2 with a 5-0 score. He has a make-up match to sail against Horton after the last race of Flight 7 tomorrow, where, depending on the outcome of other matches and the inevitable tie-breaks, the outcome may decide who goes through to the Quarters and who must race again in the Repechage.

Christophe Andre shows his hiking skills. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

Meanwhile in Group 3, Berntsson is assured of going through, but runner-up Sebastian Col will have to win his match against Mirsky to also avoid having to qualify through the Repechage.

Current results, after six flights:

Ben Ainslie (GBR) Team Origin, 6-0
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit, 5-1
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team, 5-1
Mattias Rahm (SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team, 3-3
Chris Van Tol (USA) Van Tol Match Racing Team, 2-4
Takumi Nakamura (JPN) Team Albatross, 1-2
Brian Angel (USA) King Harbour Yacht Club, 1-5
Sally Barkow (USA) Team 7 Racing, 1-5

Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar, 5-0
Adam Minoprio (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing Team, 4-2
Keith Swinton (USA) Black Swan Racing, 4-2
Andrew Horten (USA), 4-1
Rasmus Viltoft (DEN), 3-3
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Alandia Sailing Team, 2-4
Erik Koppernaes (CAN), 1-5
Jon Singsen (USA), 0-6

Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team, 5-1
Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K Challenge, 4-2
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, 3-3
Donald Wilson (USA), 3-3
David Perry (USA), 3-3
Pierre Antoine Morvan (FRA) ETM Match Racing, 2-4
Eric Monnin (SUI), 2-4
Blythe Walker (BDA), 2-4

World Match Racing Tour

High pressure and light winds put an end to the Friuli Venezia Giulia RC 44 Cup match race event

The new RC 44 Artemis, with Dean Barker at the helm, sailed for the first time yesterday and won two races today. What better way to start a career? Image copyright Guilain Grenier.

by Bernard Schopfer

The RC 44’s managed to complete two more flights Wednesday. BMW ORACLE Racing, Cro-A-Sail, Ceeref and Artemis are the winners of the day. However, with only three flights completed the contest is not valid. The fleet regatta starts tomorrow.

The weather was fairly promising in the morning despite the massive high pressure centred over Trieste, with a pleasant 5-7 breeze and nice sunshine. Unfortunately, the conditions didn’t allow completing enough races to validate the event.

Some beautiful matches took however place, including an important dual between the two leaders of the Class, BMW ORACLE Racing and Ceeref. Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts lost the start but attacked throughout the first beat, taking the lead at the windward mark to win the race.

Cro-A-Sail also had an excellent day, winning two matches against Team Organika and Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano.

Finally, Artemis – who sailed for the first time yesterday – got two bullets today and started its career in the best possible way.

They said:

Dean Barker, helmsman, Artemis: “We just made it to the starting line, so we are obviously very pleased to have won our two first races today. Our speed was great and the crew work went well; however the light conditions helped us. The real test will be tomorrow, in the fleet regatta.”

Morten Henricksen, helmsman, Cro-A-Sail: “I made a little mistake during the pre-start against Hiroshi; however, we managed to fight our way back and control them during most of the race. The second regatta was great: We dominated the pre-start, had an excellent speed and were in a position to control the favoured right hand side of the course.”

Results: With only three flights completed, the contest is not valid.

RC44 website

BMW ORACLE Racing to provide boats to Louis Vuitton Pacific Series

Will Enable More World-Class Sailors to Compete in “Instant Classic” in Auckland

by Jane Eagleson

Russell Coutts, BMW ORACLE Racing’s CEO/Skipper said today, “BMW ORACLE Racing is delighted to be able to provide a pair of race yachts for the upcoming Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in Auckland, New Zealand. We’re glad to be able to fulfill Bruno Troublé’s request – made to several owners, including Mascalzone Latino – for two additional boats that will enable more teams and more sailors to compete.

“Given the widespread support for the race, we think the LV Pacific Series will be an ‘instant classic’ and an important new date on the sailing calendar.

“BMW ORACLE competed with these 2007-generation race yachts, USA-87 and USA-98, as part of their 32ndAmerica’s Cup campaign, and we look forward to having these wonderful boats in action again, in a spectacular near-shore location. We know there is strong interest in the sailing world to see competitive match racing, and BMW ORACLE Racing is excited to be a participant.

“We thank event sponsor Louis Vuitton and Bruno Troublé, and Emirates Team New Zealand for their vision and support, and we look forward to seeing all of the great racing teams on the water early next year.”


Bermuda Gold Cup action from BlackMatch

Fresh Breeze action against the out of control Canadian Team, seconds before the boom broke on Adam Minoprio's (BlackMatch Racing) boat. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

by David Swete

Tuesday, 7th October was the opening day of racing at the King Edward VII Gold Cup World Tour Event. This regatta has an awesome history with a host of legendary past winners including Kiwis Russell Coutts, Chris Dickson and Rod Davis.

It is sailed in Caribbean waters on the stunning Hamilton Harbour in the very classical International One Design Yachts. The Gold Cup is not only unique for its location and beautiful yachts, but it also has a format unlike any other match racing event which allows 24 teams to compete.

Teams are divided into 3 groups of 8 and after racing each other in a round robin, only the top 2 teams from each group proceed through to the quarterfinals. 3rd and 4th from each group are left to battle it out in a repechage series to decide the remaining two quarterfinalists while the bottom four from each group go home.

We got off to a great start today in fresh conditions, winning our first two matches of the day, only to break our boom in our last match whilst we had a significant lead over the Canadian team. This defeat was a little hard to swallow as prior to the race we had a boat swap and were extremely concerned with the condition of the boom, we raised the issue with the race organisers but were told to start anyway and unfortunately were not granted redress when the boom failed.

In our match against Danish hopeful Rasmus Viltoft we totally dominated after Adam nailed a text book start, not only forcing a penalty on our opposition but also forcing them to be over at the start. Our opening match of the day against American Andy Horton, was however a little closer. We again nailed the start and led off the start line, but still coming to terms with the tricky IOD Yachts meant we lacked a little boat speed upwind and trailed going into the first downwind.

We had an excellent spinnaker set and managed to roll over the top of the US team on the run to the bottom mark but received a penalty when he luffed us violently and we failed to keep clear. On the next few legs we had sorted our speed issues out to extend significantly and position ourselves nicely to do our penalty turn while keeping our starboard right of way. On completion of our penalty the Americans had closed the game back up but we forced them to tack and took them past the top mark. It was a hectic final downwind as they threw everything at us but we defended our lead well to take a narrow victory.

We are looking forward to tomorrows racing and are confident we can keep building on our good start at this regatta and take on the higher ranked skippers in our group.

A special thank you to our sponsors, FedEx Express and Ross Munro from Line 7, their ongoing support is making this opportunity possible for the BlackMatch boys. To the RNZYS and everyone else thank you for your support.

BlackMatch Racing

Blustery Breeze Greets Gold Cup Competitors

Mirsky rounds ahead of Morvan. Image copyright Charles Anderson.

by Dobbs Davis and Talbot Wilson

Three-groups, 24-team field complete three flights each in gear-busting conditions - World Tour leaders emerge at the top of the standings.

In conditions which featured blustery north breezes approaching 25 knots in strength, the action was fast and furious in Hamilton Harbour for the first day of Round Robin racing at the King Edward VII Gold Cup, presented by Argo Group, on 7th October. With 24 invited teams divided into three group of eight, this event has the largest field of competitors of any on the 2008 World Match Racing Tour, and after three flights of racing in each group the regular Tour team are emerging towards the top of the standings.

Undefeated in his Group 1, Mattias Rahm (SWE) and his Stena Bulk Sailing Team have not appeared in a Tour event since their win at Stage 4, Match Cup Sweden in Marstrand. Rahm attributed his success today to practice sessions he’s had with fellow Swede Johnie Berntsson in the traditional-style International One Designs (IOD’s) which are used in this event and to which they have access back home.
“These boats are very heavy, and turn slowly, so planning your moves is very important,” said Rahm. For his part, Berntsson, competing in Group 3, nearly had the same 3-0 record as Rahm but for one penalty turn performed on the finish line with just a few metres shy of what was needed to defeat local Bermudian Blythe Walker in the last flight of the day.

Current Tour leader Ian Williams (GBR) and his Team Pindar also had an undefeated day, but due to damage sustained on rival Andy Horton’s (USA) boat in Group 2, the pair’s match today was postponed until tomorrow. So besides Berntsson and Williams, no less than six other teams who frequent the Tour - Sebastian Col and his French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, Bjorn Hansen (SWE) and his Alandia Sailing Team, Adam Minoprio (NZL) and his Emirates Team New Zealnd/BlackMatch Racing Team, Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and his Mirsky Racing Team, and Damien Iehl and his French Match Racing Team – are all on two points after the day’s racing.

Other teams on two points include Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) and Keith Swinton (USA), while the remaining teams in the field are either on one point or are looking for their first win.

A team which has heretofore performed abysmally in their previous Tour event has shone bright indeed on their first day of racing, joining Rahm on an impressive 3-0 score. British Olympic medalist Ben Ainslie and his Team Origin have thusfar not only gone undefeated, but had most of his opponents today tied up in penalties as well. This is a far cry from his last-place performance at Match Cup Sweden, held just days before his departure for this past summer’s Olympic Games in Quingdao, though he claims he felt they sailed well there but just couldn’t get the conversions to win.

“I’ve got a great team with me here, but I don’t think we sailed all that poorly in Marstrand to deserve that finish. We just didn’t get any breaks there, and so far things are just coming together better for us here,” said Ainslie.

While getting some breaks can make the difference needed for a winning score, avoiding the breaks can as well. In a particularly blustery match in Group 3, Col seemed to have things well in hand in his match against Don Wilson (USA), having gotten a penalty against Wilson in the pre-start and extending to a 5-length lead around the track. But just several lengths shy of his first leeward mark rounding, Col’s boom snapped at the vang in a particularly large puff, forcing his team to improvise downwind and upwind trim solutions for the mainsail for the remaining two laps around the course. And while Wilson got by Col to take a several-length lead, Col and his team’s extraordinary efforts and clever techniques kept the lead from extending further, and after performing his penalty turn at the finish line, Col was so close to very nearly taking back the match.

Round Robin racing resumes tomorrow at the King Edward VII Gold Cup, presented by Argo Group, with Group 2 starting in the morning, followed by Group 3 then Group 1.

Current standings, after 3 flights:

Ben Ainslie (GBR) Team Origin, 3-0
Mattias Rahm (SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team, 3-0
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit, 2-1
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team, 2-1
Takumi Nakamura (JPN) Team Albatross, 1-2
Chris Van Tol (USA) Van Tol Match Racing Team, 1-2
Brian Angel (USA) King Harbour Yacht Club, 0-3
Sally Barkow (USA) Team 7 Racing, 0-3

Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar, 2-0*
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Alandia Sailing Team, 2-1
Adam Minoprio (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealnd/BlackMatch Racing Team, 2-1
Keith Swinton (USA) Black Swan Racing, 2-1
Andrew Horten (USA), 1-1*
Rasmus Viltoft (DEN), 1-2
Erik Koppernaes (CAN), 1-2
Jon Singsen (USA), 0-3
* match postponed until tomorrow

Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K Challenge, 2-1
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, 2-1
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team, 2-1
Pierre Antoine Morvan (FRA) ETM Match Racing, 2-1
Eric Monnin (SUI), 1-2
David Perry (USA), 1-2
Blythe Walker (BDA), 1-2
Donald Wilson (USA), 1-2

About Stage 8
The top sailors of the world will be in Bermuda for the penultimate event on the World Match Racing Tour 2008 – King Edward VII Bermuda Gold Cup. A very strong line up with 8 of the top 10 from the Tour leader board in a scramble for Match Racing World Championship points – With 24 teams in three groups all trying to squeeze into the knockout rounds it’s going to be a really tough event to win.

World Match Racing Tour

Tricky breeze on day one of the Friuli Venezia Giulia RC 44 Cup

Morgan Larson's Team Ceeref penalised at the start of Flight 1. Image copyright Guilain Grenier.

by Bernard Schopfer

The RC 44s completed one flight on 7th October, with 3 knots of wind. Ceeref, Organika, Team Aqua and BMW ORACLE racing earned a precious point in those tricky conditions.

Following many practice days with perfect sailing conditions, the RC 44s involved in the Friuli Venezia Giulia RC 44 Cup spent most of Tuesday afternoon waiting for the breeze. Race Officer Peter Reggio held the fleet out appropriately, and managed to initiate a first starting session at 3:45 PM. All the teams knew that the race was going to be tough with this fluky 3 knots breeze, and dangerous points wise.

Morgan Larson learned it the hard way in the pre-start. Replacing the match race ranking leader James Spithill for this event, the American pro-sailor ended up squeezed against the race committee boat and penalized for a premature start, letting Cro-A-Sail and their pro-skipper Morten Henrickson sail away. It took Ceeref two beats to fight their way back and finally conquer the point.

Steering BMW ORACLE Racing, Larry Ellison – currently second in the match race ranking - also had a difficult race against another newcomer in the Class: Hamish Pepper, sailing onboard Banco Espirito Santo. The American team benefited from a 20 degrees wind shift to take the best start. Ellison kept well in control until Pepper spotted stronger winds on the right of the course, getting back to a boat length from his opponent. Well advised by Russell Coutts, Ellison kept his cool and controlled Banco Espirito Santo until the arrival line.

Sailing with Philippe Presti at the helm and Mateusz Kusznierewicz grinding the main sail, Team Organika spent the entire race a few boat lengths ahead of ITA 7, the boat chartered by Peter Heerema and steered by the current European Match Race Champion Peter Wibroe. This new team certainly showed a great potential against Organika, who is now well established in the RC 44 Class and a threat to any team.

Finally, Cameron Appleton’s Team Aqua had an easy race against Team Hiroshi – Città di Milano, steered by boat owner Armando Giulietti. Appleton showed his huge experience in the pre-start, inflicting a penalty to Hiroshi and starting almost one minute ahead of his opponent, cruising around the course with a smile.

They said:

Hamish Pepper, helmsman, Banco Espirito Santo: “We made a good come-back during the race; however it was just not close enough to be able to properly attack BMW ORACLE Racing. The boat is great. Last week, we trained in superb conditions and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It is fun to steer, but it also keeps the entire team busy. The boat planes in the breeze, and is very enjoyable.”

Cameron Appleton, helmsman, Team Aqua: “The race was over 40 seconds before the start. We poked Team Hiroshi from below and they didn’t react fast enough and touched us. They got a penalty and we sailed away. I think that there was enough breeze for a decent race. The boats react well even in such light winds.”

Peter Wibroe, helmsman, ITA 7: “I usually sail on the match race tour, and these boats are much bigger so it’s a new experience for me. This is definitely the best boat I have ever sailed, and we all agree on this on board. Rasmus Kostner was doing the tactics, and he was hugely helpful. Unfortunately, Organika started ahead of us and we didn’t have any opportunities to get back.”

RC44 website