Monday, 16 March 2009
The BlackMatch team celebrate victory in Marseille. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.
by David Swete
The Marseille International Match Race was our first win on the World Match Racing Tour and at the age of 23 Adam is by far the youngest skipper ever to win a World Tour Event.
After qualifying for the Monsoon Cup in 2007 and narrowly losing to the legendary Peter Gilmour in the quarterfinals, we committed to a full year on the Tour for 2008. Following a lacklustre start to our 2008 campaign where we struggled to come to terms with the step up to the world circuit, we finished the year with a credible 4th place overall, making 4 semifinals out of the 8 tour events we raced in. Our progression has seen us make the last 3 World Tour Finals and with our first win in Marseille, we are hoping it is a sign of things to come.
The forecast for the final day of sailing in Marseille was for another strong 'Mistral' breeze, however the weather gods were up to their usual tricks and all action was postponed for several hours due to no breeze at all. When racing finally got underway we were to take on local hope Damien Iehl in the best of 3 semifinals.
Minoprio leads Richard downwind in the finals. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.
Damien had the choice of who to race in the semi-final and yet again we were chosen, despite our quaterfinal win over America's Cup holder Ed Baird and his Alinghi team the previous day. We took out the semi-final match up 2-0 in convincing style, winning the first race even after misjudging the start and being slightly over when the gun went. Although we were over we still had the favoured boat end of the start line and upon returning to the line we were still in the game enough to be in front midway up the first leg. As we did against the Alinghi Team, we showed great speed around the course and managed to extend away from the Frenchman to go onto match point.
Adam got the start we wanted in the deciding match, however we missed a significant wind shift up the first beat and Iehl held the lead going into the first downwind. An excellent gennaker set by the boys saw us hot on their tail and we managed to roll over them down wind as they luffed hard to defend their lead. By the bottom mark we were 'neck and neck' but we forced the French team to tack off to the right side of the course while we saw nice wind pressure in the left. The end result of this big split tack was a massive margin to us at the top mark and we sailed away to book our spot in the final.
Minoprio and Richard enjoying close racing in the finals. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.
Our opposition in the final was last years Marseille Match Race International champion and former world #1, Mathieu Richard. Currently ranked at #3 in the world, Mathieu and his French Spirit America's Cup team are extremely talented sailors and a formidable force in any regatta, let alone in the J-80 boats which they are so accustomed to. We managed a comfortable victory in our first match, dominating the start and defending well to extend away but it was a complete role reversal in the must win match for the French team. They lead back to the start line at the perfect time whereas we were slightly late and although we fought hard to comeback, our mistake had given them an unassailable lead and a third match decider was needed.
In our final match of the regatta, Adam absolutely nailed the start and we had a 3 boat length lead off the line. The wind was dying, however the sea state was very choppy, with big waves making gear changing on the boats extremely important to keep on powering through. We sailed the shifts well and kept ourselves in pressure as we sailed away to become the 2009 Marseille International Match Race Champions and take our first World Match Racing Tour victory.
Adam Minoprio has fun with the champagne. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.
FedEx Express and Line 7 are our two sponsors who have stuck by us throughout our World Tour campaign and we would like to yet again thank them for their support. To the RNZYS, Emirates Team New Zealand and everyone else, thank you also for your support.
World Match Racing Tour