Saturday, 14 March 2009

WMRT: BlackMatch to face Alinghi in Marseille Quarterfinals

Match racing in Marseille. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.

by David Swete

After another extremely tough day in trying conditions here in Marseille, we managed to qualify in 6th place at the end of the round robin and qualify for the quarterfinals. The wind was very shifty and although we had puffs of wind over 20 knots, quite often the breeze would die off completely with the race course becoming a "mine field". For this reason we were happy enough just to come through and qualify.

Qualifying in first position was Ed Baird and his Alinghi team which gave them the choice of who would be their quarterfinal opponent. Ed put his decision down to 'Science' when he justified choosing us in a late night press conference, stating he couldn’t pick Cian who came through second, or any of the local French teams so he choose us over the World Champion Ian Williams and Torvar Mirsky who both have higher world rankings.

History shows that we have a habit of toppling the more fancied teams who have picked to race us in the past, knocking Mathieu Richard out of the Korea Match Cup quarterfinals and likewise Paulo Cian in the Monsoon Cup. All be it a very inevitable task to be taking on such an experienced team during this stage of the regatta, we are looking forward to the challenge, having beaten Baird today in the round robin and we are hoping to emulate Emirates Team New Zealand’s win over Alinghi last month.

Close racing in Marseille. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.

Although we beat the likes of Ed Baird today, we had very narrow losses to World number 1 Sebastien Col and fellow Frenchman Damien Iehl. Racing was unbelievably tight today and our loss against Iehl came in a very hectic race where the wind topped out over 20 knots and whipped up a very 'choppy' sea state.

We were both getting very good speeds as we surfed downwind on the J-80 boats but although we held the lead coming into the finish we had received a penalty on the previous downwind when our spinnaker touched Iehls boat and we were unable to exonerate ourselves. We are looking to eliminate any of these little mistakes tomorrow as we have to be right on top of our game if we are to defeat Ed and his experienced team but we can come through with the result.

We would like to again say a special thank you to our sponsors: FedEx Express and Ross Munro from Line 7 who have decided to stick by us for our 2009 campaign. Their ongoing support has made this opportunity possible for the BlackMatch boys and it is a great honour to have the support of such great companies. To the RNZYS, Emirates Team New Zealand and everyone else, thank you for your support.

BlackMatch Racing
World Match Racing Tour

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