Minoprio takes early Tour lead with victory in Marseille
Minoprio and Richard come together upwind. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/World Match Racing Tour.
by Dobbs Davis
In having scored their first World Match Racing Tour victory on Sunday at the Marseille International Match Race, Adam Minoprio (NZL) and his Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing team have taken an early lead in the Tour standings over some much more established teams. Their win, along with the 3rd place finish of 22-year old Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and his Mirsky Racing Team, shows that these young teams are a force to be reckoned with for the upcoming 2009 Tour season.
Taking the very talented runner-up Mathieu Richard (FRA) and his French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit to three matches in the first-to-three point Finals at an event hosted in their native land, Minoprio showed signs of talent and poise under pressure well beyond his 23 years. And while Mirsky could not get past Richard in the Semi-Finals, he did take that series to three hard-fought matches, and then proceeded to dominate another native French team led by Damien Iehl 2-0 in the Petite Finals.
For their efforts, Minoprio won €10000 of the €50000 purse and 25 points on the Tour leader board, while Richard won €8000 and 20 points, and Mirsky €7000 and 15 points.
So with these two young Antipodeans having gotten off to an impressive start to the ten-event 2009 season, they may very well present a formidable obstacle to Richard, fellow Frenchman Sebastian Col and his French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, and reigning World Champion Ian Williams (GBR) and his Bahrain Team Pindar to once again dominate the podium positions in this year’s Tour standings. Col finished down the pack in 6th in Marseille, his hometown, while Williams finished deep in 8th place.
But ironically there was another surprise in Marseille, but at the other end of the age spectrum: veteran Tour campaigner and reigning America’s Cup champion Ed Baird and his team from Alinghi sailed to the top of the 12-team field in the Round Robin, and went on to finish a respectable 5th in the event. After a several year hiatus to focus on the America’s Cup competitions and training, Baird said “It is great to be on the Tour once again and to get an opportunity to sail against these guys. The game has clearly moved on since I was last on the Tour, so we’re pleased we can come out and learn and still be competitive.”
And speaking of hiatus, there will be a long break in Tour action until 27 May which marks the start of Stage 2 of the 2009 schedule, Match Race Germany held on the beautiful Bavarian shore of Lake Constance in Langenargen. This event will feature several teams holding Tour Cards, including Minoprio, Mirsky, Richard, and Col.
Current World Match Racing Tour Leaderboard (top eight teams after stage one of ten):
1. Adam Minoprio (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing, 25
2. Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit, 20
3. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, 15
4. Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team, 12
5. Ed Baird (USA) Alinghi, 10
6. Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, 8
7. Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza, 6
8. Ian Williams (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar, 4 points
World Match Racing Tour