Thursday, 18 June 2009

WMRT: French Team Hot on the Heels of Gilmour

Peter Gilmour heads the Round Robin with a first day 5-0 scoreline

Mathieu Richard's French Match Racing Team has been in form this year, and is continuing to demonstrate potential in Portugal. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

by Yvonne Reid

Stage 4 of the 2009 World Match Racing Tour season, Troia Portugal Match Cup, began today off the beautiful shores of the Troia peninsular with a shifty 5-7 knot breeze which built throughout the day to 12-14 knots. Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing, Philippe Presti (FRA) and Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing team are the early leaders after 10 flights of racing.

With many of the world’s best match racing stars here sailing the SM40’s, the competition for the €50,000 prize money event has already proven fierce in the opening flights of the Round Robin stage.

The early flights all went pretty much with the form book. The young rivals Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team and Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing met in Flight 2 and as ever they were both keen to put one over on the other. Minoprio led off the line but a split tack saw Mirsky head into the pressure and the vital shift that sent him round the bow of Minoprio. “I wish I could say it was all skill, but the wind god’s looked favourably on us. It’s always nice to chalk up a win against Adam though however we do it” said Mirsky.

Ian Williams’ (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar met Team Onboard’s Bjorn Hansen (SWE) in Flight 5 to resume where they left off in Korea. After an even start Hansen led Williams into the top mark on port tack as they went for the rounding, Williams went for the inside berth, receiving a red flag, immediate penalty, for his trouble. Williams said “I thought that it was a harsh penalty, from where I was looking Bjorn was the one altering course and not giving me room to keep clear.” A downwind tussle saw Williams behind but a smoother rounding at the leeward mark enabled him to tack on to a better shift and by the top mark was overlapped on the inside. Hansen wasn’t giving up and managed to luff around the mark and accelerate over the top of Williams to take back the lead. The shifty conditions that characterised the day were still to the fore and Williams’ crew spotted more wind and a shift that helped them roll over Hansen and scrape through to victory. The rest of the day didn’t quite go Williams’ way with losses to newcomer Phil Robertson (NZL) and his WAKA Racing team and also to the French Team of Mathieu Richard.

Richard put in a solid performance, to end the day on 4-1 commenting that “We felt good today and were starting well which helped a lot. We had a great race with Ian Williams, as we always do. The key moment was on the first beat when we dialled him down then managed to slam dunk him. He tried to luff but couldn’t get to us, which really killed his speed. We look forward to tomorrow and hope to carry on the momentum.”

Overall it was a good day for the French with Philippe Presti and his French Team making the best of the conditions. Presti said “We sailed really well today, the crew work was excellent and Christian (Pontieu) was calling the tactics perfectly. I feel confident after today and am really enjoying the racing. We had a great win against Mathieu (Richard), it’s been a while since we beat him so we’re very happy.”

Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing, finished the day unbeaten with 5 wins. Amongst them was a win over fellow Perth resident Torvar Mirsky (AUS). The Mirsky Racing Team attacked from the start leading Gilmour back to the line and ending up in a nice lee bow position as the boats headed left. Gilmour showed his mastery of the SM40 by holding his lane for long enough to tack back and with a lucky left shift managing to squeeze around the top mark ahead. Mirsky came back with a better spinnaker set allowing him to get a leeward overlap. Gilmour remained unfazed, working on his boat speed and narrowly gybed across Mirsky’s bow to lead round the bottom mark. Another left shift made it easy work to the second windward mark and Gilmour eased away to take the win. After racing Gilmour said “It was quite tricky out there with the tide and shifty wind. I think a lot of teams struggled with their starting strategy today and passing lanes were hard to come by. We’re pretty happy with the way things worked out today.”

With a similar weather forecast for tomorrow everyone is looking forward more spectacular sailing in the beautiful Troia Resort.

Results from Day 1
Peter Gilmour, AUS, YANMAR Racing 5-0
Philippe Presti, FRA, French Team 4-1
Mathieu Richard, FRA, French Match Racing Team 4-1
Torvar Mirsky, AUS, Mirsky Racing 3-2
Adam Minoprio, NZL, ETNZ/BlackMatch 3-2
Ian Williams, GBR, Bahrain Team Pindar 3-2
Sebastien Col, FRA, French Team/K-Challenge 3-2
Bjorn Hansen, SWE, Team Onboard, 2-3
Phil Robertson, WAKA Racing, 2-3
Ian Ainslie, RSA, Team Proximo, 1-4
Alvaro Mourinho, POR, Seth Sailing Team, 0-5
Andrew Arbuzov, RUS, 0-5

Tour Standings
(After 3 of 10 events)
1. Adam Minoprio (NZL), ETNZ/BlackMatch 41 points
2. Ben Ainslie, (GBR), Team Origin 40 points
3. Mathieu Richard (FRA), French Team 35 points
4. Ian Williams (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar 34 points
5. Damien Iehl (FRA), French Team 32 points
6. Paolo Cian (ITA), Shosholoza 32 points
7. Peter Gilmour (AUS), YANMAR Racing 23 points
8. Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team 21 points

World Match Racing Tour

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