by Rob Kothe
The final and most crucial round of the 2009 World Match Racing Tour, the Monsoon Cup, is being sailed in Terengganu, eastern Malaysia from December 1st to 6th. Once, the weeks before this major event provided time for the match racing crews to recharge their batteries, but not any more.
In 2008 young Perth match racer Torvar Mirsky cheekily issued personal invitations to the World Match Racing Tour Champion Ian Williams and the then third placed Mathieu Richard, to come to Perth to train with him on the Swan River, in Foundation 36 match racing boats. The issued invitation was for practice racing before the Monsoon Cup, which is also sailed in the Foundation 36's.
The pre-event preparation yielded results with Mirsky making it to the Monsoon Cup Semi Finals. Williams also made it through, giving Williams the points to take the overall 2008 World Match Racing Tour crown.
A year later and 23 year Mirsky and his New Zealand rival 24 year old year old Adam Minoprio are the top two on the World Match Racing Tour leader board. This year, just a week before the Monsoon Cup, they will be two of the crews participating in the premier international match racing event on the Australian calendar, the Sunseeker Australia Cup.
The Australia Cup was first held in January 1982 at the Royal Perth Yacht Club. The inaugural winner John Bertrand, went on to win the 1983 America's Cup in Newport, Rhode Island onboard Australia II. Since the last series in 2002, the Australia Cup has remained in the Trophy cabinet at the Royal Perth Yacht Club.
Skip Lissiman, CEO of Swan River Sailing, and part of that famous Australia II crew, has been working with the Royal Perth Yacht Club to reintroduce the Australia Cup. This year Sunseeker has come onboard as the primary sponsor.
In a first for Perth, much of the racing will take place on the CBD waterfront, on the city side of the Narrows Bridge, with boats coming within a few metres of the shoreline.
The Sunseeker Australia Cup will be sailed from November 26th through to November 29th and features a heavy weight line up, with seven of the eleven crews chosen for the final World Match Racing Tour event of the year, deciding they need to be on Perth's waterway for some serious pre-Monsoon Cup training.
The Sunseeker Australia Cup pre-race favourite must be Adam Minoprio, the number one ranked match racer in the world, who has 100 points ahead of the Monsoon Cup. Perth's own Torvar Mirsky is second on the Tour with 88 points and Ian Williams, the current World Champion, is on 75 points. Mathieu Richard, who is currently fourth on tour with 74 points, has also chosen to test his skill on the Swan River.
Triple gold Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie, arguably the world's best known sailor, will be fresh from the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Nice, France where he helmed Britain's entry TeamOrigin. Ainslie currently sits in sixth place on the Tour leaderboard and will prove a threat to the other top teams.
Francesco Bruni, twelfth on the Tour, will also be making an appearance at the Perth event. He is in excellent form having just sailed Italy's Azzurra Team into the final of the Louis Vuitton Trophy.
Phil Robertson is the newly crowned Asian Match Racing Champion and will be out to make an impression and gain valuable experience against the world's best match racers at the Sunseeker Australia Cup. Robertson and his team have spent six months of this year on the Tour, steadily improving their ranking and will not be taken lightly by their competitors.
Defending Tour Champion Ian Williams was looking forward to his Perth visit and said 'We'll be doing our best to win the Sunseeker Australia Cup and to try to build some momentum going into the final event of the year. With the way the points are, we have to win in Malaysia, so getting into the habit of winning would be a big boost for us going into the Monsoon Cup.'
Hometown favourite Torvar Mirsky commented 'Our training has been going well and the Sunseeker Australia Cup is going to be a great chance to measure ourselves against the other teams.'
Mirsky Racing Team (MRT) tactician Kinley Fowler said 'The Sunseeker Australia Cup is a really exciting event for us. We want to show the people of Perth what MRT is all about.
'We are going to be sailing right in front of the City on a tight course, with spectators very close to us and in tricky conditions, so it will be non stop action.
'Minoprio and his team have a bit of a jump on us going into the Monsoon Cup, but we only need to put one or two places between us (and them) to take out the title. All of the teams are going to be in their top form, so really anything could happen. It's all going to come down to who sails best on the day.'
World Match Racing Tour