Saturday, 5 December 2009

BlackMatch sneak into Quarterfinals of Monsoon Cup to keep hopes alive

Spinnaker set for BlackMatch Racing at the 2009 Monsoon Cup. Image copyright Sander van der Borch/Subzero Images.

by David Swete (after Day 3 of racing)

The rollercoaster ride of BlackMatches fortunes have continued and in an extraordinary turn of events, we managed to qualify for the quarterfinals with only 5 wins from our round robin. With the prospect of winning two of our three remaining round robin matches against Peter Gilmour, Ian Williams and Sebastian Col we had a dismal start to the day narrowly losing both of our first matches, the race against Gilmour possibly the match of the regatta. After our first two races we had a two hour break to respect the local Muslim Prayer time and during this break we discovered we still had a good chance of qualifying. Former World Champion and Swedish America’s Cup Skipper Magnus Holmberg had also lost both of his morning matches so if we were to win our final match against Sebastian Col, we would advance on countback over the Swede.

We came out firing against the former World number 1 Col, forcing a penalty on him in the prestart after he lost control in a dial up and there was contact between the boats. The Frenchman won the favoured left hand side of the course however and we trailed narrowly at the first top mark. There is a bottom mark gate system being used here at the Monsoon Cup, similar to the America’s Cup courses you have a choice of what bottom mark to round and while we had made our minds up as to what gate was favoured before the start, the French team thought differently and went to the opposite mark. This proved to be a fatal mistake for Seb as we gained significantly and took a two boat length lead to run away with the victory and steal the last remaining quarterfinal berth.

So after a tumultuous week here for the team, we somehow found ourselves in the quarterfinals and still with a shot of being crowned World Champions. It was back ashore for all of the teams and goodbye to four teams that included current World Champion Ian Williams, Magnus Holmberg, Francesco Bruni and local hero Hazwan. Next was the ever interesting situation where the top qualifiers get to choose who they are to race in the quarterfinals and after just scraping through it was totally out of our hands as to who we would race. Ben Ainslie was first to choose and picked Damien Iehl, next up was Sebastian Col picking Phil Robertson and this gave Mathieu Richard a choice of Peter Gilmour, Torvar Mirsky or us. Despite beating Mathieu 3-0 last week in Perth he choose to race us, leaving the two Western Australian teams to battle it out.

With only enough time left in the day for one quarterfinal match up we managed to win decisively over Mathieu and his French Match Racing Team, pushing him over at the start and then forcing two penalties on him during the first downwind, to go into the night leading the first to 3 quarterfinal 1-0. Also 1 nil up are Ben Ainslie, Peter Gilmour and Sebastian Col.

With quarterfinal action resuming and a clean slate for the team it is only just heating up.

BlackMatch is Adam Minoprio, Dan Mclean, Tom Powrie, Nick Blackman and David Swete and we would like to thank our sponsor FedEx Express for their incredible support. We would also like to make a special mention to the support we receive from Emirates Team New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

BlackMatch Racing
World Match Racing Tour

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