Friday, 4 December 2009

WMRT: World Champion out, who else?

Close racing between the matches at the Monsoon Cup. Image copyright Sander van der Borch/Subzero Images.

New Zealand's Waka Racing: the team of the day. Image copyright Sander van der Borch/Subzero Images.

A pensive and disappointed Ian Williams by the World Match Racing Tour and Monsoon Cup trophies in Malaysia. Image copyright Brendon O'Hagan/Subzero Images.

by Rob Kothe

Monsoon Cup 2009 Day 2 and after the monsoon drama of the first day, the toughest racing day so far in the history of the regatta, this morning the competitors had time to focus on the leader board.

At the end of the round robin series, (there are four more flights) four skippers will exit the regatta, leaving the top eight to contest the quarter-finals.

At the start of racing on day two of the Monsoon Cup the Asian Match Racing champion, New Zealander Phil Robertson, was 1-3. His single victory yesterday was against Ian Williams and he had been singled out as one of the teams who could miss the cut.

Phil Robertson versus Torvar Mirsky in the pre-start. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

Dockside this morning Robertson was feeling the pressure but was definitely optimistic. 'Two of the races we lost yesterday were our own mistakes. We are aiming to do better today!'

Mathematically a team needs six wins to get through to the quarter-finals, so Robertson and his WAKA Racing crew had work to do.

However Robertson did not expect to beat Peter Gilmour the defending Monsoon Cup champion. Gilmour was aggressive in the starting box, but impressively Robertson outgunned him. Gilmour attracted two penalties in the pre-start; one a red flag meaning he had to take one penalty immediately. Game over.

Sailing against the World Tour ranked number two Torvar Mirsky, Robertson forced the Australian to the left side of the starting line. Robertson was fast to the right hand current elevator and sailed to victory.

Then came the Kiwi match up - Robertson against fellow New Zealander Adam Minoprio, who is the Tour leader.

Minoprio and his crew were confident ahead of the match, but Robertson took control in the pre-start and grabbed the right hand side of the course. They were sailing bow to stern when the two boats reached the current at the top mark. Robertson was just a length ahead but down the run he extended to three lengths. He held the lead and went on to win.

Adam Minoprio with trademark tongue out concentration on BlackMatch Racing. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

It was quiet onboard Minoprio's boat at the end of the match. Minoprio commented 'We want Phil to win lots of matches - just not against us. He is on a hot streak today that's for sure.'

Robertson, the world ranked number 26, finished a great morning's work beating Damien Iehl.

WAKA Racing was now 5-3 and heading for the quarter-finals. Robertson's smile was broad dockside. 'Who would have believed this possibility after yesterday? Actually we were pretty much on the pace yesterday but we made a few silly mistakes.

'It was just fine tuning. Today we won all our starts and the boys just kept us going fast down the track.

'With Gilmour, Mirsky and Minoprio, all three, we managed to get to the right of them and push them down the line and then we were able to tack off towards the current. In our fourth match Damien Iehl was under a lot of pressure, he made a mistake on his timed run and that was it.

'Actually we've found overall there is an advantage going out in tide in the pre-start, it has allowed us to get enough gauge to come back and control.'

Next the number 25 ranked sailor tackled former World Champion Magnus Holmberg and in the tight pre-start Holmberg attracted a penalty. Robertson comprehensively outsailed his rival.

While for some crews its all going swimmingly, there are losers too.

Minprio versus Mirsky. Image copyright Sander van der Borch/Subzero Images.

Ian Williams and Team Pindar have dominated the World Tour for the last two years winning both the 2007 and 2008 World Match Racing Championships but right now Williams is in nightmare territory.

After the first day Williams was 1-3, having recorded losses to Damien Iehl (French Team) Peter Gilmour (YANMAR Racing Team) and Phil Robertson (WAKA Racing), while defeating Torvar Mirsky (Mirsky Racing Team).

After the completion of racing last night Williams commented 'you have to be right on the money and we were not.'

Today he knew he had to be and Williams started with a workman like victory over the Malaysian Match Racing champion Hazwan Hazim Dermawan (MAS).

Traffic downwind at the Monsoon Cup. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

He then lost to Sebastien Col (ALL4One) and Magnus Holmberg (Victory Challenge).

A moderately stressed but very determined Ian Williams and his Team Pindar crew were 2-5, needing to win four out of four races in the round robin series.

'The mistakes we've made or problems we've had, have come in different races. It has not been all about the start. Right now we are doing the hard stuff well; it's just the simple things. We've been losing by small margins' said Williams.

'Of course we are all racing the conditions as well as the other crews. The tide lines are moving, you have to be very aware and very sharp, because one mistake and you lose.

'We've had four wins from seven starts. We've lost two races where we clearly won the start and that is a real concern. We have had a couple of umpire calls that could have gone a different way...but I guess everyone can say that.

Ben Ainslie's TeamOrigin crew. Image copyright Sander van der Borch/Subzero Images.

'We have Ainslie, Richard, Minoprio, and Bruni. It's just a matter for us, of taking one race at a time.

'Two years ago we went through to the quarter-finals on four wins, last year on five. We will have to get to six wins; it's actually possible that someone could go out on six. We are just focussed on winning our next four races' concluded Williams.

Ian Williams' Team Pindar. Image copyright Sander van der Borch/Subzero Images.

But it was disaster for Williams in his match against Ben Ainslie, earning a penalty in the pre-start. Team Pindar sailed hard, won a leg advantage on the left, but lost the match.

The bitterly disappointed World Champion said ''We think that's it for us; we can't make the cut. We are just going to keep trying and let's see what happens.'

Press conference Day 2 Quotations:

Ben Ainslie 7-2. 'Our teamwork has been good, the racing is very close.'

Mathieu Richard 6-3. 'We are improving every day.'

Phil Robertson 6-3. 'All the wheels are turning. The boys are stoked.'

Mirsky Racing Team at the Monsoon Cup. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Îmages.

Magnus Holmberg 5-4. 'The race against Phil Robertson was exciting. We ran out of time; we tried to tangle with them but Phil and his crew did a good job beating us.'

Torvar Mirsky 4-4. 'The highlight of the day for us was beating Adam Minoprio.'

Peter Gilmour 4-4. 'Some of these young fellows just do not respect their elders, the whole field is very, very tight. The last four flights tomorrow will be critical for all of us struggling to make the quarter-finals.'

Peter Gilmour's YANMAR Racing team. Image copyright Sander van der Borch/Subzero Images.

Adam Minoprio 4-4. 'We were 1-3 today. We are disappointed with our performance. We still have a job to do to make the quarter-finals.'

Bowman Nick Blackman attempts to fend off Mathieu Richard during a pre-start between Adam Minoprio and Mathieu Richard. Monsoon Cup 2009. Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. 3 December 2009. Image copyright Gareth Cooke/Subzero Images.

Damien Iehl 4-5. 'We had a disappointing day today, as we did yesterday. We have to do better.'

Bruni 3-6. 'It's been a very big season for us and I think we are just tired. We had a couple of close races, but don't know the boats and course well enough, but we are looking to improve tomorrow.'

Hazwan Hazim 0-9. 'We are too light (100kg) for strong conditions. We had trouble accelerating, we got some tips from Peter Gilmour and we will be better for this experience.'

Minprio versus Richard. Image copyright Sander van der Borch/Subzero Images.

Day 2 (03/12/09) Round Robin Results after flight 13

Ben Ainslie (GBR) Team Origin - 7 2
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team - 6 3
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing Team - 6 3
Magnus Holmberg (SWE) Victory Challenge - 5 4
Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/ALL4ONE - 5 3 *
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team - 5 3 *
Adam Minoprio (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing - 4 4 *
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing - 4 4 *
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team - 4 5
Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar - 3 6
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Team Azzurra - 3 6
Hazwan Hazim Dermawan (MAS) Taring Pelangi Team - 0 9

Francesco Bruni's Italian Azzurra team. Image copyright Sander van der Borch/Subzero Images.

Monsoon Cup
World Match Racing Tour

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