Tuesday, 16 April 2013
Rasmus Viltoft. Image copyright Match Racing Denmark
by Matthew Pryor
After winning the Danish qualifier of the 2013 Nations Cup, Rasmus Viltoft is looking forward to his first ISAF grand final, in Middelfart in August. The spotlight will be on the home favourite even more with the news that His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark will be there to watch.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to sail an event of such great international importance in Denmark,” Viltoft said. “This is beyond anything I have ever attempted before.”
“I’ve never participated in a Nations Cup. This regatta is a landmark in sailing. I am very pleased to be a part of it.”
The bi-annual Nations Cup is the showcase event for emerging match racing talent and former winners include Ed Baird, the 2007 America’s Cup winning helmsman.
After regional qualifiers in Barbados and Argentina it was Denmark’s turn to pick their champion. The talented Viltoft started as one of the pre-competition favourites at the event in Skovshoved, just north of Copenhagen, organised by the Royal Danish Yacht Club yacht club,
With four-person crews racing DS37 boats, one of the pre-regatta favourites, Viltoft was undefeated after the first day’s round robin on Saturday, along with surprise contender, Martin Mørkebjerg. It made for a tense final day on Sunday with high stakes for the crews.
In a tense match with Mørkebjerg, Viltoft showed his skill by winning despite an early mistake. He got the better start but suffered a penalty upwind to the top mark. After rounding the mark, Viltoft was still ahead but decided he did not have a big enough lead to carry out his penalty.
Viltoft struck as they rounded the top mark for the second time. With an advantage to starboard Viltoft forced Mørkebjerg to slow down and almost stop his boat, giving himself time to carry out his penalty without giving up the lead. But they rounded the top mark practically side-by-side and battled downwind. As the finish approached they jibed simultaneously – with Viltoft just in front - and he held on to win.
That was the closest anyone got to Viltoft as he swept past from the start in the showdown with Joachim Aschenbrenner, who had highest Danish match racing ranking going into the event. “Today’s victory, and the fact that we’re going to sail in the grand final, gives me something to aim for,” Viltoft said. “I will do everything in my power to turn up in Middelfart as well prepared as possible.”
“Middelfart will be a benchmark for me. My main focus now will be creating the best possible team for August.”
“I have sailed several regattas in Middelfart; it almost feels like a second home to me.”
“We’ll be sailing the DS37 in Middelfart. We know this type of boat very well. I don’t think there are many who sail it better than us.”
Aschenbrenner and Lucas Lier may have another chance to qualify for Middelfart in European qualifier in Lelystad, Netherlands on May 1-5.
But one Dane, with a keen interest in match racing - Crown Prince Frederik - will defintely be there. "We are extremely happy that Crown Prince Frederik is coming to Nations Cup in August,” Søren Laugesen, Event Manager at ISAF Nations Cup 2013 Grand Final said. “The Crown Prince knows a lot about sailing and that makes his visit even more valuable to us."
He is a keen sailor and has match raced several times - including a famous "bride waltz at sea". A week before his wedding to his Australian wife - Crown Princess Mary - they match raced each other - with each on their national team boat. The Crown Princess won.
Results of the Nations Cup 2013 Danish qualifier
1. Rasmus Viltoft
2. Martin Mørkebjerg
3. Joachim Aschenbrenner
4. Henrik Christensen
5. Henrik Eyermann (SWE)
6. Sven-Erik Horsch (GER)
7. Lucas Lier
9 (Equal). Jacob Rolin/ Jan Gregersen/ Morten Munch
11. Anna Kjellgren (the only all-women’s team) (SWE)
12. Jacob Dalgaard Nielsen
North America & Caribbean - Bridgetown, Barbados - 30 Jan - 3 Feb 2013
- Winners: Open: (Dustin Durant (USA). Women: Sandy Hayes (USA)
South America - Mar Del Plata, Argentina - 27-31 March 2013
- Winners: Open: Henrique Haddad (ARG). Women: Juliana Senfft (ARG)
Europe II - Lelystad, Netherlands - 1-5 May 2013
Europe I - Viana do Castelo, Portugal - 12-16 June 2013
Asia - Vladivostok, Russia - 6-9 June 2013
Africa & Oceania - TBC
Middelfart, Denmark - 6-10 August 2013
Nations Cup 2013