Monday, 29 September 2008

Col Wins Troia Portugal Match Cup in Tide-Strewn Blustery Finale

A jubilent French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge (with Seb Col furthest right of the team) celebrate their victory at the Troia Portugal Match Cup 2008. Image copyright Wander Roberto.

by Dobbs Davis

Col's second win on the 2008 World Tour was earned 2-0 against runner-up Magnus Holmberg.

After a long day, that started with having to defeat one of his own team mates from the French Match Racing Team, Sebastian Col (FRA) and his crew of Gilles Favennec, Christophe Andre, Philippe Mourniac, and Olivier Douliard have won the Troia Portugal Match Cup.

Getting past Magnus Holmberg (SWE) and his Victory Challenge team 2-0 in an exciting Final series, Col and crew have taken the top prize of US$30,000 of the $125,000 purse and earned 25 points on the 2008 World Tour leaderboard.

Seb Col and crew acknowledge their win off Troia. Image copyright Wander Roberto.

“We started the day with a lot of pressure on us,” said the mild-mannered Col, “since we felt that any of us could win, so we didn’t sail very well. But after beating Damien Iehl, we relaxed and started to really focus, and I think we sailed much better against Magnus in the Finals.”

Col and his French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge crew had to get better, as the conditions became increasingly challenging throughout the day for the remaining teams in the competition.

Second overall - Magnus Holmberg and crew. Image copyright Wander Roberto.

Besides the fresh 15-22 knot easterly blowing straight down the Rio Sada in front of the Troia Resort Marina, the other huge factor today was the strong tidal current, which reached a staggering 4 knots at its peak. This made pre-start and mark rounding tactics interesting and at times unconventional: for example, against the strong ebb current which lie nearly parallel to the wind, it was almost always better to tack than gybe in the pre-starts, and the mark roundings became tricky maneuvers at best. Windward legs were long, drawn out affairs, while runs were over in a flash.

However, the day didn’t start with this strong ebb – in fact, it started with a weak flood and a cloud of uncertainty, as three teams in the morning’s final flight of the Round Robin had a shot for the last remaining spot in the Semi-Finals.

With Paolo Cian (ITA) from Team Shosholoza defeating Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and the Mirsky Racing Team in the second match, all eyes were on the final run of the third match, where Bjorn Hansen (SWE) and his Alandia Sailing Team were fully entangled in a furious, spinnaker-flogging luffing match with Damien Iehl (FRA) and his quartet of crew from the French Match Racing Team on the final run to the finish. Just metres short of the line, Iehl’s one last luff managed to get his SM40 across by what PRO Miguel Allen said was “20 centimetres,” thus earning him the win and the tie-break to the Semis.

Since yet another member of the French Match Racing Team, Mathieu Richard, was on top from the Round Robin, he was free to choose Holmberg to play, the only non-French team in the stage.

It didn’t start well for the mostly-Swedish team (which includes US-based trimmer Charlie McKee): down 2-0 in the first-to-three point series, and with an all-French final looking imminent, Holmberg rallied in the third match to lead Richard around the track and even draw a penalty on his French rival at their bottom mark turn.

In a close fourth match, Richard got managed to get past Holmberg on the run towards the bottom mark, but the building ebb tide and an aggressive and clever defense of the inside position took the pair past the mark and had them both sailing back upwind to it in the face of wind and tide. A disastrous kite drop by the French allowed Holmberg to waltz through into a convincing win to bring the series even.

Mathieu Richard versus Magnus Holmberg in the semi-finals. Image copyright Wander Roberto.

In the last match, Holmberg chose the right side of the beat, Richard the left, and while right was initially favored, it soon caved in, so when Holmberg tacked to cover the closing French, he did so a little too close, earning him a penalty. He still kept the lead by tacking back left, getting to the top and bottom marks first, and extending enough on the beat to do his penalty turn before Richard closed to within only 2 lengths at the finish downwind.

While Col and Iehl tangled horns in all their matches, Col emerged from the series with his required three points in only four matches, with a collision to Iehl’s stern in a misjudged cross and resultant penalty being the only blemish to his record.

With a major wind shift requiring course re-alignment and a new boat to rig, the decision was made to shorten the Finals and Petit-Finals to first-to-two points. So, under increasing clouds, breeze, tide, and approaching rain, the stage seemed to have more fireworks among the two French teams in the Petit-Final, with Iehl and Richard taking one each under the watchful eyes of match umpires Manuel Santos Silva (POR) and Pedro Rodrigues (POR) before Richard finally prevailed in a relatively benign third match.

The Victory Challenge crew on the final day of the Troia Portugal Match Cup. Image copyright Wander Roberto.

In the Finals, Holmberg and Col initially split off to different sides of the first beat, with a shoal area on the left side providing a little more relief from the gushing tide than the beach side on the right. Since Col got there and controlled that side better, he led throughout the first match and even managed to extend enough to wipe off a pre-start penalty levied by match umpires Bill Edgerton (GBR) and Alfredo Ricci (ITA) in the second to take the overall win.

The Troia Portugal Match Cup was the seventh of nine stages on the World Match Racing Tour. “This was a great regatta for us,” said event Director Justino Machado, “and we look forward to having the construction completed here at Troia Resort for an even better event next year.”

Sebastien Col, winner of the Troia Portugal Match Cup. Image copyright Wander Roberto.


1. Sebastien Col (FRA), French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge $30,000
2. Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Victory Challenge $20,000
3. Mathieu Richard (FRA), French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit $18,750
4. Damien Iehl (FRA), French Match Racing Team $13,750
5. Paolo Cian (ITA), Team Shosholoza $10,000
6. Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team $8,750
7. Ian Williams (GBR), Team Pindar $7,500
8. Alvaro Marinho (POR), Seth Sailing Team $6,250
9. Adam Minoprio (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing $2,500
10. Bjorn Hansen (SWE), Alandia Sailing Team $2,500
11. Manuel Weiller (ESP) $2,500
12. Nick Cherry (GBR), Cherry Racing Team $2,500

(winner in bold)

M1 Holmberg v Col
M2 Col v Holmberg

(winner in bold)

M1 Iehl v Richard
M2 Richard v Iehl
M3 Iehl v Richard

(winners in bold)

M1 Iehl v Col
M2 Holmberg v Richard

M1 Col v Iehl
M2 Richard v Holmberg

M1 Iehl v Col
M2 Holmberg v Richard

M1 Col v Iehl
M2 Richard v Holmberg

M1 Holmberg v Richard

(Winner in bold)

M1 Weiller v Marinho
M2 Iehl v Minoprio
M3 Mirsky v Richard

M1 Weiller v Minoprio
M2 Marinho v Richard
M3 Iehl v Mirsky

M1 Richard v Weiller
M2 Minoprio v Mirsky
M3 Marinho v Iehl

M1 Minoprio v Richard
M2 Mirsky v Marinho
M3 Iehl v Weiller

M1 Weiller v Mirsky
M2 Richard v Iehl
M3 Minoprio v Marinho

M1 Cian v Hansen
M2 Holmberg v Col
M3 Cherry v Williams

M1 Col v Cian
M2 Williams v Holmberg
M3 Cherry v Hansen

M1 Col v Williams
M2 Cherry v Cian
M3 Holmberg v Hansen

M1 Col v Cherry
M2 Cian v Holmberg
M3 Hansen v Williams

M1 Hansen v Col
M2 Williams v Cian
M3 Holmberg v Cherry

M1 Williams v Mirsky
M2 Cherry v Richard
M3 Iehl v Cian

M1 Mirsky v Hansen
M2 Col v Iehl
M3 Richard v Cian

M1 Williams v Iehl
M2 Cherry v Mirsky
M3 Holmberg v Richard

M1 Hansen v Minoprio
M2 Weiller v Col
M3 Marinho v Holmberg

M1 Weiller v Cherry
M2 Holmberg v Minoprio
M3 Williams v Marinho

M1 Col v Mirsky
M2 Richard v Hansen
M3 Iehl v Holmberg

M1 Col v Richard
M2 Mirsky v Holmberg
M3 Cherry v Iehl

M1 Cian v Minoprio
M2 Hansen v Weiller
M3 Marinho v Col

M1 Holmberg v Weiller
M2 Minoprio v Col
M3 Marinho v Cherry

M1 Weiller v Williams
M2 Minoprio v Cherry
M3 Cian v Marinho

M1 Minoprio v Williams
M2 Cian v Weiller
M3 Marinho v Hansen

M1 Richard v Williams
M2 Mirsky v Cian
M3 Hansen v Iehl

Winners of the Troia Portugal Match Cup: Seb Col and crew. Image copyright Wander Roberto.

World Match Racing Tour Leaderboard (5 Event placings count)

1. Ian Williams (Team Pindar) 92 points
2. Sebastien Col (French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge) 88 points
3. Mathieu Richard (French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit) 77 points
4. Torvar Mirsky (Mirsky Racing Team) 53 points
5. Magnus Holmberg (Victory Challenge) 51 points
6. Paolo Cian (Team Shosholoza) 43 points
7. Bjorn Hansen (Alandia Sailing Team) 40 points
8. Damien Iehl (French Match Racing Team) 37 points
9. Mattias Rahm (Stena Bulk Sailing Team) 34 points
10. Adam Minoprio (Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing) 33 points
11. Jes Gram Hansen (Mascalzone Latino/Trifork Racing) 32 points
12. Peter Wibroe (Team Wibroe) 26 points
13= Johnie Berntsson (Berntsson Sailing Team) 15 points
13= Philippe Presti (French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit) 15 points
15. Jesper Radich (Rudy Project Sailing Team) 12 points
16= Markus Wieser (Team Sea Dubai) 10 points
16= Peter Gimour (Pizza-La Sailing Team) 10 points
18= Pierre-Antoine Morvan (French Match Racing Team) 4 points
18= Eric Monnin ( 4 points
18= Alvaro Marinho (Seth Sailing Team) 4 points

World Match Racing Tour

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