Saturday, 20 June 2009

WMRT: Presti Takes the Lead in Portugal

French Match Racing Team dominates three of top four teams with Round Robin nearly complete

The ISAF #1, Seb Col (K-Challenge/French Match Racing Team), leads last year's World Tour Champion, Ian Williams (Bahrain Team Pindar) downwind in Portugal. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

by Dobbs Davis

The French have come on strong here in Day Two action at the Troia Portugal Match Cup, as Philippe Presti, Sebastian Col, and Mathieu Richard of the French Match Racing Team all sharing in the top four places along with yesterday’s day-end leader Peter Gilmour (AUS) and his YANMAR Racing Team. Presti, on 8 wins, leads the field with just few flights remaining in the Round Robin competition.

Not only by being two points clear, but in also having beat his closest rivals Gilmour, Col, and Richard, Presti is in a comfortable position to advance as the top seed into the next Quarter-Final stage of the competition. But he does have the current Tour leader, Adam Minoprio (NZL) and his Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch team, and Andrew Arbuzov (RUS) to play tomorrow morning when competition resumes.

Philippe Presti's French Match Racing Team in Portugal. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

“We sailed well today, the team did great,” said Presti of his undefeated record on the day. “We just hope to keep up this momentum for the rest of the week.”

Presti and his team had to master a variety of conditions today, ranging from a light offshore breeze in the morning, followed by a long hiatus of no wind, then building to a brisk seabreeze in the afternoon, and then finally moderating to a shifty westerly which died with the setting sun. Another important factor on the race courses here in Troia is the tide, which at times has been up to 2 knots in strength and can have a considerable effect on laylines to starting and rounding marks.

But it was the fresh seabreeze and not the tide that produced considerable excitement in one of Presti’s closest matches of the day, that against Gilmour. With Gilly closing in from less than a length behind on the last downwind leg to the finish, Presti gybed to starboard to defend, with Gilly gybing to windward. With Gilmour threatening now to roll over him to take the lead, Presti luffed hard, making contact with Gilly as boats heeled, spinnakers flogged, and penalty flags flew.

Peter Gilmour (YANMAR Racing, AUS) pulled up on day two of the Troia Portugal Match Cup. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

Presti’s team were unable to gather their spinnaker into the boat, so in running over it they slowed enough to allow Gilly to roll over the top and into the lead with just metres left to the finish line. But with an outstanding penalty turn to perform, the YANMAR team had to drop their kite, hoist their jib, cross the finish line but then head up into the wind and tack before being eligible to finish, and the French were able to just get there in time to take the win.

When asked about this match, an understated Presti claimed “It was quite funny, this one.” His exhausted crew may have felt otherwise, but this latest recipient of a Tour Card is certainly on a roll for now and will look to continue his winning ways when Round Robin racing resumes early tomorrow followed by the Quarter Final Stage in Day Three of the Troia Portugal Match Cup.

Phil Robertson (Waka Racing, NZL) concentrates hard at the wheel of the SM40 in Portugal. Image copyright Wander Roberto/World Match Racing Tour.

Results from Day 1
Philippe Presti, FRA, French Team 8-1
Sebastien Col, FRA, French Team/K-Challenge 6-3
Peter Gilmour, AUS, YANMAR Racing 6-1
Mathieu Richard, FRA, French Match Racing Team 5-1
Ian Williams, GBR, Bahrain Team Pindar 5-3
Torvar Mirsky, AUS, Mirsky Racing 4-4
Adam Minoprio, NZL, ETNZ/BlackMatch 4-4
Bjorn Hansen, SWE, Team Onboard, 3-4
Phil Robertson, WAKA Racing, 3-6
Andrew Arbuzov, RUS, 2-5
Ian Ainslie, RSA, Team Proximo, 1-8
Alvaro Mourinho, POR, Seth Sailing Team, 0-7

Tour Standings
(After 3 of 10 events)
1. Adam Minoprio (NZL), ETNZ/BlackMatch 41 points
2. Ben Ainslie, (GBR), Team Origin 40 points
3. Mathieu Richard (FRA), French Team 35 points
4. Ian Williams (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar 34 points
5. Damien Iehl (FRA), French Team 32 points
6. Paolo Cian (ITA), Shosholoza 32 points
7. Peter Gilmour (AUS), YANMAR Racing 23 points
8. Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team 21 points

World Match Racing Tour

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