Snow began to fall on Lake St. Moritz today as two-time 'King of the Mountain' Mathieu Richard went on a seven match unbeaten run at the St. Moritz Match Race third day of qualifying.
In near-freezing conditions, Richard (FRA) Loire Atlantique Sailing Team took important wins against former Alpari World Match Racing Tour Champion Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing, current Tour leader, Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team and Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing, who has struggled for consistency so far in Switzerland.
The result puts Richard on the brink of qualification for the Quarter Finals, and if manages to take top spot, direct passage to the Semi Final. Having lost his opening two matches of the regatta, Richard now sits third in the qualifying table with an impressive 6.5 - 3 record, having lost a half point for a collision with Hansen. He said, "We lost the first two and have managed to get a good number of wins in a row since but really we've changed nothing. I felt good on the boat at the start of the regatta and i said to the guys that the turning and the feel of the boat were good points for us so i thought that we could improve our results.
"I need to work on my starts, they haven't been so good at this event because of my lack of match racing this year. I remember the first match we lost against Ian Williams, the start was like a nightmare."
Richard believes his team have the ability to go all the way to victory at the Alpari World Match Racing Tour event, in what would be his third ''King of the Mountain' title, "We're here as a wildcard but i've won the event twice and believe we can get the result. We are competitive, even without a lot of match racing practice and i think we can take the title again."
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing also took some important wins on the third day of competition, having begun the day at the foot of the table. He recorded three wins in the morning session to take his total to 4 - 4, putting him in the chase to progress to the event's knockout rounds. He said, "We had a tough day on the first day, no doubt. I think we actualy sailed ok but made some pretty significant mistakes which lost us at least 1 or 2 of those early races. I don't think we had to change much, just making sure we payed attention to the details which cost us previously. Our mistakes were pretty significant so that's always the easiest thing to fix!
"Today we did a good job of putting those results behind us and we came out feeling good. We continued to sail fast and clean today and it payed off as we knew it was really important to win all 3 to give us the best opportunity to stay in the competition."
On a day which saw some of the most extreme weather on the Tour so far this year, Swinton, said, "Obviously i'm happy that we managed to get the wins today, especailly in the conditions we had out there. I don't think I've ever sailed in the snow before and with the steam coming off the lake it made finding the wind even harder."
Laurie Jury (NZL) Kiwi Match Sailing endured a frustrating day, losing his opening match of the day to Bjorn Hansen but finishing the day on 7 - 3, having retained his event lead from this morning. A black flag awarded to his last opponent, Eric Monnin (SUI) Okalys Corum confirmed his second win of the day. Monnin was disappointed with his performance in the last race, saying, "We found ourselves in a bad situation in that one. It was all in one incident but they decided that it was so harsh that they would send me home directly. That was too much for the umpires."
"It was especially disappointing as it was quite an open race against Jury but we took way too much risk. It was a misjudgement on our part and we are disappointed because it looks like the event is over for us now. I don't think we can get the wins to go through. We weren't good enough to be here today"
Johnie Berntsson continued his good start to the event, sitting alongside Jury on seven wins at the top of the qualifying table. With each of the top three within one point and a final match of qualification still to complete, it looks likely that one of Jury, Berntsson or Richard will top qualifying tomorrow.
The day also saw several of the skippers take to the water alongside the event's VIP guests for the Corviglia Challenge. The race was won by Peter Gilmour with a crew of Kuoni Transporte.
The St. Moritz Match Race will resume for the remaining qualifying matches, followed by the Quarter Finals tomorrow, starting from 10:00AM CET.
For regular updates from the St. Moritz Match Race and live streaming from 1400 - 1600PM CET Friday to Sunday, visit http://www.wmrt.com/live.html
Tour regular Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/wmrt
Live event Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/wmrt_liverace
St. Moritz Match Race - Results after Qualification Round 3:
Laurie Jury (NZ) Kiwi Match 7 - 3
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team 7 -3
Mathieu Richard (FRA) Loire Atlantique Sailing Team 6.5* - 3 (0.5 point deduction for boat collision)
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 4 -4
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 4 - 4
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing 4 - 4
Jerome Clerc (SUI) Team CER 4 - 6
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team 3.5* - 4 (0.5 point deduction for boat collision)
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 3.5* - 4 (0.5 point deduction for boat collision)
Phil Robertson (NZ) WAKA Racing 3 - 5
Eric Monnin (SUI) Okalys Corum 3 - 7
Josh Junior (NZL) Wellington Spirit 3 - 7