Bjorn Hansen and Phil Robertson endured tough starts to their bids for Monsoon Cup glory this week but fought back strongly today in the third Qualifying Session. Hansen has kept his World Championship quest alive by Qualifying for the knock-out stages while Robertson posted three wins from three today to leave himself on the cusp of a Quarter Final berth at the finale of the 2012 Alpari World Match Racing Tour.
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team came through what could be a crucial test to his Championship credentials in his match against Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar. It was a closely fought battle, with Williams seizing the lead after a pre-start jostle left Hansen trailing the Brit up to the first mark. Hansen dug deep and managed to pull back the lead though by rolling Williams on the first downwind run. It was a lead he held onto despite a spirited effort from Williams who stuck to his tail throughout.
The win took Hansen's total to seven wins and alleviated a few nerves, "On the first day we said we weren't going to panic - we're pretty happy with the way we're sailing. I'm feeling good. Against Ian we managed to come from behind in what could turn out to be an important win if conditions don't improve.
"We haven't talked about Quarter Final picks at all. I doubt we'll be the ones to pick. It might be nice to have a Championship match between Ian and ourselves later in the competition but we'll wait to see what happens."
Robertson also responded well following a poor start to his Monsoon Cup. Unbeaten today and currently in sixth on the Qualifying table, he said, "We've turned it around today, we went three and zero, a perfect day for us. We're sailing a lot better, we're patient and waiting for opportunities to pass.
"The guys have been great, my tactician was really dialled in and everything is going well. It's important to get as many wins as we can now. Six for the Quarter Final then the others to get us up the ladder as far as possible."
One of those victories was against Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Bertnsson Sailing Team, who, despite taking two victories from his first three races in the first Qualifying Session, becomes the first Tour Card Holder casualty here. The 2011 Monsoon Cup runner-up was unable to recreate his impressive showing of last year and he will not take any Tour points from the event, finishing 2-9.
One of the session's other notable matches saw Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing taking on his son, David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour, who skippers for the first time at an Alpari World Tour event. Having yesterday announced his retirement from the world of professional match racing after the Monsoon Cup, Gilmour Snr. said he was pleased to take on his son in his swansong, "I'm so proud that David is out here competing and even though I obviously wanted to take the win today, good on them for getting out and having a bit of a go. It's great to see them racing at this level. It's the beginning of the journey for them and I'm very pleased he's mixing it up with the rest of the best."
The race was all but decided in the pre-start when Gilmour Jnr. came off second best having tried to force his father over the start line early, only to see him escape and lose momentum himself. Commenting on the race, Gilmour Snr. said, "The race could have been a lot closer if that pre start decision had gone his way but I think we had about 10cm before we would have got the penalty. It was green flagged but on another day, it's the sort of decision that could have been a red flag immediate penalty."
David Gilmour suggested that his elder was lucky to have got away with the manoeuvre but admitted that he had enjoyed the experience anyway, "I thought he should have gotten a penalty for the port-starboard in the pre-start but these things happen. It was a unique experience to go head-to-head in competition conditions but definitely one that I enjoyed."
David Gilmour managed a win over reigning Tour Champion, Ian Williams in his last match of the day. The result leaves him with a chance of qualifying for the knockout round of the biggest Tour event of the year, if he is able to better his 4-5 score line tomorrow.
The remaining Qualifying matches and Quarter Finals are scheduled for Friday 8 December.
Racing is available to watch online from 4 to 8 December throughout the day. Follow it live at http://www.wmrt.com/live.html
Highlight shows from the season's seven previous events are available to watch at http://www.youtube.com/worldmrt
Monsoon Cup action will be broadcast live to TV on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th December at 1500-1700 local time. For listings in your region, visit: http://www.wmrt.com/live/tv-schedule.html
Tour regular Twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/wmrt
Live event Twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/wmrt_liverace
Livestream Video: http://new.livestream.com/WorldMRT
Current Tour standings: http://www.wmrt.com/result/leaderboard.html
Monsoon Cup - Qualifying Table, Round 3:
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 7-3
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team 7-4
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 6-3
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing 6-3
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 6-4
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 5-3
Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone 5-4
Adam Minoprio (NZL) Alpari Racing Team 5-4
David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour 4-5
Laurie Jury (NZL) Kiwi Match Sailing Team 3-6
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team 2-9
Jeremy Koo (MYS) KFC Malaysia/KRT 0-8