Ian Williams bounced off the ropes to keep his hopes of a fifth world title alive after scraping through a tense Quarter-Final in the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia on Friday.
Meanwhile 24-year-old Taylor Canfield is beginning to look like a World Champion after coming through his Quarter-Final 2-0 against Keith Swinton.
Only Williams remains in the way of Canfield's first world title, although the US Virgin Islander must have been wondering if he could win the world championship a day earlier as he watched the final Quarter-Final match between Williams and Francesco Bruni play out. The Luna Rossa skipper had the GAC Pindar skipper on the ropes in the pre-start, as Williams acknowledged afterwards: "We made a mistake in our timing in the pre-start. We were in big trouble up until 20 seconds to go. At that moment you wriggle as hard as you can and hope something works for you. He wriggled free in the previous race, and this time we managed to wriggle free. Normally we like to control a situation more than that, but of course we'll take it however it comes. We got the penalty on Francesco, and we're very relieved to get into the Semi-Final - still alive."
The monsoon conditions in Kuala Terengganu played havoc with the schedule, with principal race officer David Tallis forced to cut the Quarter-Finals down from a 'first to three points' to a 'first to two points' contest for the eight teams. But no matter how unpredictable the weather or the schedule, Taylor Canfield continues to impress. He made his 2-0 victory over Keith Swinton look easy, although the US Virgin Islander is being careful to remain confident without being cocky or taking anything for granted. "We just managed to get the better of the current and the situations on the race course," he said. And although he might have become world champion today if Bruni had dispatched Williams, he carries the pressure of the situation well. "We're ready to race to the end and we're confident in the way the team is sailing."
While 24-year-old Canfield is on the verge of winning his first world title, for the veteran Bjorn Hansen, aged 46, he will have to wait another year. The eWork Sailing Team shook hands the moment they crossed the finish of their final dramatic match against Mathieu Richard, but their dejection was plain to see. Utter devastation. "Looking at it in the moment, you feel like you never want to come here again," smiled the Swede philosophically. "But give us a few hours and I think we will regroup and work out how the old guys are going to take the title once and for all."
Richard and his GEFCO Match Racing Team have been quietly improving all regatta, although there were no words of praise from their coach, former world champion and America's Cup legend, Bertrand Pacé. "When we finished, Bertrand said we had to discuss the starts because they're not very good!"
The other semi-finalist is another steady improver, Phil Robertson, who dispatched fellow Kiwi Adam Minoprio 2-0 in their Quarter-Finals. The WAKA Racing skipper was feeling bullish about his prospects, even if he has been picked by Canfield for the Semi-Finals. "Taylor and Ian have a World Championships to lose and we have nothing to lose, so we're relaxed about tomorrow. We're chilled out. One more day to go and we'll throw everything at it."
The concluding day of the Monsoon Cup will see the Semi-Finals determine which of these four teams, Canfield v Robertson and Williams v Richard, will race it out for the Finals on Saturday afternoon in Kuala Terengganu. The Finals will be televised live around the world via 18 broadcasters at 1500 to 1700 hours local time (GMT +8 ).
Quarter Final Results
Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone - 2-0
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar - 2-1
Mathieu Richard (FRA) GEFCO Match Racing Team - 2-1
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing - 0-2
DIRECT LINK - https://new.livestream.com/WorldMRT/mc2013-pf-f