The sixth quarter finalist was not known until the very last match of the last flight. Reigning Match Race Germany champion Damien IEHL (FRA) of French Match Racing Team sailed through to the next round when he defeated Adam MINOPRIO (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing. Both teams needed the win but it was the French man that sealed his advancement.
Iehl was joined in the last six by Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar, Francesco BRUNI (ITA) Team Joe Fly, Ben AINSLIE (GBR) Team Origin, Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) French match racing Team and Peter GILMOUR (AUS) Yanmar Racing. As RICHARD and GILMOUR finished first and second respectively, they advanced straight to the semi finals, leaving the remaining four to race against each other in the quarter finals for the last two spots in the semis.
The quarter finals got underway this afternoon with BRUNI choosing IEHL as his opponent which left British rivals AINSLIE and WILLIAMS to go head to head.
The all British encounter between AINSLIE and WILLIAMS looked likely to be a feisty encounter and the two sailing heavy weights didn't disappoint. The two matches they completed saw five penalties awarded, multiple collisions, a man overboard and a black flag disqualification for one of the teams. The first match was a tight encounter with multiple lead changes and the teams were neck and neck until the final lap when AINSLIE's crew were undone by sailing to the wrong weather mark when in the lead. Unfortunately for WILLIAMS he was docked ¾ of a point for damaged caused during a port and starboard collision to which he was deemed to be in the wrong.
In the second race WILLIAMS edged the start but AINSLIE was right on his tail all the way up the first beat. As both boats rounded the weather mark, WILLIAMS was hanging on to a slender lead. Halfway down the run disaster struck for AINSLIE again when hit by one of the bigger gusts of the day, resulting in a spectacular wipe out which laid the rig horizontal. To compound the ensuing chaos, during the broach AINSLIE's tactician, Iain PERCY (GBR) fell overboard and, although he was picked up by the umpires and put back onboard, this signalled race over for the team as they were awarded a black flag disqualification.
"It may have looked spectacular but it didn't feel good. Iain Percy went overboard and the water certainly was warm enough for a swim," AINSLIE commented after the incident. WILLIAMS, on the other hand, was worried about being hit by AINSLIE's mast. "All I remember was Ben's spinnaker all over me and my initial concern was where his mast was. We all hit the deck for cover," he said.
The second quarter final pairing of BRUNI against IEHL was a much tamer affair but still not free from drama. In a carbon copy situation to AINSLIE's team, BRUNI sailed around the wrong weather mark on the second and final lap of the first race whilst in the lead which handed the win to IEHL. In the second race BRUNI took the lead early on and was able to put enough distance between him and the pursuing French team to comfortably sail home in first place.
There will be more excitement to look forward to tomorrow as the four quarter finalist take to the water again to fight for their place in the semi finals. Then we will see the start of the semi finals themselves in the afternoon and with the vastly experienced crews of RICHARD and GILMOUR already through to that round, there promises to be some mouth watering encounters.
Quarter Final Results
(After four matches)
Damien IEHL (FRA), French Team 1-1
Francesco BRUNI (ITA), Team Joe Fly 1-1
Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar 1.25-0
Ben AINSLIE (GBR), Team Origin 0-2
Round Robin Results
1. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), French Team
2. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), YANMAR Racing
3. Francesco BRUNI (ITA), Team Joe Fly
4. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar
5. Ben AINSLIE (GBR), Team Origin
6. Damien IEHL (FRA), French Team
7. Adam MINOPRIO (NZL), ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing
8. Sébastien COL (FRA), French Team/K-Challenge
9. Bjorn HANSEN (SWE), Team Onboard
10. Torvar MIRSKY (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team
11. Eric MONNIN (SUI), Team Search.ch
12. Carsten KEMMLING (GER)
ISAF Match Racing World Championship Leaderboard
(Top eight teams after Stage 1 of 10)
1. Adam MINOPRIO (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand/Black Match Racing, 25
2. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) French Match Racing Team/ French Team Spirit, 20
3. Torvar MIRSKY (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, 15
4. Damien IEHL (FRA) French Match Racing Team, 12
5. Ed BAIRD (USA) Alinghi, 10
6. Sébastien COL (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, 8
7. Paolo CIAN (ITA) Team Shosholoza, 6
8. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar, 4 points
The winner of the annual World Match Racing Tour is crowned as ISAF Match Racing World Champion. Find out more at www.sailing.org/matchworlds.