Taking the very talented runner-up Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) and his French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit to three matches in the first-to-three point finals at an event hosted in their native land, MINOPRIO showed signs of talent and poise under pressure well beyond his 23 years. And while MIRSKY could not get past RICHARD in the semi-finals, he did take that series to three hard-fought matches, and then proceeded to dominate another native French team led by Damien IEHL 2-0 in the petite final.
For their efforts, MINOPRIO won €10,000 of the €50,000 purse and 25 points on the World Championship leaderboard, while RICHARD won €8,000 and 20 points, and MIRSKY €7,000 and 15 points.
So with these two young Antipodeans having gotten off to an impressive start to the ten-event 2009 season, they may very well present a formidable obstacle to RICHARD, fellow Frenchman Sébastien COL and his French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, and reigning ISAF Match Racing World Champion Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) and his Bahrain Team Pindar to once again dominate the podium positions in this year's Tour standings. COL finished down the pack in sixth in Marseille, his hometown, while WILLIAMS finished deep in eighth place.
But ironically there was another surprise in Marseille, but at the other end of the age spectrum: veteran Tour campaigner and 32nd America's Cup winning skipper Ed BAIRD (USA) and his team from Alinghi sailed to the top of the 12-team field in the round robin, and went on to finish a respectable fifth in the event. After a three-year hiatus to focus on the America's Cup competitions and training, BAIRD said "It is great to be on the Tour once again and to get an opportunity to sail against these guys. The game has clearly moved on since I was last on the Tour, so we're pleased we can come out and learn and still be competitive."
And speaking of hiatus, there will be a long break in Tour action until 27 May which marks the start of Stage 2 of the 2009 schedule, Match Race Germany held on the beautiful Bavarian shore of Lake Constance in Langenargen. This event will feature several teams holding Tour Cards, including MINOPRIO, MIRSKY, RICHARD, and COL.
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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.