'I'm quite amazed, almost to the point of embarrassed,' said GILMOUR, 46, of Perth, Western Australia. 'I put a lot of effort into organizing and promoting this event. The result has been greater than my wildest dreams and expectations.'
GILMOUR's crew included Rod DAWSON (NZL), Kazuhiko SOFUKU (JPN), Tatsuya WAKINAGA (JPN) and Yasuhiro YAJI (JPN). COUTTS' crew featured Jes GRAM-HANSEN (DEN), Christian KAMP (DEN), Rasmus KOSTNER (DEN) and Jann NEERGAARD (DEN).
The 25 points GILMOUR earned for winning the championship moved him into first from sixth in the Swedish Match Tour standings, and the Australian will also be hoping the victory will be enough to propel him back to the top of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings when they are next released this Wednesday 7 December. In the Swedish Match Tour standings GILMOUR has 48 points and leads Finland's Staffan LINDBERG by eleven points. Britain's Ben AINSLIE, 30 points, fell to third from first.
|Russell COUTTS leads Peter GILMOUR
onto the racecourse of their third flight
in the final
© Guido Cantini/Swedish Match Tour
GILMOUR and COUTTS put on a spectacular final, replete with lead changes, come-from-behind wins and finish line penalty turns. The sporting nature of the series enthused Jean TODT, Principal Team Director of the Ferrari F1 racing team.
'It was exciting and very close. They're very motivated,' said TODT, who visited the Monsoon Cup at the invitation of event founder Patrick LIM. 'I wanted to get onboard to get closer to the action. It was very exciting.'
GILMOUR won the first race despite carrying a penalty around the race track. He earned the penalty in the pre-start for a port-starboard incident. He trailed COUTTS by about four seconds around the first lap and then passed him on the second upwind leg of the six leg course.
GILMOUR slowly stretched to a 19 second lead beginning the last leg. Approaching the pin end of the finish, bowman SOFUKU hoisted the jib and retrieved the spinnaker. GILMOUR began his turn and the boat went through the eye of the wind. Trimmer WAKINAGA backed the jib as the boat fell off on port tack with COUTTS rapidly approaching. GILMOUR's bow crossed the line just three seconds ahead.
COUTTS led race two wire-to-wire, claiming a seven second win to even the series 1-1. He started on port at the boat end, went right up the beat, won the first cross and was never truly threatened. His margins at the mark roundings were between ten and 15 seconds. GILMOUR closed on the run, and although he never had a real chance to get around COUTTS he took an important note out of the race.
'I suddenly realized that we were sailing pretty fast there,' said GILMOUR. 'At that point I thought we could start even or behind Russell, be close at the first mark and jump him downwind. To me he looked a little unstable downwind. He wasn't his sure confident self.'
'It was a close call,' said COUTTS. 'The mainsail filled but it probably filled too late.'
The race was close, with GILMOUR leading by less than ten seconds at the first three mark roundings. COUTTS closed on the second run and was overlapped to the outside rounding the second leeward mark. But GILMOUR opened on the next beat to twelve seconds at the last mark rounding and was on his way to victory, his first win against COUTTS in a Tour final after three losses.
'You've got to wake up pretty early in the morning to catch Russell sleeping,' said GILMOUR. 'It was one of those days where I think Russell was starting better, but on the racecourse we were a tiny bit quicker. As a result we were able to go where we wanted to go and Russell started sailing a bit defensively.'
'We got out of phase with the wind a couple of times and that allowed him to sail around us in the windshifts,' said COUTTS. 'It's a tough place to sail. Sometimes the right pays and sometimes the left pays. It happens very quickly.'
Swedish Match Tour partners include Swedish Match, BMW and the Match Race Association. Swedish Match Tour Official Sponsors include Musto, Sebago and Travel Places.
Monsoon Cup Final Standings
1. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), PST, 14-7
2. Russell COUTTS (NZL), Coutts Racing Team, 14-7
3. Björn HANSEN (SWE), Team Apport.Net, 10-10
4. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), Alandia Sailing Team, 9-11
5. Chris DICKSON (NZL), BMW Oracle Racing, 10-5
6. Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE), Victory Challenge, 9-5
7. Dean BARKER (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, 9-5
8. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Williams Racing Team, 8-7
9. Thierry PEPONNET (FRA), K-Challenge, 4-7
10. Francesco BRUNI (ITA), Luna Rossa Challenge, 3-8
11. Cameron DUNN (NZL), Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team, 2-9
12. Sally BARKOW (USA), Team 7, 1-10
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