Heavy monsoon rains have been falling in eastern Malaysia for the last week and today the World Tour's top match racing crews were on the water acclimatising to the conditions.
The leader of the 2009 Tour, New Zealander Adam Minoprio (NZL) commented as he came ashore this afternoon, "We are set for a very challenging event this week and there is a lot at stake, the biggest prize money of any sailing event in the world [around US$450,000] and the 2009 World Match Racing Championship.
"Interesting times! With all this rain the river current is running pretty hard, so there will be a lot of current across the course. When the sea breeze is blowing the course is relatively predictable, but if its light or there are monsoon squalls as there have been today, this would be amongst the toughest courses on the World Match Tour.
"We are glad we had the Australia Cup practice event last week, we certainly needed more time in these boats [Foundation 36s] and we will really need to be on the top of our game to hold out Torvar Mirsky and his MRT Racing Team. The battle for podium placings is going to be exciting."
The World Match Racing Tour's second ranked sailor, Australian Torvar Mirsky, stated, "On paper it seems simple enough, we are 12 points behind Adam. We'd like to win and have Adam finish fourth. But the reality is much harder than that, the standard is so high and so even that if any of us stumble, we can fall pretty hard. Last year here, we made it to the semi-finals and then Peter Gilmour knocked us out, before going on to win.
"Ian Williams or Mathieu Richard can take the World Tour crown too, so it's getting tense."
Peter Gilmour (AUS), the defending Monsoon Cup champion commented, "We are all in for an interesting week. It's a very strong field and a challenging course. We can't wait to get racing tomorrow."
World Match Racing Tour Director Craig Mitchell summed up the situation this afternoon. "With six crews in contention for podium places, the event is wide open. The points awarded in this deciding event are one and a half times that of regular tour events which means that with 150 points to be won, the World Match Racing Tour Championship is far from decided."
ISAF Match Racing World Championship Leaderboard
(Top eight teams after Stage 8 of 9)
1. Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ and BlackMatch Racing, 100 Points
2. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, 88 Points
3. Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar, 75 Points
4. Mathieu Richard (FRA), French Match Racing Team Racing, 74 Points
5. Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR, 71 Points
6. Ben Ainslie (GBR) Team Origin, 65 Points
7. Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team, 48 Points
8. Sébastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team, 41 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.