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4 December 2009, 12:00 pm
Ainslie Stars In A 'Tale Of Two Rivers' At Monsoon Cup
Team Origin skipper Ben Ainslie (centre) and tactician Iain Percy (r)
Team Origin skipper Ben Ainslie (centre) was star of the show on day three in Malaysia

Monsoon Cup 2009
Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia

Britain's triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie and his Team Origin crew topped the round robin at the Monsoon Cup 2009, whilst World Championship contenders Adam Minoprio and Torvar Mirsky both made it through to the knockout stages.

The Pulau Duyong Monsoon Cup match racing course is the meeting of the two Terengganu river flows, which split above the Island; the heavier right hand flow is deeper water, while the left hand flow is slower and shallower.

On the first few days of the Monsoon Cup the start line was well to the right and the course was heavily biased, with the boat winning the right side drag race winning the match.

But today, for the completion of the round robin matches and for the start of the quarter finals, the start line moved to the left, making the course much more even.

Adam Minoprio and his Emirates Team New Zealand BlackMatch crew came to Malaysia leading the World Tour Standings and in pole position to be crowned 2009 ISAF Match Racing World Champions. However, after struggling in the early races the Kiwi team found themselves staring early elimination straight in the face. Today Minoprio faced a sudden death match, fighting for his season with a scoreline of 4-6, against Sébastien Col (FRA) of French Match Racing Team ALL4ONE on 6-4.

Col attracted a penalty while Minoprio was looking for a clean start. The pair battled throughout the match; Minoprio finally taking the win to keep his World Championship title hopes alive.

On the BlackMatch boat a relieved Adam Minoprio said "We did not quite get the pin, but we made better use of the current. There was a huge gain from that mark. A huge relief! "

In the other matches to complete the round robin, Torvar Mirsky (AUS) of Mirsky Racing Team defeated Peter Gilmour's (AUS) YANMAR Racing. Mathieu Richard (FRA) of French Team beat Ben Ainslie (GBR) and his TeamOrigin crew handsomely. Francesco Bruni (ITA) and his Italian Azzurra team took the last match in the last flight from Ian Williams(GBR) and Team Pindar.

Bruni said, "A good way to end. We came into this event, very tired from a big season. We've sailed Farr 40's, TP52's, LV and more. But we have no regrets, it's a fascinating venue."

The skippers who did not make the quarter-finals were: Magnus Holmberg (SWE) of Victory Challenge, 5-6; Bruni of Azzurra, 4-7; reigning World Champion Williams of Team Pindar, 4-7; and Hazwan Hazim Dermawan (MAS) of Taring Pelangi TESA, 0-11.

Onto the quarter finals and Ainslie chose to sail against Damien Iehl (FRA) and his French Team.

Ainslie controlled the left, while Iehl was very happy to go right, and the race started with a big split. Iehl gained two lengths in the heavier current, running up to five knots. But down the run Ainslie gained, staying out of the adverse current.

"What a random place" was the comment Ainslie made to his dual gold medal mainsheet hand Iain Percy (GBR).

TeamOrigin headed for the right hand side having chosen the opposite side earlier. They had made one mistake - they did not make another. They sailed to an easy victory.

Dockside the triple gold medallist Ainslie said, "We felt for Ian and Team Pindar, he has been on the top of the Tour for two seasons and now he has lost his chance to defend his title, but he will be back.

'We thought we had a pretty good handle on the course until the Committee Boat was moved to the middle.

"The left hand versus right hand river decision has become hard. Now it's become a tale of two rivers. For the first time in the week, we had a situation where either side could win. We went left but Damien Iehl had chosen best from the start, but we managed to stay close and overtake and then we led right."

In the other quarter final matches, Gilmour pushed young Perth competitor Mirsky to the left side of the line, before heading right. Mirsky headed right, but he fell in behind Gilmour and was unable to make an impression.

Forced over the line early by Minoprio, Richard had to fight to stay in contact. At the bottom mark for the second time, Minoprio was two lengths ahead and headed right. But Richard gained rapidly in the left hand current; Minoprio was just a length ahead.

With Richard failing to keep clear in a luffing match, the Frenchman attracted one penalty then another. All Minoprio had to do was to stay clear to win.

A visibly happier Minoprio said, "We are happy to have squeezed through and wipe the slate clean." Grinning broadly he commented about his quarter final win "We were able to watch the first two sides and see how they went and that did not help us at all ..... just pleased to win. Even after Richard had the second penalty, there was still risk with the two river flows."

Although Phil Robertson (NZL) lost his quarter-final match against Col this afternoon, he was still irrepressible "Five - five yesterday, a wicked day. In our first quarter final match we won the start we wanted left and the right was better, but lots made that mistake, It will be a big day tomorrow, we will come out pumped."

The last quarter-final match was the two Perth, Australian skippers, the old bull Gilmour and the young bull Mirsky.

Gilmour said, "We knew we had to come out and win this morning, - for everyone it was tough, to see Ian Williams in 11th place, any one of us could have been there.

"We were pleased with our first quarter finals match, [tongue in cheek - he grinned as a Terengganu local] I had it all worked out."

Mirsky - "We were just ahead at the top, but Peter is correct, we actually think he has the keys to the [Kenyir] dam spillway and probably flicked it to get more current - and found more current and won."

With days of monsoon rain, 50 kilometres upstream the Kenyir Dam spillway is roaring and the Terengganu "tale of two rivers' will continue through the balance of racing and into the finals.


Quarter Finals
(After 1 Flight)

Ben Ainslie (GBR) vs Damien Iehl (FRA), 1-0
Sébastien Col (FRA) vs Phil Robertson (NZL), 1-0
Adam Minoprio (NZL) vs Mathieu Richard (FRA), 1-0
Peter Gilmour (AUS) vs Torvar Mirsky (AUS), 1-0

Round Robin

1. Ben Ainslie (GBR) Team Origin, 8-3
2. Sébastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team and ALL4ONE, 7-4
3. Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team, 7-4
4. Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing Team, 7-4
5. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, 7-4
6. Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing, 6-5
7. Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team, 6-5
8. Adam Minoprio (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand and BlackMatch Racing, 5-6
9. Magnus Holmberg (SWE) Victory Challenge, 5-6
10. Francesco Bruni (ITA) Team Azzura, 4-7
11. Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar, 4-7
12. Hazwan Hazim Dermawan (MAS) Taring Pelangi Team, 0-11

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

Rob Kothe, Monsoon Cup Media
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