Ben Ainslie is still undefeated as Argo Group Gold Cup quarterfinal racing got underway Friday afternoon with just two flights being completed.
(GBR) is lining up against current World Match Racing Tour leader Torvar Mirsky
(AUS) in the quarters and the Australian must now win three matches in a row tomorrow to keep his team on the top of the Tour leaderboard.
Ainslie was behind Mirsky once today in their first race, but put a penalty on him at the second windward mark and went on to win that match. "The conditions were tough," Ainslie said. "In the light shifty winds we just had to keep the boat moving."
(GBR) was behind Johnie Berntsson
(SWE) in both races, but managed to come back and win both. "We were on the wrong side of the course several times," Williams said, "but managed to minimize the losses. When we got the correct side we had stayed close enough to pass."
After two flights in the quarters today, Eric Monnin
(SUI) leads Blythe Walker
(BER) in match one by 2-0, Ainslie leads Mirsky 2-0, Williams leads Berntsson by 2-0 and Adam Minoprio
(NZL) leads Mathieu Richard
(FRA) 2-0 as well. It is do or die for all the trailing skippers who face a 'knockout' when their opponent scores three wins.
There was a pause in the match racing on Friday afternoon for the Argo Group Gold Cup Pro-Am fleet racing regatta. Following the three race Pro-Am the completion of the quarterfinal stage of the World Match Racing Tour event was delayed and scheduled for Saturday morning. Principal Race Officer David Campbell-Jones said the wind was just too light and shifty to have fair racing so late in the day.
Overall winner of the Argo Group Gold Cup Pro-Am regatta was Argo Group CEO Mark Watson and Williams sailing with the Argo Group Team of Diana Mitchell and Ryan Brown. Earlier this summer Watson represented the Royal Bermuda YC at the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup regatta in Newport, Rhode Island.
Looking back on Friday morning, Repechage flights three, four and five were sailed first to decide the final two of the eight teams that moved up the ladder toward the $50,000 first place prize or share of the $100,000 total purse.
Mirsky and his Mirsky Racing Team came through that round robin with a perfect 5-0 score. For that he faced unbeaten Ainslie in quarter-final match two. Mirsky is the top ranked skipper on the World Match Racing Tour. Course conditions saw an early light and shifty northerly breeze fill in nicely as the morning racing moved into the second flight of the day. Mirsky was in top form finishing the repechage but he now needs to use every trick in his repertoire to win three in a row tomorrow to move past Ainslie.
Bermudian Walker and his Max Re team pulled a stunning gybe at the finish of his final repechage match against the young Kiwi Phil Robertson. Walker won by just a meter and went 3-2. He then faced Monnin's Swiss Match Race Team who was first in group one in the first quarter-final match. Monnin now has two quarter-final points on the board, so Walker also needs three consecutive wins tomorrow to stay on the water.
Quarter-final match three featured two Gold Cup champions Berntsson and his Berntsson Sailing Team and Williams' Team Pindar sponsored by Argo Group. Williams is the reigning champion of the World Match Racing Tour and Berntsson is the reigning Gold Cup champ. Williams jumped out to a clean 2-0 lead to put the defending champion's back to the wall.
Match four of the quarter finals saw Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing skipper Minoprio against 2007 King Edward VII Gold Cup winner Richard representing the French Match Racing Team. Minoprio is the top skipper in the ISAF World Rankings. Richard finds himself down 0-2 and like the other 0-2 skippers, he must do some fancy sailing to stay alive.
The quarter finals are a knockout round with the first skipper winning three points in the match knocking out the other and moving into the semi finals. It's fillet or feathers from this point on in the Argo group Gold Cup.
Quarter Final Standings
(SUI) vs. Blythe Walker
(GBR) vs. Torvar Mirsky
(GBR) vs. Johnie Berntsson
(NZL) vs. Mathieu Richard
5. Johnie Berntsson
(SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
6. Mathieu Richard
(FRA) French Match Racing Team
7. Blythe Walker
(BDA) Max Re Team
8. Torvar Mirsky
(AUS) Mirsky Racing Team
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) 5-0
Blythe Walker (BER)3-2
Damien Iehl (FRA) 2-3
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Alandia Sailing Team 2-3
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing Team 2-3
Dave Perry (USA) 1-4
Eric Monnin (SUI) Search.ch 6-1
Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar sponsored by Argo Group 6-1
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team 4-3
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 4-3
Reuben Corbett (NZL) 3-4
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing 2-5
Ian Evans (USA) 1-6
Robbie Allam (GBR) 1-6
Ben Ainslie (GBR) Team Origin 7-0
Adam Minoprio (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand and BlackMatch Racing 4-3
Dave Perry (USA) 4-3
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Alandia Sailing Team 4-3
Sébastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team and K Challenge 4-3
Rasmus Viltoft (DEN) 3-4
Álvaro Marinho (POR) Seth Sailing Team 2-5
Paula Lewin Crews (BER) 0-7
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team 6-1
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 6-1
Blythe Walker (BER) 4-3
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing Team 4-3
Mattias Rahm (SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team 3-4
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 3-4
Charlie Enright (USA) 1-6
Donald Wilson (USA) 1-6
ISAF Match Racing World Championship Leaderboard
(Top eight teams after Stage 7 of 9)
1. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, 88 Points
2. Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing, 86 Points
3. Mathieu Richard (FRA), French Match Racing Team, 72 Points
4. Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing, 71 Points
5. Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar, 70 Points
6. Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team, 48 Points
7. Sébastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team, 41 Points
8. Ben Ainslie (GBR) Team Origin, 40 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.