France take on Great Britain in the final of stage two of the 2009 World Match Racing Tour as reigning Match Race Germany Champion Damien IEHL and his French Team will meet Ben AINSLIE and the British Team Origin in this year's final.
As the battle of Britain continued this morning in the quarter-final rounds it was Ben AINSLIE
's (GBR) Team Origin that secured his spot in the semi finals. With Ian WILLIAMS
(GBR) winning the third match and the scores tied it came to the final match to decide who would advance to the semi final. The match wasn't decided until the finish line where AINSLIE had an outstanding penalty to complete. It was a very close finish.
The other quarter-final match saw reigning Match Race Germany champion Damien IEHL
(FRA) and his French Team defeat Francesco BRUNI
The semi finals pitted a fascinating mix of talents against each other, with four-time ISAF Match Racing World Champion Peter GILMOUR
(AUS) and the Yanmar Racing team facing three-time Olympic gold medallist AINSLIE. Where as in the other semi-final pairing it was a case of 'de ja vous' Mathieu RICHARD
(FRA) found himself in familiar territory as it was to be a repeat of last year's all French affair when he chose fellow country man IEHL as his opponent.
AINSLIE took the first two races in his semi-final match, even after clearly losing the start in the first race against GILMOUR, only for GILMOUR to comeback and tie the score going in to the final fifth match. The racing was tight and GILMOUR and his Yanmar Racing crew never gave up they just kept coming back. "The stakes are high and we wanted to win,"
GILMOUR stated after the racing finished.
The final race was a good reflection of the pair's whole semi final with multiple lead changes and whenever either team was behind, they seemed to have the tenacious ability to get right back into the race. The two teams were overlapped at both the first windward mark and then overlapped again as they rounded at the final bottom mark, leaving the match wide open until the final windward leg, where GILMOUR split to the right side of the course with AINSLIE headed to the left. The wind gradually shifted to the right and when they converged AINSLIE had a tidy lead which he was able to hang to until the finish.
When asked to reflect on today's racing GILMOUR said, "Ben and his crew sailed really well. I think the end result comes down to us messing up a couple of starts. In their first couple of races they sailed really confidently however we were able to pull a couple back and it came down the last race. In the final race they were able to get ahead and stay ahead as simple as that."
AINSLIE said it had been an exhausting day for the team, "It's been a long 10 hours out on the water today. We had some intense racing with Ian WILLIAMS this morning and some further full on racing with Peter GILMOUR this afternoon."
Reflecting upon why his semi-final win came down to the last match AINSLIE put it down to two things, "We sailed really well in our first two races however this momentum was disrupted when there was a short break for a corporate fleet race. This gave Peter the opportunity to regroup and take the next couple of races. The second issue was exhaustion. In the final match we won the start and Iain PERCY did a fantastic job at calling tactics and we just held the lead the whole way round."
The second semi final, the tasty all-French match up of RICHARD versus IEHL, was also a five-match nail biter with neither team willing to lie down and concede defeat. When asked about how he felt about choosing IEHL, RICHARD said, "To be the one to choose is not an advantage. I would not like to race Peter GILMOUR but I do not see much of a difference between Damien and Ben."
After four feisty encounters the score was two wins a piece with the two teams swapping wins and the semi final looking to go into a fifth match decider. However the umpires handed a ½ point deduction to RICHARD's team as he was adjudged to have fouled IEHL in collision which resulted in damaged to the boats. This meant RICHARD would have to win two more races to reach the final, as it was first to three points wins, which undoubtedly put a little more pressure onto his team. Although the fifth match was a tense affair, IEHL was able to put RICHARD away and secure his place in tomorrow's final against AINSLIE.
The stage is set for an al-European final which is scheduled to start at 10:00 tomorrow morning.
Semi Final Results
Damien IEHL (FRA) d. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), 3-1.5
Ben AINSLIE (GBR) d. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), 3-2
Quarter Final Results
Damien IEHL (FRA) d. Francesco BRUNI (ITA), 3-1
Ben AINSLIE (GBR) d. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), 3-2.75
Round Robin Results
1. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), French Team
2. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), YANMAR Racing
3. Francesco BRUNI (ITA), Team Joe Fly
4. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar
5. Ben AINSLIE (GBR), Team Origin
6. Damien IEHL (FRA), French Team
7. Adam MINOPRIO (NZL), ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing
8. Sébastien COL (FRA), French Team/K-Challenge
9. Bjorn HANSEN (SWE), Team Onboard
10. Torvar MIRSKY (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team
11. Eric MONNIN (SUI), Team Search.ch
12. Carsten KEMMLING (GER)
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.