The 2009 ISAF Match Racing World Championship was at stake on morning four of the Monsoon Cup, the final round of the World Match Racing Tour in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. When this regatta started Australian Torvar Mirsky and his Match Racing Team crew were number two ranked on the Tour leaderboard and 12 points behind New Zealander Adam Minoprio and his Emirates Team New Zealand BlackMatch Racing Team.
Mirsky was down 0-2 against the defending Monsoon Cup champion, America's Cup and World Match Racing Tour veteran Peter Gilmour (AUS).
|Photos from Malaysia|
The maths showed that if Mirsky was eliminated in the Monsoon Cup quarter finals and Minoprio was to win his battle with Mathieu Richard (FRA), Minoprio would become the 2009 ISAF Match Racing World Champion.
Entering the starting box Minoprio had his game face on... he nailed the start and was two lengths ahead on the left of the course.
Richard was on the right. The two boats came back fast with Richard having gained on the right. After contact at the top mark Minoprio was given a penalty; Richard a red flag, meaning he had to take an immediate penalty.
Minoprio extinguished his penalty and went on to win the match. Dockside the BlackMatch skipper was calm as he said, "We were feeling the pressure a little before that last match. The current is very hard to read, its varying with the tide and there are swirls and eddies. You have to watch the match ahead of you to see who does best, left or right and then it might not mean much anyway."
Mirsky beat Gilmour in the third race; the scoreline was now 1-2.
Mirsky had to win the next match in order to earn a fifth and final match that he would also need to win. Gilmour needed to win the match and then the Monsoon Cup in order to come second on the World Tour.
Mirsky had to finish sixth or worse in order to lose his current second place ranking. Ben Ainslie (GBR) has a sniff at second place if he wins the Monsoon Cup, so all was at stake.
The tension on Mirsky's boat was palpable. They had to win the next two races to keep their World Championship hopes alive.
Coming towards the top mark Gilmour was ahead by half a boat length. Gilmour was inside boat entitled to room; he took Mirsky head to wind but did not keep clear and was given a penalty.
Mirsky decided to follow Gilmour, hoping to stay close enough to pounce when Gilmour did his penalty turn. On the third beat Gilmour was 45 metres ahead, looking to do his penalty turn in the best tide. Mirsky closed to 40 metres giving Gilmour no option but do a finishing line spin.
Mirksy finished first, but was penalised and Gilmour won the match.
As the penalty flag went up, there were loud cheers on the balcony overlooking the Pulau Duyong course.
Adam Minoprio is the new ISAF Match Racing World Champion.
It was all black and silver, as Minoprio high fived his crew. There was chaos for a few minutes, with crew, family and supporters all yelling.
Minoprio settled and said "Wow, this is sensational. Talk about lows and highs. Its very tricky out there.
"Yesterday morning we were down, struggling to make the quarters, we just scraped in, now we've made the semis and we are the new World Champions.
"We are gunning for the title.
"Right now we are going to cheer for Phil Robertson. We really want to meet him in the final. That would be perfect."
Alas it was not to be as Robertson was penalised in a vigorous pre-start stoush and Sebastien Col (FRA) won the deciding match of their flight.
Col now heads for the semi finals along with triple Olympic gold medallist Ainslie, defending Monsoon Cup Champion Gilmour and the new World Champion.
Dockside, Mirsky was gracious in defeat, "Congratulations to Adam, he is a worthy World Champion.
"We are obviously disappointed. The match with Gillie [Gimour] was so close, coming towards the finish line, we thought he might complete his turn, so we had to engage. We were sure the penalty would have gone the other way. Tomorrow we will be fighting for fifth and we will be back harder than ever in 2010."
Twenty-four year old Adam Minoprio started sailing in Auckland at age eight. He won his first New Zealand Championship at the age of 12 in the Optimist class. He joined the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's Sailing Academy in 2002 at age 17 and graduated in 2006, that same year winning the Warren Jones International Youth Regatta in Perth in the WA Yachting Foundation's matched fleet of Foundation 36 yachts.
The Warren Jones Regatta prize gave Minoprio expense money and entry to a number of top European match racing events, significantly helping his ranking and experience against the world's top ranked skippers.
The rest is now history.
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.