The battle for the ISAF Match Racing World Championship title is down to a three-way fight at the ISAF Grade WC Monsoon Cup in Malaysia.
(FRA), Ian WILLIAMS
(GBR) and Paolo CIAN
(ITA) are set to fight it out for the World Championship title, after all three progressed to the quarter-final stages in Malaysia. As the final stage of the 2006-07 World Match Racing Tour, the Monsoon Cup will decide the 2007 ISAF Match Racing World Championship. RICHARD entered the event with an eight-point lead over WILLIAMS in the World Championship, with CIAN a further 17 points further back. However with double points up for grabs in the final World Tour event (1st - 50 points; 2nd - 40; 3rd - 30; 4th - 24; 5th - 20; 6th - 16, 7th - 12 and 8th - 8 points) the battle for the World title looks set to go right down to the wire.
Day Three Action
The breeze was on when sailors arrived at the Heritage Bay Club in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia for the last six flights of the round robin series to determine who would qualify for the quarter-finals of the final stage of the 2006-07 World Match Racing Tour. Tour scores are so close among the top six going into the regatta that any of the teams can win, so long as they make the first cut and go through to the quarter-finals.
The day started with the match that would elevate even a sloth's heart rate - the face off between the #1 and #2 ranked teams on the World Match Race Tour - RICHARD of Saba Sailing Team
(#1) and WILLIAMS of Team Pindar
(#2). The pair used every play in the book during the pre-start sequence. WILLIAMS copped a penalty seconds before the start after nearly boxing RICHARD off at the committee boat. WILLIAMS was in hot pursuit throughout the three laps, but never gained enough of an advantage to do his penalty turn before RICHARD crossed the finish line only a few boat lengths ahead of him.
Three flights were completed in the morning and the fate was sealed for the women and Staffan LINDBERG
(FIN). The women took the stage first after lunch and Katie SPITHILL
(AUS) won her first, and only, match of the regatta.
In the Torvar MIRSKY
(AUS) versus WILLIAMS match, both skippers did a dizzying number of circles during the pre-start with each trying to gain the right side advantage at the start. During the final approach, the boats luffed beam to beam and WILLIAMS, who went beyond head to wind, was given a penalty. WILLIAMS shot out of the starting area with the speed advantage and MIRSKY went left. WILLIAMS rounded the weather mark just ahead of MIRSKY who went bow down so that WILLIAMS couldn't put a lock on him. The boats came together several times and multiple green flags were raised by the judges. Once he took the lead, MIRSKY held on. It was a thriller of a race.
With the women eliminated and LINDBERG knocked out with his 15th-round loss, the feature match was between Sebastien COL
(FRA) and Bjorn HANSEN
(SWE) to determine who would make it through to the quarter-finals. HANSEN was over early at the pin end of the line in his face off against COL. HANSEN closed the gap and blanketed COL on the second run. The beat was close and the pair luffed up at the weather mark. HANSEN popped his chute first and the pair sailed their final run with HANSEN in the lead. HANSEN's win secured his entry into the quarter-finals, while COL was excused from the remainder of the competition.
The quarter-finalists will start the day on Saturday with a clean scoreboard, a greater understanding of local conditions, better boat handling and a heightened desire to win every race toward the ISAF Match Racing World Championship title and the purse for the Monsoon Cup's grand prize.
Among the top three leaders going into the final stage of the World Match Racing Tour's 2006-07 season, it will come down to who moves on to the next round. With
COL eliminated from the series, the young Turks and Peter GILMOUR
(AUS) have the potential to be spoilers and knock the top three out of contention for the season's Grand Prize.
In a change to the format, the top competitors chose their initial opponents for the first flight of the quarterfinals. GILMOUR will face off against Adam MINOPRIO
(NZL); MIRSKY will race HANSEN; RICHARD chose CIAN leaving Jesper RADICH
(DEN) matched with WILLIAMS.
Round Robin Standings
1. Peter GILMOUR
(AUS) PST: 9.5-1
2. Adam MINOPRIO
(NZL) BlackMatch Racing 8-3
3. Torvar MIRSKY
(AUS) Mirsky Racing Team: 8-3
4. Mathieu RICHARD
(FRA) Saba Sailing Team: 7-4
5. Jesper RADICH
(DEN) Radich Racing 7-4
6. Paolo CIAN
(ITA) Shosholoza 6-5
7. Bjorn HANSEN
(SWE) Team Apport.Net: 6-5
8. Ian WILLIAMS
(GBR) Team Pindar: 5-6
9. Staffan LINDBERG
(FIN) Alandia Sailing Team: 4-7
10. Sebastien COL
(FRA) Areva Challenge: 4-7
11. Katie SPITHILL
(AUS) Team Acuity: 1-10
12. Tiffany KOO
(MAS) UK Halsey Gapurna Team: 0-11
ISAF Match Racing World Championship Leaderboard (Top 8)
(After Stage 14 of 15)
1. Mathieu RICHARD
(FRA) Saba Sailing Team, 140 points
2. Ian WILLIAMS
(GBR) Team Pindar, 132 points
3. Paolo CIAN
(ITA) Team Shosholoza, 115 points
4. Sebastien COL
(FRA) Areva Challenge, 93 points
5. Bjorn HANSEN
(SWE) Team Apport.net, 87 points
6. Peter GILMOUR
(AUS) PST, 66 points
7. Magnus HOLMBERG
(SWE) Victory Challenge, 62 points
8. Ed BAIRD
(USA) Alinghi, 55 points
Results - www.worldmatchracingtour.com/default.asp?m=da&id=65317
Monsoon Cup - www.monsooncup.com.my
World Match Racing Tour - www.worldmatchracingtour.com