Fresh from taking the ISAF Match Racing World Championship title, Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) underlined his recent success by winning the ISAF Grade 2 RYA Winter Match Race Challenge Series at Queen Mary Sailing Club, Staines, at the weekend.
The wind reached 30 knots during the round robin and the high calibre international field had to reef the boats for the second day of racing.
(GBR) and Philippe PRESTI
(FRA) fought it out for the top slot in the round robin. However with only one flight of races left to sail Mark CAMPBELL-JAMES
(GBR), Eric MONNIN
(SUI), Pierre-Antoine MORVAN
(FRA) and Peter WIBROE
(DEN) were all within reach of the semi-finals.
CAMPBELL-JAMES comfortably won his last match to secure his place in the semi-finals, while WIBROE was against MONNIN in his final match with the winner set to gain the second semi-final place.
It was an intense battle with many penalties but MONNIN was the victor.
On the final day of racing, the fifth-sixth place sail-off, the semi-finals and finals were sailed in shifty windy conditions. The semis were a first to three points format in which WILLIAMS beat CAMPBELL-JAMES 3-1 and PRESTI beat MONNIN 3-1.
The finals were the first to two points. In the first match the Frenchman PRESTI was early at the start - a valiant recovery saw him nearly catch up but Williams took the first point. In the second match PRESTI was again early and WILLIAMS took an easy win to secure his place in the Grand Final (7-9 March 2008).
WILLIAMS was delighted with his victory but commented on how much colder it was to sail in Great Britain compared to the other match race events he had been to recently!
The Danish team had high praise for the event, suggesting is one of the best on the match race circuit with the race organisation and management being first class and the club's proximity to the airport making it so easy for overseas competitors to attend.
RYA Winter Match Race Challenge Series - www.rya.org.uk/AboutRYA/programmesinitiatives/matchracing/ryawinter/winterchallengematchracingseries.htm
ISAF Match Racing World Championship - www.sailing.org/matchworlds