An amazing show brought the ISAF Grade 1 Marseille International Match Race to a close, with Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) recording victory in a big breeze. WILLIAMS's win comes at a crucial time for the British world #2, with the top spot beckoning when the ISAF World Match Race Rankings are released this Wednesday 21 March.
Fantastic weather conditions, with 15-22 knots of breeze, meant the semi-finals could be concluded quickly before the decisive races took place in Marseille's Southern bay. After Saturday's racing, WILLIAMS
was ahead of Evgeny NEUGODNIKOV
(RUS) by 2-0 and straight off, the Brit beat the Russian to win his ticket for the final.
French Semi Battle
In the second flight, which was 100% French, Pierre-Antoine MORVAN (FRA) led world #3 Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) 2-1.
During their first match MORVAN, who was ahead at the windward mark, pushed RICHARD who hit the Committee Boat, with the damage to RICHARD's boat causing a significant delay before racing resumed.
The International Jury met and decided to award the point for the match to RICHARD, levelling the scores up at 2-2.
The final match between the two Frenchmen was probably the most closely fought of all, but in the final leg MORVAN demolished RICHARD and took his place in the final.
© Guilain Grenier
After the earlier delay, the final became a best-of-three match, with WILLIAMS
winning the first easily.
The second was much more difficult, with both crews pushed to the limits to be the first to cross the finish line. The decisive moment came when MORVAN had problems with his kite, giving WILLIAMS victory and a vital lift just before the next release of the ISAF World Match Race Rankings.
A delighted WILLIAMS said, 'We were so happy about our victory because we are not used to this yacht race format. Furthermore, before the final we only got to race seven times.
'With the weather forecast we needed to concentrate on the boat's speed with respect to the wind and the waves. As a result we couldn't always take into consideration our opponents position during the jibes.
'This victory is important because it started the regatta season. We hope to continue to win and perhaps win next May on Lake Constance in Germany.'