Will Tiller, the young Kiwi skipper who qualified for the Monsoon Cup after winning the Asian Match Racing Championships, put in an inspired performance in the second Qualifying Session today to reach the quarter-finals of the World Match racing Tour season finale.
Tiller's winning streak included the scalps of five Tour Card Holders including current Tour leader Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar and Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat, two of the three favourites to win the ISAF Match Racing World Championship but who've struggled for consistent form so far in Malaysia.
After a day in which ideal sailing conditions finally arrived, Tiller, who skippers the Full Metal Jacket Racing team, commented, "It's been an awesome day for us! We've been starting really well and winning the left and from there on it was simple match racing really. It's good to know that everyone is beatable.
"This definitely gives us confidence going forward, winning against these tops guys is amazing and helps us realise we have the potential to make it all the way through to the finals."
With Williams and Mirsky suffering indifferent form in Kuala Terengganu, they'll be weary of their nearest rival for the Championship, Francesco Bruni who is just one win away from a guaranteed berth in the quarter-finals. The Italian has looked confident in the Foundation 36 boats, but the two losses he suffered late in the day to Phil Robertson and Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team frustrated him.
"It was a good day for sure - we can't really complain but missing two points is annoying. We lost a bit of momentum at the end of the day. We almost had the win against Robertson but we made a few stupid mistakes and that makes me angry. It's nice to go through early and so having those extra points would have been nice. But you can't do everything perfectly so we should be happy with how we are sailing overall."
The French Match Racing Team duo of Mathieu Richard and Damien Iehl, have endured a torrid time at the 2011 Monsoon Cup with both teams on the brink of going home. Just one more defeat for either skipper would spell the end to their 2011 Tour. For Richard, a skipper widely tipped to finally win the World Championship this season but who relied on a wildcard to compete in Malaysia, the pressure is on to get a good score here and boost his overall position in the Tour standings, "We are still fighting 100% even though we are in a very different situation to last year. We will always fight and give 100% no matter where we are on the leaderboard.
"The pressure is on us now to win all of our remaining matches - it's a very uncomfortable situation to be in but we've got used to it this year and we know it's still possible. We need to just not think about things too much and go out there and win."
Torvar Mirsky finished the second Qualifying Session on 3-4 and sits afoot a group of teams, including Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing, Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners and Ian Williams (GBR), who all have some work to do to qualify for the quarter-finals. Interestingly, Williams faces both Mirsky and Bruni, his nearest title rivals, in his first two matches tomorrow.
While never certain, five wins here should put teams into a tie-break for the quarter-finals while six wins should assure teams of a semi-final berth. The one thing that is certain is that Jeremy Koo, the qualifier from the Asian Match Racing Championships will not make it to the knock-out stages with a winless Monsoon Cup campaign so far. The Malaysian though will have a chance to redeem himself tomorrow when he takes on Hansen and Berntsson.
Qualifying will conclude from 10:00 (GMT+8) on Friday 25 November 2011, after the World Match Racing Tour Morning Show with Hannah White. Live coverage from Pulau Duyong continues from 15:00 to 17:00 (GMT +8) on www.wmrt.com
Results after Qualifying Session Two:
Will Tiller (NZL) Full Metal Jacket Racing 6-2
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing 5-2
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team 5-3
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team 5-3
Phil Robertson (NZL) Team China powered by WAKA Racing 5-3
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar 4-3
Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners 4-3
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 4-4
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat 3-4
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 3-5
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team 2-5
Jeremy Koo (MAS) Abdullah Chan/KRT 0-9
Overall Championship Standings - after 7 stages:
1. Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar - 106pts
2. Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing - 100pts
3. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat - 99.8pts
4. Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing - 78.8pts
5. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team - 75pts
6. Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team - 74pts
7. Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team - 73.2pts
8. Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners - 71.2pts
9. Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team - 69.6pts
10. Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing - 64.4pts