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30 November 2006, 02:00 pm
KOO Steals The Show
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Monsoon Cup 2006
Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia

After a trying day beset by light winds and intermittent downpours, Peter GILMOUR (AUS) took the early lead in defence of his title at the ISAF Grade WC Monsoon Cup, stage 6 of the 2006-07 World Match Racing Tour. However it was 22 year old Malaysian Tiffany KOO who sprung the biggest surprise.
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GILMOUR, skipper of PST, finished the day with a 3-0 record to claim the top spot. Behind him is a group of four skippers - including Jesper BANK (DEN), Paolo CIAN (ITA), world number one Sébastian COL (FRA) and Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) - at 3-1.

'It was a very hard day. The wind was shifting everywhere,' said CIAN, a helmsman for Team Shosholoza. 'The starts were important and boat speed is always important. The difference between crossing and not was a half metre.'

Malaysia's Rising Star

While the names at the top of the leaderboard are familiar, it was a 22 year old Malaysian woman who stole the show. KOO, Malaysia's rising female match racer, made a splash in her World Tour debut when she won her first match against Asian rival Wearn Haw TAN from Singapore.

'I can't really describe how I feel,' KOO said. 'We're very happy. We won our first race in the Monsoon Cup.'

KOO gained entry to the Monsoon Cup by winning the Malaysian nationals in September. A dinghy sailor by training, she won the 2001 Byte World Championship and a gold medal in the Laser Radial class at the 2001 Southeast Asian Games, KOO has recently abandoned the small boats to take up match racing and do more big boat sailing. She trims headsails on the 75 footer Jelik.

KOO, however, looked like an experienced hand in her first race. She came off the start line in a split-tack start against TAN, taking port onto the racecourse near the committee boat end. TAN, meanwhile, took starboard up the left side of the racecourse.

About two-thirds of the way up the leg KOO, on starboard, easily crossed TAN with about two boat lengths to spare. She rounded the first windward mark more than 30 seconds in the lead, and never looked back.

The second time around the windward mark she was more than a minute and a half in the lead, and easily on her way to victory.

'I was nervous and excited,' KOO said of her emotions heading into the pre-start. 'It was a good learning experience. After a few races I pushed to work harder.'

KOO finished the day with a 1-3 record.

Tough Day

The wind conditions made the day difficult for all involved. The Race Committee was on the water for more than nine hours, taking a break only for lunch during a monsoon squall.

The wind this time of year is typically from a northerly quadrant, but today it blew from a southerly quadrant and was light, topping out around 6 knots in puffs. There were other factors that compounded the mental strain on the sailors, such as the ripping current and short racecourses.

The Pulau Duyong Basin sits at the confluence of two rivers. The tide rips through before flowing to the South China Sea. On a racecourse barely 300 metres long, the racing was tight and placed a huge emphasis on starting. Then, the winning move seemed to be heading to the right side of the first beat, where there was current relief.

'It was a right hand day, which was also the right-of-way tack,' said GILMOUR. 'It was a nice place to be.'

Gilmour scored wins over Bjorn HANSEN (SWE), Peter HOLMBERG (ISV) and COL for his 3-0 mark.

SPITHILL Struggles

The vagaries of the conditions caught several experienced hands out on a few occasions. James SPITHILL (AUS), of Luna ROSSA Challenge, lost to TAN after leading comfortably around the second windward mark. Spithill jibed to starboard after the rounding, which should have put him in better current. TAN held port towards the shoreline. When they converged again two-thirds down the run TAN crossed ahead of SPITHILL and hung on for his only win of the day in five starts.

SPITHILL, however, came back against WILLIAMS in flight 6. He led around the first lap, let WILLIAMS back in the race at the bottom of the second upwind leg, only to overtake the Briton again at the second windward mark.

WILLIAMS also scored a come-from-behind win, versus BANK.

'It was a difficult course to call today,' said WILLIAMS, the current leader in the World Championship standings. 'The left looked better for pressure but the right was better for tide.'

'The wind was all over the compass,' said BANK, who has excelled in light and shifty winds at the ISAF Grade WC Danish Open. 'I can't compare this at all to Copenhagen.'

Racing is scheduled to resume tomorrow morning around 09:45 local time, weather permitting.

Racing in the semi-final and final rounds, on 2-3 December, is scheduled to be broadcast live on the Internet at www.sail.tv. It will also be broadcast live on ESPN/Star Sports, Eurosport, The Sailing Channel, Fox Australia, Sky New Zealand and Showtime Middle East (check local listings for times). To watch a preview of the event on www.sail.tv CLICK HERE.

For all the news from the Monsoon Cup CLICK HERE.

World Match Racing Tour Leaderboard
(After Stage 5 of 15)
Pos Skipper Nation ISAF World
Match Race
Ranking
Team Pts
1 Ian WILLIAMS GBR 4 Team Pindar 47
2 Ed BAIRD USA 22 Alinghi 40
3 Paolo CIAN ITA 2 Team Viano Mercedes Benz 35
3 Jesper BANK DEN 57 United Internet Team Germany 35
5 Chris DICKSON NZL 5 BMW ORACLE Racing 31
6 Mathieu RICHARD FRA 6 Saba Sailing Team 30
7 Sébastien COL FRA 1 Areva Challenge 29
8 Jes GRAM-HANSEN DEN 24 Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia 27

World Match Racing Tour Schedule
(2006-2007 Season)

Stage Event Venue Date
Stage 1 Portugal Match Cup Cascais, Portugal 18-23 July 2006
Stage 2 Danish Open Copenhagen, Denmark 9-13 August 2006
Stage 3 St. Moritz Match Race St. Moritz, Switzerland 15-20 August 2006
Stage 4 Bermuda Gold Cup Hamilton, Bermuda 10-15 October 2006
Stage 5 Allianz Cup San Francisco, USA 24-29 October
Stage 6 Monsoon Cup Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia 28 November-3 December 2006
Stage 7 Match Race Germany Langenargen, Germany 23-28 May 2007
Stage 8 Portugal Match Cup Cascais, Portugal July 2007
Stage 9 Danish Open Copenhagen, Denmark August 2007
Stage 10 St Moritz Match Race St. Moritz, Switzerland August 2007
Stage 11 ACI Adris Match Race Cup Rovinj, Croatia September 2007
Stage 12 Locman Cup - Elba Island Porto Azzurro, Elba Island, Italy September 2007
Stage 13 Brasil Sailing Cup Angra dos Reis, Brazil October 2007
Stage 14 Bermuda Gold Cup Hamilton, Bermuda October 2007
Stage 15 Monsoon Cup Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia 20 November-2 December 2007

The World Match Racing Tour is an ISAF Special Event. The events of the World Tour serve to determine the ISAF Match Racing World Champion. Next year the Monsoon Cup will be the final event of the 2006-07 season, and will crown the 2007 World Champion.

The World Tour Partner and Official Car is BMW AG (Munich, Germany). World Tour sponsors include Sebago (Rockford, USA), the Official Footwear Supplier, Travel Places (West Sussex, Great Britain), the Official Travel Partner and Wedgwood (Cheshire, Great Britain) the Official Trophy Supplier.

For more information on the World Match Racing Tour, its competitors and events, visit the official World Tour website - www.WorldMatchRacingTour.com. World Match Racing Tour television programmes may be viewed on demand by clicking on the television icon on the home page of the website.

For all the news on the World Match Racing Tour CLICK HERE.

Sean Mcneill (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Tiffany KOO steers from leeward:© World Tour/Guido Cantini
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