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2 December 2006, 09:30 pm
Semi-finalists Set
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Monsoon Cup 2006
Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia

The monsoon rains held off, the northerly seabreeze returned and the Monsoon Cup enjoyed the best afternoon of racing of its second edition. WILLIAMS, RICHARD, GILMOUR and HOLMBERG take the next step towards a big payday tomorrow.
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The Monsoon Cup is the richest sailing event in the world, awarding a prize purse of MYR 1 million (approximately $275,000) with the champion wining MYR 250,000 (approx. $70,000). The semifinals are an interesting mix of the next generation match-racers and seasoned hands.

The young guns' match pits 29-year-old Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Team Pindar, against Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), 30, Saba Sailing Team. The veterans' match sees a pair of 46-year-olds squaring off, Peter GILMOUR (AUS), PST, versus Peter HOLMBERG (ISV), Alinghi.

WILLIAMS and GILMOUR, first and third in the round robin, respectively, advanced after winning their quarterfinal matches 3-0. WILLIAMS defeated Sébastien COL (FRA), Areva Challenge, and GILMOUR beat Paolo CIAN (ITA), Team Shosholoza.

HOLMBERG defeated Jesper BANK (DEN), United Internet Team Germany, 3-1, and RICHARD beat Björn HANSEN (SWE), Team Apport.net, 3-2 in the only match to go the distance.

The day started with the round robin being completed. The final two flights were sailed in a dying southerly that left some teams drifting to the finish in Flight 17. After a midday break the northerly seabreeze kicked in between 5 and 8 knots and the racing was lively in the afternoon.

"There were plenty of snakes and ladders out there today," said WILLIAMS, leader of the Match Racing World Championship standings. "Maybe it wasn't as extreme as the first couple of days, but we were able to take a minute out of Sébastien on the first leg of the last race, and he wasn't sailing bad at all."

COL had dusted WILLIAMS in the pre-start of Quarterfinal Flight 3. WILLIAMS said he heard the entry signal for the match behind him as he crossed the starting line, meaning he was a one minute behind. But he took the right side of the windward leg and got to the top mark ahead of COL. From there WILLIAMS used his boatspeed to ensure a sweep of the Frenchman.

"We felt we had an edge in boatspeed," said WILLIAMS. "It was hard to call the wind because we were the first match and couldn't watch the others to see where the wind was best. But it seemed like there was pressure on the right side that we didn't always see."

WILLIAMS will square off against RICHARD in a rematch of the final at the King Edward VII Gold Cup last month in Bermuda. WILLIAMS got the better of RICHARD in that one, winning 3-1.

"We know Ian and his team very well, we sail against them often," said RICHARD. "We don't have particular tactics against one team. If we sail at the top of our game we can win because they can make mistakes."

While WILLIAMS and RICHARD are hoping their success on the World Tour will parlay rides for the next America's Cup, GILMOUR and Holmberg are Cup veterans who sometimes raise the volume on the racecourse, especially in the pre-starts. GILMOUR is a veteran of five Cup campaigns and Holmberg is in his third with Alinghi.

Ironically, both were on the verge of being eliminated in the round robin. HOLMBERG had to win both of his matches this morning to advance as the No. 7 seed. GILMOUR, too, faced extinction, especially when he was drifting backwards from the windward mark while Richard was leading on the run to the finish in their Flight 17. That match was abandoned due to lack of wind, and GILMOUR had new life.

The event's reigning champion came back to win the resail versus RICHARD as well as a makeup against Adam MINOPRIO (NZL), Black Match Racing, from Flight 1. Suddenly, in the span of about three hours, he went from eighth to third in the standings and on to the semifinals.

"It's very important to get the teamwork going," said GILMOUR. "I've got two new crewmembers this week. We've worked hard and have had a lot of discussions to get it right. Through time confidence builds and you do a more solid performance."

HOLMBERG also rebounded from the verge of extinction. He'd struggled in the first two days of round robin racing and entered today at 4-5. But he closed out the round robin with back-to-back wins over James SPITHILL (AUS), Luna Rossa Challenge, and Tiffany KOO (MAL), Team Gapurna Selangor, to move to 6-5.

That was good enough to advance, and now he's taken another step towards a lucrative payday.

"It wasn't a conscious effort to go slow in the round robin and turn it on," said HOLMBERG. "The conditions are very unique to sailing. Today we found it easy to adjust our eyes and read the wind. And maybe it was good to have my back to the fire."

The day wasn't without pain for some competitors, in particular SPITHILL. The talented Australian helmsman was eliminated from the competition when he lost his two remaining round robin races this morning and fell to 5-6.

SPITHILL led each match, versus HOLMBERG and Bank, at the second windward mark, but ran afoul of the morning's light winds and drifting conditions on the run to the finish.

Semifinal racing is scheduled to commence tomorrow around 10:00. The Final is slated to begin around 3:00 p.m. to accommodate the live broadcast. Racing tomorrow is scheduled to be broadcast live on the Internet at www.sail.tv. It will also be broadcast live on ESPN/Star Sports, Eurosport, Fox Australia and Showtime Middle East. Sky New Zealand will broadcast a same day tape delay (check local listings for times).

Monsoon Cup Results

Quarter Final Results

WILLIAMS d. COL
RICHARD d. HANSEN
GILMOUR d. CIAN
HOLMBERG d. BANK

Round Robin Standings
(After 15 of 17 scheduled flights)

1. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Team Pindar, 9-2
2. Jesper BANK (DEN), United Internet Team Germany, 7-3
3. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), Saba Sailing Team, 6-3
4. Björn HANSEN (SWE), Team Apport.net, 6-4
5. Sébastien COL (FRA), Areva Challenge, 6-5
6. Paolo CIAN (ITA), Team Shosholoza, 6-5
7. James SPITHILL (AUS), Luna Rossa Challenge, 5-4
8. Peter GILMOUR (AUS), PST, 5-4
9. Peter HOLMBERG (ISV), Alinghi, 4-5
10. Wearn Haw TAN (SIN), China Team, 2-8
11. Adam MINOPRIO (NZL), Black Match Racing, 1-7
12. Tiffany KOO (MAL), Team Selangor Gapurna, 1-8

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, HOLMBERG laims his semi-final spot from BANK:© World Tour/Guido Cantini
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