Both RICHARD and WILLIAMS won their semi-final matches by scores of 3-0, over WALKER and MONNIN, respectively, to set up a showdown of young guns for the championship of the $50,000 event, which awards $25,000 to first.
'We're very happy,' said RICHARD, 30, who has advanced to his second final of a World Tour event. 'We also made the final in Croatia, but were disappointed to lose that one. I think we sailed very well today.'
WILLIAMS, 29, survived a five race quarterfinal match against Bjorn HANSEN (SWE) to make the semis, and then rolled in three straight. 'Today, the guys who timed the starts better won,' said WILLIAMS. 'In the light wind it was easy to get caught out in the starts.'
The semi-finals were anticlimactic to the quarter-finals, where three matches went the full five races and WALKER thrilled the hometown crowd with a huge upset. Bermuda's former Olympic sailor, ranked number 251 in the world, took down Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), who finished third overall in the World Championship last season, 3-2.
WALKER has not done much match racing in the past few years. He said that this year he has sailed the least amount since he returned to Bermuda five years ago. But he won the Bermuda nationals to gain entry and, based on how he fares in today's petite-final, stands to equal Peter BROMBY's (BER) third place finish from 2002, the best finish by a Bermudian since Gordon LUCAS (BER) won in 1986.
'It's a matter of having a good team,' said WALKER. 'We have a good crew that came together in the end. Today it came down to the starts, and I didn't do well in the semis.'
|Mathieu RICHARD, left, covers
Blythe WALKER upwind
shortly after the start of their
third and final semi-final race
© Gold Cup/Charles ANDERSON
'We were so excited about beating James,' he said, 'but it cost us a lot of energy, in our minds and emotions.'
'It was a tough loss,' said SPITHILL, helmsman for the Luna Rossa Challenge from Italy. 'It was very light and one boat won every race. But there are no excuses. I give full credit to Eric. He deserved to be in the semis.'
'We are very close. We sail each other so much on the Tour,' said RICHARD. 'They are very consistent. We can be a bit more up and down, but we know we can beat him and we'll be very disappointed if we don't.'
WILLIAMS enters the final with a 10-5 record and a four race winning streak. 'I've been sailing against Mathieu for nine or ten years. I've probably sailed against him more than anyone else in the world,' said WILLIAMS. 'I think we sail each other so much that we end up with similar styles, which leads to close races. I suspect it'll be five races.'
King Edward VII Gold Cup Results
Round Robin Standings
1. James SPITHILL (AUS), Luna Rossa Challenge, 6-1
2. Staffan LINDBERG (FIN), Alandia Sailing Team, 5-2
3. Bjorn HANSEN (SWE), Team Apport.net, 5-2
4. Chris LAW (GBR), The Outlaws, 5-2
5. Brian ANGEL (USA), King Harbor Match Race, 3-4
6. Scott DICKSON (USA), Dickson Racing Team, 2-5
7. Sandy HAYES (USA), 1-6
8. Jon SINGSEN (USA), 1-6
1. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), Saba Sailing Team, 6-1
2. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Williams Sail Racing, 4-3
3. Blythe WALKER (BER), 4-3
4. Eric MONNIN (SUI), Team Monnin, 4-3, 3.5 points
5. Torvar MIRSKY (AUS), 3-4
6. Alvaro MARINHO (POR), 3-4
7. Paula LEWIN (BER), 2-5
8. Jes GRAM-HANSEN (DEN), Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia, 2-5
For all the news on the King Edward VII Gold Cup CLICK HERE.World Match Racing Tour Leaderboard
|1||Sébastien COL||FRA||1||Areva Challenge||29|
|2||Jes GRAM-HANSEN||DEN||16||Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia||27|
|3||Paolo CIAN||ITA||2||Team Viano Mercedes Benz||25|
|3||Chris DICKSON||NZL||4||BMW ORACLE Racing||25|
|5||Jesper BANK||DEN||56||United Internet Team Germany||20|
|5||Magnus HOLMBERG||SWE||41||Victory Challenge||20|
|8||Staffan LINDBERG||FIN||11||Alandia Sailing Team||16|
World Match Racing Tour Schedule
|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||01/07/2007|
|Stage 9||Danish Open||Copenhagen, Denmark||01/08/2007|
|Stage 10||St. Moritz Match Race||St. Moritz, Switzerland||01/08/2007|
|Stage 11||ACI Adris Match Race Cup||Rovinj, Croatia||01/09/2007|
|Stage 12||Locman Cup - Elba Island||Porto Azzurro, Elba Island, Italy||01/09/2007|
|Stage 13||Brasil Sailing Cup||Angra dos Reis, Brazil||01/10/2007|
|Stage 14||Bermuda Gold Cup||Hamilton, Bermuda||01/10/2007|
|Stage 15||Monsoon Cup||Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia||20 November-2 December 2007|
The World Match Racing Tour is an ISAF Special Event. Skippers earn points towards the World Championship at the nine events of the World Tour and the highest scoring skipper at the end of the season is the ISAF Match Racing 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.