Ian Williams demonstrated his quality at the Quarter Final of the Argo Group Gold Cup in Bermuda today, putting in a dominant performance against Adam Minoprio and reaffirming his credentials as he bids to take a joint record fourth Alpari World Match Racing Tour (AWMRT) title this season.
The battle of the heavyweights was confirmed yesterday as Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar was left with last pick of Quarter Final opponent, lining up a showdown against former Tour Champion Adam Minoprio (NZL) Team Argo Group, who had topped Qualifying earlier in the day. Minoprio remained cool in defeat. The New Zealander stated his intentions to compete on the Tour again when the opportunity arises, saying, "We've had a lot of fun in the last few days here, as we did out at Match Race France last week. Now we'll see if we can get a spot at the Monsoon Cup and hopefully get some revenge at that one.
"We didn't sail at all well today and as a team, we all let ourselves down. We're out of the regatta now and I don't think our heads were in the boat on that last one."
Williams could also have been shaken by the draw, which left him facing one of the more experienced skippers left in the field. The Brit remained confident and professional, however, closing out a comprehensive 3-0 win which he never looked in danger of losing. He said, "We came out fired up for it today and Bill [Hardesty] was picking it spot on today and we felt that we couldn't put a foot wrong.
"Adam [Minoprio] had been sailing very well here so we knew we had to stay focused and 3-0 is a great result.
"Tomorrow is a different day with different conditions so we'll have to look at it when we wake up tomorrow."
Eric Monnin (SUI) Okalys Corum came through his Quarter Final with Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team and now looks set for a Semi Final battle against Taylor Canfield (ISV) Canfield Racing, who enjoyed another day without defeat. A 3-0 win against Sydney's David Chapman (AUS) Flying Wasp Racing came amidst some close calls during each prestart, the umpire decisions ultimately going the way of the US Virgin Islander. Chapman, said, "This has been the first knockout series where I've had a penalty on me in every prestart but that's just match racing. The 50/50 calls didn't go our way but Taylor [Canfield] did a great job and just did better than us.
"This was my first Tour event helming, although i did mainsheet for Laurie Jury in Germany earlier in the year. To be honest, I'm still working out my ambitions as a sailor and I'm not sure if that lies in match racing or elsewhere.
"It was great to finally to get to race against Ian Williams and his guys and we've definitely learned a lot from the week here and gained experience."
The result will allow Canfield to avoid the remaining Tour Card Holders, something he regards as important as the competition enters the latter stages. He said, "We picked [Eric] Monnin after I sat down with the guys to discuss it. No we have the opportunity to sail one of the slightly less experienced teams so I think it was the safer choice of the three.
"The Tour Card Holders do this for a living and they're competing regularly at these world class events whereas Monnin and his guys are likely to be the less practiced of who's left."
The day's remaining Quarter Final was an all-Swedish affair between Tour leader Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team and Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team, who was desperate to make the last four after several near misses through the year. Berntsson got his wish with a 3-1 win over his friend and compatriot, despite losing the first match of the day. He said, "We knew it would be a tough battle, they're always strong and it's never an easy battle against them.
"We had three wins in a row after losing the prestart in the first and never quite getting it back. All my credit to tactician Daniel Wallberg today, he did a great job in finding our way through.
"Bjorn [Hansen] and the guys said after the race, 'now you have to represent the Swedish flag and go all the way', so that's what we'll try to do."
The first time the pair went over the start line in their first match, the race was abandoned due to a signalling error of which course would be sailed. Hansen, who was in the ascendancy at the time, said, "We were almost half a lap ahead in the first one so it was disappointing that that was abandoned. Overall they sailed better than us today and that's what it comes down to.
"We always enjoy ourselves in Bermuda. We have the 5th to 8th play-off to compete for tomorrow and then we'll probably get out on the golf course, enjoying the time we have left here."
The Argo Group Gold Cup Semi Finals will take place tomorrow, Friday 5 October from 14:00 local time (GMT-3) and will be preceded by the 5th to 8th place playoff, which will commence at 11:00.
Live TV coverage will be broadcast from 1400-1600PM local time (GMT -3). Listings for Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 October TV broadcasts are available at http://www.wmrt.com/live/tv-schedule.html
. The feed is also available online at: www.wmrt.com/live
Live updates are available at:
Tour regular Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/wmrt
Live event Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/wmrt_liverace
Replays of live video footage from the whole season are available at http://new.livestream.com/WorldMRT/
Argo Group Gold Cup, Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda - Semi Final Draw:
Taylor Canfield (ISV) Canfield Racing vs. Eric Monnin (SUI) Okalys Corum
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team vs. Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar
Argo Group Gold Cup, Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda - Quarter Final Results:
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar vs. Adam Minoprio (NZL) Team Argo Group 3-0
Taylor Canfield (ISV) Canfield Racing vs. David Chapman (AUS) Flying Wasp Racing 3-0
Eric Monnin (SUI) Okalys Corum vs. Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team 3-1
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team vs. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team 3-1