Ian Williams and his team GAC Pindar win Szczecin Match Race, Nicolai Sehested secures the entry to the Sopot Match Race event in August, Stage 3 of the 2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour.
Last weekend 12 top match race teams from nine countries came to Poland to compete in Szczecin Match Race Grade 2 event, an official World Match Racing qualifier. For the first time Szczecin was welcoming a wealth of world renowned, international sailors including four-time World Champion Ian Williams, Denmark's Nicolai Sehested, Kiwis Phil Robertson and Reuben Corbett as well as French Champion Pierre Antoine Morvan.
Sailing on Tom28 boats the 12 teams sailed a full Round Robin with the winner advancing straight to semifinals and places 2-7 advancing to the quarterfinals. Ian Williams was in consistent form throughout Round Robin, winning Qualifying to earn a direct ticket to the Semi-Finals. In the Quarter-Finals Morvan won 2-0 with Tarnacki, Sehested defeated Tomislav Basic and Robertson lost with Swede Johnie Berntsson.
Solid wind conditions on Friday and Saturday turned to very light breeze on Sunday morning as the excitement grew heading in to the deciding matches of Szczecin Match Race. With little chance of the wind picking up, set time limits forced to shorten knock-out series in Semi-Finals. After two races there was match draw Williams-Berntsson 1:1 and Sehested-Morvan 1:1. As Williams beat Berntsson in the Qualifying rounds, and so did Sehested to Morvan, the count back favoured Danish and British teams.
After two action packed matches Berntsson faced Morvan in the Petit Final with double penaltues for Berntsson in the first race, Pierre Antoine Morvan took 2 straight bullets and subsequently the third podium place.
Even though Williams won the first race in the Final, his team put themselves in trouble by receiving a penalty in the prestart of second race. Sehested was kept the British team tight, leaving no room for their penalty turn. In the last moment possible, Williams took advantage of the Committee Boat by forcing Sehested to stay clear and drift on it. At the same time Williams took the penalty and crossed the finish line first. His team GAC Pindar left no doubt about their performance demonstrating match racing at the highest level and winning Szczecin Match Race.
As Ian Williams is already a World Match Racing Tour cardholder, it was Nicolai Sehested together with his team Trefor MR, who have been awarded a spot to Stage 3 of Alpari World Match racing Tour - Sopot Match Race.
"I'm really happy with the entry win to Sopot Match Race. It's been a goal for us for a long time to prove our worth in the tour, and with this entry we have another chance to do it. We will be also competing in Germany, Chicago and Bermuda this year, so with the entry to Poland's event we might have a chance to get a good overall series result this year,"
Szczecin Match Race organised by the Polish Match Tour, is one of eleven International Sailing Federation (ISAF) graded match racing events that qualify for the 2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour. The second qualifier to Sopot Match Race will take place in Kamien Pomorski (Poland) 18-20th July 2014.
Szczecin Match Race 2014 Official Results:
1. Ian Williams ( GBR )
2. Nicolai Sehested ( DEN )
3. Pierre- Antoine Morvan ( FRA )
4. John Berntsson ( SWE )
5. Tomislav Basic ( CRO)
6. Phil Robertson (NZL )
7. Przemyslaw Tarnacki ( POL )
8. Patryk Zbroja (POL)
9. Lucas Lier ( DEN )
10. Reuben Corbett ( NZL )
11. Mark Lees ( GBR )
12. Antti Luht ( FIN )