Ian Williams took another step towards repeating last year's victory at Match Race Germany after beating Mathieu Richard in the first of their Semi-Final matches on Lake Constance. GAC Pindar dominated the pre-start, forcing LunaJets over the line early, handing a commanding lead to the British crew who never looked threatened after that.
The second match was much harder fought with a number of lead changes until it was the French team's to seize the lead and move ahead of Williams. Richard moved tantalisingly close to the finish, but the wind completely shut down as the current carried him past the line. Meanwhile, Williams had misinterpreted some flags on the committee boat. "We thought we'd been abandoned, and started our engine,
" he said. "Then it became clear that we hadn't been abandoned and we stopped the engine. But then I thought about it - and we had put the engine in forward gear - and you can't finish a race when you've used the engine so we had to retire at that point. That was all our mistake."
Fortunately for Williams it was a mistake that didn't matter as the race was indeed eventually abandoned, letting the four-time World Champion off the hook, his 1-0 lead intact going into tomorrow's continuation of the Semi-Finals. In the other half of the draw, Keith Swinton beat Phil Robertson in match one of the battle of the Antipodes.
It had been another extremely hot and light-airs day on the Lake, with southern Germany basking in record-breaking temperatures. Great for ice cream and sunbathing, very tough for staging or competing in these all-important concluding rounds of this first leg of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. Last year's victor on Lake Constance, Ian Williams, had the dubious privilege of choosing his opponent after dominating Qualifying in the first three days with just one loss in 11 matches. The GAC Pindar skipper reluctantly picked Mathieu Richard, whilst also being aware that almost exactly a year ago at the Korea Match Cup, it was the very same French skipper that Williams picked for his Semi-Final. On that occasion the Briton lost 1-3 to the Frenchman who went on to win the event. So, no wonder the four-time World Champion looks upon the opportunity to pick his opponent as a poisoned chalice. "Picking in the Semi-Finals is more of disadvantage than advantage, because you always have three strong teams to pick from,"
Then again, Williams' free pass to the Semis meant he could avoid a very stressful afternoon's Quarter-Finals which saw the exit of some big beasts of the Tour. The Swedish veteran Bjorn Hansen was dispatched 2-0 by Richard's LunaJets, while Swinton's Team Alpari FX caused an even bigger upset with their 2-0 defeat of the reigning World Champions Taylor Canfield and USone. New Tour Card holder David Gilmour gave Phil Robertson a scare, running the WAKA Racing team close for a Semi-Final spot before the more experienced Kiwis prevailed in the third and final match.
Canfield was gracious in defeat, acknowledging that he had been beaten by the better team today. For Swinton, this was a day to savour. "Team Alpari FX, had a really good win over Taylor Canfield and his team. It's been a while coming, beating those guys in a Quarter or Semi-Final. Very happy with that, and happy to be holding a 1-0 lead in our Semi-Final."
Match Race Germany concludes tomorrow with the completion of the Semi-Finals at 0900 followed by the Petit Final and the Final.
Stage 1 Match Race Germany, Alpari World Match Racing Tour
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar vs Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets 1-0
Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing vs Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 1-0
Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing beat David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour 2-1
Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets beat Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team 2-0
Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX beat Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone 2-0