Matthieu RICHARD, Ian WILLIAMS, Jes GRAM-HANSEN and Damien IEHL secured the semi-final places on a spectator-packed day four at Match Race Germany in Langenargen.
If match racing can't hold your attention for the whole day, the entertainment on the shores of Lake Constance certainly could. The live band started in the big tent at lunchtime, and spectators will be enjoying them well into the night. With over 15,000 people soaking up the atmosphere and sun here in Langenargen, it's hard to tell who's actually here to watch the racing and who's here just to enjoy the party happening on the shore. Young and old alike are able take part in sailing themed activities with kids painting sails and learning to sail optimists while the adults can trial massage tables, do a bit of shopping or just sit back and relax at one of the many food and beer stalls. Everyone seems to be having a good time, and with a Bank Holiday tomorrow the crowds are expected to return for more sailing and the finals of Match Race Germany.
The quarter-final round robin continued this morning with the two final flights. Mathieu RICHARD
(FRA) and his French Match Racing Team continued their good form and came out on top, only losing two races in the top eight round robin. Team Pindar skippered by Ian WILLIAMS
(GBR) held on to second position and Jes GRAM-HANSEN
(DEN) and Damien IEHL
(FRA) rounded out the top four to make up the semi-finals.
First up this morning was flight six of the quarter-finals, and in match three between Bjorn HANSEN
's (SWE) Alandia Sailing Team and Sébastien COL
's (FRA) K Challenge/French Match Racing Team it seemed that for HANSEN giving way was not an option as he ploughed in the side of COL's boat in the pre-start. HANSEN was subsequently penalized, but gained a big enough lead to be able to complete his penalty on the finish line and win the race.
In the final flight this morning, match three would decide the last team to qualify for the semi finals. With K Challenge/French Match Racing Team having to beat Wibroe Sailing Team. After an even start both teams fought hard but Peter WIBROE
(DEN) crossed the finish line ahead claiming his first victory of the quarterfinals and knocking COL's K Challenge/French Match Racing Team out of the regatta.
Semi-final one was a French affair with the French Match Racing team skippered by RICHARD competing against IEHL's Team Sinbad. In their first semi-final match, RICHARD got a penalty in the pre-start.
IEHL later told the press "It was actually my tactician that protested. I thought it was a green flag."
RICHARD agreed; "For me it could have been a green flag, but I am okay with the decision."
After two matches they were tied at one win each. Also tied at one win each was the second semi-final between WILLIAMS's Team Pindar and GRAM-HANSEN's Trifork Racing. Team Pindar received a penalty in the first race, allowing GRAM-HANSEN to take the win. But the tables turned in the second match when GRAM-HANSEN received a penalty in the pre-start after a collision. At the end of the race, "We thought they had enough room to do their turn and still win"
WILLIAMS said, but as GRAM-HANSEN explained "These boats are tricky to turn in light conditions, and Ian was able to pass us and win by half a boatlength."
As the four teams waited to start their deciding matches, a storm warning was issued for Lake Constance that saw everyone hurrying for cover. In a lake that can whip up a storm as easily as it could not see a puff of wind for days no one was taking any chances. "Because it was a full storm warning, if I had continued with the racing I would have lost my insurance, so if anything had happened to you or the boats, I would have had to pay out of my own pocket"
Race Officer, Rudi MAGG told the sailors at a press conference this evening. The fate of the four remaining teams would be decided tomorrow when racing recommences.
Match Race Germany - www.matchrace.de
World Match Racing Tour - www.worldmatchracingtour
ISAF Match Racing World Championship microsite - www.sailing.org/matchworlds