Under sunny skies and a perfect 12-15 knot westerly breeze, Mattias RAHM and his Stena Bulk Racing Team got the jump on a highly-competitive 12-team field on day one of Match Cup Sweden.
and his team got off to the perfect start, winning all of their first three matches in this fourth stage of the World Match Racing Tour. Exhibiting smooth crew work and a familiar mastery of the DS37s used at this event, RAHM was pleased but also cautious about predicting how far he'd progress in this year's event.
"We certainly can't complain with a score like this,"
said RAHM. "We normally start quite well in the competition, but our challenge is to remain at this level all week. Everybody here is really, really good."
Being based locally, RAHM has had much experience in the DS37s which have been used here and in other events in Sweden and Denmark for over a decade. Because of Wednesday's lighter wind forecast, RAHM admitted they "may have an edge when the conditions change,"
but that "there are no weak teams at all, so we will be glad for every point."
And because every point counts, most matches today were quite close, and some quite contentious. The best example of these would have to be that between Peter GILMOUR
(AUS) and his Team PST and last year's Match Cup Sweden champion Bjorn HANSEN
(SWE) and his Alandia Sailing Team. In the pre-start, HANSEN deftly used his starboard-entry advantage to keep GILMOUR on the ropes nearly throughout, and when the veteran Australian tried to wriggle free by gybing at HANSEN on port tack, it wasn't quite enough to keep clear and the penalty went to GILMOUR.
But even after this and a slow start off the line, GILMOUR and team kept it close on the first beat, coming to within a metre of taking the lead at the first windward mark. On the run, HANSEN barely managed to fend off GILMOUR's attack towards the bottom mark, and when the Australian gybed back to the mark, his spinnaker draped over HANSEN's stern, earning him yet another penalty. Four lengths from the bottom mark and now in the lead, but with two blue flags in the air, GILMOUR was obliged to do a penalty turn immediately, but instead rounded the mark and started upwind.
For this, umpires Chris SIMON (GBR) and Eva ANDERSSON (SWE) pulled out the black flag, which immediately disqualified GILMOUR and awarded the match to HANSEN.
Despite this, GILMOUR said he felt "really good about the day."
He has picked up an internationally-accomplished but local-based match race skipper, Johnie BERNTSSON
(SWE), as his main trimmer and tactician, so he is still working on his teamwork. "But I'm really happy our team is growing together. I view this round as really a practice towards when things count in the next round."
Round robin racing continues on Wednesday in day two of Match Cup Sweden, with four flights scheduled for the morning and three for the afternoon. Sunny skies, warm temperatures, and lighter winds are forecast, which should tempt more spectators to line the natural amphitheatre here at the Marstrand fjord.
1. Mattias RAHM
(SWE), Stena Bulk Racing Team 3-0
2. Bjorn HANSEN
(SWE), Alandia Sailing Team 2-1
3. Torvar MIRSKY
(AUS), Mirsky Racing Team 2-1
4. Sébastien COL
(FRA), French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge 2-1
5. Peter GILMOUR
(AUS), PST Team 2-1
6. Magnus HOLMBERG
(SWE), Victory Challenge 2-1
7. Jes GRAM-HANSEN
(DEN), Trifork Racing Team 2-1
8. Ben AINSLIE
(GBR), Team Origin 1-0
9. Paolo CIAN
(ITA), Team Shosholoza 0-3
10. Damien IEHL
(FRA), French Match Racing Team 0-3
Not yet raced:
Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Team Pindar
Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), French Match Racing Team
World Tour Standings
(After 3 events of 9)
1. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) - Team Pindar - 47 points
2. Sébastien COL (FRA) - K Challenge/French Match Racing Team - 33 points
2. Paolo CIAN (ITA) - Team Shosholoza - 33 points
4. Bjorn HANSEN (SWE) - Alandia Sailing Team- 32 points
5. Damien IEHL (FRA) - Team Sinbad - 25 points
5. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA) - French Match Racing Team - 25 points
7. Jes GRAM-HANSEN (DEN) - Trifork Racing - 20 points
8. Adam MINOPRIO (NZL) - ETNZ/BlackMatch - 15 points
ISAF Match Racing World Championship microsite - www.sailing.org/matchworlds