British skippers Ben AINSLIE and Ian WILLIAMS lead the charge going into the knockout stages of the King Edward VII Gold Cup presented by Argo Group after both finished the round robin with unblemished scorecards.
After the seventh and last flight of the round robin, six of eight teams qualified on Thursday to advance to the quarter-final round in the King Edward VII Gold Cup presented by Argo Group. A five-flight repechage round amongst six teams will determine the final two slots. Among these are two undefeated teams from Great Britain, reigning World Champion Ian WILLIAMS
and his Team Pindar along with Beijing Olympic gold medallist Ben AINSLIE
and his Team Origin. These two will meet, respectively, Mattias RAHM
(SWE) and his Stena Bulk Sailing Team and Tour newcomer Keith SWINTON
(AUS) of Black Swan Racing when sailing resumes on Friday morning.
Other teams qualified from the round robin include Mathieu RICHARD
(FRA) and his French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit, Johnie BERNTSSON
(SWE), Sébastien COL
(FRA) and his French Match Racing Team/K Challenge, and on countback, Adam MINOPRIO
(NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing Team. Racing on Thursday was once again in ideal 6-12 knot conditions in Hamilton harbour.
Despite the top-two qualifying positions of their rivals, RAHM and SWINTON may have an initial advantage coming into this first-to-three point series for having had to battle an additional five flights of racing in the repechage round.
"We definitely feel the extra competition has helped hone our skills coming into tomorrow,"
said RAHM last night. However, rival WILLIAMS jokingly pointed out that while RAHM may have won every match on Thursday, he lost every match on Wednesday, "so I wonder which RAHM we'll face tomorrow?"
WILLIAMS then remarked "No, I think he will bring their A game, so it will likely be a tough fight."
Ironically, it was against fellow qualifier SWINTON that RAHM had one of his tougher matches in the repechage. During their initial pre-start encounter, RAHM hesitated just a little too long on port tack to avoid SWINTON, and the two collided, earning RAHM a penalty from match umpires Brad DELLENBAUGH (USA) and Bob DUFFY (BER). RAHM went on to get off the start without further incident and extend to enough of a lead to peel off his penalty and take the match. But a post-race hearing to determine fault due to the damage caused to the International One Designs (IODs ) used for this event determined partial blame to go to SWINTON as well as RAHM, with the unusual outcome of RAHM being assessed a ¼ point scoring penalty and SWINTON a ½ point penalty.
"It definitely was confusing to us,"
said SWINTON, "but it makes sense after we went through the hearing."
A Perth native and late entry to the Gold Cup, SWINTON is making his first appearance at a Tour event and by qualifying for the quarter finals is certainly turning a few heads.
After three days of racing at the 2008 King Edward VII Gold Cup presented by Argo Group in Hamilton harbour, the field is narrowing as sailors vie for the coveted honour of becoming the king of this great match-up. With the frontrunners going into the quarter-finals primarily from Great Britain, France and Sweden current World Champion WILLIAMS (7-0) and Olympic sailing legend AINSLIE (7-0) are topping the scoreboard.
(After two stages)
(GBR) vs Keith SWINTON
(GBR) vs Mattias RAHM
(FRA) vs Adam MINOPRIO
(FRA) vs Johnie BERNTSSON
(SWE), Stena Bulk Sailing Team, 5-0
(AUS), Black Swan Racing, 4-1
(SUI), Search.ch, 3-5
(FRA), French Match Racing Team, 1-4
(GBR), Team Origin, 7-0
(FRA), French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit, 6-1
(FRA), French Match Racing Team, 5-2
(SWE), Stena Bulk Sailing Team, 4-3
(USA), Van Tol Match Racing Team, 1-6
(JPN), Team Albatross, 2-5
(USA), King Harbour Yacht Club, 2-5
(USA), Team 7 Racing, 1-6
(GBR), Team Pindar, 7-0
(NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing Team, 5-2
(AUS), Black Swan Racing, 3-4
(SWE), Alandia Sailing Team, 2-5
(SWE), Berntsson Sailing Team, 6-1
(FRA), French Match Racing Team/K Challenge, 5-2
(SUI), Search.ch, 3-4
(AUS), Mirsky Racing Team, 3-4
(FRA), ETM Match Racing, 2-5
World Match Racing Tour Leaderboard
(Top ten teams after Stage 7 of 9)
1. Ian WILLIAMS
(GBR) Team Pindar, 92 points
2. Sébastien COL
(FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, 88
3. Mathieu RICHARD
(FRA) French Match Racing Team/ French Team Spirit, 77
4. Torvar MIRSKY
(AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, 53
5. Magnus HOLMBERG
(SWE) Victory Challenge, 51
6. Paolo CIAN
(ITA) Team Shosholoza, 43
7. Bjorn HANSEN
(SWE) Alandia Sailing Team, 40
8. Damien IEHL
(FRA) French Match Racing Team, 37
9. Mattias RAHM
(SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team, 34
10. Adam MINOPRIO
(NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand/Black Match Racing, 33
ISAF Match Racing World Championship - www.sailing.org/matchworlds