British skippers Ben AINSLIE and Ian WILLIAMS and Sweden's Johnie BERNTSSON have secured their passage to the knockout stages at the King Edward VII Gold Cup, but the remaining five places remain up for grabs in Bermuda.
With only one match remaining in the round robin, Ben AINSLIE
's (GBR) Team Origin, Ian WILLIAMS
' (GBR) Team Pindar, and Johnie BERNTSSON
's (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team are the only three teams of 24 which have definitely qualified for the quarter-final stage at the King Edward VII Gold Cup presented by Argo Group, the eighth and penultimate stage of the 2008 World Match Racing Tour.
The top two teams from each group move on to the quarter-finals and the third and fourth place finishers in each group sail off in a "Repechage" round robin on Thursday afternoon for their second chance to win one of the last two quarter-final slots. Following the quarter-finals on Friday, winners move into the semi-finals on Saturday and the top two go to the finals on Sunday. There is a $100,000 prize purse with $50,000 going to the winner, $20,000 for second and $10,000 for third. Fourth through eighth divide the remainder.
Among those in contention are the three French teams - Mathieu RICHARD
's French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit, Sébastien COL
's French Match Racing Team/K Challenge, and Damien IEHL
's French Match Racing Team - as well as Andy HORTON
(USA), Keith SWINTON
(AUS), and Adam MINOPRIO
(NZL) and his Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing Team. And if they win in their final matches, other contenders in the repechage include Torvar MIRSKY
(AUS) and his Mirsky Racing Team, Dave PERRY
(USA), and Mattias RAHM
(SWE) and his Stena Bulk Sailing Team.
Amongst the leaders, AINSLIE's record remained unblemished at 6-0 despite tough matches against RAHM and Brian ANGEL
(USA). This is AINSLIE's first match racing event since his gold medal winning Olympic campaign, yet he has clearly been on point in Group 1 and sailing in excellent form.
"We sailed much of today like the fleet racers we are,"
said AINSLIE, "focusing on staying in phase in these shifty conditions."
The northeasterly breeze today was much abated from Tuesday, down to 6-12 knots, but very shifty within the confines of Hamilton harbour, where all but the largest leads were safe from attack.
Also in Group 1, defending Gold Cup champion RICHARD had a great day to earn a 5-1 score on three wins in three matches sailed, but will be pitted against his countryman IEHL on the same score to determine who will be runner-up to AINSLIE to go through to the quarters.
WILLIAMS' Team Pindar, the reigning ISAF Match Racing World Champion
and currently the top-ranked team on the World Match Racing Tour leaderboard, also had a perfect day and stands on top of Group 2 with a 5-0 score. He has a make-up match to sail against HORTON after the last race of flight 7 on Thursday, where, depending on the outcome of other matches and the inevitable tie-breaks, the outcome may decide who goes through to the quarters and who must race again in the repechage.
Meanwhile in Group 3, BERNTSSON is assured of going through, but runner-up COL will have to win his match against MIRSKY to also avoid having to qualify through the Repechage.
(After six flights)
(GBR), Team Origin, 6-0
(FRA), French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit, 5-1
(FRA), French Match Racing Team, 5-1
(SWE), Stena Bulk Sailing Team, 3-3
(USA), Van Tol Match Racing Team, 2-4
(JPN), Team Albatross, 1-2
(USA), King Harbour Yacht Club, 1-5
(USA), Team 7 Racing, 1-5
(GBR), Team Pindar, 5-0
(NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing Team, 4-2
(USA), Black Swan Racing, 4-2
(SWE), Alandia Sailing Team, 2-4
(SWE), Berntsson Sailing Team, 5-1
(FRA), French Match Racing Team/K Challenge, 4-2
(AUS), Mirsky Racing Team, 3-3
(FRA), ETM Match Racing, 2-4
(SUI), Search.ch, 2-4
(FRA), French Match Racing Team/K Challenge, 2-1
(AUS), Mirsky Racing Team, 2-1
(SWE), Berntsson Sailing Team, 2-1
(FRA), ETM Match Racing, 2-1
(SUI), Search.ch, 1-2
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