The day's racing started leisurely, with the westerly seabreeze filling in about midday to a perfect 8-10 knots before shifting around a bit as PRO Miguel ALLEN and his race management team did their best to adjust the courses. A strong ebb tidal flow cutting left to right across the course area also made for interesting tactics on both upwind and downwind legs, with long starboard tack beats and early gybes favouring those who could take and hold this position.
Spoiling the all-French sweep at the top is 22 year old Torvar MIRSKY (AUS) and his Mirsky Racing Team, who has been sailing well on an impressive 6-2 record earned thus far, including a win against current Tour leader Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) and his Team Pindar. In this match, MIRSKY benefited from a massively damaged spinnaker on WILLIAMS' SM40, torn at its first hoist and thus slowing the Brits on both runs of their match.
"We just were not having a good day," said WILLIAMS, who is also the reigning ISAF Match Racing World Champion but had lost four matches, "but it was great to win a close one against Bjorn and our last one against IEHL."
The match against Bjorn HANSEN (SWE) and his Alandia Sailing Team was one of the more exciting of the day, with HANSEN and WILLIAMS trading the lead twice on the first two legs of the course. At the top mark WILLIAMS, carrying a penalty from the pre-start, managed to take and hold the right, and forced HANSEN approaching on port tack to give way. With both boats drifting up-tide away from the mark, WILLIAMS and HANSEN both had to bear away and gybe towards the mark. HANSEN thought he had gotten to the two-length zone first to be entitled to room at the mark, but WILLIAMS approaching on starboard tack persuaded the umpires otherwise, and HANSEN's blue flag was flown, thus erasing WILLIAMS' outstanding penalty and bringing the two to even up on the final run to the finish. The tide favoured starboard gybe, so WILLIAMS managed to stay just ahead to take the match.
A brief delay and course readjustment in the late afternoon allowed racing to continue in a new fresh westerly, with genoas traded for jibs in the last two flights. In these, HANSEN managed to snap a losing streak by defeating MIRSKY, but then MIRSKY's next win against Nick CHERRY (GBR) helped him stay amongst the French in the top ranks.
Match race action resumes tomorrow morning with the re-sail of the Paolo CIAN (ITA) and Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE) match from flight 9 before continuing into flights 14-22 to complete the first stage of the event.
1. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit 7-1
2. Torvar MIRSKY (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team 6-2
3. Sébastien COL (FRA), French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge 5-1
4. Damien IEHL (FRA), French Match Racing Team 4-4
5. Paolo CIAN (ITA), Team Shosholoza 4-2
6. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Team Pindar 3-4
7. Bjorn HANSEN (SWE), Alandia Sailing Team Team 2-4
8. Ãlvaro MARINHO (POR), 2-3
9. Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE), Victory Challenge 2-3
10. Adam MINOPRIO (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing 1-4
11. Manuel WEILLER VIDAL (ESP), 1-4
12. Nick CHERRY (GBR), 1-6
ISAF Match Racing World Championship Leaderboard (Top 8)
(After Stage 6 of 9)
1. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Team Pindar, 92 points
2. Mathieu RICHARD (FRA), French Match Racing Team/ French Team Spirit, 72
3. Sébastien COL (FRA), French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, 67
4. Torvar MIRSKY (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team , 45
5. Bjorn HANSEN (SWE), Alandia Sailing Team, 40
6. Mattias RAHM (SWE), Stena Bulk Sailing Team, 34
7. Paolo CIAN (ITA), Team Shosholoza, 33
7. Adam MINOPRIO (NZL), ETNZ/BlackMatch, 33
ISAF Match Racing World Championship - www.sailing.org/matchworlds