Frenchman Sebastien COL and Kiwi Adam MINOPRIO were the star performers in their respective round robin groups on the first day of the St Moritz Match Race, stage six of the 2008 World Match Racing Tour.
St Moritz Match Race got underway on Wednesday morning and while the lake looked like glass, as promised the wind came through in time for the scheduled start. With eight of the top ten teams from the ISAF World Match Racing Rakings
competing, competition is sure to be fierce as the teams battle out for their share in the $135,000 prize pool.
The format for this regatta sees the teams split in to two groups for the round robins. In Round Robin A Eric MONNIN
(SUI), Philippe PRESTI
(FRA), Bjorn HANSEN
(SWE), Mathieu RICHARD
(FRA), Sébastien COL
(FRA) and Michael HESTBAEK
(DEN) race each other with the top three teams proceeding to the quarter-finals. The remaining three teams will compete in a repechage round robin with the bottom three teams from round robin B to decide the final two quarter-final places. Round Robin B consists of Ian WILLIAMS
(GBR), Paolo CIAN
(ITA), Torvar MIRSKY
(AUS), Adam MINOPRIO
(NZL), Peter WIBROE
(DEN) and Jes GRAM-HANSEN
A fleet race started the day off with the teams from Group A all fighting for a top spot, knowing that if it came to a count back it would be the fleet race result that would help decide the outcome. HESTBAEK took out first place in the fleet race, while regatta favourite RICHARD was disqualified for rounding the wrong top mark.
The last match of Round Robin A saw MONNIN's search.ch team of Switzerland come face to face with HESTBEAK's Team Hestbaek of Denmark. HESTBAEK was leading down the final run and decided his only option to win was to try and offset the penalty he was carrying. While HESTBAEK waited, MONNIN attempted to gybe onto starboard but could not keep clear and plowed into the side of Team Hestbaek, receiving a penalty and offsetting HESTBAEK's. MONNIN then attempted to luff HESTBAEK who gybed onto port and caused another collision. Both teams received penalties, HESTBAEK for not keeping clear, and MONNIN for taking HESTBAEK past the proper course. But that wasn't the end of the penalties with the umpires giving a twin penalty in a further incident before the finish. With the penalties offset MONNIN went on to win the race, but not before interrupting COL and RICHARD on who were seconds away from starting their race.
Round Robin A finished with COL in the lead with four wins. The battle for the remaining two places saw a three-way tie between RICHARD, HANSEN and MONNIN. "We got really lucky with the count back,"
said MONNIN, "since in the fleet race we were last coming up to the final mark we went around both marks just in case. Neither HANSEN nor RICHARD went round the right mark so they got disqualified, which means we go through to the quarterfinals in second".
The third quarter-finalist from Round Robin A is RICHARD's French Match Racing Team who won his head to head with HANSEN.
The afternoon saw another fleet race and then Round Robin B get underway with a standout performance from MINOPRIO's BlackMatch racing who go into Thursday undefeated with three wins. In a close match between MINOPRIO and GRAM-HANSEN the bottom mark rounding saw some exciting racing. MINOPRIO led to the mark and dropped his spinnaker.
"HANSEN then gybed and didn't keep clear of us so he got a penalty, then when he dropped his spinnaker he sailed over it which caused even more problems for him"
explained MINOPRIO after the race.
At the completion of the days racing, WIBROE is on two wins while the remaining teams from Round Robin B are all on one win.
At this stage no teams from Round Robin B have secured a quarter-final spot, so sailors and spectators alike will just have to wait for racing to commence in the morning.
Results - click here
ISAF Match Racing World Championship microsite - www.sailing.org/matchworlds