World Champion Ian WILLIAMS led the way as six teams advanced to the quarter-final round on day three of the Brasil Sailing Cup in Vitoria, with another two yet to be determined in Friday's repechage.
A light southeasterly sea breeze stayed long enough through the late morning and afternoon to provide suitable conditions for the finish of round robin action at the Brasil Sailing Cup, the first event on the 2008 World Match Racing Tour. The top three teams from Groups A and B have qualified to advance to the next quarter-final stage, while the remaining two are yet to be determined in the unfinished repechage stage.
The top slots went to those teams with the most WMRT experience, as reigning World Champion Ian WILLIAMS
(GBR) and his Team Pindar, the reigning ISAF Match Racing World Champions, went undefeated in Group A, beating the otherwise also undefeated Magnus HOLMBERG
(SWE) of Victory Challenge, while young Torvar MIRSKY
(AUS) and his Mirsky Racing Team also managed to get through on the strength of three wins. Bjorn HANSEN
(SWE) of the Alandia Sailing Team won Group B on a tiebreak with runner-up Paolo CIAN
(ITA) of Team Shosholoza, and Mattias RAHM
(SWE) and his Stena Bulk Team also qualified on a three-win score.
The wind direction and light conditions permitted race managers to set the course area within metres of the shoreline, making the pre-starts interesting for the teams as they manoeuvred among the huge 2-metre South Atlantic swells. With slightly more pressure available on the left side of the course area, teams fought hard for control of the pin at the starts, giving an advantage to those who could lead back to the line. The short legs allowed for three-lap courses in the round robin matches, instead of the usual two.
But control of the left did not guarantee success, and paying attention to course signals can be as important as reading the wind, as the young Brazilian Henrique HADDAD
and his Giant Sailing Team found out in the first flight of the two-lap Repechage course in his match against Peter WIBROE
(DEN). After earning a penalty in the pre-start, HADDAD was bounced to the right side on the first beat, yet still managed to stay close enough to dial-down the Danes and take control of the lead, which he held on to up until the final downwind leg of the match. Having a penalty to shed, but not enough lead to do his turn and still lead, everyone expected to see an exciting downwind leg where HADDAD would try to lure the Danes into a trap to draw a foul and offset their own outstanding flag.
Yet, rather than taking the preferred left side on the run to execute this move, HADDAD inexplicably gybed early and took the inside. And when converging with WIBROE towards the leeward mark, but not crossing on port, HADDAD's team raised their jib, dropped their kite, and rounded the mark instead. WIBROE simply sailed on to the finish line, with HADDAD immediately realizing his error but too late to catch the Danes.
At 20 years old in a world-class event, HADDAD's inexperience could be forgiven, and he quickly regained composure to redeem himself in his next match. In what was called the 'Battle of the Brazilians', when HADDAD met fellow Brazilian Daniel GLOMB
and his Team Bravissimo, the team of "cariocas" from Rio de Janeiro took and maintained firm control of the match from start to finish, showing great potential for this up-and-coming young talent.
Two flights of the repechage remain to be sailed tomorrow, along with the start of the first-to-three point quarter-final stage.
(3 flights sailed, 2 remain)
Pierre Antoine MORVAN (FRA), Equipe de France espoir de match racing 3-0
Peter WIBROE (DEN), Wibroe Sailing Team 3-0
Henrique HADDAD (BRA), Giant Sailing Team 2-1
Juan GRIMALDI (ARG), Tag Heuer Sailing Team 1-2
Daniel GLOMB (BRA), Team Bravissimo 1-2
Adam MINOPRIO (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, BlackMatch Racing 0-3
1. Ian WILLIAMS (GBR), Team Pindar 5-0
2. Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE), Victory Challenge 4-1
3. Torvar MIRSKY (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team 3-2
4. Adam MINOPRIO (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, BlackMatch Racing 2-3
5. Juan GRIMALDI (ARG), Tag Heuer Sailing Team 1-5
6. Daniel GLOMB (BRA), Team Bravissimo 0-5
1. Bjorn HANSEN (SWE), Alandia Sailing Team 4-1
2. Paolo CIAN (ITA), Team Shosholoza 4-1
3. Mattias RAHM (SWE), Stenna Bulk Sailing Team 2-3
4. Henrique HADDAD (BRA), Giant Sailing Team 2-3
5. Pierre Antoine MORVAN (FRA), Equipe de France espoir de match racing 1-4
6. Peter WIBROE (DEN), Wibroe Sailing Team 1-4
Brasil Sailing Cup - www.brasilsailingcup.com
World Match Racing Tour - www.worldmatchracingtour
ISAF Match Racing World Championship microsite - www.sailing.org/matchworlds