An adrenaline-filled First Qualifier Session at the Argo Group Gold Cup produced a host of upsets with notable top seeds failing to assert dominance over their unfazed opponents.
For added spice, eyes were also focused on newly-crowned ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion Lucy Macgregor
(GBR) Match Race Girls to see how she would measure up to her male counterparts.
Macgregor had a shaky start, losing her first two matches, the second against a young Kiwi skipper who's starting to make big waves in match racing - Philip Robertson
(NZL) Waka Racing. "The competition here is incredibly tough and Lucy fought really hard to tie us in knots, so it was fantastic to squeeze past her right at the finish."
However, the 24 year-old turned her game around in the most emphatic fashion to annihilate current World Match Racing Tour leader Mathieu Richard
((FRA) French Match Racing Team in the next race. With the French skipper still smarting from an earlier defeat, the gutsy Macgregor crossed just ahead as they approached the first windward mark, then played the gusts to perfection downwind, extending her lead to five lengths at the leeward mark, which proved decisive.
Macgregor reflected: "We made silly mistakes in our match against Phil and handed him victory. We're learning all the time - the boats here need a different skill set to the ones we normally sail which makes it tough out there."
Rising star Reuben Corbett
(NZL) Black Sheep Racing pulverised formidable opposition to take victory in all three of his races. Eric Monnin
(SUI) Swiss Match Racing Team - winner of the Qualifying Rounds last year - was first to fall to the 23-year old Kiwi. Damien Iehl
(FRA) French Match Racing Team fared no better, and even last year's Argo Group Gold Cup winner Ben Ainslie
(GBR) TEAMORIGIN succumbed to Corbett's onslaught.
Tough Going for Local Talent
Local knowledge of the many wind shifts in Hamilton Harbour has yet to prove a significant advantage for the local sailors. Lance Fraser
(BER), the youngest skipper in the event's 103-year history, failed to win a match today but put up impressive fights against the biggest names, including Ainslie. Blythe Walker (BER) lost his first match against Ian Williams
(GBR) Team GAC Pindar sponsored by Argo Group but was leading Torvar Mirsky
(AUS) Mirsky Racing Team until the approach to the second windward mark. However, the Australian found a great right hand windshift that left him perfectly positioned to round the mark inside Walker.
The scene is set for a second day of fierce battles, with skippers intent on pulling out all the stops - and pushing the rules to the limit - to avoid an early exit from the competition.
Watch the Play of the Day - Phil Roberston beating Lucy Macgregor by the tightest of margins: http://www.youtube.com/user/worldmrt?feature=mhum
See the Daily Highlights Vodcast at: http://www.wmrt.com/multimedia/video-gallery.html
View images of today's action at: http://www.wmrt.com/multimedia/image-gallery.html
1. Mathieu Richard
(FRA) French Match Racing Team - 105
2. Adam Minoprio
(NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing - 88
3. Torvar Mirsky
(AUS) Mirsky Racing Team - 76
4. Ian Williams
(GBR) Team GAC Pindar - 72
5. Ben Ainslie
(GBR) TEAMORIGIN - 63
6. Francesco Bruni
(ITA) Azzurra - 53
7. Peter Gilmour
(AUS) YANMAR Racing - 51
8. Jesper Radich
(DEN) Radich Racing Team - 40
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