On day three of the Monsoon Cup, the final event of the 2010 World Match Racing Tour, the ISAF Match Racing World Championship was still wide open and tension was high as this was a make or break day for several of the title contenders.
A 12-15 knot northerly breeze greeted competitors, with one knot of current running down the Terengganu River.
There were many pivotal matches in this busy day, with the current Tour leader Mathieu Richard
(French Match Racing Team), Adam Minoprio
(ETNZ/ BlackMatch Racing), the 2009 World Champion and dual Monsoon Cup winner Peter Gilmour
(YANMAR Racing) all in danger of missing the quarter finals.
It did not start well for Gilmour when in flight 11 Bjorn Hansen
(Hansen Global Racing) beat Gilmour by just one heart breaking second.
(TEAMORIGIN) and Adam Minoprio (ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing) met in the next match. Ainslie won the start but closing on the top mark Minoprio managed to lee-bow Ainslie and luffed up hard. Firmly in control Minoprio accelerated away to victory.
Next up Francesco Bruni
(Team Azzurra) defeated Minoprio leaving the World Champion pensive at the stern of his boat, rubbing his trademark stubble.
The afternoon session started with Flight 13. The wind was blowing eight knots, with current down the river on the right so PRO David Tallis moved the start line to equalise the course.
(Mirsky Racing Team) on 5-3 and Richard was an important match for both skippers. Richard was tied in knots and early in the pre-start. Mirsky was fast away on the right and in pressure and extended for a big win. The luckless Richard recounted 'We made a mistake in the pre-start, we were definitely too early, they did a good job.'
(French Match Racing Team) had to defeat Philip Robertson
(WAKA Racing) or his regatta was over. Down the last run Robertson and his crew were faster and closing as the finish line loomedRobertson gybed and it looked like Richard faked but that's not what happened as Richard explained dockside. 'We were going to follow when he gybed, I started to but felt the solid puff and made a snap decision to go with the pressure and it paid off.'
So came the climax of the day. It was in flight 15 that Richard met Minoprio. Both were on three wins and six losses, the loser would miss the quarter final cut.
A sensational start as Richard was penalised just 10 seconds before the start and was over early - a dream for Minoprio. On the first cross Minoprio was ahead but Richard had more speed and then the tables turned. Richard rounded and with a fast hoist was three boat lengths ahead.
However the race stayed close until the second bottom mark was reached and Richard rounded in pressure while Minoprio stalled. A giant gain for the Frenchman who sailed away and was able to do his penalty comfortably at the finish line.
A jubilant Richard said 'A great win for us. Our start was a disaster but we did not give up. We stayed focused on our sailing and we managed enough of a lead to take the penalty and win.'
Adam Minoprio is leaving the ISAF World Match Racing Tour having crashed out of the Monsoon Cup and World Championship contention. He will have three months to get over this result before he joins the Emirates Team New Zealand Volvo Ocean Race campaign.
Immediately after the finish of the Richard v Minoprio match, Race Commentator Andy Green cruelly or cheekily (you decide) asked Minoprio 'Three qualifiers, Phil Robertson, Keith Swinton and Jeremy Koo, as well Minoprio look to have missed the cut. Was last year's World Championship win a fluke
?' A wry smile from the defeated Minoprio as he replied, 'That race was very disappointing. We had a great pre-start, but we missed a left hand wind shift on the first beat and that was all Richard needed.
Reflecting on his defeat, a downcast Minoprio commented 'This is the number one disappointment in my sailing career. We are shattered not to have made it through to the last eight and be out of the World Championship. Perhaps we should've gone to Perth. This will bug me for a while - it'll take three months to get over this. We'll take some time out to reflect on this now
In the next match Peter Gilmour and his YANMAR Racing crew forced Torvar Mirsky (Mirsky Racing Team) over early, then sailed away to an important win for the four times World Champion, who made the quarter finals with that result. A big smile from Gilmour as he said 'Folks like us from the Facebook generation (NOT) are fighters. It all starts again now.'
There are still two flights to finish the round robins of the Monsoon Cup.
The final comment of the day came from Adam Minoprio. 'You learn more from losing than winning (often) and today we've learned a great deal.'
Standings at end of day three:
Ian Williams (GBR) - 8 wins 1 losses
Ben Ainslie (GBR) 8 wins 2 loss
Jesper Radich (DEN) - 8 wins 2 losses
Francesco Bruni (ITA) - 6 win 3 losses
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) - 6 wins 4 losses
Torvar Mirsky (AUS - 6 win 5 losses
Peter Gilmour (AUS) - 4 win 5 losses
Mathieu Richard (FRA) - 5 wins 6 losses
Adam Minoprio (NZL) - 4 wins 7 loss
Keith Swinton (AUS) - 2 win 7 losses
Philip Robertson (NZL) - 2 win 7 losses
Jeremy Koo (MAS) - 0 wins 10 losses
ISAF Match Racing World Championship microsite
World Match Race Tour - www.wmrt.com