Monday, November 19, 2007

Mathieu Richard wins Vitória Brasil Sailing Cup

[Source: World Match Racing Tour] In a dramatic all-French finale, Mathieu Richard (FRA) and his Saba Sailing Team has defeated Philippe Presti (FRA) of Luna Rossa to win the Vitória Brasil Sailing Cup. Richard and his team of Yannick Simon, Olivier Herledant, Greg Evrard, Thierry Briend have also vaulted into the lead of the World Match Racing Tour standings, putting former leader Ian Williams (GBR) of Team Pindar into second position, now 8 points behind Richard.

“It was fantastic to win here today, but very tough sailing in the huge waves,” said Richard. “We are excited to go to Malaysia and the World Championship event next week.”

Like Saturday, the huge South Atlantic swells which reached 3 metres in height were a factor in the racing today, but unlike the past two days, the skies were clear and a 8-12 knot sea breeze provided near-perfect match race conditions. Perhaps because of the big waves, the teams had to keep the SM 40’s further apart than normal, resulting in no penalty flags and a focus on sailing technique and timing, both in the pre-starts and up the course. Off the wind this was particularly true, as a well-timed gybe on a wave could result in a decisive two-length jump in position. Several lead changes occurred today downwind due to this effect.

Presti and his team of Israël Erwan, Falxa Julien, Husson Xavier, Andre Gilles fought well against Richard in the final. As the two teams entered the final race with a 2-2 score, Presti took an early advantage and led Richard to the first windward mark. Presti tacked early onto his layline for the mark and started to luff Richard at the mark, however Presti was stalled in the waves and was forced to tack away allowing Richard to sail over the top and take the lead to the finish.

To qualify for the Finals, Richard had to first get by Paolo Cian (ITA) of Team Shosholosa, but it took all five matches in the first-to-three point semi-final series. Cian won the first, and looked to win the second as well, but a starting recall error on the race committee boat forced abandonment of that match and a re-sail, which Richard won. But Cian never gave up, winning the next two matches, and even when Richard won control off the start in the last match, Cian and team battled back all the way around the course.

This battling spirit served him well in the Petit-Finals, where he prevailed over Magnus Holmberg (SWE) of Victory Challenge in a series that went 2-1 in the Italian’s favour.



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