Extreme conditions ... and surprising defeats at the Marseille International Match Race
[Source: Marseille International Match Race] The first flights were launched at 10am this morning in Marseille.
The everpresent wind stayed at around 30 knots for most of the day. Tough conditions for the teams, who all hoped it would get lighter during the afternoon. Towards 12, the race committee even considered postponing racing as the sailing conditions were getting really hard, but sportsmanship held the day and the flights went ahead.
Then from 4.30 pm onwards the wind dropped, the spinnakers came out, and the storm jib and reefs were replaced. At last the real match racing show could begin with tightly fought duels.
Jure Orel, Sébastien Destremau, Bertrand Pacé and Damien Iehl are the four skippers to leave the tournament after the round robin.
Bertrand Pacé and Philippe Presti during the second day of the Marseille International Match Race. Marseille, 13 March 2008. Photo copyright Gilles Martin-Raget
Mathieu Richard, World ranking list leader, First in the round robin
"We are really pleased and surprised with our performance. We are just starting our season with the MIMR after a long winter break, and we've won all our matches, it's brilliant. We've been able to adapt to the extreme sailing conditions over the two days. We've been able to sail all our matches with the spinnaker which is an advantage.
We are very surprised by the results of the round robin and the elimination of the two French skippers Iehl and Pacé who I thought were favorites for the final.
Damien Iehl, 8th in the world
The upset of the day was the elimination of Damien Iehl, member of the French Match Racing team.
"We've had a really long and hard day's sailing – we're not used to these conditions with lots of wind and waves, having to sail without a spinnaker, all a bit strange. We started the day with two successive losses which were hard for the team's moral. We found it hard getting back into the race. At the end of the day, when we were already pretty tired, we had to race against the leaders ... We are obviously disappointed, but we'll be back!
Sébastien Destremau, 629 world ranking, knocked out of the competition today
"We haven't done any match racing for 5 years. We are slowly coming back into the circuit this season. Finishing with just 2 points isn't great! The sailing conditions were really tough during the first two days: our team doesn't have the right reflexes and coordination yet. We had to fight the boat, the waves... The conditions were too tough for a warm-up. We could have won some matches, but we need more training. But whatever else, we had a fantastic time on the water and would like to congratulate the organizers for the welcome and great organization of this event."
Paolo Cian and Torvar Mirsky during the second day of the Marseille International Match Race. Marseille, 13 March 2008. Photo copyright Gilles Martin-Raget
Provisional Results of Round Robin
1. Mathieu Richard 10/10
2. Sébastien Col 8/10
3. Paolo Cian 8/11
4. Mads Ebler 6/11
5. Torvar Mirsky 6/11
6. Evgeny Neugodnikov 6/11
7. Andrei Arbuzov 5/11
8. Philppe Presti 5/11
9. Bertrand Pacé 4/11
10. Damien Iehl 4/11
11. Sébastien Destrémau 2/11
12. Jure Orel 1/11