Friday, April 24, 2009

BlackMatch bail out of the Open de Spain in exciting fashion

Hello again from BlackMatch in Spain,

Today we had the unenviable task of racing World #6 ranked skipper Damien Iehl in a best of 5 race quarter final. Unfortunately we didn't get off to the greatest of starts and the Frenchman looked set to cruise to victory after dominating the first two matches, however in a miraculous turnaround we totally dominated the next two matches. After a comprehensive win in the third match, Adam pulled off an impressive start in the 4th match that saw us gain the early advantage by pushing them over at the start line and also forcing two penalties on them, setting us up for match point.

Minoprio collides with Iehl in the intense prestart of the 2nd race. Calpe, 24 April 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

The deciding match was action packed and in a match that saw us handed 3 penalties in controversial circumstances, we still managed to fight back losing by mere seconds on the finish line. After an even start we were tack for tack up the first beat, however nearing the top mark we gained the advantage and held a two boat length lead going into the first downwind. Approaching the bottom mark we hit some bad waves from spectator craft that gave Iehl a sniff of an overlap, this was all that he needed and he went for the kill. After protesting that we did not give him room at the mark, the umpires agreed and we were given a red flag penalty to be taken immediately. On completion of our penalty we still held an advantage as the French team had a terrible rounding, yet in a bizarre decision by the umpires we were handed another red flag penalty which we yet again had to undertake immediately. Despite all of this we fought back and were again 'tack for tack' approaching the top mark. While on the layline we 'leebow tacked' close to Iehl and seconds later luffed to defend our lead, however the umpires deemed us to have tacked past head to wind and a third penalty was handed to us. Although normally 'game over' we had a great final downwind and once again gained the lead, but our penalty turn on the finish line cost us too much and the talented French team took a deserved win.

BlackMatch would like to congratulate Bjorn Hansen, Damien Iehl, Eugeny Neugodnikov and Ian Ainslie on making the semi finals. These teams have shown great form throughout the week and although it is a shame we couldn't quite make it through, we wish these teams well.

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