Friday, July 03, 2009

French sailors dominate Match Cup Sweden

[Source: World Match Racing Tour] Quarter final day at Match Cup Sweden, stage 5 of the 2009 World Match Racing Tour brought an early westerly breeze that built throughout the competition. The racing started a little after 10am and by midday the crowds were out in force enjoying the sun and sailing.

An on-form Torvar Mirsky (AUS) took on a resurgent Sebastien Col (FRA). With the extra sailing Sebastien Col has seen this week and a tough repechage he clearly had more fight in him that the young Australian and took only three matches to dispatch him to the 5-8 competition and elevate himself to his first Tour semi of the year.

Local hero Magnus Holmberg (FRA) was paired with Damien Iehl (FRA). Holmberg, still looking for his first victory at Match Cup Sweden looked very confident going out to race and pressed Iehl hard but a slippery Iehl found a slight edge and eased his way to a 3-0 victory dashing Holmberg’s hopes of a coveted win.

Peter Gilmour and Johnie Berntsson hold tight fight for a semifinal spot. Marstrand, 3 July 2009. Photo copyright Dan Ljungsvik

The all French duel between Mathieu Richard (FRA) and Philippe Presti (FRA) promised much with Presti gunning hard for his fellow French Team mate. Richard however show amazing control and superior strategy loosing dropping only one match to Presti when Presti managed to gain the right hand advantage. With a final score line of 3-1 and with both Ian William’s and Adam Minoprio out of the Tour points at this event Richard is now in a position to leap to the top of the Tour leaderboard, third or better will secure that.

The biggest match of the day taking five matches to decide was the Gilmour vs Berntsson head to head. The crowd were clearly rooting for Berntsson who represents the host club GKSS but many here in Marstrand see six time winner Gilmour as a second son. Gilmour took the first match after loading Berntsson with penalties galore throughout the race. Berntsson wasn’t rattled and took the next two matches returning the penalty favours to Gilmour in both races. An under pressure Gilmour is a dangerous Gilmour and he came out blazing in match four, pinning a penalty on Berntsson and sailing away to set up the deciding match. It started well for the Swede with Gilmour picking up a pre-start penalty for tacking too close to Berntsson right at the start mark. Gilmour battled back and by the top of the first beat he was right on Berntsson’s tail. Gilmour positioned himself to windward of Berntsson on starboard tack but then dived around Berntsson’s stern as Berntsson luffed. The resulting contact between Gilmour’s spinnaker and the backstay of Berntsson resulted in a penalty to Berntsson offsetting Gilmour’s start line transgression. With the power of starboard tack now with Gilmour he was fast to capitalize and lead Berntsson around the leeward mark. A dummy tack at the mark didn’t bring any joy to Berntsson and Gilmour defended the right hand side of the course leading the rest of the race to knockout Sweden’s last hope.

In reference to the penalty he was given a disappointed Berntsson said “We did everything to avoid contact, but I feel that the umpires made the wrong call. If he had been dominating me would be one thing, but he didn’t. We sailed aggressively, fast and tactically well all day. But we made a last mistake to go into the gibe with Gillie.”

A relieved Gilmour said “On every level Johnie was better today, so we had to sail a bit ugly, and force him to a mistake. He did a fine, fine job and should be very proud. But of course, we decided to choose to meet Berntsson since his experience on the tour is fairly limited. This time it turned out in our favour.”

In the first half of the 5-8 Competition Torvar Mirsky took on Johnie Berntsson and won. Magnus Holmberg took out Philippe Presti to head for the 5th place race. Victory gave Magnus 5th place and Mirsky 6th. In the other playoff Berntsson took 7th leaving Presti with 8th.

Quarter Final Results
Sebastien Col (FRA) v Torvar Mirsky (AUS) 3-0
Damien Iehl (FRA) v Magnus Holmberg (SWE) 3-0
Peter Gilmour (AUS) v Johnie Berntsson 3-2
Mathieu Richard (FRA) v Philippe Presti (FRA) 3-1

5-8 Competition
5th – Magnus Homlberg (SWE) Victory Challenge
6th – Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team
7th – Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
8th – Philippe Presti (FRA) French Match Racing Team

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