Friday, November 27, 2009

Minoprio and Williams fight for Lead at Sunseeker Australia Cup

[Source: Sunseeker Australia Cup] Great Britain’s reining World Match Racing champion and day one Sunseeker Australia Cup leader, Ian Williams is now sharing the number one ranking with World Tour leader Adam Minoprio (New Zealand).

Both Williams and Minoprio have won five of their six races, although when competing against each other Williams was the easy victor crossing the line a comfortable 50 seconds ahead of the New Zealander.

Not to be outdone by Cup darkhorse and Britain’s most successful skipper in history Ben Ainslie, who is currently undefeated with 4 wins from 4 races. (He currently doesn’t lead the regatta table because he has raced less than Williams and Minoprio who have competed 6 round robins.)

Day two has also witnessed numerous yachts running aground on the tight and challenging course where Skippers are stretching the course area to its extreme to gain the elusive advantage in the two yacht tousles.

Executive officer of Swan River Sailing and former Australia II America’s Cup crewman Skip Lissiman said the action on day two has seen some near collisions and repeated close finishes.

Ben Ainslie and Adam Minoprio racing in the Sunseeker Australia Cup round robins. Perth, 27 November 2009. Photo copyright Sail-World Australia

“This Perth tight water course is creating some interesting challenges for the Skippers and it also ensures the sailing action is fast-paced and full of surprises for those watching from the shore,” he said.

The morning began with the 7th flight of the Round Robin competition, with Ben Ainslie (Great Britain), Mathieu Richard (France), Phil Robertson (New Zealand), Torvar Mirksy (Aust), Keith Swinton (Aust) and Adam Minoprio (NZ) battle it out in Matilda Bay waters.

Triple gold and silver Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie (GB) comfortably won against France’s Matheiu Richard by 53 seconds, followed by Phil Robertson’s (NZ) first win of the tournament against the previously undefeated Mirksy (Aust) team. In match three of the flight, Adam Minoprio took out Perth Skipper Keith Swinton.

In flight eight, it was the European sailors who stood out from the pack, with Ainslie getting one ahead of Mirsky, Italy’s Francesco Bruni beating Keith Swinton (Aust).

The most controversial race for the day featured Britain’s Ben Ainslie and Torvar Mirsky (Aust) with the initial race being restarted due to the Mirsky team running aground after a large gust of wind.

Ainslie said his team got off to a great start with the wind starting to pick up making the tight course alight with streaming yachts.

“It was all cylinders blazing as we competed for the finishing line. By the time we came up against the Mirksy team, the winds were really strong and we were pushed off course and ran aground into shallow water, which is an automatic resail,” he said.

“When we resailed the match, Mirsky ran over a committee boat’s anchor chain, which enabled us to take the lead and win by over a minute. A combination of strong winds and a tight course area leaves no margin for error. The skippers have to exploit every opportunity to gain the advantage,” he said.

The Foundation 36 Yachts then crossed over into Perth waters for flight nine, which witnessed even closer finishes for Adam Minoprio (NZ) and Francesco Bruni (Italy), who won against Phil Robertson (NZ) and Evan Walker (Aust) in six and seven seconds respectively.

Torvar Mirksy (Aust) broke Ian Williams’ (GB) winning streak by 57 seconds in the ninth flight.

Lissiman said the 15 knot SSW winds that reached 21 knots at 4.15 this afternoon has created some of the best racing and exciting sailing tousles he has seen for Foundation 36 yachts.

“Matches like this provide plenty of drama and spectacle, with the teams pushing to the very last centimetre to get ahead. Going into the weekend’s racing, the standout performers are Williams, Minoprio and Mirsky, but at this stage with some of the younger up-and-comers finding their feet, it could be anyone’s competition,” Lissiman said.

The round robin competition will be finished this afternoon, with eight teams going into the quarter finals tomorrow (Saturday) and the final raced on Sunday 29 November.

Sunseeker Australia Cup - Results after Day 2
1. Ian Williams 5/6
2. Adam Minoprio 5/6
3. Torvar Mirsky 4/6
4. Ben Ainslie 4/4
5. Keith Swinton 2/4
6. Francesco Bruni 2/6
7. Seve Jarvin 2/6
8. Mathieu Richard 1/3
9. Phil Robertson 1/4
10. Evan Walker 0/7

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