Saturday, April 10, 2010

The World Match Racing Tour Quarter Final Carousel

[Source: World Match Racing Tour] Match Race France, Stage 1 of the World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) was gripping today not only for the crews but also for the spectators who lined the Marseille beach front packed with Tour based activities as well as the more traditional children’s carousel. As the air temperature rose to an above average 23 ºC, the action on the water heated up with skippers producing dramatically more aggressive pre-start performances as they fought to survive this sudden death point in the event. A sustained carousel of change has defined Stage 1 of the 2010 WMRT as even the most qualified predictions have been proven wrong. The Semi Finals will now only host; Ben Ainslie (GBR) TEAMORIGIN, Francesco Bruni (ITA) Azzurra, Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team and Paola Cian (ITA) Team Italia, all experienced skippers who can be related to past and present America’s Cup syndicates.

WMRT 2010 Match Race France Highlights Day 4. Marseille, 10 April 2010. Video copyright World Match Racing Tour

Bruni, a new Tour card holder for 2010 racing with his brother Gabriele, is clearly enjoying the World Match Racing Tour, “we had better starts than Mirsky winning all four, which gave us the edge, plus we had excellent down wind speed today. Our team has really gained understanding of the J80 boat since our initial training session and Azzurra has a proven record in light air sailing”.

Today’s final results were a surprise to the competitors and WMRT fans, the first round of matches did not divulge any secrets on future scores. For the majority of the day, four matches stood with a score of 2-1 when it was still very much anyone’s series to be won. Then at 5pm the mysterious Marseille weather drew all eyes back to the tournament in hand. 5-7 knots of wind on a race course further out to sea caused four Match Race France fatalities, knocking out the current ISAF Match Racing World Champion, Adam Minoprio (NZL) BlackMatch Racing, Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, Sébastien Col (FRA) ALL4ONE and Philippe Presti (FRA).

Mirsky commented, “Obviously we regret choosing Bruni, he sailed really well in the light winds. Every start he was ahead of us, we were lucky to have four close races and get one win. For the quarter finals you need to have even starts”.

The exclusion of racing in the Semi Finals tomorrow puts a dent in the pride of even the most relaxed skippers. Minoprio and Mirsky see this as a black mark on their 2010 WMRT series scoreboard, a serious psychological disadvantage in relaxing safely into their next event this coming May in Langenargen, Germany. The Tour’s multi-event series is a benefit to these two young disappointed helms who can take comfort that the initial first few Tour events can be used as a training exercise before the war games commence at December’s Monsoon Cup.

Amazing performance by Paolo Cian that eliminates Adam Minoprio. Marseille, 10 April 2010. Photo copyright Brendon O'Hagan/Subzero images

The Tour card holders who have been knocked out at a surprisingly early point in Stage 1 are still content that they have a whole raft of Tour events ahead of them, and that they can get hours of time on the water fighting heroically against the seasoned America’s Cup stars. This may be somewhat of a fairground ride to the likes of Ainslie, Bruni and Richard who are now secure in further action tomorrow but the other Tour card holders are all still in with a chance to win overall by the end of 2010.

Like the noblemen of seventeenth century France, who pursued a passion for medieval equestrian tournaments sparring dangerously ‘one on one’ against each other, the sailors also get to live their own sporting passions through the World Match Racing Tour. Unfortunately for safety purposes from high fatality rates, the testosterone fuelled Frenchmen, had their sport of choice outlawed. The carousel, or widely known as the merry go round’, was instead introduced providing a safer opportunity to demonstrate their competitive skills in a series of training exercises performed on the carousel, the most popular called, ‘catching the ring’. The winner of the World Match Racing Tour series may not ‘catch the ring’ but will be definitely ‘catch their crown’ as the 2010 ISAF Match Racing World Champion.

Francesco Bruni creates the day's second major upset by eliminating Torvar Mirsky. Marseille, 10 April 2010. Photo copyright Brendon O'Hagan/Subzero images

Semi Finalists
Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Italia
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Azzurra

Day 5 - Quarter Final results below:
Ben Ainslie (GBR) TEAMORIGIN v Philippe Presti (FRA) 3-2
Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Italia v Adam Minoprio (NZL) BlackMatch Racing 3-2
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team v Sébastien Col (FRA) ALL4ONE 3-1
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Azzurra v Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 3-1

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