Friday, May 14, 2010

Six of the European Match Race Championship Semifinalists decided

Six out of the eight semifinalists in the 2010 EUROSAF European Match Race Championship have already been decided. Three skippers from the Women division and another three from the Open division have their berth for the semis guaranteed. Conditions have been moderate to light, decreasing as the day progressed

Cristiana Monina from Italy and Lotte Meldgaard from Denmark beat their opponents three nil and now advance to the semifinals. The scores don't reflect the tight and close matches they had to sail. As Monina stated it was a very stressing and tiring day as the crews had to make a very a difficult choice on where to go. Under these light conditions, it was almost impossible sniffing where that little extra puff would come from. For her, the key was to have a clean start, be ahead and cover your opponent until the finish line.

For Meldgaard it was a little bit easier as she had better boat speed upwind. Her Portuguese opponent was able to make some gains downwind, but not enough to pass.

The day's most exciting quarterfinal was by far the one between Russia's Ekaterina Skudina and Silke Hahlbrock from Germany. The German started well and won the first two races. At that point it seemed it was over but the Russians didn't give up. They knew they had to sail flawlessly and so they did. With the dying breeze Skudina used her skills gained from Moscow's lakes and tied 2-2.

The decisive match was a real rollercoaster. Hahlbrock forced a penalty on Skudina in the dialup, something "not clever at all" as Skudina admitted, but despite the advantage she went on to pile up on crew errors. A sloppy spinnaker drop at the bottom mark gave Skudina a 26-second advantage that she used in order to offload the penalty at the last top mark. She kept in front of the German and won her ticket to the semifinals.

Mads Ebler from Denmark, came strong from a very good performance in the round robin and went on to beat Stefan Meister 3-1 and advance to the semifinals.

Pierre-Antoine Morvan also advances with the same score against Jacopo Pasini. Morvan won quite easily the first two races thanks to two "great starts", as he stated. He was then able to control his opponent even if they were very close races, in particular the first one. His third race finished with a loss due to a wrong tactical call. They fought for the right side at the start and were convinced the right would be favorable but it turned out that a nice left shift benefited Pasini. The final and decisive race was again a story of getting a good start and controlling his opponent.

Finally, Alvaro Marinho from Portugal beat Staffan Lindberg 3-1. Marinho was happy with the result, stating he sailed well, having won all 4 starts. It could have even been better because the race lost to Lindberg was decided in the last stretch of the last run. As the two boats were approaching the finish line, the breeze died down but Lindberg got a little puff that allowed him to cross the line in front. According to Marinho, his team has now achieved its initial goal which was to get to the semifinals.

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