Saturday, June 12, 2010

Williams, Richard, Hansen and Mirsky advance to the Korea Match Cup semis

To say that the 4th day of the 2010 Korea Match Cup was tough and testing would certainly be an understatement. Not only did the 8 quarter finalists had to face the usual shifty and puffy wind conditions off the Jeongok Marina, the 8 crews got soaked by the pouring rain for the best part of the day. Yet, there was close action aplenty, drama, comebacks and many flags flying.

Ian Williams was the first to advance to the semis, beating Pacé 3-0, Björn Hansen climbed from being down zero to beat Gilmour 3-2, Richard beat Bruni 3-2 after 5 intense races full of penalties while in the battle between the two young guns, Mirsky prevailed over Minoprio, sending the world's top-ranked match racer back home.

The semifinals and finals will take place on Sunday, closing day of the 2010 Korea Match Cup. Ian Williams picked Björn Hansen as his opponent, meaning that Mathieu Richard will have to face Torvar Mirsky.

My apologies for not having taken any pictures but it was really pouring, non-stop during the entire day!!

Ian Williams vs Bertrand Pacé: Williams showed he was in top form already in the first race. After a close prestart, Pacé crashed on Williams' yacht and got a penalty right on the start line for tacking too close. Although the French match racer rounded the weather mark ahead, Williams rolled over him in the first run and led until the finish line. In the second race, Williams had a great start on the pin end, going on the favored left side. He managed to maintain the lead, Pacé had some opportunities but was unable to close the gap.

If anyone had any doubts about Williams, he made sure they were dissipated in the third race. Pacé got off the start line in a stronger position and led the race until halfway down the final run, with Williams close behind. While the French had chosen to cross the finish line at the pin end, Williams had seen the committee boat bias and opted for the right, got ahead of Pacé and beat him by a second.

Ian Williams had no problems eliminating Bertrand Pacé. Jeongok Marina, 13 June 2010. Photo copyright Ian Roman / SubZero Images

Peter Gilmour vs Bjorn Hansen: The first race proved to be very tough for Hansen. He was handed a red flag at the start, so he had to immediately offload it but when executing it he got another one. From there it was an easy victory for Gilmour who stayed on top form in the second race, with a great start while Hansen blew his chances by being early over the line. There was little the Swede could do, Gilmour sailed smoothly, didn't make any dumb mistakes and kept the lead until the finish line.

While it seemed as an easy walk for Gilmour, Hansen was about to stage a formidable comeback, despite the penalties he received. In the third race, Hansen had a good start, stayed ahead but got a penalty in the run downwind for gybing too close to Gilmour. Still, Hansen stretched his lead and scored his first comeback point after offloading the penalty and crossing the line ahead of Gilmour. The fourth race was again about penalties but this time on Gilmour. The Australian got another one in the prestart on a port-starboard incident, handing the race over to Hansen. Gilmour got another penalty in the prestart of the final race but got the upper hand off the starting line. Still, both sailors were handed another penalty each, in yet another close incident in the final run but the balance didn't change. Hansen finished ahead of Gilmour and moved to the semifinals.

Amazing comeback performance by Bjorn Hansen. Jeongok Marina, 13 June 2010. Photo copyright Ian Roman / SubZero Images

Mathieu Richard vs Francesco Bruni: The first of the five titanic clashes between the French and the Italian was won by Bruni after Richard completely missed one of the yellow fixed buoys in the course, driving directly into it and completely tearing his spinnaker. Richard had to retire and hand the first point to Bruni. The roles reversed in the second race and the French match racing champion had a comfortable victory over Bruni. The Italian, on port side, got a penalty in the prestart when his stern collided with the stern of the French yacht. There was nothing Bruni could do and the point went to Richard.

Richard had an average start in the third race and gave Bruni the chance to get ahead. He tried to attack but the Italian sailed flawlessly, winning the race. Bruni started the fourth match strong off the line and was leading at the weather mark but a great comeback by Richard on the run gave him the opportunity to sneak inside Bruni at the bottom mark and force a penalty on him for not giving room. Richard got ahead and managed to keep his lead until the end. The fifth and decisive race was a nail-biting match racing exhibition but despite all the tricks Bruni tried to throw at Richard, the French stayed ahead until the finish line.

Torvar Mirsky was on fire in his races against Adam Minoprio. Jeongok Marina, 13 June 2010. Photo copyright Ian Roman / SubZero Images

Torvar Mirsky vs Adam Minoprio: The battle between the two young guns was a one-sided story. Mirsky prevailed in both races, from start to finish, comfortably winning two points against the world's top-ranked match racer that seemed to be completely out of form. Minoprio finishes a disappointing 6th in the Korea Match Cup.

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