Friday, October 08, 2010

Minoprio, Ainslie and Williams Face Survival Challenge in Bermuda

[Source: World Match Racing Tour] Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing, Ben Ainslie (GBR) TEAMORGIN and Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar sponsored by Argo Group all face a restless night with the knowledge that at least one of them will be a casualty tomorrow in the final Qualifying Session at the Argo Group Gold Cup. It will cap a remarkable few days in Bermuda, which also saw overall World Match Racing Tour leader Mathieu Richard ultimately knocked out of the competition by Jesper Radich (DEN) Gaastra Racing Team.

In contrast to the 10-18 knot winds of the previous two days, today required sailors to adopt an altogether different skill set to deal with a very fickle and incredibly light wind. The reigning champion, Adam Minoprio has a second chance to qualify tomorrow for the Quarter-Finals having failed to qualify directly however he faces formidable competition – this group of six teams includes four of the top 10 names in the ISAF Match Racing Rankings. Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Global Team, Minoprio, Williams and Ainslie, are also joined by Alvaro Marinho (POR) Seth Sailing Team (ranked 15), and Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing (ranked 21).

Highlights from day 3 of the Argo Group Gold Cup. Hamilton, 7 October 2010. Video copyright World Match Racing Tour

Competitors were not alone in finding the fickle conditions frustrating – PRO David Campbell-James was in a no-win situation, but did a great job with what he had: “It was a 360-degree day, with the wind swinging right round the compass as the day progressed.”

Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team, one of the six skippers to qualify directly for the Quarter-Finals, reflected: “It was important for us to beat Marinho in Qualifying Session 3. We feel really confident about this week – we’re sailing well have yet to make a tactical mistake. It’s our fourth time here and we have similar boats at home so we are benefiting from having been able to practice there.”

Minoprio, Williams and Ainslie will take some comfort into tomorrow knowing they each won their first races in the Qualifying Play-Off however their toughest matches will come tomorrow. The morning will see a return of 12-18 knots of breeze but with tropical storm Otto heading towards Bermuda, the wind is expected to increase considerably later on, giving skippers in the Quarter-Finals an extra challenge with which to contend.

Quarter Finalists
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 6-0
Jesper Radich (DEN) Gaastra Racing Team 6-1
Taylor Canfield (USA) 6-1
Eric Monnin (SUI) Swiss Match Racing Team 5-1
Johnnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team 5-1
Reuben Corbett (NZL) Black Sheep Racing 4-2

Qualifying Session Play-Off Standings
Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing 1-0
Ben Ainslie (GBR) TEAMORIGIN 1-0
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar sponsored by Argo Group 1-0
Alvaro Marinho (POR) Seth Sailing Team 0-1
Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing 0-1
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Racing Team 0-1

Torvar Mirsky is on fire, moving to the qualifiers undefeated. Hamilton, 7 October 2010. Photo copyright Subzero Images / World Match Racing Tour

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