Monsoon Cup - Day 1: Preview
3:40pm local time: The downpour is finally over and now that the official opening ceremony has finished, racing is scheduled to start at 4pm local time (9am CET).
Good morning from rainy Kuala Terengganu, home of the Monsoon Cup, closing event of the 2010 World Match Racing Tour. This is set to be the most exciting and thrilling edition of the Malaysian event with 5 sailors aiming the world match racing champion title. Any of Mathieu Richard, Adam Minoprio, Ben Ainslie, Torvar Mirsky and Iain Williams can be the 2010 ISAF World Match Racing champion next Sunday.
Racing starts at 12pm local time (5am CET) with two extremely important match at the very beginning. In match 1 Mirsky will face Minoprio and in match 2 the two Brits, Williams and Ainslie will race against each other. After the first two flights are completed the grandiose opening ceremony will officially kick off the event and at 4pm local time (9am CET) racing will resume. Race officials hope to gave another 4 flights, weather allowing.
Racing is streamed LIVE online every day, right here on Valencia Sailing. In an another innovation aimed at trying to make the sport of sailing more attractive to the general media, some of the skippers will be wearing biometric belts that will be sending the signal back to the TV production room. For the first time we'll be able to have the world's top match racers under "observation" in real-time, having their heart rate, breathing rate and body temperature on our screens. They are the same biometric belts the Chilean miners were wearing during their rescue, after they were trapped in their mine.
Mathieu Richard is probably the one feeling the most pressure. He's so close to achieving what he has been fighting for during the last few years, to be crowned world champion, but it will be nothing but straightforward for the French. His results in the last two match racing events he took part in were far from stellar. He failed to make it through the qualifying series in Bermuda in October, latest WMRT event, while last week we was beaten in the quarterfinals by Phil Robertson in the Australia Cup, a grade 2 qualifying event for the Monsoon Cup. In yesterday's press conference Richard dispelled the worries, stating he felt confident and that the Australia Cup was a very useful training regatta for his crew. In order to have his world title guaranteed, Richard has to finish in the top two positions. If he doesn't make it to the finals then the world title could go to any of the remaining top 4 skippers, depending on their respective results.
His most immediate opponent, Adam Minoprio, seemed quite more relaxed. He is the reigning world champion, a title he conquered again right here in the Monsoon Cup a year ago at the age of 24. His future as well is clearer than most of his competitors. Whatever the result might be in Malaysia, starting next week Minoprio will be working full time on the Camper / Team New Zealand team in the current Volvo Ocean Race. In fact, the Spanish-Kiwi entry in the round-the-world race will announce its full crew on December 15th.
Finally, the third skipper with good chances at the word title, Ben Ainslie, could be the least stressed of the three. He's an accomplished Olympic sailor with three gold medals and although a world match racing title would be welcome his main goal is the preparation for the 2012 games. He can hit the waters in Kuala Terengganu much more relaxed.