AWMRT Monsoon Cup - Taylor Canfield a hot favourite

Canfield Happy To Be The Hunted - Alpari World Match Racing Tour 2013
AWMRT Monsoon Cup 2013 gets underway in K. Terengganu, Malaysia on Tuesday 26th November. Taylor Canfield comes into this year’s Monsoon Cup as one of the hot favourites. The US Virgin Islander has come a long way in the past 12 months since last year’s event in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. Canfield and his USone crew qualified for the 2012 Monsoon Cup through a Wild Card entry and came away winners. This year he returns not only to defend the Monsoon Cup but to see if he can become World Champion for the first time.

The Monsoon Cup is the sixth and final regatta in the Alpari World Match Race Tour, and there are six teams still with a chance of claiming the title of World Champion 2013. From being the hunter, Canfield is now the hunted, although he claims not to be feeling the pressure. 'It won’t change much how we approach the racing,' he said. 'We’ll go in with an open mind, take it one race at a time and if we sail to the best of our ability we'll open some doors.'

GAC Pindar at the Monsoon Cup Cup, Malaysia, the final round of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour 2013.

While Phil Robertson has an outside chance of winning the Tour, Canfield sees his other four rivals as the bigger threat: Ian Williams, Bjorn Hansen, Adam Minoprio and Keith Swinton. Williams was recently nominated for ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year, the British skipper of GAC Pindar having won his fourth match racing world title at last year’s Monsoon Cup. This year he has the chance to win an unprecedented fifth title, making him one of the most successful match racers ever.

Williams predicts he’s going to have to sail better than ever to secure his fifth Tour title. 'With so many teams in with a chance of winning the Tour this year, we'll probably have to win the regatta or at least get to the Final,' he said. 'In past years we've only had to make the Semis or the Quarters to win the World Championship. People will have to progress further this year to win the overall title.'

There is a subtle strategy to be played in Pulau Duyong, the course area in Terengganu, although Williams is feeling good about being neither quite the hunter or the hunted, but somewhere between the two. 'We’re in a great spot. If we win the regatta, unless Taylor is in the Final with us, we win the Tour. But it’s very unlikely we would both make the Final. We're in a nice spot whereas the other guys just behind us - Adam Minoprio and Bjorn Hansen - need to pick Taylor in the Quarters, because if he makes the Semis and comes third, even if they win, they don't win the Tour. I suspect they're thinking they might well pick him [if they get the chance]. He's probably thinking that he wants to beat them in Qualifying so they can't pick him. We're in a situation where we're a little bit free of that; if we just qualify and progress, we're in with a good shot.'

Complicated stuff and, as Williams admits: 'You don't want to fill your brain up too much with that stuff. It's more important to be thinking which way to go up the beat - which is hard to figure out here. In previous years where there has been a lot of rain upstream there is a lot of current here, whereas today there isn't much current compared with other years because the Monsoon hasn't really started yet. In the past it's been about the current, one way or another, because where we are is the meeting point of two rivers just before they go into the sea, so you can go to the right or the left. So far this year it's been about trying to read the breeze, and get to the pressure and get the boat moving.'

Williams has been getting his eye in with the Foundation 36 keelboats with some training against Wild Card invitee Francesco Bruni and the Luna Rossa team who won the previous Tour event a month ago in Bermuda, when the Italians edged out Ben Ainslie at the Argo Group Gold Cup.

Along with Williams and Canfield, Adam Minoprio is the only other skipper to have won a Monsoon Cup before, although the Kiwi has to go back to 2009 for that victory. 'Provided it’s not a drift-off, we’ll be strong here. The biggest trick is the breeze which can be difficult to read on the water. When things don't go your way, you can get hammered.'

Tough the conditions may be, but the 12 teams won’t be lacking in motivation, The Monsoon Cup offers the highest prize purse on the Tour, MYR 1.475million (approx USD 475,000), with the winner set to earn MYR 310,000 (approx USD100,000).

Among the Qualifiers for this event is Malaysia’s top match racer Jeremy Koo, one of the country’s rising stars in a sport that Malaysia is really starting to embrace. Taking place at the Ri-Yaz Heritage Marina Resort & Spa, the five-day Monsoon Cup represents the pinnacle of a year-round drive by the Malaysian Ministry of Youth and Sports to get the nation’s youth into sailing.

Racing starts on Tuesday at 10am local time (GMT+8) and will be live streamed here. At 2.15pm the Opening Ceremony will take place, and will be attended by YAM Tengku Sri Temenggong Raja Dato’ Seri Tengku Baharuddin Ibni Al Marhum Sultan Mahmud Al Muktafi Billah Shah, YAB Dato’ Seri Ahmad bin Said the Chief Minister of Terengganu, YB Khairy Jamaluddin the Minister of Youth and Sports and Chairman of Innovatige Sdn Bhd YAM Tunku Abdul Jalil Ibni Sultan Ibrahim, Tunku Laksamana Johor. Straight afterwards is a Pro Am race for VIPs followed by more Qualifying flights in the Monsoon Cup.

Qualifying Round 1 - Tuesday – 26 November – 1000hrs – 1700hrs (GMT+8)

Team Alpari FX at the Monsoon Cup Cup, Malaysia, the final round of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour 2013

The AWMRT Trophy arrives at the Monsoon Cup Cup, Malaysia, the final round of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour 2013