by Dobbs Davis
Ben Ainslie takes down Keith Swinton in the Quarter Finals of the Bermuda Gold Cup - King Edward V11 Gold Cup
In a stunning upset to the three leaders of the World Match Racing Tour, Ben Ainslie, Mattias Rahm, Johnie Berntsson and young Adam Minoprio all advanced to the Semi-Final round of the King Edward VII Gold Cup in Bermuda.
World Tour leader and reigning World Champion, Britain's Ian Williams and his Team Pindar fell prey to Match Cup Sweden winner Rahm in five matches, the longest of any in this round. And two teams of the seemingly invincible French Match Racing Team – Mathieu Richard and Sebastian Col – fell in four matches to Berntsson and Minoprio, respectively.
Ben Ainslie went thru after defeating Tour newcomer Keith Swinton of Australia in today’s first-to-three point Quarter Final round. Ainslie, sailing with Team Origin, continued his winning streak by taking three matches from Swinton of Black Swan Racing. However Swinton remains the only competitor so far to have won a race against the Olympic Gold Medalist - a great achievement for the young antipodean who has shown great promise at his first Tour event.
Racing today was delayed for an hour awaiting the easterly breeze to fill fully in Hamilton harbour, but once in it developed into a pleasant 8-10 knots, perfect for match race sailing. Shifts and puffs were still determining factors in many matches, however, so like in the three earlier days in this competition the leaders were rarely safe without having substantial margins over their rivals, and the action was often quite close in all four pairs.
'It was a relief to see that Richard and Col didn’t make the cut for the semi’s too,' said Williams. 'The World Championship is out there for the taking, and we are all very driven individuals so it will be a tough event. All we know at this stage is one of us will be crowned World Champion.'
On today’s tight matches with Rahm, Williams said 'Normally you need just a little something extra to win at this level, and Mattias had that today while we did not.'
Col was not able to carry his momentum from his win last week at the Troia Portugal Match Cup, only able to secure one win against Minoprio, a young Kiwi talent now in his second Tour Semi-Final.
After a consolation round of racing for 5th through 8th places, the Semi-Finals will start Saturday with Ainslie facing Sweden's Rahm and the Berntsson taking on Minoprio.
While the downfall of the top three Tour teams will have them re-focusing forward to the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia, today’s thrilling Quarter-finals still may have an interesting impact on the overall Tour standings. Both Col and Richard breathed a sigh of relief when Williams was eliminated by Rahm.
Among the top three in the Tour only Col can get closer to Williams by two points if he finishes in 5th place, and any worse finish and his points stay the same. For Rahm a win here in Bermuda would see him leap to 4th in the Tour, as would a win by Minoprio. As the penultimate event on the World Tour the Gold Cup has delivered some great opportunities for the chasing pack to turn up the heat on the final event.
SEMI FINALIST PAIRINGS
Ben Ainslie( GBR) vs Mattias Rahm (SWE)
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) vs Adam Minoprio (NZL)
Ben Ainslie (GBR) vs Keith Swinton (AUS), 3-1
Mattias Rahm (SWE) vs Ian Williams (GBR), 3-2
Adam Minoprio (NZL) vs Sebastien Col (FRA), 3-1
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) vs Mathieu Richard, 3-1