On the opening day of the Korea Match Cup, Pierre-Antoine Morvan’s Vannes Agglo Sailing Team took the top of the leaderboard with four wins from five matches.
Pierre-Antoine Morvan during qualifying session 1 at Korea Match Cup 2013
However, the only team to keep a clean sheet thus far was the reigning champion of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, Ian Williams’ GAC Pindar, who scored three wins from three.
The most dramatic of Williams’ victories was against Keith Swinton’s Black Swan Racing, and the young Australian skipper was regretting a missed opportunity against the top seeded British team, who at one point was two penalties down. 'We let a big opportunity pass against Ian, but we'll put that one behind us. We did a lot of really good things then on the final downwind we gybed away too early. When we came back he had a small piece of us and we couldn't get across him. It was a massive mistake from us, we were a bit complacent, thought we had it wrapped up - but you lose a lot when you gybe these boats. And we had a couple of bad gybes, which didn't help.'
Williams admits he thought the race had got away from him after two penalties had gone against him. 'We didn’t agree with those decisions, but we’ll talk to the umpires about them later,' he said. 'Even though we were distracted, we still kept the speed on the boat. We were fast downwind all day, and when we managed to get a piece of Swinton we sailed us both past the finish line and got rid our last penalty when we tacked back up to the finish.'
Staying out of trouble on the tight race course proved difficult, as Team Alpari FX found out to its cost. Adam Minoprio was leading Pierre-Antoine Morvan until the Kiwi got stuck in traffic as he caught up the race in front. Morvan saw the New Zealanders choking on bad air and sailed around the road block to take the lead and the race win.
The other French team, GEFCO Match Racing Team, will be unpopular with the repair crew after T-boning local Korean crew, Busan Match Team skippered by Gunwoo Park. A penalty down, and with their broken bow kicking up a nasty wash, the race was all but over for Mathieu Richard. But things all changed when the Koreans trawled their gennaker in the hoist, and the wounded French boat sailed past for an unexpected victory.
This is the only one of the six events on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour where the boats are fitted with asymmetric gennakers as opposed to conventional spinnakers. The lack of familiarity with gennakers showed today, with numerous handling errors such as the Korean trawl, and a nasty hourglass twist for Taylor Canfield’s USone team, who gave up a three-length lead to be overtaken by Phil Robertson and WAKA Racing. 'You have two guys pulling the kite and one guy bouncing the halyard and sometimes it comes out quicker than others,' said Canfield. 'This time it took us a long time.'
But it wasn’t over, as Robertson left his gennaker take-down and jib hoist way too late at the leeward mark. 'We came to the bottom mark and put way too much pressure on ourselves and it ended up being a real shocker. We went too wide and took too much time, and we were given a penalty. Fair enough, I was trying to give my boys as much time to get the kite down, was trying to milk it, but the umpires were on to it.' Things went from bad to worse when the Kiwis copped a second penalty on the final run to the finish, and were shown the black flag and disqualified for failing to take one of their two penalties soon enough. 'Less than ideal!' was Robertson’s honest assessment. We were leading all our races at some point, but lost two of them.'
Early days though, and plenty of time to make up for today’s mistakes. 'The guys are in a great mood,' said Robertson. 'We’re finding the funny side of it, you've got to keep positive and entertained. We learn from our mistakes we know what we're doing wrong. If we do it a bit better we'll be fine.'
Today’s races began after a lavish opening ceremony attended by the Governor of Gyeonggi Province, Kim Moon Soo, the Mayor of Hwaeseong City, Chae In Seok, and Kim Yu-mi, Miss Korea 2012 and ambassador for the Korea Match Cup. Afterwards the brand new Jeongok Marina Clubhouse was officially opened, the latest step of many in the development of the Marina as a major destination for sailing and marine tourism in Asia.
Racing continues tomorrow, with the prospect of sunshine and warm winds offering a welcome alternative to today’s cool and chilly conditions.
Stage 2: Korea Match Cup – Qualifying Round
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 4-1
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 3-0
David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour 3-2
Adam Minoprio (NZL) Team Alpari FX 3-2
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) eWork Sailing Team 3-2
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing 2-1
Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone 2-1
Mathieu Richard (FRA) GEFCO Match Racing Team 2-3
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 1-2
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team 1-2
Kim Taejeong (KOR) Match Game 0-3
Gunwoo Park (KOR) Busan Match Team 0-5
The qualifying series continues tomorrow with the start time scheduled for 1000.