Torvar Mirsky puts pressure on Peter Gilmour during their quarter final at Match Cup Sweden 2008 © Dan Ljungsrik
In an example of the Apprentice beating the Master, 22-year old Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and his Mirsky Racing Team has defeated four time ISAF Match Racing World Champion and America’s Cup veteran Peter Gilmour (AUS) and his PST Team to advance to the Semi-Final stage here at Match Cup Sweden. Their first-to-three point series went all the way to a fifth deciding match in this fourth stage of the World Match Racing Tour.
In the meantime, yet another spectacularly sunny day brought out the shore side spectators by the tens of thousands, who seemed unfazed by the long delay in racing. They had been earlier entertained with a fun fleet race held between celebrity skippers with their crews composed of sponsors, media, and race crews, with the biggest attraction being Sweden’s Princess Madeleine and NHL hockey star Henrik Lundqvist sailing on a boat for the World Childhood Foundation. Dozens of paparazzi following the Princess churning up the normally placid waters of the fiord into a froth, yet no one seemed to mind.
'This is what I really love about this event,' said Mirsky. 'The crowd here in Sweden is really into the sailing, and hearing them cheer you on is really a boost.'
They certainly enjoyed what was easily the most spirited rivalry in the Quarter Final pairings, the series between Mattias Rahm (SWE) and his Stena Bulk Racing Team and Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN) and his Trifork Racing Team. While Rahm emerged the winner after five matches, each was so close to have gone to either team, and the racing was so close, and so aggressive, to resemble hand-to-hand combat on sailboats.
Both skippers and their teams are quite adept at maneuvering the DS37’s used in this event, having raced and trained on them for years, so they were able to throw every move at each other in a masterful display of match race talent. Even the spectators ashore got into the act, cheering each team’s moves and applauding wildly whenever they ventured close to shore.
'It doesn’t get better than that for the spectators,' said Rahm. 'It was a magnificent feeling to make a tack just in front of the spectators at Strandverket and hear the applause and shouts. It gave us an extra push for victory.'
Mattias Rahm crosses ahead of Jes Gram Hansen during their quarter final at Match Cup Sweden 2008 Image © Dan Ljungsrik
In contrast, round robin winner Mathieu Richard (FRA) and his French Match Racing Team seemed cool, poised, and devastatingly effective at dispensing with the reigning event champion Bjorn Hansen (SWE) and his Alandia Sailing Team. With numerous fake tacks, fake gybes, and other tricks of the trade, Hansen tried time and again to lure Richard into making an error to cede the lead, but the French remained on form to win the stage in three straight matches.
And finally local hero Magnus Holmberg (SWE) and his Victory Challenge seemed to struggle at times against his rival, Korea Match Cup winner Sebastien Col (FRA) of the French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, but in the end prevailed to win three of five to advance to the Semi’s. Having been in numerous Semi-Finals and Finals at this event, Holmberg will have yet another chance at achieving the overall win which has thus far eluded him.
Racing for the Semi-Final and Final Rounds will continue on Sunday, 6 July at Match Cup Sweden.
Quarter Final Results:
Mathieu Richard (FRA), French Match Racing Team 3-0
def. Björn Hansen (SWE), Alandia Sailing Team
Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Victory Challenge 3-2
def. Sébastien Col (FRA), French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge
Mattias Rahm (SWE), Stena Bulk Racing 3-2
def. Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN), Trifork Racing Team
Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team 3-2
def. Peter Gilmour (AUS), PST Team
5. Peter Gilmour (AUS) PST
6. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Alandia Sailing Team
7. Jes Gram Hansen (DEN) Trifork Racing Team
8. Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K Challenge
9. Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar
10. Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team
11. Paolo Cian (ITA) Shosholoza Team
12. Ben Ainslie (GBR) Team Origin