While America’s Cup legend Peter Gilmour was the class act of the first two days of racing at the Korea Match Cup, so today it was Emirates Team New Zealand’s Adam Minoprio who got on to a strong winning streak, with a run of eight races and just one loss.
BlackMatch racing bowman in action - Korea Match Cup
'Today everything seemed to click into place,' beamed the 24 year old Kiwi as he stepped ashore on the brand new pontoons at Jeongok Marina. 'We were feeling very comfortable in the boat and all the calls I was getting back from the guys were accurate. Our time and distance was right on, so I think we just sailed a very good day.'
In conditions similar to yesterday, with the sun burning through early morning mist followed by a light 8 knot sea breeze establishing itself, so winning four of his five remaining races in the round robin put Minoprio on eight points out of eleven matches. This equalled him with Britons Ben Ainslie of Team Origin and Bahrain Team Pindar’s Ian Williams and, unexpectedly, Sweden’s Bjorn Hansen, an 11th hour entrant in the regatta. By virtue of whom he had beaten, Minoprio came out on top, followed by Williams. At the mid-afternoon dockside conference between race organisers and crews, Minoprio chose Team Shosholoza’s Paolo Cian as his quarter final opponent, while Williams picked Torvar Mirsky. The four skippers not to make it through to the quarter finals are Sebastien Col, the 2008 winner of the Korea Match Cup, Philippe Presti, Laurie Jury and local Korean hero Byeong Ki Park.
In the first-to-three quarter final, Minoprio and his team are the only ones to end the day two races to zero. In both races Minoprio won the start from Cian and led around the course. A more nerve wracking match was when Minoprio came up against Peter Gilmour in flight 19 of the round robin. Minoprio copped a penalty in the pre-start when his stern touched Gilmour’s as they separated, while in the ensuing tacking duel up the first beat, with the boats repeatedly splitting tacks and missing each other by millimetres, the inevitable happened when after a big luff from Gilmour, Minoprio’s stern collided for a second time. But on this occasion Gilmour was penalised for not providing Minoprio with enough time to avoid him. Penalties cancelled out, and Minoprio went on to take the win.
After three days in the locally-built KM36 yachts the crews evidently are feeling very comfortable with them and happier throwing them around the race course. 'In a good breeze you can push it close - these boats are very agile. They make for very good racing,' states Minoprio. One of the loudest crashes came in the pre-start in the match between Ian Williams and Torvar Mirsky when the young Australian had found himself unable to prevent his boat T-boning the Bahrain Team Pindar boat midships.
For France’s Mathieu Richard, after a slow start to the regatta the highlight of his day was beating Torvar Mirsky, thereby just squeaking into the quarter finals on five wins. 'Normally it is a little bit easier, but here you had a lot of work to do. We made some mistakes in some matches which we could have won,' said the joint World Match Racing Tour leader. For example against Minoprio he sailed into the restricted area around the start box and rather than calling for water, copped a penalty instead. Richard tomorrow faces Ben Ainslie in the quarter finals.
Peter Gilmour in discussion with his crew after losing three races on the final morning of the round robin. Korea Match Cup 2009, Gyeonggi-do, Korea. 5 June 2009.
Another success story of the day was that of Bjorn Hansen who - not being a ‘Tour Card’ holder (that would guarantee him entry to all Tour events) - only got the go-ahead to compete at the Korea Match Cup two weeks out from the start. Hansen, who runs a match racing centre in Stockholm and won Match Race Sweden in Marstrand two years ago, was the only person to spoil Minoprio’s score line today. The matches against Minoprio and Mirsky were both particularly close, although he planted a penalty on Mirsky in the pre-start.
'It is an interesting place to sail. It is not very big, but they are great boats and it is nice to every now and then sail with the gennaker,' commented the Swede.
Korea Match Cup continued at pace today with the quarter finals already started so that the semi-finals can be broadcast live across Asia, Oceania and the USA at 2pm local time tomorrow.
QUARTER FINAL PAIRINGS
Minoprio v Cian 2-0
Williams v Mirsky 1-1
Gilmour v Hansen 1-1
Ainslie v Richard 0-0