The 2012 Alpari World Match Racing Tour has arrived in the Malaysian beach resort of Kuala Terengganu for the eighth and decisive final event. Peter Gilmour (skipper, AUS) and his Yanmar Racing team currently sit fourth overall on the Tour standings, some 6.75 points behind third placed Keith Swinton (AUS), with the gap to leaders Ian Williams (GBR) and Bjorn Hansen (SWE) set at 25.75 and 28 points respectively.
Eyes on the prize
The event opened today with the official practice sessions, ahead of the first day of qualifying on the 4th December. The Monsoon Cup uses the Foundation 36, a five-person yacht originally developed by the Western Australian Yachting Foundation with the boat builder Peter Milner and the designer Brett Bakewell-White. Yanmar Racing’s tactician, Fred Guilmin (FRA) commented, ‘We haven’t sailed a five-man boat since Sweden, so we wanted to get here early for some extra practice.’
The Yanmar Racing team will be using the same crew as Sweden, with Japan’s Kazuhiko Sofuku and Yasuhiro Yaji handling the forward end of the boat. In the cockpit, France’s Thierry Douillard will be trimming with his countryman, Guilmin on the mainsheet and doing tactics, while the four-time Tour winner, Peter Gilmour is skipper.
’We’ve had some nice weather,’ reported Guilmin, ’it’s not been raining which is unusual.’ Terengganu is one of Malaysia’s east coast states, a place of exotic islands, pristine beaches and (normally) crystal clear waters. They aren’t so clear at this time of year though, when the rains sweep mud down the river and across the race course – there’s a reason it’s called the Monsoon Cup.
’We’ve been here practicing for three days,’ continued Guilmin, ‘plus today’s official practice sessions, and have worked with several teams, including Pierre-Antoine Morvan, Phil Robertson, and Ian Williams, but we’ve mostly sailed with Peter’s son, David.’ David Gilmour will be appearing in his first Monsoon Cup after qualifying as the top-placed Australian at the recent 2012 Warren Jones International Regatta.
Fred Guilmin continued, ‘In the morning the wind has been westerly, before dying around midday, then it fills in from the sea, the usual sea breeze direction in the afternoon – but it’s been a bit light, only eight knots or less. We needed this training, we made some mistakes early on with five people in the boat again, and the wind is very shifty so it was important to get in tune with the conditions.’
The title race is fantastically tight going into this final event with the overall Tour leader, Bjorn Hansen (SWE), and the defending World Champion and second placed Ian Williams (GBR) separated by just 2.25 points. In third place, Australia’s Keith Swinton is another 19 points adrift, but from third to eighth is only separated by 14.75 points, effectively putting the podium into play for all of those sailors.
The action will begin at 10am tomorrow, 4th December with the skipper briefing and a draw for the boats. Yanmar Racing will be sailing the first six flights, starting with a tough opener against the overall leader, Bjorn Hansen and then – in what Guilmin called a ‘Swedish sandwich’ – they will be up against his countryman, Johnie Berntsson.
‘We are ready,’ commented Guilmin, ‘there is plenty of tension here, we’ve seen that in practice. The top two have a good lead but third place is very tight between five teams, so with the title, the top three, and the Monsoon Cup with the big prize money all at stake, everyone wants to be there at the end.’
The Monsoon Cup is the eighth and final event on this year’s Alpari World Match Racing Tour and is held in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia from the third-8th December, 2012.
Overall Tour Championship Standings – after seven stages:
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team – 104.25pts
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar – 102pts
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing – 83pts
Peter Gilmour (AUS) Yanmar Racing – 76.25pts
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team – 71pts
Laurie Jury (NZ) Kiwi Match – 70.25pts
Phil Robertson (NZ) Waka Racing – 70pts
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team – 68.25pts
Monsoon Cup website
World Match Racing Tour website