Richard wins first Semi-final at St Moritz

Mathieu Richard leads Philippe Presti in match 1 of the semi final at St Moritz Match Race

With the quarter-finals decided today (Saturday) action for the semi-finalists, Mathieu Richard, Philippe Presti, Ian Williams and Adam Minoprio, got under way in a fading breeze. Only one match was completed - Mathieu Richard won first semi-final match against Philippe Presti.

The sunshine has returned to the shores of Lake St Moritz today, bringing with it the breeze, albeit a shifty one. Racing got underway as scheduled and as the quarterfinals were completed more teams saw their chance of taking the prestigious ‘King of the Mountain’ title slip away. Racing continued right into the evening with the first match of the semi-finals being completed.

Adam Minoprio (NZL) began the day on match point against Peter Wibroe (DEN), in their first to two point quarter final. However Wibroe managed to take the first win. After starting in better pressure at the committee boat end of the start line and maintaining their lead, Wibroe sailing team took a convincing victory. Minoprio commented 'It was a tricky course this morning and beating Wibroe is always a very difficult challenge'.

In the other quarterfinal, Ian Williams’ (GBR) Team Pindar took an essential win after starting the day one nil down against local favourite Eric Monnin (SUI) and the team. 'We really felt the pressure this morning, and that’s probably the most pumped up we have been for a quarterfinal for a long time' said skipper Ian Williams.

With both matches going to one all, whoever won the next race would be through to the semi finals.

The first match of Minoprio versus Wibroe saw the Danes once again win the start and lead around the first top mark. However an excellent gybe set into pressure from the ETNZ/BlackMatch team saw them gain the lead by the bottom mark. On the next beat Minoprio defended well to maintain the lead at the top and they managed to hold on for victory and to claim their spot in the semi finals. 'In both races we shared the lead, luckily the last lead change went our way,' said Minoprio after the race.

Ian Williams took another win over local Eric Monnin securing his semi final spot and relegating Monnin to the 5-8th place sail offs.

After the first two semi-finalists were decided the next four quarterfinalists hit the water to begin their matches. Sebastian Col (FRA) taking on Philippe Presti (FRA) in an all French Match Racing Team affair, and Mathieu Richard (FRA) racing against Jes Gram Hansen (DEN) and his Mascalzone Latino/Trifork Team. It was a French benefit day with Mathieu Richard winning his quarterfinal two nil. Col won his first race after Presti narrowly failed to take a penalty at the finishing line, and while many expected Col to win the second, this was not to be the case. Philippe Presti came back fighting and sailed an exciting race to draw even.

In the deciding race between Col and Presti, Presti managed to get a penalty on Col in the prestart in a windward leeward situation, where Col as the windward boat failed to keep clear. However the teams remained very close around the course and approaching the top mark for the final time Presti created an overlap with Col meaning Presti had to give room at the mark, a collision between the two resulted in a penalty to Presti. This offset Col’s penalty but Presti managed to maintain a small lead after the incident, which he held to take the victory and proceed to the semi finals.

After the sail offs for 5th to 8th, the semi finals got underway and in diminishing breeze only one match between Mathieu Richard and Philippe Presti was completed. Presti got a penalty in the prestart for attempting to gybe on to starboard in front of Richard, who was on port, but didn’t complete his gybe before Richard had to avoid him. This penalty was then changed to a red flag penalty when umpires determined that Presti had gained control from the manoeuvre.

'Obviously getting a red flag penalty wasn’t in the plan, but apart from that we were happy with how we sailed the rest of the race,' commented Philippe after the race. Richard went on to win the race, saying 'Today was perfect for us, we won every race and hopefully we can do the same tomorrow.'

In the final day of racing Sunday, the semi finals are still to be completed with the finals scheduled for the afternoon. Spectators and sailors alike are looking forward to another day of exciting match racing.

Day 4 results

Mathieu Richard – 1, Philippe Presti – 0
Ian Williams – 0, Adam Minoprio – 0

Philippe Presti – 2, Sebastien Col – 1
Mathieu Richard – 2 Jes Gram Hansen – 0
Adam Minoprio – 2, Peter Wibroe – 0
Ian Williams – 2, Eric Monnin – 1

5-8th Sail Off
5th – Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K Challenge
6th – Peter Wibroe (DEN) Wibroe Sailing Team
7th – Jes Gram Hansen (DEN) Mascalzone Latino / Trifork Racing
8th – Eric Monnin (SUI)