Rivalry hots up between Williams and Richard

Mathieu Richard (FRA) Photo: Charles Anderson/ Bermuda Gold Cup 2007
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King Edward VII Gold Cup champion Mathieu Richard threw the race for the prestigious World Match Racing Tour title wide open after beating defending world champion Ian Williams 2-0 in the final of last week's St.Moritz Match Race held in St.Moritz, Switzerland.

Englishman Williams, who captured Gold Cup honours on local surf in 2006, still leads the World Match Racing Tour points standings. But his recent loss to Richard, who beat Sweden's Bjorn Hansen 2-0 during last year's Gold Cup in Hamilton Harbour, has enabled the Frenchman to cut into his lead with three races remaining in the professional nine-race series held at various venues around the globe.

Richard outgunned Williams in the last World Match Racing Tour event and will undoubtedly be looking for similar results when the two sailors head to Bermuda for next month's Gold Cup.

'Mathieu was faster off the start in both races, and that's what won him the races,' Williams conceded following last week's failure in Europe. 'For some reason we weren't able to attack or defend.'

Williams' lead atop the World Match Racing Tour points standings has now been shaved to 20 points.

Fresh off last week's success in Switzerland, Richard now hopes to carry the momentum through to the end of the season.

'He (Williams) is still winning the tour, but we are putting the pressure on him and not letting him get too far ahead,' he said. 'Of course it is good to beat Ian.

'We had good boat speed, good trimming and good tactics.'

The King Edward VII Gold Cup is the penultimate race of the annual World Match Racing Tour's World Championship that brings world-class match racing to the Island's shores.

Bermuda has won the coveted showpiece 21 times.