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Ainslie goes out in Semi-final

by World Match Racing Tour on 12 Oct 2008
Minoprio defeats Ainslie in semi finals - King Edward V11 Gold Cup WMRT © http://www.worldmatchracingtour.com

The upsets continued here in Hamilton Harbour as Johnie Berntsson and his Berntsson Racing Team and Adam Minoprio of the Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing team advanced to Sunday’s Final round at the King Edward VII Gold Cup presented by Argo Group.

Britain's Ben Ainslie went down 3 - 2 to Kiwi Adam Minoprio in a close semi-final contest at the King Edward VII Gold Cup in Bermuda, Saturday. Minoprio will race against Swedens Johnie Berntsson in the final, after Brentsson knocked out fellow countryman Mattias Rahm with a three nil victory

This is the first World Match Racing Tour final for both teams, where they will vie for the top prize of US$50,000.

In the first match Minoprio forced a penalty on the Brits when they attempted to swing below their stern but collied on port. Ainslie recovered and they sailed away to have a big enough advantage to do their penalty turn on the finish line.

The Kiwi team took the next race comfortably when Team Origin misjudged the start and were over the line when the gun went, Minoprio sailed very well tactically in this race and defended their lead well to level the scores.

In the third match it was an an even start but Ainslie again showed excellent speed and won by a narrow margin to go to match point.

The fourth match saw a split tack start, the Kiwi team were extremely confident in the right hand side of the course during pre-start manoeuvres and Minoprio fought hard for the committee boat end of the line, to make huge gains in better pressure on the first upwind. Ainslie fought back hard and on the second upwind they were 'tack for tack' but Minoprio maintained a two boat length lead at the top mark to take the victory and again level the scores.

The deciding match saw a very heated pre-start, with the New Zelanders in total control of the start and had the Team Origin Crew on the ropes, locked out above the committee boat end of the start line. They bailed out and attempted to gybe around to start, Minoprio went for the kill and tacked to follow them.

As they were bearing away to gybe for the start, Origin gybed straight in front of the Kiwi, their only avenue was to continue with the gybe inside them and there was a collision. There were protest flags from both boats but the penalty went against Ainslie, while Minoprio also had better speed off the line that gave them the advantage needed to take out the semi final 3-2 and progress through to the final.

'We’re certainly excited to get to our first Tour Finals,' said Minoprio, after having gotten to the Semi’s in two, it feels great to finally have a chance at the top prize. In jest, Minoprio added 'And we plan to make all that we can at having got past one of the world’s top sailors!'

Berntsson’s apparent romp over Rahm was in contrast to their intense rivalry, as the two trained together in preparation for this event at their home club in Sweden, the Royal Gothenburg Sailing Club, so their matches were indeed tight fights, especially in the pre-starts.

Nonetheless, Rahm has had an up and down cycle of success here in Bermuda, winning and losing three matches each day in alternation. 'We were always challenged by Mattias, he has a very good team with a lot of experience, but the breaks just went our way today,' said Berntsson.

'Tomorrow is our winning day in the cycle, so we should make it 3-0 [in the Petit-Finals] against Ben,' said Rahm.

Sailing conditions today were nothing less than ideal for match race sailing, with sunny skies and shifty 8-12 knot conditions making for close matches in all flights of both the afternoon Semi-Finals and morning Consolation round for 5th-8th place.

Hundreds of water-borne and shore-based spectators lined the course, with many attending as part of the Bermuda Festival of Sail, a public event centered in Barr’s Park adjacent to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club to celebrate Bermuda’s history of sailing.

Also running concurrent to the Gold Cup is the RBYC’s Junior Gold Cup, sailed in Optimists and attracting 40 entries, with 12 youth champions from outside Bermuda competing here, so all ages and talents are represented this weekend in the Festival of Sail.

In Consolation Round action, reigning World Champion and current World Tour leader Ian Williams (GBR) and his Team Pindar first got past Mathieu Richard and his French Match Racing Team/French Team Spirit in one match, then went on the meet young Keith Swinton (AUS). In his first Tour event, Swinton remarkably not only emerged from the pack of 24 teams here to make the Quarter-Finals, but defeated Tour runner-up Sebastian Col and his French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge today, only to finally fall to Team Pindar to finish 6th overall.

King Edward VII Gold Cup - Finalists
Adam Minoprio (NZL) vs Johnie Berntsson (SWE)

Semi Final Results
Adam Minoprio (NZL) vs Ben Ainslie( GBR), 3-2
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) vs Mattias Rahm (SWE), 3-0

Other positions
5th Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar
6th Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing
7th Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge
8th Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit

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