ISAF World Match Racing Championship 2012 – Gutsy move or mistake?
by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World Team on 8 Dec 2012
The final event on the World Match Racing Calendar is the Monsoon Cup, now in its eighth year in Terengganu Malaysia.
Ian Williams and his GAC Pindar team celebrate after winning the Alpari World Match Racing Tour at the 2012 Monsoon Cup. Gareth Cooke - Subzero Images © http://www.subzeroimages.com
This event would decide the 2012 ISAF World Match Racing Champion with the series leaders the 2011 World Champion Ian Williams (Team GAC Pindar) and Swede Bjorn Hansen (Mekonomen Sailing) just a few points apart. (104.25 and 102 respectively, with 38 points available for the Monsoon Cup winner)
Hansen who finished second after the qualifying round was expected to chose the second lowest qualifier Taylor Canfield (US One) in the traditional way. Instead in a gutsy move the confident Swede chose Williams
However the quarter final series did not go as Hansen planned. In the first race he started behind the eight ball with a prestart penalty, but found a big left hand shift in the first upwind. He was able to clear his penalty and record a strong win.
Not so good in match two, where he incurred a penalty for an incorrect prestart entry, then he touched the top mark and was forced to take another penalty turn. He lost that match and then the third.
Williams led throughout the fourth and final match, but on the last run Hansen split away to the left and nearly caught his rival but Williams took the gun to progress to the event Semi Final and take the prestigious Alpari World Match Racing Tour title.
Dockside Ian Williams was grinning ‘We are of course over the moon, to win our fourth ISAF World Match Racing Championship.
'It’s amazing feeling to have equaled Peter Gilmour’s four titles. He is an absolute legend in our sport. For sure we will be back and will try and better it.
‘But our celebrations tonight will be restrained. The Monsoon Cup is an important regatta for us. We will be going all out to win it. For sure we will enjoy the moment now but by the time we get to dinner tonight we will be refocusing, debriefing, and trying to improve on what we did wrong today. Hopefully we will come back tomorrow stronger.’
Asked about being chosen by his main 2012 championship rival Bjorn Hansen in the quarter finals Williams said. ‘We thought there was a possibility. We think that was his best shot, after all Bjorn has had the measure of us this year.
‘If you look at the stats we have a better record of qualifying through the rounds than he does so it was better for him to have the title decider earlier. It was a brave decision and good on him for making it. It is tough against us here. We are very strong and we have won the regatta twice and we have been strong in other years as well. We are obviously very pleased to have come through.
‘If Bjorn had not picked us, it makes him look weak and if we met later we would have a psyche advantage.
‘But my team stepped up when the pressure was on and we took the title though there were some early wobbles.
‘Today we were definitely jittery. The conditions here have been very hard to build any rhythm and the first race especially we snatched it a little bit but we talked about that in between races. We need to make calmer decisions and let it play out a little bit.
‘I think the really key moment was race three because we had been ahead and then Bjorn and his team passed us but we were able to grab the lead on the last run to the finish. I think at that point they started to lose a little bit of belief and they started to make some decisions that were not quite so strong themselves. I think they started to snatch a bit themselves.
‘Although we didn’t get everything right we got a lot right after that and were obviously able to win.’
Bjorn Hansen was gracious as always – ‘Firstly I want to congratulate Ian and his crew. We are looking forward to coming back and beating in 2013.
‘We decided to pick Ian in the quarters because the last time Ian beat us in a match before this was the second semi-final match in Marstrom at the beginning of July so that was five months ago.
‘Also we knew that if we chose to sail someone else and lost that match at the same time as Ian wins his quarter final we would never forgive ourselves for it.
‘Not taking the chance and race for the championship title. We all agreed that lets go for Ian and there was no question about it and anyone to say something else doesn’t really know how it works in our team.
‘Race three the lead changed, it was the turning point.
'It was a bad mistake - we didn’t go for a gybe immediately at the top mark before he came around it so we could get the side we wanted. We said that we wanted the left hand side but still we said that we were going to do a bear away set and gybe away quicker but if we had been one metre further ahead that would have worked out fine but unfortunately Ian rolled us before we had a chance to gybe and that was pretty much that race unfortunately.
‘The margins are so small and it is small things that do it and unfortunately we were not sailing at the top of our level.
‘Two silly penalties in the second race that we normally never do and we shouldn’t do it in a race for the championship title. I think, like that in the third race, if we don’t take the gybe even if we had discussed we wanted the left. We were not really on our toes today.
‘But overall we are very happy with our season. We were first in Korea and we were first in Marstrom.
‘We have had a Championship third before and now second. We are proud of silver but we have to regroup and come back stronger in 2013.’
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