The Monsoon Cup, the final event of the 2011 ISAF World Match Racing Tour, is to be sailed in Kuala Terengganu Malaysia December 22-27 and will decide the 2011 ISAF Match Racing World Champion.
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar, currently leads the Tour on 106 points. Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing Team, lies second on 100 points, followed by Western Australian Torvar Mirsky, The Wave Muscat on 99.8 points. Lurking behind the leaders in fourth place is the ‘Silver Fox’ Peter Gilmour, five times the ISAF Match Racing World Champion.
Peter Gilmour, the Monsoon Cup winner in 2005 and 2008, has been in Terengganu preparing for this week's event with his YANMAR Racing team. YANMAR Racing is on 79 points on the WMRT board, four points ahead of Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing.
Gilmour knows these waters well and he said earlier today 'It is going to be an interesting week. We will have plenty of water in the river if tomorrow’s forecast for 250mm of rain comes through.
‘The shape of the Pulau Duyong basin has certainly changed a little and most of our racing is going to be in high tide because of the change in the event date this year, so we actually have a larger course area.
‘The boys, Simon Shaw (GBR) YANMAR Racing’s Main Sail Trimmer/Tactician, Yasuhiro Yaji (JPN) our Pitman, Kazuhiko Sofuku (JPN) our Bowman and Thierry Douillard (FRA) our Head Sail Trimmer arrived on the 18th so we’ve been practicing hard and had yesterday off.
‘Simon Shaw has joined the team since Bermuda and he is the only crew change from Thierry, Sofuko, Yaji and myself. Simon sailed for many years on Ian’s (Williams) team very successfully. He has really good sense and brings an intellect to match racing.
‘I guess having been a part of Ian’s team, that very intense analysed style of match racing it a part of his DNA now.
‘I must say my underlying strategy is much more maverick and free running and a little bit looser, so it’s interesting to listen, to understand, to get that technical strategizing and then to try and overlay it with what we are doing.
‘We are pleased to be fourth going into this final Tour event. The interesting aspect is that this year the three top teams have all won two each and we haven’t won any, whereas last year we won one event. But this year we have been consistent.
'For us a win here or a finals finish would certainly put YANMAR Racing right up into that top group’ said Gilmour.
It is an interesting mix at the top of the leaderboard. Williams, who has twice been the ISAF World Match Racing Champion, has worked hard for his season lead being pushed all the way by the very experienced Francesco Bruni. Bruni, who has had some excellent results this season, looked relaxed this morning having just flown in from the RC44 World Championship regatta in the Canary Islands.
Torvar Mirsky said his team have had limited preparation this year and there is some pressure on them to improve on their last two years' performances.
For the podium to open up, one of the three World Championship contenders has to crash out early and miss the quarter-finals.
And history shows this scenario to be entirely possible.
Back in 2007 when Williams won the Monsoon Cup and the World Championship, he only made the quarter-finals by the narrowest of count back margins. This year Williams crashed out of Match Race France while Bruni was excused from further racing after the round robins at Stena Match Cup Sweden. Mirsky too suffered similar disasters in 2010.
Gilmour continued. ‘I have been watching the preparation of the top three in the running to win the World Championship. They are all pursuing slightly different strategies and I think it will be interesting to see which one is the most successful.
‘For YANMAR Racing the big emphasis is on teamwork. Here it’s not so much about positioning but actually about the teamwork and how you chip away at the small things around the race course.
‘We are really excited to be at this point in the season and to be racing in the final event.
‘Whoever takes the World Championship this year will certainly have earned the title.’
World Match Racing Tour website www.wmrt.com
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