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St. Moritz Match Race – Tense final battle

by MaxComm Communication on 3 Sep 2012
St Moritz Match Race 2012 Loris von Siebenthal/St Moritz Match Race
St. Moritz Match Race, the fifth event in the Alpari World Match Racing Tour series, concluded in Switzerland today, 2nd September 2012. A fantastic Final battle between two-time event winner Mathieu Richard and Keith Swinton was won by the young Australian whilst Pierre-Antoine Morvan gave his overall Alpari World Match Racing Tour challenge a boost with a third-place finish.

Light and shifty Maloja winds held out just long enough on Lake St. Moritz to complete a tense Final battle between former Champion Mathieu Richard (FRA) Loire Atlantique Sailing Team and Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing, who made it to his first Tour event Final in his first year as a Tour Card Holder for his best career result to date.

Swinton, said: 'It is an amazing feeling, i’m a bit speechless. After we lost the fourth one we thought that maybe it was over and we wouldn’t have time to race the final race but we did and we just made sure that we learnt from the mistakes we’d made in the previous races.

'To take out the win is really, really special for us and really exciting. It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s been a long, hard day and i think this can kick start our season. Marseille is coming up and we’ll look forward to that one even more now.'

The Final started with first match going to Richard. He pushed Swinton towards the committe boat at the end of pre-start, resulting in a touch between the boats whilst Swinton was tacking to avoid the committee boat, also crossing the start line early. In addition to having to restart, Swinton carried the resulting penalty for much of the match, leaving the Frenchman able to comfortably close out the match after extending his lead around the course.

Swinton took little time to regroup his crew, levelling 1-1 in the second match after an exciting finish. An energetic pre-start which saw Swinton take a controlling position as well as penalty picked up by his opponent in the pre-start for a port-starboard incident. A close race continued into a side-by-side turn around the final mark onto the last downwind leg.

Richard looked for a way to offset his penalty, slowing down to set up a tactical battle of wits and boat handling on the finish line. Swinton kept a cool head as Richard tried to push him wide of the finishing mark, rolling him and diving across the line to level the score.

Swinton failed to take match point at the first time of asking, losing a crew member into the water in the pre-start. As the boats split left and right off of the line, Richard made the better decisions throughout the match when looking for breeze on the course and took a very dominant lead with one lap still to sail. He crossed the line to level the scores once again.

The winner-takes-all final match was equally tight before Swinton found some good pressure on the left hand side to carve out a two boat length lead ahead of the final leg. His Black Swan Racing team finished with huge smiles on their faces.

Swinton went on to reflect on the day’s Semi-Final against Laurie Jury (NZL) Kiwimatch Sailing Team: 'It certainly was very intesnse out there in the Semi’s with very light and extremely difficult conditions. It could have gone either way, Laurie sailed very well. We both had chances at times and we were fortunate enough to get the win in that one.

'We’ll have a look at the leaderboard tonight to see how we’re doing in the overall standings.'

Richard didn‘t manage to complete the trio of St. Moritz wins that he had hoped for, but was pleased with the result and considered his future on the Tour next year, saying: 'I don‘t know if we would have taken this result before we started but it’s a good result. We did some good sailing against strong opponents and i can only say congratulations to Keith [Swinton].

'I’m not suprised at all to see these new young teams coming to the Tour and improving to beat the teams at the top level. We hope to be back to the Tour again next year and will try to take the win next time we do.'

Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team was also disappointed not to get closer to the ‘King of the Mountain‘ title which had eluded him in 2011 but was full of praise for his French compatriot, who beat him in the Semi-Final, saying: 'We tried to sail as good as we can but Mathieu [Richard] was enough to win the two matches today. We were backing him in the Final but it wasn’t a win for either of us in the end.

'In the second match we stayed close and got a good puff after a split gybe in the last downwind but it just wasn’t quite enough and we lost. Maybe we were a little bit unlucky at times.

'Over the two matches against Mathieu i think there was only one metre in it. Unfortunately, in match racing, one metre is the same as one lake.'

Looking at the wider Tour, Morvan can take some consolation in his points gain over the top two on the overall leaderboard, Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team and Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar, who were knocked out earlier in the event. He said: 'It’s positive that a few of our close Tour competitors were knocked out before us here but would have been even more positive if we had won the event.

'We are looking forward to Match Race France first, where we know the boats really well and hopefully it’ll be one of our best results. We will see.'

Having been the dominant team in the opening days of competition and winning qualifying to take an automatic passge to the Semi-Final, Laurie Jury (NZL) Kiwimatch Sailing Team found the opposition tougher on the last day of the regatta. He lost his last four match against Keith Swinton and was understandably dissappointed after going on to lose the Petit Final against Morvan to take fourth place, saying: 'I don’t necessarily think that it was a disadvantage to get less time on the water, skipping the Quarter Finals. Watching the matches yesterday, it was a bit of a lottery so i’d rather have missed them if it meant guarenteed progression to the Semi’s.

'We’re still one of the fresher teams out there so we’re picking up experience in these events. We had a really tight Semi Final which was affected by the conditions and i think that might have spun our heads out a bit for the Petit Final. Overall we sailed alright and we’ll keep learning from events like this.'

The race for Alpari World Match Racing Tour glory will resume at Match Race France in Marseille from 24 – 29 September. All of the teams have the option of using their score from that event as a contributor to their overall points total so it’ll be all to play for once again in France.

St. Moritz Match Race – Finishing Positions:
1. Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing
2. Mathieu Richard (FRA) Loire Atlantique Sailing Team
3. Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team
4. Laurie Jury (NZL) Kiwimatch Sailing Team
5. Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
6. Peter Gilmour (AUS) Yanmar Racing
7. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team
8. Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar
9. Jerome Clerc (SUI) Team CER
10. Eric Monnin (SUI) Okalys Corum
11. Josh Junior (NZL) Wellington Spirit
12. Phil Robertson (NZ) Waka Racing

Overall Tour Championship Standings – after five stages:
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team – 93pts
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar – 87pts
Peter Gilmour (AUS) Yanmar Racing – 69pts
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team – 69pts
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing – 64pts
Phil Robertson (NZ) Waka Racing – 56pts
Laurie Jury (NZ) Kiwi Match – 49pts
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team – 35pts
Mathieu Richard (FRA) Loire Atlantique Sailing Team – 28pts
Jordan Reece (AUS) Estate Master Sailing Team – 22pts

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