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WMRT Korea Match Cup - Bjorn Hansen fights off stiff competition

by Leigh Ireland on 3 Jun 2012
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team takes victory at the Korea Match Cup 2012 Andrew Carter/AWMRT
WMRT Korea Match Cup 2012, the second event of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour 2012, concluded in Gyeonggi, South Korea today, 3rd June. Defending Champion Bjorn Hansen (SWE) fought off stiff competition from reigning Tour title-holder Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar from Mekonomen Sailing Team to win.

Hansen began in commanding fashion and managed to establish a 2-0 lead early on, looking a clear favourite to retain his crown. The fight back by Williams then began in the third with Hansen being forced over the line before the gun and having to round the committee boat to start with a deficit which he wasn’t able to make up. Williams led from start to finish in the fourth, levelling the scores at 2-2 to set up a grandstand finish for the capacity crowd at Jeongok Harbour.

Williams may look back on the first match for one of the defining moments of the tie, as he was forced outside of the committee boat just before the start. By electing to try for the line anyway, he smashed into the committee boat and damaged his own bow, in the process earning an early penalty. The damage resulted in a replacement boat being needed for the remaining races.

The winner-takes-all fifth match started with split tacks off the line which Williams led, building a lead to almost 50 meters before rounding the top mark for the final time. After a shocking spinnaker hoist early on the final leg, there was a renewed sense of belief amongst Hansen’s Mekonomen Sailing Team that they might still have a chance of victory. Hansen split right (looking downwind) early and on coming back together, Williams was still ahead but the gap was closer. A slight increase in pressure on the left hand side of the course now favoured Hansen and as the pair approached the finish line from opposite sides, Hansen dramatically crossed the bow of the GAC Pindar boat, holding his lead through to the finish line to take the win.

Hansen, said: 'In that last match, we were four lengths behind and saw an opportunity when he had problems with his spinnaker. We put in a fantastic jibe set to get over to the right, probably the best I’ve seen from the guys!

'It was a fantastic feeling when we realised we were going to take it and at one of the absolute best events on the Tour, there’s nothing better.

'We always really enjoy this event and have done well at it over the years.'

Ian Williams: 'I can’t say enough about these guys [GAC Pindar teammates], we managed to get the boat moving a little bit better than Torvar’s [Mirsky] in the Semi Final and that took us through that one.

'In the Final, Bjorn just sailed a little bit better than we did today. We always give it the best we can and we led every race in the final. These conditions always allow the following team to get back in it and that’s what happened.

'We’ve come second four times now and we’ll just keep trying to win it until we do.'

Both skippers came into the final on good form, Ian Williams powering through his Semi-Final against Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Team Korea, taking a commanding 3-0 victory for the second consecutive knockout stage, having beaten Peter Gilmour (AUS) Yanmar Racing by the same score in their tense Quarter-Final.

Bjorn Hansen continued his march through his favoured regatta after a close Semi-Final earlier in the day against an in-form Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing, the winner at the recent Match Race Germany. He eventually beat the young skipper 3-2 despite being on the verge of defeat when Robertson led 2-1. Robertson was unable to capitalise on a 40m advantage in a crucial fourth match, carrying a penalty which he completed on the upwind leg but left him with an insurmountable distance to catch up on the final leg.

Robertson won the day’s Petit-Final against Torvar Mirsky, securing third place in the final standings for the event and 24 points towards his Alpari World Match Tour campaign. Robertson, said: 'We were very disappointed to lose out in the Semi’s, it was close all the way through to the fifth. In the last match of that tie, we lost out at the start and if you’re not firing on all cylinders, you’re going to struggle.

'Anyone in the final four that doesn’t win is a bit disappointed but we got the better of [Torvar] Mirsky in the Petit-Final so it’s a nicer end to the regatta than it could have been.

'We won in Germany and took third here so it’s a good start to the season for us.'

Mirsky, responded: 'We’re happy with fourth for sure, it’s a solid result.

'We wanted to put Team Korea on the podium and just missed out to Phil [Robertson]. We lost out on a few one percenters and against guys this good, that makes a difference.'

The second stage of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour has left Korea Match Cup winner Bjorn Hansen level on 31 points with Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team in the series standings. The impressive young skipper has been a consistent performer on the Tour in his first season as a Tour Card Holder, finishing third at Match Race Germany and adding a seventh place finish in Korea.

Highlights packages are available online, to watch click here.

Final Result:
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) – Mekonomen Sailing Team v Ian Williams (GBR) – GAC Pindar v 3-2

Petit-Final Result:
Phil Robertson (NZ) – Waka Racing v Torvar Mirsky (AUS) – Team Korea 2-1

Semi-Final Results:
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) – Mekonomen Sailing Team v Phil Robertson (NZ) – Waka Racing 3-2
Ian Williams (GBR) – GAC Pindar v Torvar Mirsky (AUS) – Team Korea 3-0

Overall Championship Standings – after 2 stages:
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team - 31pts
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team – 31pts
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar - 28pts
Laurie Jury (NZ) Kiwi Match – 27pts
Peter Gilmour (AUS) Yanmar Racing – 26pts
Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing – 24pts
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Team Korea - 20pts
Simone Ferrarese (ITA) Ferrarese Racing Team – World Match Racing Tour website

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