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WMRT Monsoon Cup - Everything to play for in Malaysia

by AWMRT on 8 Nov 2012
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) gains an advantage over Monnin during the 2012 Argo Group Gold Cup. ©Charles Anderson/RBYC
In a month’s time, the world's top match racers will descend upon Malaysia for the final event of the 2012 Alpari World Match Racing Tour season, the Monsoon Cup. Whilst Bjorn Hansen and Ian Williams are touted as the most likely winners of this year's title, the stats suggest that the Monsoon Cup could well provide a twist in the tale of the season.

Spurred on after a disappointing regatta at Match Race Germany, Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team has gone on to lead the overall table since the second event of the season. Consistent performances from fellow Tour stalwarts Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar and Peter Gilmour (AUS) Yanmar Racing have seen two of the most successful Tour skippers ever progress to the knockout stages of every event that they have competed in, putting them in second and fourth overall respectively.

Hansen leads 9-5 head-to-head against Williams overall in 2012 and assuming both teams progress to the knockout stages of the Monsoon Cup, it would be interesting to see whether the Swede would choose to face his opponent at the earliest possible opportunity to try and eliminate him. The stats suggest he should - while Williams has achieved a podium finish in all but one of his Tour events this year, Hansen has beaten his biggest title rival in both of their knockout stage battles.

The high risk-high reward strategy has been a feature in the climax of previous Tour seasons as the world's best helmsmen back their own ability. Ben Ainslie picked his nearest rival Mathieu Richard in the 2010 Monsoon Cup, despite holding an inferior head-to-head record against the Frenchman. He successfully eliminated his main contender and went on to win the season title.

After such a close season on the world's premier sailing series, the high-scoring Monsoon Cup (1.5x standard stage points) means that the top eight teams are still statistically able to finish top of the pile. Looking at the current leaderboard after seven events, where can we expect the Tour Card Holders hope to finish overall in the season standings? http://www.wmrt.com/result/leaderboard.html

Sitting in third overall, Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing has a real chance of stamping his impression on the world's premier sailing series in his first full season. Victory isn't out of the question should Hansen and Williams falter but the youngster could finish as low as eighth, depending on his result and the successes of those below him in the current standings. Swinton currently holds a 6.75 point gap over Gilmour in fourth place but those five Tour Card Holders below him are separated by just eight points. Two places difference at the Monsoon Cup could change things for him significantly.

Demonstrating the potential shifts in the table, currently occupying that eighth spot is Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team, who is once again relying on a late season surge to power his way up the leaderboard. He secured a third place finish overall last year, which seemed unlikely before Final appearances at the Argo Group Gold Cup in Bermuda and the Monsoon Cup. He climbed the table from seventh place to the podium after the final event in 2011 and will hope to repeat that feat again come December.

A second place at the recent Argo Group Gold Cup in October has left him with a mathematically possible shot at the Tour title but a more realistic chance to reach the top three overall for a second consecutive year. In 2011, he had a 26.6 point gap to make up as well as relying on the results of those skippers above him. This year, that gap is 14.75 points but again, he will need the results elsewhere to go in his favour. Either way, Berntsson will have to target a Monsoon Cup Final appearance to give himself the best possible chance.

Skipper points overview and possible finishing positions:

Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team
Max season Tour points: 142.25
Min (current) season Tour point: 104.25
Highest possible overall Tour finish: first
Lowest possible overall Tour finish: fifth

Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar
Max season Tour points: 140
Min (current) season Tour point: 102
Highest possible overall Tour finish: first
Lowest possible overall Tour finish: sixth

Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing
Max season Tour points: 121
Min (current) season Tour point: 83
Highest possible overall Tour finish: first
Lowest possible overall Tour finish: eighth

Peter Gilmour (AUS) Yanmar Racing
Max season Tour points: 114.25
Min (current) season Tour point: 76.25
Highest possible overall Tour finish: first
Lowest possible overall Tour finish: eighth

Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team
Max season Tour points: 109
Min (current) season Tour point: 71
Highest possible overall Tour finish: first
Lowest possible overall Tour finish: eighth

Laurie Jury (NZL) Kiwi Match
Max season Tour points: 108.25
Min (current) season Tour point: 70.25
Highest possible overall Tour finish: first
Lowest possible overall Tour finish: eighth

Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing
Max season Tour points: 108
Min (current) season Tour point: 70
Highest possible overall Tour finish: first
Lowest possible overall Tour finish: eighth

Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
Max season Tour points: 106.25
Min (current) season Tour point: 68.25
Highest possible overall Tour finish: first
Lowest possible overall Tour finish: eighth

The wildcards for the Monsoon Cup will be confirmed next week and may well shake up the status quo in the race for overall Tour glory. We have seen throughout the year how weather conditions, racing area, boat preference and team entries outside or the Tour Card Holders have had a huge impact on event results. Whilst head-to-head form and current standings are will give the competing skippers something to ponder as they assess their opponents in Malaysia, they know that nothing can ever be guaranteed in the heat of a one-on-one battle.



Monsoon Cup - Competing Teams:

Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team
Laurie Jury (NZL) Kiwi Match
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Monsoon Cup World Match Racing Tour website
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