At Stena Match Cup Sweden, third event of the 2012 Alpari World Match Racing Tour, Yanmar Racing began the final day of qualifying with their spot in the quarter finals already booked. The question that remained was – just how high they could finish. Peter Gilmour and his team were in second place when racing recommenced this morning, right behind the overall Tour leader and local favourite, Bjorn Hansen.
For the first time in three days the action got underway on schedule, and Yanmar Racing had an early, tough start, up against Simone Ferrarese. The breeze was still shifty and very puffy, coming from the north-east at anything from 6-12 knots – so it was a day to keep eyes out of the boat to stay in the best wind.
French tactician Fred Guilmin recalled that Yanmar Racing wanted to be to windward – or to the right of Ferrarese – off the start line, and far enough away from him to be unaffected by the bad wind coming off his sails. They got the right-hand side, but not enough separation and Ferrarese was able to force them to tack, and kept pushing them out to the right-hand side of the race course. When they reached it, he was just far enough in front to be able to round ahead.
Guilmin takes up the story, 'We managed to keep it close, first on the downwind, the second leg and then back upwind for the third leg. It wasn’t till the final leg that we really got a chance of a pass. We got a good puff of breeze and closed up and Peter [Gilmour] managed to get him in our bad air and we drew level in the last 50m. Then with one good pump of the sails we got past him and won it by no more than half a meter!'
The victory put Yanmar Racing back on the top of the leaderboard, but they had to sit out the next three flights before their final two races. They turned out to be against two men competing for the top of the leaderboard; Keith Swinton and Phil Robertson. Swinton was first, another skipper hailing from Western Australia, like Gilmour.
'We won the start with better speed and control of the right-hand side,' said Guilmin, 'it was a good call because we had better wind there and rounded the first mark with about a two-length lead. We probably kept that advantage all the way round the next lap, but on the last leg we extended in some good breeze and must have won it by 100m in the end.'
The final race was against the young and rising Kiwi star, Phil Robertson – and the winner would top the qualifying leaderboard. 'We knew that it was a must-win race,' said Guilmin, 'we wanted to win it to have full choice of our opponent in the quarter finals. But at the start the wind dropped and shifted while we were chasing Robertson back to the line. We were both a little late and it put us behind and he managed to keep it like that all the way round two laps.'
It meant that Phil Robertson got the first choice of opponent for the next round, and he chose Reuben Corbett. Guilmin said, 'If Phil hadn’t chosen Reuben we would have taken him, but Keith Swinton was our second choice, so we’ve got him. They are a young team like Corbett, and we think that Keith doesn’t like to race Peter. We beat him in the quarter finals in Germany and in qualifying today, so we are confident for the morning.'
The forecast is for a slightly stronger more solid easterly breeze, and the quarter finals will hopefully start on schedule at 09:00 CET on the 6th July. The Stena Match Cup Sweden is held in Marstrand and runs from the 2nd to the 7th July.
Final Qualifying Leaderboard
1. Phil Robertson 10-3 = 10pts
2. Peter Gilmour 10-3 = 10pts
3. Ian Williams 9-4 = 9pts
4. Keith Swinton 9-4 = 9pts
5. Bjorn Hansen 9-4 = 9pts
6. Johnie Berntsson 9-4 = 9pts
7. Pierre-Antoine Morvan 7-6 = 7pts
8. Reuben Corbett 5-8 = 5pts
9. Joachim Aschenbrenner 5-8 = 5pts
10. Staffan Lindberg 5-8 = 5pts
11. Torvar Mirsky 5-8 = 5pts
12. Simone Ferrarese 4-9 = 4pts
13. Laurie Jury 3-10 = 3pts
14. Victor Ogeman 1-12 = 1pts
World Match Racing Tour website
by Mark Chisnell
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6:19 PM Thu 5 Jul 2012GMT
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