In the Quarter Finals at Stena Match Cup Sweden, the third event on the 2012 Alpari World Match Racing Tour, a lot of Tour points were at stake. Peter Gilmour and his team had qualified in second place and were scheduled to race Keith Swinton – both skippers are from Western Australia, giving the match an extra dimension.
'It was,' commented Fred Guilmin, Yanmar Racing’s French tactician, 'an English kind of day, or perhaps Brittany. It was raining, but the wind was ok, easterly as forecast and 12 or maybe 16 knots at times.' The fresh breeze gave the potential for some exciting racing and the teams didn’t disappoint the Swedish crowds.
Yanmar Racing started their day with perhaps their toughest victory. Although they were ahead at the first exchange, they then made losses and Swinton slipped through to the favoured right-hand side and grabbed the lead at the first mark. 'From there we kept it tight,' said Guilmin, 'and finally got an opportunity on the last leg when we managed to give them some bad air. We caught up a lot, we got the pass and when they gybed to escape they got a penalty right on the finish to confirm the win for us.'
After winning a tough match from behind, Yanmar Racing then ceded the second race with a mistake. They didn’t see a buoy that marked the restricted zone, and when they entered it they were penalised. Then they got another penalty in the ensuing pre-start manoeuvres and the deficit was too much to make up – Swinton led all the way round.
Gilmour, Guilmin and the team made up for it with a win in the third race though, and then closed the match out in the fourth. 'We wanted the left and succeeded in getting it,' said Guilmin, 'and although it was very close until the end of the first leg we managed to get control right before the buoy. We had an opportunity to push him back with the bad air from our sails, and we extended from there and it was pretty straight-forward after that.'
In the other quarter-finals, Phil Robertson, Ian Williams and Bjorn Hansen had progressed, and as the winner of qualifying, Robertson got to pick his semi-final opponent – and he chose Yanmar Racing. Phil Robertson has scored a first and a third in two Tour events so far this year, so Gilmour and his team mates knew they were in for a battle.
It was Yanmar Racing that made the better start, winning the first race after leading off the line. Unfortunately they followed it up with a timing error in the second, and were late on their final approach to the start line. Robertson made the most of the error and started four boat lengths ahead. Guilmin commented, 'He didn’t really make any mistakes after that, and we needed one to let us back into it.'
The match is finely balanced at one race all, and with the same result in the other semi-final there is the prospect of some fantastic racing to deliver a champion tomorrow. Guilmin reflected, 'We have been sailing well, it’s not an easy wind, and sometimes you are in a good phase, and sometimes not – but we are happy, we are in good spirits, and we have good communication.'
'But the forecast is not very good,' he added, 'a south wind, so it will be hard to set a course and lighter wind, maybe some rain and 6-8 knots, with a little more by lunchtime. We have to keep the nerves tight, but not breaking!' The semi-finals will resume on the morning of the 7th July, hopefully at the scheduled time of 09:00 CET. The Stena Match Cup Sweden is held in Marstrand and runs from the 2nd to the 7th July.
Quarter Final Results
Peter Gilmour 3 – 1 Keith Swinton
Phil Robertson 3 – 0 Reuben Corbett
Bjorn Hansen 3 – 0 Johnie Berntsson
Ian Williams 3 – Pierre-Antoine Morvan
Semi-final Results After Two Flights
Peter Gilmour 1 – 1 Phil Robertson
Ian Williams 1 – 1 Bjorn Hansen
World Match Racing Tour website
by Mark Chisnell
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7:14 PM Fri 6 Jul 2012GMT
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