On a course area set up in the narrow strait overlooked from above by the Hotel Ilha Do Bol and fanned by a brisk easterly sea breeze, the action was fast and furious today at the Brasil Sailing Cup, where World Match Racing Tour veterans bested their less experienced rivals in the Quarter-Final stage of the competition.
But the depth of talent displayed by their younger rivals was certainly impressive, as they pushed hard in each match before the winners prevailed in the first-to-two point series.
Two Swedes, Magnus Holmberg of Victory Challenge and Bjorn Hansen of the Alandia Sailing Team were first to go through to the Semi-Finals, dispensing with their fellow Scandinavian rivals Mattias Rahm (SWE) and his Stena Bulk Sailing Team and Peter Wibroe (DEN) and his Wibroe Sailing Team, respectively, in only two matches. But neither went down without a fight, with Wibroe being especially tough for Hansen. In their first match, Wibroe had control of the favored left side of the windward leg, forcing Hansen to tack away with lee-bows tacks, until the last one got a little too close, yielding a penalty from the umpires for the young Dane.
But Wibroe refused to die, and continued to control Hansen in a leeward overlap around the top mark, but when he and Hansen bore away to set their spinnakers, Wibroe luffed a little too hard, causing contact and earning the Dane yet another yellow flag for failing to give the Swedes an opportunity to keep clear. Now with two penalties from the umpires, Wibroe had to drop his spinnaker straight away and do his penalty turn, giving Hansen an insurmountable lead.
The next two pairs to do battle were Paolo Cian (ITA) of Team Shosholoza against young Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and his Mirsky Racing Team, and reigning World Champion Ian Williams (GBR) with his Team Pindar up against Pierre Antoine Morvan (FRA) of Equipe de France espoir de match racing.
Even after drawing a foul on the French in the pre-start of the second match and winning control off the start, Williams still had his hands full, with Morvan gaining on the first run to close within metres at the bottom gate. Then towards the top of the last beat Morvan gained control from the right, and dialed Williams down, forcing him to duck on the port tack layline.
'But Morvan had his spinnaker pole out to leeward, and we clipped it while trying to duck,' said Williams, picking up the story, 'and then things started happening really fast.' For not keeping clear, the match umpires gave Team Pindar a penalty, but also a red flag for taking control of the lead. So up goes the yellow and red flag, but taking advantage of his opportunity to take his own penalty turn, Morvan bore way, gybed, but the umpires reckoned he hadn’t completed his turn correctly by not coming to a close hauled course on port, so the blue flag remained up as well.
This incident being so close to the top mark, Williams had to do his penalty turn after rounding outside the two-length zone, which allowed Morvan to pass by downwind under spinnaker towards the finish. The six-length lead the French had over the British looked like just enough to round the pin end of the finish, drop their spinnaker, tack, and bear away to re-cross the finish line ahead, but a knot in the spinnaker halyard prevented the sail to be dropped low enough to execute the turn correctly, and now it was Williams turn to coast ahead and into the Semi-Finals.
'That was really a tough match,' said Williams, 'and it taught us to be ever-vigilant in that situation should it happen again.'
Tomorrow Williams will meet Cian in the first-to-three Semi-Finals, and Hansen will meet Holmberg in a sword fight between Swedes. Results after Day Two:
Quarter Finals Results:
1. Ian Williams (GBR), Team Pindar 2-0
2. Pierre Antoine Morvan (FRA), Equipe de France espoir de match racing 0-2
1. Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Victory Challenge 2-0
2. Mattias Rahm (SWE), Stenna Bulk Sailing Team 0-2
1. Paolo Cian (ITA), Team Shosholoza 2-0
2. Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team 0-2
1. Bjorn Hansen (SWE), Alandia Sailing Team 2-0
2. Peter Wibroe (DEN), Wibroe Sailing Team 0-2 Repechage:
1. Peter Wibroe (DEN), Wibroe Sailing Team 5-0
2. Pierre Antoine Morvan (FRA), Equipe de France espoir de match racing 3-2
3. Adam Minoprio (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand, BlackMatch Racing 2-3
4. Henrique Haddad (BRA), Giant Sailing Team 2-3
5. Juan Grimaldi (ARG), Tag Heuer Sailing Team 1-2
6. Daniel Glomb (BRA), Team Bravissimo 1-2
For more information about the Brasil Sailing Cup, visit the event website at www.brasilsailingcup.com
For more information about the World Match Racing Tour, visit the WMRT website at www.worldmatchracingtour.com