Light fluky breeze and strong tides delayed the start of racing today in Day Three of Troia Portugal Match Cup, with the resumption of the Round Robin not commencing until mid-afternoon and extending right up to sunset. But once the late seabreeze did finally fill, it provided the opportunity for great match race action in all flights, with multiple lead changes, penalties, and early starts keeping the assembled shore side spectators on edge.
Since new teams rotate through the three pairs of SM40’s in every flight, it took an accurate score sheet to track who was rising and who was falling through the ranks of the 12 teams entered for the event. But once the dust settled, it became clear the French Match Racing teams led by Mathieu Richard on Team French Spirit and Sebastian Col on K-Challenge were continuing their dominance of the event, with Richard on a nearly undefeated record of 9 wins in 10 matches sailed, and Col on 7 wins in 9 matches sailed.
In fact, in the dying light of the last flight, these two engaged in a battle royale which may have been one of the most exciting of the series, and maybe pivotal in the inevitable tie-breaks that lie ahead on the path to the Semi-Finals. It all started on the start, where Richard earned a penalty, but Col was over the start early in the strong current and had to return to the start. Normally this margin might be enough for the leader to extend the margin and do their penalty turn before finishing, but Col kept it close, gaining back ground on the long runs downwind against the current and constantly challenging Richard for the lead.
The two repeatedly locked horns in multiple luffing matches, with Col getting the lead but not without getting his own penalty to even the score. And when Richard closed the gap enough to have a go at Col once more, Col failed to keep clear, and earned yet another penalty, but never with enough time nor space to prevent Richard from getting to the finish line first.
According to their coach Marc Bouet, these two are very tough competitors despite their mild demeanors on shore, so it didn’t surprise him that neither would give in throughout their close-fought match. 'This was a very exciting match, and maybe we will see them again,' referring of course to the likelihood that these two will advance forward to the next stage.
Other teams that excelled today included Magnus Holmberg (SWE) and his Victory Challenge team, winning 4 of their 5 matches including a successful re-sail match from Flight 9 against Paolo Cian (ITA) and his Team Shosholoza. Holmberg’s now gone from being deep in a tie-break for 7th to tied in points with Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and his Mirsky Racing Team on six wins in 10 matches sailed.
With the long delay today and only two days remaining in the program, PRO Miguel Allen has asked teams to return to racing tomorrow morning at 0800hrs in order to complete the remaining 5 flights of the Round Robin.
Mathieu Richard (FRA),French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit 9 – 1
Sebastian Col (FRA), French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge 7 – 2
Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Victory Challenge 6 – 4
Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team 6 – 4
Damien Iehl (FRA), French Match Racing Team 5 - 5
Paolo Cian (ITA), Team Shosholoza 4 – 3
Ian Williams (GBR), Team Pindar 4 – 4
Adam Minoprio (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing 3 – 4
Alvaro Marinho (POR), 2 – 5
Manuel Weiller (ESP), 2 – 5
Bjorn Hansen (SWE), Alandia Sailing Team Team 2 – 6
Nick Cherry (GBR), 1 – 8
ISAF Match Racing World Championship Leaderboard (Top 8)
(After Stage 6 of 9)
1. Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar, 92
2. Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team/ French Team Spirit, 72
3. Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, 67
4. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team , 45
5. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Alandia Sailing Team, 40
6. Mattias Rahm (SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team, 34
7=. Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza, 33
7=. Adam Minoprio (NZL), ETNZ/BlackMatch, 33