The Monsoon Cup 2011, the final event on the 2011 ISAF World Match Racing Tour, is being sailed in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia.
The quarter-finals of this year's Monsoon Cup became the 2011 World Match Racing Tour Championship showdown when Tour leader and twice World Champion Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar (106 points) and second placed Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing Team (100 points), faced each other in a first to three wins playoff.
Two quick wins for Williams, with Bruni receiving a penalty during the prestart in the first match and then a sensational prestart collision and a red flag penalty against Bruni in the second.
Dockside during a scheduled break, there was a decided contrast in moods between the two skippers.
Ian Williams was upbeat. ‘A lovely sunny day in Terengganu. We are obviously pleased to be 2-0 up.
‘It is a shame for us that we don’t carry straight on from here as we have momentum. A break always disturbs that but our job is to make sure we come back re-focused, like we did this morning, and finish it off this afternoon.
‘In both matches there were penalties on Bruni. In the first, I don’t know why he did not do enough to keep clear; we were on starboard, he was on port, so the penalty he received was fair enough.
‘The second one, he was trying to be shut us out at the committee boat and was in big trouble and he hit us hard, so out I am surprised he did just get a red (flag). He hit us in the starboard quarter and spun us around facing the other way. But even after doing his penalty turns, he was better placed than he otherwise would have been.
‘We sailed smoothly and I did not lose my cool. From our viewpoint it really should have been a double penalty, but at the end of the day it did not matter.
‘Anything can happen from here. In 2008 we were 2-0 against Adam Minoprio at the Monsoon Cup and we came in for the break. Another result meant that we had won the World championship but we had a release of tension and did not come back focused on the following day. We did not sail well and lost 2-3.
‘Our job today is to ensure there is no complacency and we don’t have a repeat of 2008. We just need to finish it off.’
Bruni with his head down coming ashore after losing the first two matches to Williams said simply ‘‘It might look like a sunny day but it’s raining in my heart.’
‘A very tough morning, not only two points down but big damage on the other boat.
‘I thought I had an edge on the starts. It can be like that for an hour and then it goes the other way. The break will work in our favour; a big plus, a chance to regroup, these situations can turn around.
‘It’s happened to me in the past. Obviously I need to refresh my mind on the starts. That was our problem.’
After a three hour break the combatants were back on the Pulau Duyong basin.
In the third match Williams won the start easily and headed left but Williams received a penalty on the cross, just failing to cross clear ahead of Bruni, and was red flagged.
Williams completed his penalty but was behind. Down the run Williams closed up but Bruni held his lead and was three lengths ahead.
Bruni hit the tide line nicely and headed into the top mark still with a big lead. He sailed to victory to take one back.
Williams - 2 Bruni –1 but it was still championship point for Williams.
In the fourth Williams went left off the start line. Bruni sailed up the course for 30 seconds before heading right. Williams was ahead on the cross by one length, and went right. Bruni was out in strong current on the left of the course.
A place in the semi-finals would give Williams his third World Championship.
Williams was around the mark first, another tack for Bruni, but Williams was already heading down the run towards another World Championship. Bruni could do nothing but follow.
Ian Williams (Team GAC Pindar) is the 2011 ISAF Match Racing World Champion.
It was obvious delight and relief for Williams and his crew Bill Hardesty, Mal Parker, Gerry Mitchell and Matt Cassidy with high fives and hugs all around.
Grinning broadly Ian Williams was an absolutely delighted man. ‘Francesco came back strongly after the break. In the end he could not manage to beat us in the starts.
‘To win our third World title feels fantastic. With a new sponsor, GAC onboard, it is obviously good to have nailed it first time.
‘We have had a strong season. We have won two regattas. I think two is the most we have ever won in a season so we felt strong all year. We struggled a little bit in the four man boats but we have always felt strong when we have had the whole team together and really that is the key.
‘I have to say the team is fantastic and we don’t seem to be able to manage without any one of them so it’s good to have them all together here. They performed very well.
‘When we are up against it the team seems to pull together. We were really up against it yesterday, we had two must win races. We were behind against Bruni in a must win race, during the round robin and somehow the team managed to pull together and just pull it out of the bag at the critical moment, and that has really been the difference.
‘Right now I am thinking about the next race, the start of the semi-finals which is in about 15 minutes time.
‘One of the big challenges if you win the world championship before the end of the Monsoon Cup is to then make sure you also try and win the Monsoon Cup, which is what we came here to do so that’s what we are going to try and do now.’
Ian Williams will face Jesper Radich (Adrian Lee & Partners) in one semi-final of the 2011 Monsoon Cup.
Francesco Bruni was disappointed. ‘Ian did a good job obviously. He is a tough contender for sure. In match racing he is always winning.
‘However, I really felt that I was performing not as well as in the previous days and previous events.
‘Today was just a low day, for me, myself personally. Again it was all on that last start. I should have just tacked straight away, take the right and we would probably have been ahead a couple of lengths at the top mark, but staying in the middle we all know is not possible here, and I went for the middle, which sounds crazy but that proves that my brain wasn’t working today.
‘Across the season the team overall had a good performance. Finishing second … I don’t know yet if it is second or a third in the overall standings because Gilmour can still make it I think, it doesn’t matter. We had the opportunity to win the World title and I think our performance was good, apart from today.’ Monsoon Cup Quarter-Final Results:
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team beat Will Tiller (NZL) Full Metal Jacket Racing 3-2
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing beat Phil Robertson (NZL) Team China powered by WAKA Racing 3-2
Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners beat Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team 3-1
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar beat Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing 3-1 Results after Qualifying Session 3:
Will Tiller (NZL) Full Metal Jacket Racing 8-3
Phil Robertson (NZL) Team China powered by WAKA Racing 8-3
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team 7-4
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 6-5
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar 6-5
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing 6-5
Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners 6-5
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team 5.5-5
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat 5-6
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 4-7
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team 4-7
Jeremy Koo (MAS) Abdullah Chan/KRT 0-11 Overall Championship Standings – after seven stages :
1 Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar – 106pts
2 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing – 100pts
3 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat – 99.8pts
4 Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing – 78.8pts
5 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team – 75pts
6 Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 74pts
7 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team – 73.2pts
8 Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners – 71.2pts
9 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 69.6pts
10 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing – 64.4pts
World Match Racing Tour website www.wmrt.com
Monsoon Cup website www.monsooncup.com.my