WMRT Korea Match Cup – Bjorn Hansen in fine form

Current Korea Match Cup Champion Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team is on course to retain his title - WMRT Korea Match Cup 2012
Andrew Carter/AWMRT
WMRT Korea Match Cup 2012, the second event in the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, is currently underway in Gyeonggi, South Korea. 2011 Champion Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team has booked his place in the Semi-Final whilst Peter Gilmour (AUS) Yanmar Racing lost out to Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar in their feisty Quarter-Final battle.

Bjorn Hansen was in fine form in his match against William Tiller (NZL) Full Metal Jacket Racing, as he looks to retain his crown and take a second consecutive victory in one of his favoured events. A 2-0 lead could have easily become 3-0 for Hansen but he was denied a crucial umpiring decision in his third match against the young New Zealander.

Hansen picked up a pre-start penalty but crossed the start line slightly ahead of Tiller, who took the commanding right side of the course. After managing to pass his opponent midway through the match, Hansen maintained his advantage all the way through to the finish line but didn’t extend his lead enough to take his penalty. By controlling the course to the finish, Hansen thought he had done enough, forcing Tiller past the line and employing a late luff to try and offset the penalty. Hansen did manage to tag Tiller but this offset their penalties rather than getting the red flag immediate penalty that Hansen thought it deserved and in the dive for the line Tiller was victorious taking the score line to 2-1.

Hansen managed to cool his frustrations for the fourth flight and confirmed his progression to the Semi-Final, winning 3-1. He said: 'It was four tight matches but we were very happy with the way we sailed and we’re looking forward to a bit of a break before the next round.'

'It was really frustrating after the third match but that’s just part of the sport. We cooled down and managed to close the game in the next match. Everyone on board was very focused, so I’m happy.'

'The event feels similar to last year. We have a good feeling and familiarity with these boats and can sail on a much calmer level.'

Match Racing heavyweights Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar and Peter Gilmour (AUS) Yanmar Racing were paired in the second of the day’s Quarter-Finals, the reigning Champion taking the brave choice of picking the Australian match racing legend, whose record four Tour titles he is aiming to equal this season.

Williams took the first match, which was followed by a lengthy enforced break due to damage on the boat of Gilmour’s Yanmar Racing. The contest was punctuated by aggressive manoeuvres and the final 3-0 score line didn’t truly reflect the three tight matches. Williams, said 'The score line can sometimes be deceptive because it was a tight race and in the first one we were a long way behind at one point. In the second we were far ahead and he started coming back at us with some nice sailing and put a lot of pressure on our handling and our boat speed but great sailing by the all of my team GAC Pindar.

'It’s important to make the Semi-Final of this regatta, it’s a super regatta and high point scoring too; so it’s critical for us to make the Semi-Final. I think if we can do the same in Sweden and St. Moritz, we’ll be in the mix [for the series title] at the end of the year.'

Gilmour, responded: 'We’re a little bit surprised, it’s not like us to go down three nil but it’s happened.

'I think Ian felt comfortable against us in the round-robin so perhaps that’s why he picked us. Over the years I’ve always had a little bit of space and respect when it comes to the picks but they got a good win against us in qualification so I guess that was the rationale. It was a calculated risk from their point of view but they’ve got us out.

'I’m pleased with my Yanmar Racing team, we fought hard and had some opportunities but were unable to capitalise on them.'

'Ian and his team are sailing fairly well and they put themselves in the position to get it and good on them.

A tight contest between Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Team Korea and Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team went all the way to an exciting winner-takes-all fifth match. Mirsky, who held a Tour Card in 2011 eventually managed to get the better of his less experienced opponent, taking victory after two early penalties effectively ended the hopes of his French challenger. Mirsky, said: 'We’re growing as a team and getting stronger and stronger. I think that we’re going to be a tough competitor through these knockout stages.'

Top qualifier Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing took first pick of qualifying opponents and lined up a tie with Simeone Ferrarese (ITA) Ferrarese Racing Team, the youngest skipper with a Tour Card in 2012. Ferrarese took the fight to Robertson in the opening exchanges but the selection ultimately paid off, Robertson taking a 3-2 victory and the advantage of picking his opponent for the next round once again.

In the final four, Robertson chose to face defending Korea Match Cup Champion Bjorn Hansen, with the match drawn 1-1 at the close of sailing. The other Semi-Final match sees Ian Williams already in a commanding position against Torvar Mirsky’s Team Korea, the Brit taking a 2-0 lead at the end of the day’s racing. Both matches will continue at 1000 KST on Sunday 3rd June.

Robertson, said: 'It was brilliant to come through the Quarters against Simone [Ferrarese] because we were 2-1 down at one stage.'

'It was a tough call on who to pick for the semi’s. We’ve seen the other guys [Williams & Mirsky] quite a lot this week so we thought Bjorn’s [Hansen] form might not be quite up to theirs.

'It’s started tight, we had a really good first race then made a mistake in the second. I think it’ll be very tight tomorrow for sure. It might be down to the starts and who can get off the line the quickest.'

Semi-Finals will continue on Sunday 3 June, to be followed by the Final from 1000 local time (KST). Live TV will be broadcast 1400 – 1600 local time on Sunday 3 June.

Live coverage and highlights packages will be available online throughout the event, to watch click here.

Quarter-Final Results:
Phil Robertson (NZ) – Waka Racing v Simone Ferrarese (ITA) – Ferrarese Racing Team 3-2
Ian Williams (GBR) – GAC Pindar v Peter Gilmour (AUS) – Yanmar Racing 3-0
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) – Mekonomen Sailing Team v William Tiller (NZ) – Full Metal Jacket Racing 3-1
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) – Team Korea v Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) - Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 3-2

Semi-Final Current Score:
Phil Robertson (NZ) – Waka Racing v Bjorn Hansen (SWE) – Mekonomen Sailing Team 1-1*
Ian Williams (GBR) – GAC Pindar v Torvar Mirsky (AUS) – Team Korea 2-0*
*Matches in progress

World Match Racing Tour website
http://www.sail-world.com/97954