Williams knocked out of Match Cup Sweden event

Ian Williams and Bjorn Hansen battle it out at Match Cup Sweden 2008 Image © Dan Ljungsrik

The phenomenally warm and sunny weather persisted in Marstrand, bringing out an estimated 35,000 spectators Thursday to watch the final flights of the round robin in Match Cup Sweden.

Leading the final pack is last year’s runner-up on the Tour, Mathieu Richard and his French Match Racing Team, who managed to win nine of eleven matches. This is an impressive record indeed given the strong field here at this event, where the reigning World Champion Ian Williams (GBR) and Team Pindar and Damien Iehl (FRA) and his French Match Racing Team, joined Ben Ainslie and Paolo Cian of Italy on the benches.

'We hope to continue this momentum into the next round,' said Richard, as we had a good feeling on board and we will try and continue this.'

Richard will meet eighth place finisher Bjorn Hansen (SWE) and his Alandia Sailing Team, who is the returning champion of this event from last year and a runner-up at the Tour’s first stage event, the Brasil Sailing Cup. Hansen just squeaked through with five wins on a tie-break with Sebastian Col (FRA) of the French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, and Williams, but it was the British who did not go through.

'We are obviously very disappointed, because normally five wins is enough to get through to the next round, and I thought in general we were sailing well. But we just didn’t have the opportunities come to us today, so we’ll look forward to doing better at the next event,' said Williams. And even though Team Pindar faltered here last year as well, Williams said he still felt 'This is a fantastic event, one of the best on the Tour.'

After being defeated in his last match, Williams still did not give up, having filed a red-flag protest for redress against the Race Committee, alleging his call for having not entered in the last match by a mere 10 cm was due to inconsistencies in the way the race managers are judging the ends of the starting line. The Jury disallowed the request, so the results were allowed to stand.

But one match Williams did win was one of the more exciting of the day, where Peter Gilmour (AUS) and his PST Team received a penalty flag while tacking off the rocks on the second beat of the race. Then at the top mark Gilmour tried to set a trap for Williams by luffing him well upwind of the windward mark, but in so doing earned himself yet another penalty. Required to shed this penalty turn straight away, Gilly instead delayed enough to prompt yet a third penalty, and earn a disqualifying black flag, his second in this event.

Despite this glitch, Gilmour finished fourth in the round robin and thus will meet his younger Australian protégé Torvar Mirsky and the Mirsky Racing Team. This event last year was Mirsky’s debut on the Tour, having gained an invitation at Gilmour’s urging when the elder Australian had to attend to a coaching obligation at the America’s Cup, and the two had trained together in their home port of Perth. So tomorrow will be like a contest between the Master and his Apprentice, where the score is now even: Mirsky defeated Gilmour in last month’s Korea Match Cup, and Gilmour defeated Mirsky today in the round robin.

Other pairings for tomorrow include: Magnus Holmberg (SWE) and his Victory Challenge team against Korea Match Cup winner Sebastian Col, and Match Cup Germany runner-up Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN) and his Trifork Racing Team pitted against Day One’s leader Mattias Rahm (SWE) and his Stena Bulk Racing team.

Round Robin results:

1. Mathieu Richard (FRA), French Match Racing Team 9–2
2. Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Victory Challenge 7-4
3. Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN), Trifork Racing Team 7-4
4. Peter Gilmour (AUS), PST Team 7-4
5. Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team 6-5
6. Mattias Rahm (SWE), Stena Bulk Racing 6-5
7. Sébastien Col (FRA), French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge 5-6
8. Björn Hansen (SWE), Alandia Sailing Team 5-6
9. Ian Williams (GBR), Team Pindar 5-6
10. Damien Iehl (FRA), French Match Racing Team 4-7
11. Ben Ainslie (GBR), Team Origin 4-7
12. Paolo Cian (ITA), Team Shosholoza 1-10

Match Cup Sweden 2008 Image © Dan Ljungsrik