Hard, Austria: The semifinalists in the 2010 EUROSAF European Match Race Championship were decided today. Four skippers from the Women division and four from the Open division have their berth for the semis guaranteed. Conditions were moderate to light, decreasing as the day progressed and as a result, the race committee was forced to stop the last two races (Bekatorou against Macgregor and Monnin against Arbuzov) earlier, in favor of carrying out the full schedule of semifinal and final races on Saturday.
Cristiana Monina from Italy beat Dutch Renee Groeneveld three nil and advanced to the semifinals. The score doesn’t reflect the tight and close matches they had to sail. As Monina stated, it was a very stressing and tiring day as the crews had to make a very difficult choice on where to go. Under these light conditions, it was almost impossible sniffing where that little extra puff would come from, and for her, the key was to have a clean start, be ahead and cover her opponent until the finish line.
For Lotte Meldgaard from Denmark it was a little bit easier as she had better boat speed upwind in all three races. Rita Gonçalves, her Portuguese opponent was able to make some gains downwind, but not enough to pass.
Lotte Meldgaard is on a roll with a 10-0 winning streak in the round robins and the quarterfinals. Hard, 14 May 2010. Photo copyright Daniel Forster / www.go4image.com
The day’s most exciting quarterfinal was by far the one between Russia’s Ekaterina Skudina and Silke Hahlbrock from Germany. The German started well and won the first two races. At that point it seemed it was over but the Russians didn’t give up. They knew they had to sail flawlessly and so they did. With the dying breeze Skudina used her skills gained from Moscow’s lakes and tied two all.
The decisive match was a real rollercoaster. Hahlbrock forced a penalty on Skudina in the dialup, something “not clever at all” as Skudina admitted, but despite the advantage she went on to pile up on crew errors. A sloppy spinnaker drop at the bottom mark gave Skudina a 26-second advantage that she used in order to offload the penalty at the last top mark. She kept in front of the German and won her ticket to the semifinals.
Ekaterina Skudina gets penalty at the prestart against Silke Hahlbrock but eventually wins the race. Hard, 14 May 2010. Photo copyright Daniel Forster / www.go4image.com
The last quarterfinal of the day, and longest one as the breeze was dropping, saw Britain’s Lucy Macgregor beat Sofia Bekatorou from Greece 2-1. In the first race Macgregor got the upper hand during the prestart, got ahead of her opponent and covered her until the finish line. In the second race the two skippers had a pretty even start but Bekatorou found just a little bit more breeze and was able to be ahead at the first cross, staying in front until the end. In the third and final race Macgregor showed her skills once again at the prestart, squeezing her opponent at the committee boat and forcing her to a windward-leeward incident. Judging she had gained advantage, the umpires red flagged Bekatorou. Facing an opponent with the pedigree of Macgregor, there was little the Greek could do.
Lucy Macgregor advances to the semifinals. Hard, 14 May 2010. Photo copyright Daniel Forster / www.go4image.com
Mads Ebler from Denmark came strong from a very good performance in the round robin and went on to beat Stefan Meister 3-1 and advance to the semifinals.
Pierre-Antoine Morvan also advances with the same score against Jacopo Pasini. Morvan won quite easily the first two races thanks to two “great starts”, as he stated. He was then able to control his opponent even if they were very close races, in particular the first one. His third race finished with a loss due to a wrong tactical call. They fought for the right side at the start and were convinced the right would be favorable but it turned out that a nice left shift benefited Pasini. The final and decisive race was again a story of getting a good start and controlling his opponent.
Alvaro Marinho from Portugal beat Staffan Lindberg 3-1. Marinho was happy with the result, stating he sailed well, having won all 4 starts. It could have even been better because the race lost to Lindberg was decided in the final stretch of the last run. As the two boats were approaching the finish line, the breeze died down but Lindberg got a little puff that allowed him to cross the line in front. According to Marinho, his team has now achieved its initial goal which was to get to the semifinals.
Alvaro Marinho beats Staffan Lindberg and moves on to the semis. Hard, 14 May 2010. Photo copyright Daniel Forster / www.go4image.com
Finally, Eric Monin from Switzerland only had to win two races against Russia’s Andrew Arbuzov. As Monin pointed out, in the first race the start was very close but he managed to cross the line ahead of the Russian and control him until the finish. On the other hand, in the second race, after a split start the two yachts went to opposite sides. As it turned out, the Swiss had opted for the favored side and in the dying breeze finished almost one leg ahead of Arbuzov. Given the extremely light breeze and the tight schedule, the race committee decided to stop that quarterfinal at that stage, in favor of Saturday’s semifinals and finals.
Eric Monin had a great day after a slow start. He finishes second in his round robin group, then beats Andrew Arbuzov at the quarterfinals and moves on to the semis. Hard, 14 May 2010. Photo copyright Daniel Forster / www.go4image.com
2010 EUROSAF European Match Race Championship – Quarterfinals – Provisional Results
Women (in bold advances to semifinals)
Meldgaard (DEN) vs Gonçalves (POR) 3-0
Monina (ITA) vs Groneveld (NED) 3-0
Skudina (RUS) vs Hahlbrock (GER) 3-2
Macgregor (GBR) vs Bekatorou (GRE) 2-1 (Race committee stopped race at that stage)
Open (in bold advances to semifinals)
Morvan (FRA) vs Pasini (ITA) 3-1
Ebler (DEN) vs Meister (GER) 3-1
Marinho (POR) vs Lindberg (FIN) 3-1
Monin (SUI) vs Arbuzov (RUS) 2-0 (Race committee stopped race at that stage)