Great Britain’s most celebrated sailor Ben Ainslie faced Australian favourite and Perth local, Torvar Mirsky in the finals showdown at the 2009 Sunseeker Australia Cup.
Pride was on the line to return the Cup to Australian waters, after it was won by Peter Gilmore (an Australian skipper) for team USA when the Australia Cup was last contested in 2001.
Ainslie was part of Gilmore’s winning crew in 2001 and had every confidence of repeating the win – this time as the skipper. “I was looking forward to defending my title but failed and am extremely disappointed,” Ainslie said.
The final was the best of three races with Mirsky overpowering the Great Britain team from the beginning winning the first two matches.
Mirsky led the first match and had good control throughout, playing the wind shifts like a true master and created a comfortable initial win.
In the second match, Ainslie won the start and controlled the race leading by 5 sec at the first mark. Mirsky won a penalty against Ainslie in a luffing dual at the bottom mark creating an opening for the Mirsky Racing Team.
Although Ainslie led around the bottom mark, Mirsky made some nice shifts to get his bow ahead to win by a boat length at the finishing line with the Ainslie yet to complete the penalty.
Mirsky said his team has taken the competition one step at a time. “For us it was not so much about winning but about perfecting our craft. We’re just lucky enough that those steps have taken us to the top,” he said.
“Holding the Australia Cup itself is a huge step forward for our team. There is a lot of personal pride invested in lifting the profile of the sport in our home town,” Mirsky said.
“We are extremely proud to win the Aust Cup because it means we are in top form racing against some of the best teams in the world. This gives us a lot of confidence heading into the Monsoon Cup World Tour Championships next week. I think Perth is a great contender for the official world tour, we have some of the best sailing conditions in the world. It’s about time an Australian city played host to the World Match Racing competition,” he said.