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Defending Champion On Top At Chicago Match Cup

Posted on 18 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: WMRT] As defending champions of the Chicago Match Cup, Taylor Canfield US One (ISV) today have shown they’ve lost none of their prowess at this venue, leading the pack in Day One of the Qualifying Series on an undefeated 4-0 record. Current Tour leader Ian Williams GAC Pindar (GBR) lost his match to Bjorn Hansen Hansen Sailing Team (SWE) for a 3-1 record, a record also held by Mathieu Richard Lunajets (FRA), Phil Robertson Waka Racing (NZL) and Joachim Aschenbrenner Team Trifork (DEN).

After a morning delay awaiting a light 6-7 knot breeze to fill from Lake Michigan, six flights of this series were sailed today, with 11 remaining to complete this stage of the competition among twelve teams from nine nations.
 
The conditions were well-suited to the US One team, who have won not only last year’s Chicago Match Cup, but more recently the Chicago Grand Slam Grade 2 event last month.
 
“We have raced here for many years,” said Canfield, “but still learn something every time we race. Today we were feeling a little weak in our downwind legs, but made some adjustments based on what we saw on some other boats.”
 
This helped Canfield in his last match of the day against Pierre Antoine Morvan Vannes Agglo Sailing Team (FRA), where he trailed around the first top mark, but gained on the run and managed to take the lead by holding out the French team from getting to the leeward gate.
 
“Its still early, this is a tough crowd, but it’s good to have some points on the board,” concluded Canfield.
 
While the wind was light, the action was not, and several matches were decided in part by penalties assessed by the umpires. Just moments into the Williams-Hansen match, for example, an altercation after the start not only had Williams penalized but earning a red flag for a acquiring control of the match from the incident. This required him to do his penalty turn immediately, and thereby cede control of the match back to Hansen, who was able to maintain his lead and take the point.
 
Asked about the incident, Williams said simply “We screwed up.”
 
Each of these matches will be important once this stage of 17 flights is completed, as only four teams go through to the Quarter-Finals while the remainder will be determined only after a Repechage round raced on Friday.
 
Qualifying Series racing resumes tomorrow at 0930 CDT on courses set at Belmont Harbor.
 
Stage 4 Chicago Match Race, Alpari World Match Racing Tour
 
Results after Flight 6
Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 4-0
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 3-1
Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing 3-1
Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets 3-1
Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) Team Trifork 3-1
Chris Steele (NZL) 36 Below Racing 3-1
Eric Monnin (SUI) Team Sailbox 2-2
Pierre Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 1-3
Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team 1-3
Tom Slingsby (AUS) Team Tom Slingsby 1-3
Don Wilson (USA) Chicago Match Race Center 0-4
Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 0-4

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Chicago waterfront provides stage for world class match racing

Posted on 17 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: WMRT] Starting Wednesday, the world’s top sailing talent will begin a five-day battle of high-intensity match racing for the right to claim the Chicago Match Cup, Stage 4 and the only U.S. stop on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour (AWMRT). A total of $75,000 in prize money is at stake, as well as valuable points on the World Championship year-long series.

The action will begin at 0930 CDT with the start of Qualifying among 12 teams from nine nations. From this stage four teams will advance to the Quarter Finals, with the remaining four slots filled from the results of the Repechage held among the remaining eight teams. Race management is being led by PRO Darcy Cook of the Chicago Match Race Center (CMRC).

Courses will be set near the north entrance of Belmont Harbor, site of CMRC’s operations base, and within easy shore side access for spectators. Earlier today, CBS Chicago caught up with defending Chicago Match Cup champion Taylor Canfield (ISV), and Olympic Gold medallist Tom Slingsby and his team from Australia as they were practicing on the Lake: chicago.cbslocal.com/video/10588360-chicago-match-cup-sailing-competition.

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Argo Group Gold Cup – Artemis Racing adds America’s Cup flavor

Posted on 08 September 2014 by Ivan Bidzilya

[Source: Artemis Racing] Artemis Racing has entered the 2014 Argo Group Gold Cup. It will be a first for helmsman Nathan Outteridge, who will sail alongside team manager Iain Percy — main and tactics, and with teammates Iain Jensen and Christian Kamp. Percy and Kamp previously crewed with Sir Ben Ainslie in 2013, losing in the final to Francesco Bruni, (ITA) of Team Luna Rossa.

The Team will join a 20-team fleet in the next battle for the King Edward VII Gold Cup.

“Artemis Racing will be an exciting addition to the 2014 Argo Group Gold Cup,” said event Chairman Brian Billings. “With the addition of Artemis Racing, we will have two promising America’s Cup challengers represented in Bermuda. Francesco Bruni, Team Luna Rossa helmsman, will return to defend his 2013 Argo Group Gold Cup title. We hope to see some exciting matches between these two teams.”

Iain Percy and Nathan Outteridge spoke to Talbot Wilson ahead of the Argo Group Gold Cup. You have sailed in Bermuda before with your friend but AC rival Ben Ainslie. How will this event be different without him? IP— Ben, myself and the rest of the Origin team enjoyed a lot of success on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, especially in Bermuda, where we always felt at home. The reality though was it took our team, and my partnership with Ben, almost a year to develop before we found success in this style of racing. Artemis are lucky to also have Christian Kamp, who was another consistent member of Origin match race squad with us, and between Christian and myself we will have to try and remember how we used to sail the classic IODs! Your recent decision for Artemis Racing to enter the Argo Group Gold Cup is exciting for the event and the Tour. Do you think match racing on the Tour and in Bermuda is good training for AC35? IP— At the end of the day the America’s Cup is a match race. As a team, we are relatively inexperienced on the match racing side and so the Gold Cup is a great opportunity to practice. Nathan Outteridge is a fantastic sailor… 49ers, Moths, Olympics, world championships, and more. How do you think the team members who are new to the Gold Cup will adapt to the Bermuda IODs? IP— I imagine he will ask us when the IODs will start foiling a few times… that is one he normally asks us “slow boat sailors”!  What do you think of another match-up with Francesco Bruni who defeated your team last year in the finals? IP— Bruni and the Luna Rossa boys sailed really excellently in last year’s final, and we were comprehensively beaten. We had been out of the match racing game for a while and were impressed by the improvement not only of Bruni but the rest of the Tour teams. It will be extremely difficult for Nathan in his first match race competition and for us as a new team, but I know we will all enjoy the challenge and take a lot from the lessons. To Nathan Outteridge, Nathan, this is your first Argo Group Gold Cup. How do you think you will adapt to the classic IOD style of racing? NO— Obviously it will be very different from what I am used to. The classic IOD style of boats is nothing like the foiling machines that I am used to sailing. Having said this Iain has sailed this style of boat quite a bit. I’m sure with his guidance I will do just fine. Will you and the team be getting to Bermuda early for practice? NO— We plan to come over a few days before the event to get some training in on the boats and also learn the waters. It will be the first time the four of us, Iain, Goobs (Iain Jensen), Christian and myself, would have ever raced together. It will be important for us to make the most of the training time. What do you think of the potential competition against the defending champion Francesco Bruni who is now Team Luna Rossa’s Skipper? NO— Francesco is a great sailor and I am sure he will be difficult to beat. Given the lack of experience I have in Match Racing I think I will be on a steep learning curve and hopefully we can make it through the rounds and into the finals. 

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Williams Grabs Victory in Hot and Blustery Poland

Posted on 04 August 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Alpari World Match Racing Tour] Sopot Match Race, the latest event on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, saw an impressive come-from-behind victory for British skipper Ian Williams’ GAC Pindar team on a day that seemed set to be sailed in light northerly winds. That was until the wind shut down, performed a 180 degree turn, and then filled in with a sudden blustery 20 knots from the south.

The day started with the last Semi Final races. France’s Mathieu Richard and his LunaJets team were able to able to secure their Finals berth promptly, taking their score from 1-1 to 3-1 against defending Alpari World Match Racing Tour champion Taylor Canfield. For Williams it was much harder, 0-2 down against Phil Robertson’s WAKA Racing team and having to win three straight races to make it through. In the event Williams managed to level the score to 2-2 but in the last race trailed the Kiwi team around the race course, until this all changed in the very last metres.

“It was good conditions to extend in with shifts and that light air, but we kept it close,” explained Williams. “Our call at the top mark was to gybe into better pressure, but that was his call as well and we felt there was no point following, so we separated and it seemed that a left hand shift went our way that got us across him to the finish.” GAC Pindar crossed ahead within the final metres of the final run.

That outcome put GAC Pindar in the Final. In these, by planting a penalty on Richard in the pre-start of the first race and then pulling ahead on the water, Williams claimed the first point. But in the second race as the boat were coming down the first run the northerly wind petered out and a few moments later spectators on the Molo Pier, were having their hats blown off, as winds gusting to more than 20 knots filled in from the south leading to the match being abandoned.

Ian Williams takes Sopot Match Race and extends overall lead in the 2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour. Sopot, 3 August 2014. Photo copyright Robert Hajduk / Alpari World Match Racing Tour

After the race committee had reset the course with the start area off the end of Molo Pier, Richard was able to level the score to 1-1, getting ahead on the first beat and then leading for the rest of the race, surging downwind in the strongest breeze of the regatta.

Williams recounted: “We were disappointed to lose that, but we collected our thoughts and discussed what we needed to do. We didn’t have a very good start, but what we did do is get the boat set up well and sailing really fast and that proved the key.”

Sure enough in the third race, Williams led around the top mark only for Richard to catch right up on the run. However at the leeward gate the French match racing champion admitted he had made a mistake: “We managed to come very close from behind. Ian luffed very hard to round the mark and I thought that he would drift a bit and maybe there would be some room to get in between him and the mark. And there was probably enough room to get our hull between his and the mark, but there was not enough room for the masts.”

The masts on the two boats not only collided but locked together for around 20 seconds. Both teams were lucky that their spars remained upright and that they were able to complete the race.

For his infringement, Richard received a red flag, immediate, penalty and then dummy tacked Williams. However Williams said that in fact had worked in his favour. “It was a good move, except he dummied us to the favoured right hand side where we made a big gain.”

However at this time Williams was more concerned about the state of his rig after the clash. “I think we bent our jumpers (the stabilizing struts at the top of the mast). As soon as we tacked on to starboard for the last time and pulled the runner on, our mast almost crumped. So we quickly let the runner off and we were sailing with eased sheets all the way up the last beat because we thought the rig might come down. That was a little hairy! But it was okay because we had a good lead.”

2-1 to Williams and with the cut off for the last race being at 1500 no more racing could be held and Williams was announced the winner of Sopot Match Race.

“We are very very happy to have won here,” commented Williams. “It has been a great all-round regatta for GAC Pindar. We have sailed well throughout apart from a little blip yesterday afternoon when things got to us a little. But the guys just turned it around – they have done a fantastic job today.”

This afternoon’s blustery conditions in temperatures on the Bay of Gdansk soaring above 30 degrees also made for great sailing. As Mathieu Richard explained: “When the wind is stronger it’s most challenging technically in terms of trimming and manoeuvring, particularly after you have been sailing for four days in very light winds and suddenly the breeze comes and comes in strong. Clearly Ian’s team made a better job in adapting to that.”

This is the first occasion that the Polish event has appeared on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour and its unique blend of mixing match racing on the water while hosting major lifestyle brands ashore such as LVMH and Ferrari has proved a great success.

Sopot Match Race organiser, founder and competitor Przemyslaw Tarnacki was also pleased with the outcome: “I am very satisfied. The weather also played quite a nice role. All the sponsors on our side are very satisfied and I hope to retain them next year along with our position in the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, which is our goal. I am really grateful to everyone who supported this event.”

The next event on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour is the Chicago Match Cup which will be held 17-21 September from the Chicago Match Race Center using the nimble Tom 28 Max.

Overall results of Stage 3 Sopot Match Race, Alpari World Match Racing Tour

1 Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar
2 Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets
3 Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone
4 Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing
5 Karol Jabłoński (POL) Jablonski Sailing Team
6 Nicolai Sehested (DEN) Trefor Match Racing
7 Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX
8 Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team
9 Przemysław Tarnacki (POL) Tarnacki Yacht Racing
10 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team
11 David Gilmour (ASU) Team Gilmour
12 Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team

2014 Leaderboard Standings after Stage 3
1 Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 72pts
2 Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets 55pts
3 Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone 48
4 Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team 47
5 Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 44
6 Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing 36
= Francesco Bruni (ITA) Luna Rossa 20
= David Gilmour (ASU) Team Gilmour 20

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Robertson on Match Point in Sopot Match Race Semi Finals

Posted on 03 August 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Alpari World Match Racing Tour] The Semi-Finals remained in the balance at the close of play today at Sopot Match Race, the third event on the 2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour, with four time champion Ian Williams’ GAC Pindar team 0-2 down against Phil Robertson’s WAKA Racing, while defending champion Taylor Canfield’s USone team was even on 1-1 against France’s Mathieu Richard and his LunaJets crew.

A change of wind direction from the northeast to the north prior to the start of the Semi Finals brought with it a drop in pressure, the wind rarely more than 5 knots as the sea breeze attempted to fill in. But this allowed the race committee to set up a start area immediately off Sopot’s landmark Molo Pier with the teams using this obstacle to their tactical advantage in pre-starts.

Williams was particularly unlucky in the pre-start of his first Semi-Final match which coincided with a ferry docking on the pier. Robertson explained: “I thought Ian was going to go inside me at the pre-start and take the lead – I was surprised he didn’t. And the ferry certainly made it a bit easier for us. But that happens – it’s match racing – the occasional strange thing goes on and you have to be able to adapt as quickly as possible.”

Phil Robertson starts the Sopot Match Race semifinals on a strong foot. Sopot, 2 August 2014. Photo copyright Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

In their second race Robertson also got off the line faster, but admitted he got “out of the groove” allowing Williams back into the match. However the GAC Pindar skipper attempted to gain the inside berth at the top mark. As Robertson explained: “There was no room, so there was a good little crash – but that was all he could do there and hope we were in the wrong.” However the umpires saw it Robertson’s way and handed a red flag, immediate, penalty to Williams, ultimately handing the second Semi Final point to Robertson.

Winner of Qualifying, Taylor Canfield, had chosen Mathieu Richard as his Semi Final opponent. However it was the French skipper who got the initial point on the board, after a race with several lead changes that ultimately went his way when Canfield picked up a penalty. Their second race was similar, only in reverse with Canfield levelling the score.

However Richard’s fiercest race of the day occurred in his third Quarter Final match against Keith Swinton’s Team Alpari FX. In this Swinton was ahead, but on the first upwind leg had picked up a penalty for tacking too close. Going into the final downwind, Swinton attempted to slow down to offset the penalty, but as he explained: “That didn’t really work out, because we hadn’t practiced that in these boats and it is a difficult manoeuvre at the best of times. We got a bit too slow and he got around us.” In the process Swinton picked up a second penalty for a port-starboard infringement and carried out a turn that left Team Alpari FX behind.

However staying ahead proved problematic for Richard as the spinnaker pole had broken on his boat. This allowed Swinton to roll them coming into the finish. However as Richard explained: “We luffed him and he didn’t respond as he should and then he got a second penalty.” The second penalty then turned into a black flag disqualification when Swinton didn’t carry out the penalty immediately. “We were in the wrong, but we were trying everything we could to stay in the race,” the Australian skipper admitted. “It was very disappointing, because I felt we had the better of him that time.”

But coming ashore Swinton was fuming more because of the last Quarter Final race when he had made an error right at the end of the run, handing the Semi Final berth to Richard. “I made a bad mistake gybing away when we didn’t need to which has proved pretty costly.”

Conversely Richard was all smiles: “We had been two boatlengths behind all the way around, then we just rolled him at the finish: That was a very good feeling.”

Earlier in the day the Quarter Finals had seen Robertson eventually dispatch young Dane Nicolai Sehested, while Ian Williams had made an easier job of sending Karol Jablonski home, beating the Polish match racing legend 3-0.

“It was tough, but I expected that,” admitted Jablonski. “I am very happy that we were able to push Ian and his team quite hard and all three were tight matches with close situations at the weather mark. Ian’s experience paid off in these situations. It was nice to race against him and my young team did an excellent job. I am very pleased with how we sailed.”

Jablonski was particularly unfortunate to lose the first race when he led Williams into the finish, only for the British skipper to accelerate past him on a wave in the very last metres. “There were puffs and big waves and you couldn’t always tack when you wanted to because of that,” admitted Jablonski. “We tried to do our best but we lost a little bit. I am very happy, no disappointment at all.”

The deciding Semi-Final races will be completed tomorrow, starting at 10:00 local time, before moving on to the Finals and Petite Finals.

Stage 3 Sopot Match Race, Alpari World Match Racing Tour – Semi-Finals

Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar vs Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing 0-2
Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets vs Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone FX 1-1

Quarter-Finals Results
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar vs Karol Jabłoński (POL) Jablonski Sailing Team 3-0
Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing vs Nicolai Sehested (DEN) Trefor Match Racing 3-2
Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets vs Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 3-1

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Canfield Shines as Team Alpari FX’s Swinton Slides Through

Posted on 02 August 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Alpari World Match Racing Tour] Defying an unpromising forecast of little wind, the organisers of Sopot Match Race, the third event on the 2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour, were able to stay on schedule, completing the final 12 flights of Qualifying.

With the easterly onshore wind on Gdansk Bay, conditions were more stable than yesterday’s offshore westerly. The race committee was able to set up a course, the entirety of which could be seen easily by the thousands of spectators packing Sopot’s famous Molo Pier. Through the afternoon a short chop built up requiring crews to time their tacks carefully.

Star of Qualifying was defending Alpari World Match Racing Tour champion Taylor Canfield, whose USone team suffered just one loss, to Swede Bjorn Hansen.

“The guys are getting the boat around the course well and I think we have got a pretty good grip on the boats here in Poland,” said Canfield of the Diamond 3000 IOR-type 34 footers used here. “Some boats suit some people and this one seems to suit us. It is definitely a handful at times getting the runners on, but we have got our system locked in and its working.”

In the race Canfield lost to Hansen he admitted that they had been pushing the Swedish skipper and ended up being late to the line at the unflavoured end. Hansen then just extended away.

As winner of Qualifying Canfield now fast tracks to the Semi Finals, sitting out the ‘shortened’ Quarter Finals, raced by six (rather than eight) teams.

As usual, tension built over today’s final flights as it became clear which skippers would make it through to the Semis. With Poland’s Przemysław Tarnacki, Swede Johnie Berntsson, Finland’s Staffan Lindberg and Australian Tour Card holder David Gilmour definitely on the bus home, Stena Match Cup Sweden winner Bjorn Hansen would have a ‘live or die’ match with Ian Williams and his GAC Pindar team. However if Hansen lost and Team Alpari FX skipper Keith Swinton won his match against LunaJets skipper Mathieu Richard, then Swinton would progress through.

With Swinton comfortably leading his match against Richard, all eyes were on Hansen-Williams. This did not start well for the British skipper who picked up a pre-start penalty for failing to keep clear while sailing backwards after a dial-up. As he recounts: “Then we stuffed up the start and he had a big lead and was a penalty up. So we had a bit on there! But the guys did great in getting the boat set up fast and we were able to come into him up the beat.”

Approaching the top mark Hansen picked up a penalty in a port-starboard incident, cancelling out Williams’ penalty and in the same impressive move Williams also gained the lead. “It was a bit unlucky for him,” admitted Williams. “He hit some big chop as we were on starboard with a piece of him. It became a pretty clear port-starboard. It was a nice move and it worked out well.”

Taylor Canfield holding the advantage against Robertson in the final flight of the Qualifying. Sopot, 1 Aug 2014. Photo copyright Robert Hajduk / Alpari World Match Racing Tour

The GAC Pindar crew went on to gain the point over Hansen, causing Swinton to gain his Quarter-Final berth.

With Hansen and Gilmour now out of the competition, a non-Tour Card holders who has made it through is Nicolai Sehested. The young Dane finished Qualifying on six wins and five losses, along with Mathieu Richard and Karol Jablonski.

“Today was good, after we had a few issues yesterday,” said Sehested. “We regrouped last night: We felt quick yesterday, but we had some terrible boat handling with some hard drops and hoists and manoeuvres. We had to sort out who was doing what and keep it clean and that worked well for us.”

It clearly did, with Sehested beating Ian Williams, Keith Swinton and Bjorn Hansen today. “The breeze was more stable today, so it was more about the prestart and get off the line in a strong condition and just be fast and hold them,” Sehested continued.

While local Polish hopes in the competition are being kept alive by match racing legend Karol Jablonski, out is Przemyslaw Tarnacki, both a competitor here and race organiser. Tarnacki came good today winning three matches in row, including one against Jablonski.

“Racing Karol is always spectacular,” he said. “We had some action in the pre-start, so we just squeezed on the line and he couldn’t hook us and he was nearly tight on the pin. It was really nice as Karol is one of the best guys in the world when it comes to pre-starts. He is always aggressive.”

Wearing his race organiser hat Tarnacki commented: “So far, so good. We have good weather. We haven’t had too many problems with the boats and we are very satisfied. For me it is a big honour to have the Alpari World Match racing Tour here in Poland. When I founded the event 11 years ago that was always a dream, but now it has come true.”

Unlike any other regatta, Sopot Match Race is renowned for its giant parties which begin in earnest tonight. Tarnacki explains: “Sopot is the ‘place to be’ in Poland. It is the Polish St Tropez. We have luxury premium brand sponsors, like Samsung, Ferrari, Albert Riele and LVMH, who are doing B to B here and inviting their clients. It is popular with the top guys in this country plus the top film stars. That adds some spice to the event…”

Racing starts again at 1000 with the first to three point Quarter Finals. Who sails who and in which boats will be decided at the skippers briefing at 0900. With an improving weather forecast promising an easterly wind of 10 knots and clear skies it should be another great day in Sopot.

Stage 3 Sopot Match Race, Alpari World Match Racing Tour
Final Results of Qualifying
Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone 10-1
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 8-3
Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing 7-4
Karol Jabłoński (POL) Jablonski Sailing Team 6-5
Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets 6-5
Nicolai Sehested (DEN) Trefor Match Racing 6-5
Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 5-6
Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team 5-6
Przemysław Tarnacki (POL) Tarnacki Yacht Racing 5-6
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team 4-7
David Gilmour (ASU) Team Gilmour 3-8
Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team 1-10

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Canfield Unbeaten on Opening Day of Sopot Match Race

Posted on 31 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Alpari World Match Racing Tour] The Alpari World Match Racing Tour’s newest event, Sopot Match Race, set sail today. 11 flights of Qualifying were sailed in a light to moderate north-westerly wind. At the close of play Alpari World Match Racing Tour champion Taylor Canfield tops the leaderboard unbeaten on 5-0, ahead of Phil Robertson’s WAKA Racing on 5-1 and local Polish legend Karol Jablonski on 4-1.

This is the 11th occasion Sopot Match Cup has been held in the Polish seaside resort, but the first time it has been part of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. There was some relief that an overcast sky prevented yesterday’s scorching 30+⁰C temperatures recurring. Today the offshore breeze proved tricky for the competitors, but was light enough for them to ease into this regatta.

Phil Robertson suffered his one lost match today to Jablonski; a tight race which saw the lead change twice. Otherwise the Kiwi skipper was pleased with his team’s performance, after they failed to make it through to the Semi Final round at Stena Match Cup Sweden earlier this month. “It’s been a really good start for us,” he said. “We are very happy and we’ve still got plenty to work on which is good. It is our first time here and the list just goes on in terms of what we can do better which is a positive.”

WAKA Racing had a particularly intense race today with Australian David Gilmour. This fired up first when the two boats collided coming out of a dial-up in the pre-start – Gilmour bore away causing his transom overhang to hit Robertson’s boat. Then there were two lead changes on first downwind leg. As Robertson recounts: “We chose the right gate mark and managed to extend from that, but then he caught up and passed us on the last downwind, but we rolled him back on the finish line.”

Part of the challenge for the skippers new to Sopot Match Race is it being raced in a type of boat not used at any other event on the Tour. The 34ft Diamant 3000 is an IOR-style design from the mid 1990s with long overhangs, large overlapping genoa, relatively small cockpit plus running backstays that requires crews to adapt their roles on board.

“It is the first time we have match raced on a boat with runners,” continued Robertson. “The main sheet trimmer sorts them out, but it is good fun – it adds another element and makes it exciting.”

Another match racer renowned for being a live wire on the race course is Polish hero, former America’s Cup helmsman and ISAF Match Racing World Champion, Karol Jablonski. His 4-1 scoreline should have been 5-0 today had it not been for an oversight, sailing around the wrong weather mark in one race.

“Okay, we messed that up, but that was the only race we lost,” said a beaming Jablonski. “We feel more comfortable now.”

Jablonski rarely match races these days but it is a staunch supporter of Sopot Match Race. Here he is racing with an unfamiliar crew, who normally sail with another Polish match racer, Patryk Zbroja. “It is our first regatta and maybe the crew are trying to over-compensate, but we are getting slowly into the right groove,” said Jablonski. “I am very lucky to have them. They are doing a great job, are learning a lot and it is good to sail with them. Today our boat speed and our pre-starts were okay and we were choosing the right side in the shifty conditions so we were sailing quite smart and the result is very good us. I didn’t expect this, but I’ll take it!”

Apart from unfamiliarity with the boats, today was all about picking the shifts correctly. In this respect Jablonski believed he had done well. “It wasn’t one side regularly paying – you had to look two minutes before the start to make the call as to where the first shift will be. That has worked quite well for us and I hope it will continue.”

Team Alpari FX skipper Keith Swinton, who sailed his first ever Grade 1 match race here in 2008, admitted that he had been slow out of the blocks. “We lost the first couple of races, but it was always going to be difficult jumping in these boats and with very difficult conditions as well. We lost a couple of races and then we got on a mini run and won the next three, including some close races.”

In today’s final match against Swede Johnnie Berntsson, Swinton said he had let victory slip through his fingers. “We should have done better. We were well ahead off the line, but the wind is very difficult to read – we basically just got sailed past and there wasn’t much we could do. All in all it was an okay day and we are still in it, which is good.”

Qualifying continues tomorrow at 1000 local time but with lighter winds forecast it promises to be a challenging day for teams and race officials alike.

Stage 3 Sopot Match Race, Alpari World Match Racing Tour
Results after Flight 11
Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone 5-0
Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing 5-1
Karol Jabłoński (POL) Jablonski Sailing Team 4-1
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 3-2
Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets 3-2
Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 3-3
Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team 3-3
David Gilmour (ASU) Team Gilmour 2-3
Przemysław Tarnacki (POL) Tarnacki Yacht Racing 2-4
Nicolai Sehested (DEN) Trefor Match Racing 2-4
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team 1-5
Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team 0-5

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Alpari World Match Racing Tour moves on to Poland

Posted on 30 July 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Alpari World Match Racing Tour] One of the most exciting developments in the Alpari World Match Racing Tour for 2014 is the addition of Sopot Match Race into its roster of events.

This year will be the 11th edition of Sopot Match Race, taking place on the Baltic in the Polish holiday resort close to Gdansk. As a nation Poland is one of the most prolific internationally when it comes to match racing with the annual Polish Match Tour comprising five or six events annually. As a result, according to event organiser and competitor Przemek Tarnacki, his country also has more sailors in the top 100 of the ISAF match race rankings than any other. It is therefore fitting that Poland’s top event for the first time this year should form part of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour.

“For us, for the community, for this part of Europe, it is fantastic,” says Tarnacki of his event’s new status. “Society here will be much more aware of it this year, because for us all the time we are educating, educating sponsors and media, etc about what the event is, what match racing is and what impact the Alpari World Match Racing Tour has on the international sailing scene and its connection with the America’s Cup. In France, Sweden or Germany that is much easier to communicate than it is in Poland.”

Sopot Match Race is centred around the town’s giant 0.5km long pier, Europe’s longest wooden pier, which in the height summer is visited daily by 20,000 people. The start and finish of each race is held immediately off the pier. As Poland’s leading match racer, 2002 World Champion and former America’s Cup helmsman describes it: “Sopot is one of the best sailing stadiums in the world and all of the racing is run close to the pier, so the spectators have a really close view of the action that is going on on the water.”

Jablonski used to sail 470s here when he was studying at the Sports Academy in Gdansk, has competed at Sopot Match Race regularly over the last four years, in addition to his extensive duties helming or acting as tactician on pro-race boats and superyachts around the world.

“Sopot is a holiday town,” Jablonski continues. “It is very, very crowded in the summer as there are a lot of beaches, plenty of good hotels and restaurants. And it is a great place to do sport, go mountain biking, running, skating and there are a lot of concerts going on in the summer.”

Historically in addition to Sopot Match Race, the venue has played host to the European Match Racing Championship in 2007 and back in the 1990s hosted prestigious events for the One Ton Class and the ILC 40s. Jablonski remembers: “Pro sailors like Francesco de Angelis and Torben Grael say they’ve never forgotten those events for its great sailing on the water, great parties, great food, great atmosphere and great looking girls!”

At Sopot Match Race this year, 12 teams will be taking part. In addition to seven of the eight Alpari world Match Racing Tour card holders (Francesco Bruni is unable to compete due to his Luna Rossa commitments), this includes two from Poland, one led by Jablonski, the other by Tarnacki who until recently was world no8 in the ISAF match race rankings. Also sailing will be Sweden’s Johnie Berntsson, Denmark’s Nicolai Sehested, and Finnish match racer, Staffan Lindberg, the latter two gaining their places through the two qualifying events.

As to how Jablonski expects to do: “I will be probably very good in the ‘guest category’, if there is one, because I only match race two times a year or so, but it is still the sailing that I like the most: The direct fight with your opponent, you can play the rules and boat speed and I love to test my skills, to see if I have lost my touch, and push people in the pre-start! I like the challenge and even if I am exhausted and sometimes disappointed if it doesn’t always go my way, it is always great fun.”

The event is sailed in 34ft Danish-built Diamond 3000s, an IOR-type design from the late 1980s with long overhangs, a relatively small cockpit and running backstays. “They are a serious 3 tonne boat, so good for match racing with quite a tall rig of 14m. They are suitable for our venue because if you used TOM 28s or J/80s, they would be too small for sailing off the pier which is quite big,” says Tarnacki.

Like other events on the Tour, the event is used as a corporate hospitality vehicle and this year its sponsors include Samsung, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey, which is providing all the top class alcohol for the event’s official functions, Albert Riele Swiss watches and Ferrari, which will have 30 cars at the venue, as the event has been chosen as the finish for Ferrari’s rally around Poland.

Racing takes place over 4 days from Thursday 31st July until Sunday 3rd August and sunshine with a light to moderate sea breeze are to be expected. The format will see a full round of Qualifying, with the winner advancing to the Semi Finals, followed by a 6 team Quarter Final then Semi Final and Final.

Stage 3 Sopot Match Race, Alpari World Match Racing Tour
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar
Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team
Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX
Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets
Taylor Canfield (ISV) USone
Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing
David Gilmour (ASU) Team Gilmour
Przemysław Tarnacki (POL) Tarnacki Yacht Racing
Karol Jabłoński (POL) Jablonski Sailing Team
Nicolai Sehested (DEN) Trefor Match Racing
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team
Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team

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