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New Look World Match Racing Tour Starts Record 16th Season

Posted on 23 March 2015 by Reporter

[Source: World Match Racing Tour] The world’s longest running professional sailing series – the ISAF sanctioned World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) – today announced a new and expanded sixteen event schedule for the 2015/16 world championship. The full schedule is expected to exceed 20 events by the first Tour event in May at the 51st Congressional Cup in Long Beach, California.

For the first time since the World Tour was founded in 2000, the series will award championship points to all events on the schedule divided into two categories – World Tour Events and World Championship Events. Skippers will count their highest five results towards the World Championship title.

As WMRT Executive Director James Pleasance explains, the new format provides a valuable pathway for up and coming match racing skippers to compete on the world stage;

“The Tour has always focused on growing sailing and match racing around the world. By increasing the number of events that award points to the championship leaderboard, more sailors will have the opportunity to participate on the Tour and work their way towards the World Championship.”

To compliment the new event schedule and format, the Tour also revealed its new logo, which has been updated following the former title sponsor Alpari UK entering into administration in January.

New Season, New Skippers
Earning their place to compete on the World Match Racing Tour this season are 8 of the highest world ranked match racing skippers that have chosen to take their shot at winning the World Championship title.

Joining the defending five-time ISAF Match Racing World Champion Ian Williams (GBR), the 2015/2016 Tour Skipper list includes Tour veteran Bjorn Hansen (SWE) who finished 5th in last year’s championship, Keith Swinton (AUS) finishing 6th last year, and Eric Monnin (SUI) who finished 7th.

Fellow Swedish match racer Johnie Berntsson also rejoins the World Match Racing Tour this year alongside new Tour skippers 20yr old Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN), Reuben Corbett (NZL), and Nicolai Sehested (DEN). Sehested is currently competing in the Volvo Ocean Race as a member of Team Vestas Wind which suffered severe damage after running aground in the Indian Ocean in November last year.

Countdown to the Congressional Cup
The World Championship event curtain raiser for the 2015/16 Tour will be in Long Beach, California from 13-17 May at the 51st Congressional Cup.

Re-joining the World Match Racing Tour after more than 10 years, the Congressional Cup has been an innovator in the game of match racing since 1965, introducing the concept of on-water umpiring in 1988. Former winners of the event and recipients of the traditional winners ‘Crimson Blazer’ include Dennis Conner, Ted Turner, Ed Baird, Dean Barker, Gavin Brady, Ken Read, and the 2014 defending Champion Taylor Canfield.

After the opening event in Long Beach, the World Tour moves to Europe for events in Germany, Poland, Sweden and Holland before heading back across the Atlantic in October for the 68th edition of the Argo Group Gold Cup in Bermuda. The Monsoon Cup in Malaysia will play host to the World Championship Finals in late January 2016 in Johor Bahru on the Southern coast of Malaysia.

2015/16 World Match Racing Tour Calendar
Ficker Cup, Long Beach, United States, 8 – 10 May 2015
Volvo Spring Cup, Langedrag, Sweden, 9 – 10 May 2015
Congressional Cup, Long Beach, United States, 13 – 17 May 2015
Match Race Germany, Langenargen, Germany, 21 – 25 May 2015
Szczecin Match Race, Szczecin, Poland, 29 – 31 May 2015
Stena Match Cup Sweden, Marstrand, Sweden, 29 June – 4 July 2015
Dziwnow Match Race, Dziwnow, Poland, 17 – 19 July 2015
Sopot Match Race, Sopot, Poland, 29 July – 1 August 2015
Knickerbocker Cup, New York, United States, 5 – 9 August 2015
Dutch Match Cup Qualifier, Lelystad, Netherlands, 21 – 23 August 2015
Bermuda National Match Racing Championship, Hamilton, Bermuda, 18 – 20 September 2015
Dutch Match Cup, Lelystad, Netherlands 23 – 27 September 2015
Argo Group Gold Cup, Hamilton, Bermuda 6 – 11 October 2015
Monsoon Cup Terengganu, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia, 20 – 22 November 2015 (TBA)
Liga Layar Malaysia, Johor Bahru, Malaysia 18 – 20 December 2015
Monsoon Cup, Malaysia, 26 – 30 January 2016

NOTE: World Championship stages in bold

2015/6 Tour Card Holders
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar
Eric Monnin (SUI) Team SailBot
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team
Joachim Aschenbrenner (DEN) Aschenbrenner Racing
Nicolai Sehested (DEN) TREFOR Racing
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team
Reuben Corbett (NZL) Corbett Racing

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Williams’ Record 5th World Title & Monsoon Victory Proves He’s The Daddy

Posted on 15 February 2015 by Reporter

[Source: WMRT] The GAC Pindar skipper, who became a father three months ago, could scarcely grasp the enormity of his achievement. He has become the most successful match racing helmsman of all time, and he is the only skipper ever to have won three Monsoon Cups, the final event on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. “It really is a dream come true. When I started sailing full time, giving up my job as a lawyer, I was hoping to win one world championship one day, so to win five is incredible.

“I can’t say enough about the great job these guys did on board today. I’d like to thank the crew for what has been an incredible effort over the 2014/15 season. We’ve worked incredibly well as a team over the year and it really is an honour to sail with them.” Williams is crewed by Gerry Mitchell (mainsheet), Mal Parker (trimmer), Chris Main (pit and tactics) and Graeme Spence (bowman).

Team GAC Pindar crossing the line to win the championship © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

Team GAC Pindar crossing the line to win the championship © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

The GAC Pindar crew started the day by winning a third and decisive match over Wild Card entry Eric Monnin (SUI). A ticket to the Finals was sufficient to give Williams his fifth world title. Aged 37, Williams won his first World Championship in 2007, and added three more titles in 2008, 2011 and 2012, when he drew level with Australian sailor Peter Gilmour with four titles.

In the other Semi Final, defending World Champion Taylor Canfield (ISV) took a vital point in his match against Mathieu Richard (FRA) to take the score to 1-2. The US One skipper dominated the French Lunajets team at the start, getting a penalty against Richard. When Richard picked up two more penalties at the leeward gate, he was black flagged by the umpires and the match was awarded to Canfield. Perhaps the tide was turning in US One’s favour, but no, Richard accelerated with more speed off the next start and controlled the match all the way to the finish to win 3-1 and book his way to the Final against Williams.

Mathieu Richard of LunaJets finished second at the Monsoon Cup Malaysia © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

Mathieu Richard of LunaJets finished second at the Monsoon Cup Malaysia © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

The Petit Final was Canfield’s final shot at redemption, and this time he didn’t falter, beating Monnin 2-0 in the light airs to secure 3rd place in the Monsoon Cup and 2nd overall in the Tour season standings.

The wind remained disappointingly light for the Final, after a good week of breeze in Johor Bahru, a new venue for the Monsoon Cup. It didn’t matter what tricks the wind decided to play, however. Whatever he was given, Williams was the master of time, distance and control in the pre-starts. Richard had no answer as he was boxed out of the first two starts by the British crew and found no way back into those matches. Even in the third match, when Richard finally found some clear air off the right-hand end of the line, Williams found the better breeze and raced away to an unassailable lead. Another 3-0 victory for GAC Pindar who won 19 of their 20 matches in the often fickle conditions of Johor Bahru.

Taylor Canfield of US One wins the Petit Final at the Monsoon Cup Malaysia © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

Taylor Canfield of US One wins the Petit Final at the Monsoon Cup Malaysia © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

“To go 19-1 for the regatta, I couldn’t be happier with that performance. The guys did just a great job, with the starts and picking the wind shifts,” said Williams, reflecting on an incredible Tour season. “We’ve made six finals out of seven, and as we’ve matured we’ve learned the game more and more. I feel our systems and the processes have really come together at this regatta and the team has been as strong as it’s ever been. I think Johor Bahru has been a great venue for the Monsoon Cup. The racing has been challenging, tricky, and you could never be comfortable even when you were leading. It makes for really interesting racing. A fantastic sailing venue.”

Williams’ tactician Chris Main started the day with a ‘Magnum’ moustache, winning the Semi-Finals with his face furniture still attached. Come the afternoon for the Final, however, and the moustache was gone. “Chris Main is a law unto himself,” sighed Williams, shaking his head. “But I don’t think Chris had fully thought through the consequences. If we had lost the Final, then Chris would have had to have regrown that moustache and kept it for the rest of his sailing career!”

At the prize giving ceremony on the gardens of the brand new Country Garden Danga Bay resort, His Royal Highness Sultan Ibrahim Ismail Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar presented the Garrard-designed World Match Racing Tour Championship Trophy to Williams and his crew. Also in attendance was His Highness Tunku Abdul Jalil Ibni Sultan Ibrahim Ismail and Minister of Youth & Sports, YB Khairy Jamaluddin.

From a total prize purse of US$500,000 for the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, Williams’ season victory earns him US$100,000. He also receives 310,000 Malaysian Ringgits (approx US$86,000) for his Monsoon Cup victory. After finishing runner-up at the Monsoon Cup, Richard finished 3rd overall in the Tour standings behind Williams and Canfield.

Now the teams have a few months to regroup and reset their goals in preparation for the Congressional Cup in California this May, the first event of the World Match Racing Tour 2015.

“I can’t say enough about the great job these guys did on board today. I’d like to thank the crew for what has been an incredible effort over the 2014/15 season. We’ve worked incredibly well as a team over the year and it really is an honour to sail with them.” Williams is crewed by Gerry Mitchell (mainsheet), Mal Parker (trimmer), Chris Main (pit and tactics) and Graeme Spence (bowman).

The GAC Pindar crew started the day by winning a third and decisive match over Wild Card entry Eric Monnin (SUI). A ticket to the Finals was sufficient to give Williams his fifth world title. Aged 37, Williams won his first World Championship in 2007, and added three more titles in 2008, 2011 and 2012, when he drew level with Australian sailor Peter Gilmour with four titles.

In the other Semi Final, defending World Champion Taylor Canfield (ISV) took a vital point in his match against Mathieu Richard (FRA) to take the score to 1-2. The US One skipper dominated the French Lunajets team at the start, getting a penalty against Richard. When Richard picked up two more penalties at the leeward gate, he was black flagged by the umpires and the match was awarded to Canfield. Perhaps the tide was turning in US One’s favour, but no, Richard accelerated with more speed off the next start and controlled the match all the way to the finish to win 3-1 and book his way to the Final against Williams.

The Petit Final was Canfield’s final shot at redemption, and this time he didn’t falter, beating Monnin 2-0 in the light airs to secure 3rd place in the Monsoon Cup and 2nd overall in the Tour season standings.

The wind remained disappointingly light for the Final, after a good week of breeze in Johor Bahru, a new venue for the Monsoon Cup. It didn’t matter what tricks the wind decided to play, however. Whatever he was given, Williams was the master of time, distance and control in the pre-starts. Richard had no answer as he was boxed out of the first two starts by the British crew and found no way back into those matches. Even in the third match, when Richard finally found some clear air off the right-hand end of the line, Williams found the better breeze and raced away to an unassailable lead. Another 3-0 victory for GAC Pindar who won 19 of their 20 matches in the often fickle conditions of Johor Bahru.

“To go 19-1 for the regatta, I couldn’t be happier with that performance. The guys did just a great job, with the starts and picking the wind shifts,” said Williams, reflecting on an incredible Tour season. “We’ve made six finals out of seven, and as we’ve matured we’ve learned the game more and more. I feel our systems and the processes have really come together at this regatta and the team has been as strong as it’s ever been. I think Johor Bahru has been a great venue for the Monsoon Cup. The racing has been challenging, tricky, and you could never be comfortable even when you were leading. It makes for really interesting racing. A fantastic sailing venue.”

Williams’ tactician Chris Main started the day with a ‘Magnum’ moustache, winning the Semi-Finals with his face furniture still attached. Come the afternoon for the Final, however, and the moustache was gone. “Chris Main is a law unto himself,” sighed Williams, shaking his head. “But I don’t think Chris had fully thought through the consequences. If we had lost the Final, then Chris would have had to have regrown that moustache and kept it for the rest of his sailing career!”

At the prize giving ceremony on the gardens of the brand new Country Garden Danga Bay resort, His Royal Highness Sultan Ibrahim Ismail Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar presented the Garrard-designed World Match Racing Tour Championship Trophy to Williams and his crew. Also in attendance was His Highness Tunku Abdul Jalil Ibni Sultan Ibrahim Ismail and Minister of Youth & Sports, YB Khairy Jamaluddin.

From a total prize purse of US$500,000 for the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, Williams’ season victory earns him US$100,000. He also receives 310,000 Malaysian Ringgits (approx US$86,000) for his Monsoon Cup victory. After finishing runner-up at the Monsoon Cup, Richard finished 3rd overall in the Tour standings behind Williams and Canfield.

Now the teams have a few months to regroup and reset their goals in preparation for the Congressional Cup in California this May, the first event of the World Match Racing Tour 2015.

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Williams On Fire, Canfield On The Ropes

Posted on 13 February 2015 by Reporter

[Source: WMRT] Ian Williams (GBR) has one hand on the ISAF World Championship trophy tonight after moving to match point in his Monsoon Cup Malaysia Semi-Final against Eric Monnin (SUI). What should have the GAC Pindar skipper sleeping even more soundly tonight is that his arch-rival for the world title, Taylor Canfield (ISV), is 2-0 down in his battle with Mathieu Richard (FRA). All things considered, Friday the 13th really couldn’t have gone better for the Briton, bidding for a record fifth World Championship title on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour.

The day in Johor Bahru started with a light-airs conclusion of the four Quarter Finals, although three of those duels finished sooner than anyone could have reasonably expected. David Gilmour’s (AUS) starting just wasn’t good enough for the inch-perfect Williams who dispatched the young Aussie 3-0. Canfield was equally dismissive of Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA), the French Wild Card competitor unable to reproduce any of his match-winning form from the first day of the regatta. The biggest shock was the other Wild Card, Eric Monnin’s cool assassination of Phil Robertson (NZL), last year’s winner of the Monsoon Cup, who normally looks so at home in the Foundation 36 keelboats.

Not that the WAKA Racing crew sailed badly, just that Team Sailbox from Switzerland pounced on any small mistake by the Kiwis. Robertson was characteristically blunt. “We were looking to change the momentum from yesterday, but Eric sailed superbly well. Very disappointed not to defend the title, but it is what it is, and we’ve gotta suck it up.”

The only Quarter-Final that went down to the wire was between Keith Swinton (AUS) and Mathieu Richard, with the French LunaJets team getting the job done on the final run of the fifth and final match.

Ian Williams in action during the Quarter Finals © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

Ian Williams in action during the Quarter Finals © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

After a two-hour break for prayers in the middle of the day, the draw for the Semi Final pairings took place, with Williams revealing that he would race Monnin for the right to get to the Final. Considering the Swiss team had just taken their last seven matches, it seemed like a bold choice, but as Williams said, whoever you choose at this end of the competition is going to be tough. “The Semi Finals pick is always difficult, everyone has to have sailed extremely well to get this far,” he said. “We felt Eric had less experience, particularly in these boats, although being defeated by him at the most recent event in Bermuda was a good reason not to pick him. But we also thought Mathieu Richard had a good chance against Taylor Canfield, and that was important as well.”

Eric Monnin vs Ian Williams in teh Semi Finals © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

Eric Monnin vs Ian Williams in teh Semi Finals © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

The breeze was slightly stronger for the afternoon session, and this also was a factor in Williams’ considerations. Whereas every other team is made up for five large guys, Team SailBox races with five smaller guys and one girl to get the Swiss team on maximum crew weight. “Eric is stronger in the light air,” said Williams, “but we’ve got some big strong boys on board, and muscling the boat around probably helps us in the windier conditions.” This kind of attention to detail, analysing every possible advantage – no matter how small – is what Williams is known for. He is the most serious skipper on the Tour. So it was a surprise to hear the Brit joking around with his tactician, the Magnum-moustached New Zealander Chris Main, on one of their victorious runs to the finish line. “What score do you give me for that start, Chris?” asked Williams, fishing for a compliment after a precision execution of the start a few minutes earlier. “I dunno, six and a half out of 10?” replied Main, deadpan. “Six and a half? You’re killing me…” said Williams, mock shocked at Main’s brutal, Simon Cowellesque dismissal.

High action between Mathieu Richard and Taylor Canfield © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

High action between Mathieu Richard and Taylor Canfield © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

Williams seems to be enjoying himself more than usual, and asked why that might be, he replied at the press conference after racing: “I don’t want to get too emotional about it, but I think having a son 12 weeks ago gives you a different outlook on life. Maybe I have been able to put my racing more into perspective.”

A new perspective certainly seems to be working, and it’s a new perspective that Canfield is seeking for the final day as he sets out to break Richard’s 2-0 momentum. “We’ve only got to win three in a row,” reasoned the US Virgin Islands skipper. “We’ve done that plenty of times before, so no reason why not again. We sailed well in both races against Mathieu, kept it close both times. So we just need to start even or better, and we stand a good chance tomorrow.”

2015 Monsoon Cup Malaysia Stage 7 – Season Finale 2014/15 Alpari World Match Racing Tour

Semi-Finals Results

Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar vs Eric Monnin (SUI) Team SailBox 2-0
Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets vs Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 2-0

Quarter-Finals Results

Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar bt David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour 3-0
Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One bt Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 3-0
Eric Monnin (SUI) Team SailBox bt Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 3-0
Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets bt Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 3-2

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Perfect Six Has Monnin Looking Strong For The Semis

Posted on 12 February 2015 by Reporter

[Source: WMRT] The Swiss skipper could scarcely believe how well the day had gone. Somehow Monnin made sense of the often random and shifty conditions in Johor Bahru to score a perfect day on the water. “Looking back this morning, we had just 2 points from two days. Today we won all our six matches and have three match points in our hands. A great day for us. There’s still snow in Switzerland, we haven’t had any practice time for match racing, so every day we sail here makes us feel stronger.”

Having come through Qualifying in 3rd place, Robertson picked Monnin as his opponent, a choice the defending champion from the Monsoon Cup might be regretting as he looks down the barrel of a Quarter-Final exit from this year’s event, the finale of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. The ever-frank Kiwi admitted he sailed “like a lemon” today. “Haven’t had the best day to be honest,” said the skipper of WAKA Racing. “Tried to sink two boats. Same situation, different races, so there’s two holes in two boats, courtesy of myself. And it didn’t get much better in the Quarter Finals. But my team likes a battle, being put on the back foot. The situation’s the same: still got to win three races, just no mistakes, and I think we can do that.”

Earlier in the day, the conclusion of Qualifying saw the departure of four teams: the two event Qualifiers from Malaysia and Singapore, skippered respectively by Jeremy Koo and Maxi Soh, and two Swedish teams. Winner of last October’s Argo Group Gold Cup in Bermuda, Johnie Berntsson was a late call-up for a Wild Card and said his timing and boathandling had suffered because of Stena Sailing Team’s lack of practice. The biggest surprise was to see the other Swedish team skippered by Bjorn Hansen making an early exit. He too put his problems down to a lack of match race training since Bermuda.

The much-awaited match in Qualifying was between the two dominant teams of recent years, Ian Williams’ GAC Pindar versus Taylor Canfield’s US One. Even on the first beat there were multiple lead changes as the fickle breeze smiled on one crew and then the other. Towards the top of the first leg, Canfield engaged Williams in a luff, lowering his jib. However when the breeze shifted mid-manoeuvre, Canfield was caught short while Williams powered away in a small gust. “We were a bit greedy,” said US One’s Hayden Goodrick. “We should have been a bit more patient and waited for our next moment to attack.” GAC Pindar’s Chris Main couldn’t believe how quickly the advantage went their way. “The whole thing lasted just a few seconds but suddenly we had a few boatlengths’ lead and that was enough for the match.”

It was a crucial match that Canfield really wanted to win, as topping Qualifying would have given them options, whereas leaving Williams clear to top the leaderboard allowed the Briton to have first choice of opponent. The British sailor shares the record of four world titles with Peter Gilmour, now retired from professional match racing. So Williams picked the younger Gilmour, David, as his Quarter Final duellist. The GAC Pindar skipper was merciless in the start of both matches, forcing the young Australian over the line in both starts and winning with ease.

Not to be outdone, Canfield was similarly brutal with his chosen opponent, Wild Card entry Pierre-Antoine Morvan, also going 2-0 up. With Monnin v Robertson also on 2-0, the only evenly balanced Quarter Final is between Mathieu Richard and Keith Swinton who sit on 1-1. The Australian skipper is happy just to be racing after being laid low the previous day with a bug. “I feel a lot better than this time yesterday, feel like I’m on an upward curve. Ricky [McGarvie, Swinton’s bowman] was even more ill than I was, was at hospital for quite a bit longer. They put him on a drip, and this morning he was still feeling average. So, thanks to Jeremy Koo for lending us Don McCracken for a race. We held on and we’re happy to get to the Quarters.”

Swinton might feel he deserves to be 2-0 up on Richard, but a gust from heaven brought the LunaJets team right back into contention as the French sailed past the Australians for a lucky victory. “Yes, we were lucky,” shrugged Richard, “but it is the same as what happened to us when Taylor Canfield came from behind in our Qualifying match.” Lady Luck is certainly playing a strong part in the proceedings, but when you look at the likes of the hot favourites – Williams and Canfield – continuing to dominate, it’s hard to argue that it’s the deciding factor. Ride your luck and hammer home your advantage, without mercy. That’s what the top dogs are doing in their scrap for the glory and prize money up for grabs at this concluding event of the 2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour.

Final Results of Qualifying:

1 Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 10-1
2 Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 10-0
3 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 8 (7.5)-3 (0.5 point deducted for damage)
4 Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets 7-4
5 Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 6-5
6 Eric Monnin (SUI) Team SailBox 6-5
7 Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 6 (5)-5 (1 point deducted for damage)
8 David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour 5-6
9 Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team 4-7
10 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team 3-8
11 Maximilian Soh (SIN) Team Red Dot 1-10
12 Jeremy Koo (MAS) Sime Darby Foundation / 1 Malaysia Match Racing Team 0 (-0.5)-11 (0.5 point deducted for damage)

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Twin Wins For Sick Swinton

Posted on 11 February 2015 by Reporter

[Source: WMRT] Keith Swinton struggled through sickness to notch up two wins and zero losses on day two of the Monsoon Cup Malaysia. The skipper of Team Alpari FX, along with bowman Ricky McGarvie, were struck down by a bug that saw them driven off to hospital after their matches were complete. Yet somehow they managed to keep their stuff together to score some vital victories over France’s Pierre-Antoine Morvan and fellow Western Australian, David Gilmour.

Swinton now sits on 6 wins and 2 losses, putting him in 4th place in Qualifying. Above him on the leaderboard are some of the usual suspects: Ian Williams, Taylor Canfield and Phil Robertson. There’s a lot of pride and prize money at stake in this, the final event of the season on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour, so Swinton will be keen to get back into fighting form as soon as possible. Team Alpari FX trimmer Ted Hackney stood in for his stricken skipper at the post-race press conference. “Keith is very dehydrated, so we sent him off for some hydration assistance,” explained Hackney, who said they modified their approach to the racing to accommodate Swinton and McGarvie’s mystery illness.

Ian Williams of GAC Pindar leads overall standings after Flight 12 of Qualifying Session 2 - Monsoon Cup Malaysia © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

Ian Williams of GAC Pindar leads overall standings after Flight 12 of Qualifying Session 2 – Monsoon Cup Malaysia © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

“If anything we tried to make it more simple, took a bit of the load off Ricky, some of the layline stuff. Keith could pretty much function normally, but between the rest of us we tried to share the load a bit more. With the light conditions we had a bit more time to think. If it was a bit windier we probably wouldn’t have fared so well.” The easy assumption is that it’s a spot of food poisoning, and Hackney has been asked many times throughout the day which restaurant in Johor Bahru the team ate at last night. “Everyone has been asking us that so they can avoid it, so I’ve been trying to think of a really good restaurant that everyone can avoid,” Hackney joked. “But it wasn’t like that. Keith and I went to one restaurant and Ricky went to a different one, and we’ve got one person sick from each group, so I’m not really sure what’s going on. Maybe a virus or something.”

The wind was a bit lighter for the second day of Qualifying, but even with the fickle conditions and shifts up to 30 degrees, principal race officer Dave Tallis breezed through six flights. With only the top eight of the 12 teams set to go through to the Quarter Finals, some of the lower-order crews need a very good day on Thursday when the final five Qualifying flights are scheduled.

Monsoon Cup Malaysia - WMRT || 2015-02-11, Danga Bay Country Garden, Johor Bahru, Malaysia || © Copyright 2015 || Robert Hajduk - AWMRT || All Rights Reserved

Monsoon Cup Malaysia – WMRT || 2015-02-11, Danga Bay Country Garden, Johor Bahru, Malaysia || © Copyright 2015 || Robert Hajduk – AWMRT || All Rights Reserved

At the top of the leaderboard it’s business as usual for the two leading contenders for this year’s world title, Ian Williams and Taylor Canfield both displaying their devastatingly consistent ability to win matches even from tough situations. One of the most exciting battles came right at the end of the day, between Williams and one of his old rivals, Mathieu Richard from France. “It was a classic Williams-Richard match of the kind we’ve been doing for the past 17 or 18 years,” said the GAC Pindar skipper. The key moment, all captured on the live broadcast, came at the windward mark when the British and French crews went into a long slow dial-up, with jibs dropped to the deck. “The current did us a favour,” said Williams, “taking us into the two boatlength zone. Then Mathieu tacked where he shouldn’t have done and he got a penalty. I don’t know why he didn’t get a double-penalty, but anyway, we managed to overtake him at the finish and we’re pleased with that win. Pleased with all three wins today because they were all close matches, really sharpening us up before the Quarter Finals.”

Taylor Canfield had a heart-stopping moment when his spinnaker came uncleated and dropped to the water. “The boys did a good job of catching it and re-hoisting before it went under the bow, so it didn’t hurt us too much,” said the US One skipper, who is the only one to have kept a perfect score so far, sitting on a win:loss of 7:0. Williams sits on 8:1, having dropped a match on day one to Robertson, who always looks comfortable at the Monsoon Cup, even with the change of venue to Johor Bahru for the first time. “We always enjoy sailing the Foundation 36 boats,” said the WAKA Racing skipper. “The crew is all over it. The boys just commented that it’s like riding a bike, even when you haven’t sailed these boats for a while.”

Monsoon Cup Malaysia - WMRT || 2015-02-11, Danga Bay Country Garden, Johor Bahru, Malaysia || © Copyright 2015 || Robert Hajduk - AWMRT || All Rights Reserved

Monsoon Cup Malaysia – WMRT || 2015-02-11, Danga Bay Country Garden, Johor Bahru, Malaysia || © Copyright 2015 || Robert Hajduk – AWMRT || All Rights Reserved

The skippers sitting on the cusp of scraping into the Quarters, or heading home for an early bath, are Pierre-Antoine Morvan, Bjorn Hansen, David Gilmour, Eric Monnin and Johnie Berntsson. Hansen often finds himself on the borderline but has an uncanny habit of doing just enough to get through, and then finds a new lease of life in the knock-out stages. The Swede will be hoping that’s the case tomorrow.

For the two local teams, skippered by Malaysia’s Jeremy Koo and Singapore’s Maxi Soh, there is no prospect of advancing beyond Qualifying. In their local derby match, Soh got the better of Koo in the pre-start and went on to take his first point of the Monsoon Cup. The racing area takes place right on the border of Malaysian/ Singaporean waters, and Soh joked that he had the home advantage of starting the match on the southern side in his home patch.

Koo has yet to get a win, and was docked half a point after being judged to have caused damage in a pre-start incident with Richard that led to a nasty T-bone crash. However, his score belies some close contests that could have gone very differently for Malaysia’s top match racer. He lost to Hansen by just 7 seconds, and led much of the Richard match until an error at the leeward gate. “We should have tacked as soon as we had gone round, and put a closer cover on Richard,” Koo admitted. “That might have been the difference in that match, but still we are improving and getting better day by day. It’s always a great learning experience at the Monsoon Cup.”

Results of Qualifying after Flight 12

1 Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 8-1
2 Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 7-0
3 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 6-1
4 Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 6-2
5 Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets 4-3
6 Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 4-4
7 Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team 4-5
8 David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour 3-4
9 Eric Monnin (SUI) Team SailBox 2-5
10 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team 2-6
11 Maximilian Soh (SIN) Team Red Dot 1-8
12 Jeremy Koo (MAS) Sime Darby Foundation / 1 Malaysia Match Racing Team 0-8

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Morvan grinning and winning in Johor Bahru

Posted on 10 February 2015 by Reporter

[Source: WMRT] Pierre-Antoine Morvan’s Vannes Agglo Sailing Team are making the most of their Wild Card entry to the Monsoon Cup Malaysia, winning all three of their matches on day one of the concluding event of the 2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour. Reigning World Champion Taylor Canfield and US One also took three wins from three, but Morvan’s performance is the greater surprise.

The French skipper is no longer full-time match racing, having recently taken a job as a sailmaker, but the muscle memory and tactical judgement are still there. Asked at the press conference if he expected to be winning all his matches today, Morvan replied simply: “Yes! That’s what we come here to do!” He elaborated afterwards: “We got the invite at the last moment, and I asked my crew if we wanted to come here. Everyone did, so here we are, sailing for pleasure,” said Morvan.

Morvan taking the lead against Team Red Dot in the Qualifying Session today © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

Morvan taking the lead against Team Red Dot in the Qualifying Session today © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

As to whether he can maintain the same relaxed mentality further into the competition? “If we can get into the top eight, for sure it will be harder. But we are enjoying it in this new venue. Today the wind was very good and the sailing area very good too. It was shifty, yes, but it was shifty for both boats! Beating Eric Monnin was our best win. He was ahead, but we took a good right shift at the top of the second windward leg and managed to overtake.”

Although Morvan and Canfield have perfect scores after day one, top of the leaderboard – due to having raced more matches – is Ian Williams, so often the winner of the Qualifying stage of these Tour events. “Very happy to have got five wins on the board,” said the GAC PIndar skipper in search of a record fifth world title. “Disappointed with the loss against Phil Robertson, but if we can keep those ratios we’ll do well here.”

Winner of the last Monsoon Cup, Robertson said the nature of the wind shifts made it likely for big splits to develop between boats on the race course. In his match against Canfield, the WAKA Racing skipper scored a penalty against the World Champion and came off the line in good shape. However, the US One skipper hooked into a good seam of breeze, got ahead of Robertson and sailed away from the Kiwi team, giving himself the necessary gap to unwind the penalty at the finish line. Robertson said this could have a significant effect on the 12 teams’ tactical approach to the racing. “With the race track here, you’re not going to see much typical match racing. We’re probably going to see people sail off into different corners, crossing their fingers and hoping it will go their way.”

Phil Robertson calling a protest against Ian Williams of GAC Pindar © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

Phil Robertson calling a protest against Ian Williams of GAC Pindar © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

Robertson may not have closed out the win against Canfield, but he did prevail in his match against Williams, something that the Kiwi is making a good habit of doing after beating the GAC Pindar skipper in the final of the previous Monsoon Cup. Event commentator Tucker Thompson has labelled Robertson as ‘The Spoiler’, believing that the WAKA Racing boys are showing the mettle to own the Monsoon Cup once again. While a lacklustre season has put the world title out of Robertson’s reach, a huge prize purse of MYR 1,475,000 (US$412,760) provides plenty of incentive, with the winner set to receive MYR 310,000 (US$86,750).

an Williams leads the overall standings on the first day of Qualifying at the Monsoon Cup © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

an Williams leads the overall standings on the first day of Qualifying at the Monsoon Cup © Robert Hajduk / AWMRT

Although it’s looking unlikely that either of the local teams, skippered by Koo and Soh, will make their way into the big prize money, both skippers are revelling in the opportunity to compete against the best in the world. “For sure it will help raise the standard of match racing in Asia,” said Soh. “You learn so much from racing at an event like the Monsoon Cup.”

The Singapore skipper has also benefited from some coaching by one of the other competitors, Mathieu Richard. However there were no special favours for Richard’s protegé today. “He smashed us,” laughed Soh. Not that Richard’s day was blemish-free either. He won two of his matches, but the other one against Keith Swinton was a battle that he probably should have won, but didn’t. “Ooops! It was a comfortable lead until the spinnaker halyard came undone, and the spinnaker fell in the water. The boys rehoisted very quickly, but it made the match a lot closer, and gave Keith the chance to beat us. Well done to him.”

2015 Monsoon Cup Malaysia Stage 7 – Season Finale 2014/15 Alpari World Match Racing Tour

Results of Qualifying after Flight 6
1 Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 5-1
2 Keith Swinton (AUS) Team Alpari FX 4-2
3 Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 3-0
4 Taylor Canfield (ISV) US One 3-0
5 Mathieu Richard (FRA) LunaJets 2-1
6 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 2-1
7 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Sailing Team 2-4
8 Eric Monnin (SUI) Team SailBox 2-4
9 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Stena Sailing Team 1-2
10 David Gilmour (AUS) Team Gilmour 1-2
11 Jeremy Koo (MAS) Sime Darby Foundation / 1 Malaysia Match Racing Team 0-3
12 Maximilian Soh (SIN) Team Red Dot 0-6

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Ian Williams seeks record breaking fifth WMRT title at Moonson Cup

Posted on 06 February 2015 by Reporter

[Source: GAC Pindar Sailing] Four time World Match Racing Tour champion Ian Williams and his GAC Pindar crew are set to go head-to-head with arch rival Taylor Canfield, skipper of US One, for the title in the final event of the 2014/15 World Match Racing Tour – The Monsoon Cup (10-14 February).

Statistically, any one of the sailors in the top five could still win the tour, with one and a half times the usual points on offer in Johor. However, the focus will be on Ian Williams, who sits six points ahead of old rival Taylor Canfield.

Canfield narrowly beat Williams to the 2013 World Match Racing Title, finishing just five points ahead of the Brit and if Williams is to secure his fifth title, he must ensure that his GAC Pindar team finish within a place of Taylor Canfield.

Mathieu Richard and his Lunajets team are the most likely threats to Williams and Canfield at the top of the leader board. However, this would require Richard to win The Monsoon Cup, Williams to finish in sixth (which would be his lowest Monsoon Cup finish in five years) and Canfield to finish fourth or lower.

Williams commented ahead of The Monsoon Cup: “We’re well aware of the various mathematical permutations, however, we’re not taking these into account in our preparations. We are focusing on going out there to win this Regatta – if we do that then the title is ours.”

“It feels like we have unfinished business here at The Monsoon Cup after our narrow loss in 2013, so we’ll be pushing hard to get revenge over Canfield and claim that world record breaking fifth title.”

This is the first time that The Monsoon Cup has been held in Jahor, Malaysia. Williams will lead his GAC Pindar crew into Danga Bay that will feature Gerry Mitchell (Trimming), Mal Parker (Main) and Chris Main (Tactics) and Graeme Spence (Bowman).

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World Championship Title In The Balance

Posted on 27 January 2015 by Reporter

[Source: WMRT] Monsoon Cup Malaysia, the final event of the 2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour, is to take place in its new home of Johor, the southernmost state of Malaysia, over 10th-14th February. In addition to being the grand finale of the Tour, the event will also see the 2014 ISAF Match Racing World Champion crowned.

Much is at stake for Ian Williams and his GAC Pindar team. To date Williams has won the World Match Racing four times (in 2007-8 and 2011-12). If at the Monsoon Cup he can score a fifth World Championship victory, then he will surpass Australian Peter Gilmour’s record of wins (in 1990, 1997-8 and 2006) and will enter the history books as the person to have claimed the world title the most times in the Championship’s 27 year history.

In 2013, Williams narrowly missed out on achieving the record when he finished runner-up, five points shy of US Virgin Island skipper Taylor Canfield and his US One team. For the present championship, Williams is in better shape. Once again the main threat is Canfield, but going into the Monsoon Cup the British match racing ace holds a six point advantage over his rival. Unfortunately in real terms this doesn’t represent much of a cushion: Williams still has to finish within a place of Canfield if he is to secure his fifth World Championship title.

“We’re six points ahead of Taylor and last year we were ten behind, so it is the same sort of magnitude and whichever team progresses furthest will probably win, unless something unusual happens, like last year, when we ended up only one place ahead with the second place in the final,” says Williams. “For us, our approach is to try and win the regatta and if we do that we’ll be World Champions. He has more to think about trying to knock us out early.”

Meanwhile Canfield is out to defend his World title. “While we worked hard to close the gap in the overall standings after Williams took a big lead in the beginning of the season, we are in a position to still take the title. It is our Championship to win and Ian’s to lose. With the pressure on Williams, any mistakes will be costly as we only have to put one boat between us in the Monsoon Cup to win the AWMRT Championship.”

A championship victory for Canfield will also be significant for his Kiwi tactician Rod Dawson as personally this will represent his fifth World title, having previously scored three with Peter Gilmour, and one with Canfield in 2013.

Mathematically as it stands, any one of the top five crews on the leaderboard could win the 2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour.

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Statistically however, for Australian Keith Swinton to clinch the title – he is currently lying in fifth place – he would need to win the event and Williams would need to finish in 11th place or worse, Canfield in 9th or worse, etc.

12 points adrift of Canfield at present, third-placed Mathieu Richard and his Lunajets crew are better placed to gun for the top spot, but this would require yet more stars to align: the Frenchman would have to win the Monsoon Cup, Williams to finish sixth or worse (unlikely as this would be his lowest Monsoon Cup result in five years) and would require a fourth or worse finish for Canfield, who, again, has not finished off the podium since Match Race Germany in June.

The chances are even slimmer for the Stena Match Cup Sweden winning skipper, Bjorn Hansen, who lies in fourth place on the leaderboard going into the Monsoon Cup, a further seven points astern of Richard.

More realistic is the prospect that any of the top five could reach the 2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour podium. Mathematically sixth-placed Phil Robertson and his WAKA Racing Team are in with a slim chance, even if they are 20 points adrift of it at present. However it should not be forgotten that it was the young Kiwi skipper who is the defending champion of the Monsoon Cup, following his victory in Kuala Terengganu in 2013. Sixth going into the Monsoon Cup that year, Robertson’s ended up elevating WAKA Racing to third overall in the championship.

As Tour Director of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour Craig Mitchell observes: “The overall result still hangs in the balance with Williams holding a slight edge over Canfield and any of the top five still technically able to win. Qualifying will be all on from the outset as those results will decide who selects their opponent for the crucial Quarter Final knock-out stage. We’ve had some pretty big championship deciding showdowns in the Quarter Final in previous years and depending on where teams are placed in Qualifying I can see some fireworks happening again.

“The Monsoon Cup is going to be an intense event and with a new venue in Danga Bay, Johor teams will have curve balls coming in from all over the place. Add to that the inevitable mind games, it will add to a spectacular finale.”

In addition to winning the World Championship title and the chance to enter the history books alongside the likes of Chris Dickson, Russell Coutts, Dean Barker, Peter Gilmour, Ed Baird, James Spithill and Ben Ainslie, also at stake is the prize money, both for the Tour as well as for the Monsoon Cup.

From a prize purse of US$ 500,000 – the largest across the breadth of professional sailing – the World Champion and winner of the 2014 Alpari World Match Racing Tour receives US$ 100,000, the second placed finisher US$ 80,000, with prize money on a diminishing scale to all eight Tour Card skippers.

As if this were not pay day enough, there is also substantial prize money on offer for the Monsoon Cup itself with a prize purse of MYR 1,475,000 (US$ 412,760) up for grabs and with the winner receiving MYR 310,000 (US$ 86,750).

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