Tag Archive | "Torvar Mirsky"

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Ian Williams takes command of Korea Match Cup

Posted on 31 May 2012 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Alpari World Match Racing Tour] Current Tour Champion Ian Williams looks set to progress to the knockout rounds after taking pole position after the second Qualifying Session at the Korea Match Cup 2012, recording 6 wins and 1 loss so far.

Williams took a confidence-boosting victory over Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing, whose record four World Championships he is chasing down this season. “We always have an exciting race against Peter! Sometimes he doesn’t feel that he’s been in the race unless he’s had a couple contacts between the boats. He used the new rules well by forcing a collision and managing to wipe his penalty straight away.”

His only loss of the event came against Laurie Jury (NZL) Kiwi Match in controversial circumstances, Williams claiming that the starting boat had dragged its anchor and skewed the line. The subsequent request for redress was unsuccessful and Williams, said: “We were disappointed with the loss against Laurie [Jury]. When the race committee boat drifts like that and moves the line, it’s frustrating not to get a redress but that’s how it goes.”

“Today’s results should take us to the Quarter Finals, which was the first challenge. We’re sailing well and we’re getting used to the new rules.”

Ian Williams leads the Korea Match Cup. Gyeonggi-do, 31 May 2012. Photo copyright Andrew Carter / Alpari World Match Racing Tour

Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing and Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Team Korea are heading the chasing pack in the qualification table, ending the day 6-2. Robertson continues his hot run of form, having taken a victory at the first event of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour season, Match Race Germany.

Mirsky competes with a crew who haven’t done a lot of sailing together previously, but he doesn’t think that’ll harm his chances: “We’ve not sailed together that much before but we’re gelling on well as a team and all the guys are successful sailors so we feel competitive and positive about our chances.

“If we get everything right, we’ve got a team strong enough to finish at the pointy end in the next few days. It’s refreshing to be back at a Tour event. I’m not a Tour Card Holder this year but it’s great representing Team Korea, in Korea. I’m loving it so far.”

Winner of the 2011 Korea Match Cup, Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team went into an all-Swedish match up with Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team in flight 9 as one of three skippers who finished the first day’s qualifying unbeaten. After picking up a penalty in the pre-start, Berntsson looked on the back foot but managed to pass his compatriot with an aggressive move around the mark on his last lap. Berntsson, said: “We know Bjorn [Hansen] had a good day yesterday but it’s not so much about being leader at this stage. We just want to get points on the board to get us qualified.”

“We always have fun racing him and this was a particularly exciting one. We did well to turn around the penalty that we got early on, when approaching the finish line.”

Hansen went on to finish the day 5-2 and will know that he only needs one more victory in the last Qualifying Session tomorrow to progress to the knockout rounds and stay in with a chance of holding on to his Korea Match Cup crown from last year.

The final Qualifying Session takes place on Friday 1 June from 1000 local time (KST). Live TV will be broadcast 1400 – 1600 local time on Saturday 2 June and Sunday 3 June.

Results after the Second Qualifying Session:
Ian Williams (GBR) – GAC Pindar 6-1
Phil Robertson (NZ) – WAKA Racing 6-2
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) – Team Korea 6-2
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) – Mekonomen Sailing  Team 5-2
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) –Berntsson Sailing Team 4-3
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) – Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 4-4
Laurie Jury (NZ) – Kiwi Match 4-4
Peter Gilmour (AUS) – YANMAR Racing 3*-2
William Tiller (NZ) – Full Metal Jacket Racing 3-4
Simone Ferrarese (ITA) – Ferrarese Racing Team 3-5
Byeong-Ki Park (KOR) – Geoje City 0-7
Tae-Jung Kim (KOR) – Gyeonggi 0-8
* Deducted 1 point for causing damage

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Three ahead after Korea Match Cup qualifying session 1

Posted on 30 May 2012 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Alpari World Match Racing Tour] As a Tour Card Holder, Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Team Korea White Tiger Challenge finished 4thin the final Tour standings last season and comes to the Korea Match Cup as skipper of hosts Team Korea. Racking up three victories in the first day’s sailing, Mirsky showed that he hasn’t lost his ability amongst the top international match racing field, “I was feeling a bit rusty this morning, it’s been a few months since I’ve been out match racing and we knew there was going to be a bit of pressure on us sailing in the team’s home country.”

“We had a bit of a crash with Peter [Gilmour] but it went our way and I think that the team will get better and better as the event goes on.”

Reigning ISAF Match Racing World Champion Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar carried his impressive form from last season in his first event of the 2012 Tour season, joining Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen and Torvar Mirsky on three wins from three on the first day of qualifying.

Williams, said: “It was a tricky session for us today as we hadn’t had a morning practice with the boat and the conditions were a bit shifty but we settled into it after the first one against Johnie [Berntsson]. They were all close races but I feel we controlled them.

“The local team Gyeonggi and their skipper [Tae-Jung] Kim beat us last year so he was the one we were actually looking out for most. We’ve had a bit of a crew change but all the guys have done a great job today and we’ll look to keep getting stronger as the event progresses.”

Bjorn Hansen also made the most of changeable wind conditions to come through his first three matches undefeated, in the process beating Laurie Jury (NZ) Kiwi Match who was hot off the back of a second place finish at last week’s Match Race Germany. Hansen, said: “We’re looking to make our mark on the Tour this year. We know it’s going to be hard but we should be able to achieve a top three finish.”

“We had a frustrating time in Germany but Korea is a completely different feeling. We’ve always done well here, whereas we’ve never done well in Germany!”

“We won Korea Match Cup last year and finished third the year before so we are confident and to get off to such a good start is great for confidence.”

The second Qualifying Session takes place on Thursday 31 May at 1000 local time (KST).

Results after the First Qualifying Session:

Johnie Berntsson (SWE) –Berntsson Sailing Team 1-2
Simone Ferrarese (ITA) – Ferrarese Racing Team 0-3
Peter Gilmour (AUS) – YANMAR Racing 1-2
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) – Mekonomen Sailing  Team 3-0
Tae-Jung Kim (KOR) – Gyeonggi 0-3
Laurie Jury (NZ) – Kiwi Match 2-1
Byeong-Ki Park (KOR) – Geoje City 0-3
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) – Team Korea 3-0
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) – Vannes Agglo Sailing Team 2-1
Phil Robertson (NZ) – WAKA Racing 2-1
William Tiller (NZ) – Full Metal Jacket Racing 1-2
Ian Williams (GBR) – GAC Pindar 3-0

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Teams Unveiled For Battle For ISAF World Match Racing Tour Crown

Posted on 02 November 2011 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: World Match Racing Tour] The race to win the ISAF World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) just got harder with today’s announcement that Tour Cardholders Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team and Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing are to be given wildcard entries to the season finale, the Monsoon Cup.

Despite sitting 9th and 10th on the overall WMRT leaderboard – and therefore not automatic invitees for the World Championship deciding regatta  –  both Richard and Robertson will pose a major threat to all the crews competing in Malaysia and could play a crucial role in deciding the eventual winner of the coveted 2011 ISAF World Match Racing Tour title.

The news that last year’s Championship runner-up Richard and Robertson, who showed his world-class credentials when knocking Championship leader Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar out of the Argo Group Gold Cup 3-0, will be competing in Kuala Terengganu will pile on the pressure for all the crews taking part and leaves the race for the World Championship wide open.

The Monsoon Cup sees the top 8 crews in the WMRT standings qualify for the showdown in Malaysia from 22-27 November where USD480,000 is on the line, along with a USD500,000 tour bonus pool. With all of the top 8 teams, as well as Richard, still in with a mathematical chance of winning the title the regatta promises to be one of the closest and most fierce battles in the Championship’s history.

Britain’s two-time former Champion, Ian Williams heads the standings going into the final regatta but has Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing and Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat breathing down his neck with just over 6 points separating the three, and with both skippers chasing their maiden WMRT title the pressure on Williams will be intense.

Leading the rest of the teams is four-time World Champion Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing who has proved himself a past master at the Monsoon Cup having won it twice. Gilmour will be joined by Korea Match Cup Champion Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team, Match Race France Champion Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team and tour cardholders Johnnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team and Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners.

Completing the line up of 12 crews will be Asian Match Racing Championship winner William Tiller (NZL) Full Metal Jacket Racing and Malaysian Match Racing Champion Jeremy Koo (MAS) Abdullah Chan/KRT. Having won through rigorous qualifying events to stake their place at the Monsoon Cup both teams are capable of causing some upsets to the form book. No match will be taken for granted.

THE STORY OF THE SEASON SO FAR

The 2011 season got off to a flying start in Marseille, France where Iehl defeated countryman, Bertrand Pace (FRA) Aleph Sailing Team 2-0 in the final at Match Race France.

The action then continued in Langenargen, Germany where Bruni claimed his first ever victory on the WMRT after defeating four-time World Champion Gilmour to take home the Match Race Germany title. However things weren’t to go so smoothly for Bruni at the Korea Match Cup in Gyeonggi, South Korea when he fell to Hansen  3-2 in a thrilling finale.

The Portimão Portugal Match Cup in Portimão, Portugal saw Bruni suffer the same fate, this time to Williams who took home his first WMRT win in three years. Williams’ victory over Bruni continued a pattern of different winners at each of the four completed stages which promised to be one of the most hotly contested seasons in recent years. Williams’ win shot his team up the Tour standings from 10th to third place, which at the halfway stage of the Tour was a huge boost for the 2007 and 2008 World Champion. In Marstrand, Sweden, Williams scored his second consecutive win over arch rival Hansen in an exciting five-match finale at the Stena Match Cup Sweden.

Williams’ winning streak came to an end at the St. Moritz Match Race in St. Moritz, Switzerland, when Mirsky was crowned the new ‘King of the Mountain’ after what had been a difficult season for the young skipper. It wasn’t all bad news for Williams however as his third place finish was enough to move him up into first position in the overall Championship standings.

It seemed Mirsky’s taste of success left him wanting more and a 5th match sudden death decider in the final against Berntsson at the Argo Group Gold Cup in Hamilton, Bermuda saw him claim his second consecutive victory. A win in the petit final for Bruni over Robertson allowed the gap between the top trio of Williams, Bruni and Mirsky to be reduced to just over six points.

The 2011 ISAF Match Racing World Championship will be decided at the Monsoon Cup which takes place from the 22-27 November in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia.

-Ends-

Overall Championship Standings – after 7 stages:
1 Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar – 106pts
2 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing – 100pts
3 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat – 99.8pts
4 Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing – 78.8pts
5 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team – 75pts
6 Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 74pts
7 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team – 73.2pts
8 Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners – 71.2pts
9 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 69.6pts
10 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing – 64.4pts

2011 Monsoon Cup Teams:
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team
Jeremy Koo (MAS) Abdullah Chan/KRT
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat
Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing
William Tiller (NZL) Full Metal Jacket Racing
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar

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Ian Williams keeps calm ahead of possible third World Match Racing Championship title

Posted on 25 October 2011 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: World Match Racing Tour] After a dominant mid-season catapulted Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar to the top of the Tour standings, a recent run of comparative poor form has crept in – he was beaten 3-0 at the first opportunity in the knockout rounds at both the St Moritz Match Race and the Argo Group Gold Cup. Add the fact that Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat won both those events together with Williams’ indifferent form at the Monsoon Cup over the past 3 years and he could be forgiven for feeling the pressure as he bids to claim a third world title.

The Brit though is not surprised that it’s come down to the last event especially after 2010 saw five teams head to Malaysia each with a legitimate title chance, but believes his experience will only serve to help him:

“Looking back over the past years it’s always come down to the Monsoon Cup and has often been just three teams vying for the championship title. It’s also usually the team that wins the Monsoon Cup that wins the title so while there really is all to play for it’s not an unexpected position to be in.

“We are definitely confident heading into the Monsoon Cup. We’ve been in this position before and it’s gone well for us in the past.”

Williams sailing to victory at the Stena Match Cup Sweden. Marstrand, 10 July 2011. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

While confident, Williams knows he’d be foolish to ignore the growing threat posed by Mirsky and that he needs to at least match the Australian’s form if he’s going to claim the Monsoon Cup and potentially his third title with it:

“Torvar is really on a roll and is the guy on form going into the event so we really need to pick up our game and get our rhythm back.”

If his dip and Mirsky’s rise give possible cause for concern, Williams will be buoyed by his win rate against his nearest rivals this season – he has won 86% of his races against Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing Team and 80% against Mirsky respectively. Small margins often decide match races and these statistics could be telling at an event where 1.5 times more points are on offer than the standard event points.

Williams will back those statistics up with typically meticulous preparation as he believes that if his team can produce their A-game then they can beat anyone including a resurgent Mirsky: “We just focus on our game because when we are sailing well we can beat anyone so we just focus on doing our job as best we can. We’ve sailed Bruni and Mirsky a lot over the past few years so we know them well and while every team have their traits – the areas they do well in or not so well in that you may look to exploit, the most important thing is that we focus on us.”

“We’re going to Perth before Malaysia to get some practice in and then will hopefully get another 3-5 days in Kuala Terengganu before the event. It’s always good to get there early and prepare so we have time to get the feel of the boats again and come together as a team.”

Williams has turned his fortunes on the Tour around this season, something he puts down to being ‘a lot more professional’, ‘doing a few training events before the season’ and ‘locking down [his] crew early and keeping it consistent’. The last time he won the Monsoon Cup in 2007 he also won the ISAF Match Racing World Championship. Time will tell if he has got his preparations right this season to repeat that double feat.

The 2011 ISAF Match Racing World Championship will be decided at the Monsoon Cup which takes place from 22-27 November in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia.

Overall Championship Standings – after 7 stages:
1 Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar – 106pts
2 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing – 100pts
3 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat – 99.8pts
4 Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing – 78.8pts
5 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team – 75pts
6 Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 74pts
7 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team – 73.2pts
8 Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners – 71.2pts
9 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 69.6pts
10 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing – 64.4pts

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Torvar Mirsky Wins Tense Final to Take the Gold Cup

Posted on 09 October 2011 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: World Match Racing Tour] Torvar Mirsky won a sudden death final against Johnie Berntsson at the Argo Group Gold Cup in Bermuda to claim his second consecutive victory on the 2011 World Match Racing Tour. A win in the petit final for Francesco Bruni over Phil Robertson means just over six points now separate the trio of Ian Williams, Bruni and Mirsky with only the Monsoon Cup to go.

Going into the final day, Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team was already assured of an automatic qualifying spot for the Monsoon Cup while Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing would retain tenth place overall regardless of his petit final result. They were fired up though, as were their opponents who were both seeking to close the gap on Tour leader Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar sponsored by Argo Group Gold Cup.

At the start of the Gold Cup, Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat and Berntsson were even on head to head wins this season. The final proved no different. In the first match, as they approached the first mark Berntsson careened into Mirsky’s stern and picked up a penalty, the umpires ruling that the Swede altered his course towards Mirsky and didn’t give him room to keep clear. A further penalty downwind forced the 2008 Gold Cup winner into an immediate penalty turn which he had to repeat after the umpires ruled he hadn’t completed the first properly. That spelt disaster for Berntsson but first blood to Mirsky who went on to take the win.

A pause for the Junior Gold Cup allowed Berntsson to re-focus and the Swede fought back brilliantly in the next match. His team were smooth through their manoeuvres and with no penalties this time, Berntsson went on to win with time to spare.

If Berntsson could avoid the penalties, it looked like he had the superior boat speed to win, but he was flagged in the pre-start of the next match. Again, he read the shifts well and his boat speed allowed him to take the lead however Mirsky continued to shake things up and kept it tight round the course. It proved critical. When Berntsson took his penalty turn on the line, he needed to get out the way of Mirsky who was on starboard with all the rights. Mirsky lined him up from 100 yards out and Berntsson didn’t keep clear, forcing the penalty back onto Berntsson and take the match. 2-1.

A comprehensive win for Berntsson in the next match, the Swede leading from start to finish with no penalty complications, took the final into sudden death. No team on port entry had won a match in this final so on paper it was Mirsky’s. A poor start from Berntsson gave the advantage to Mirsky who put in a series of classic match racing defence moves to deny Berntsson the lead. Mirsky continued to pick the shifts perfectly and built an unassailable lead to take the match and the 2011 Argo Group Gold Cup.

Mirsky was knocked out of the 2010 Gold Cup in the quarter-finals by Berntsson and more than avenged for that defeat this year. He said: “We are over the moon with winning two titles in a row. We’ve never done that well in Bermuda and we’ve never had many Tour wins so this is fantastic, we’re really on a roll. I’m so proud of the way the team sailed this week, everyone just knew what they were doing on board and we felt comfortable and confident. Johnie really tested us in the final which made for some great sailing.

“We are now close to Ian in the points and we have a big chance for the world title so we’ll be fighting for it! Hopefully we can keep on this roll and win in Malaysia too.”

Berntsson, who picked up 22 points for his win here to give his season a huge fillip, commented: “We’re disappointed but it was a great performance overall. The finals were really tight and we felt like it could have gone either way. We collected too many penalties though and lost the last pre-start and that really cost us. Torvar did a great job and was tough to beat so congratulations to him.

“Maybe in an hour we’ll be happy but right now we’re really disappointed because we came so close to winning. We’ve got a 3 year aim to finish on the podium so we’re progressing well towards that.

“We’re happy to get an automatic invite to Malaysia. That was our goal.”

Mirsky’s other arch rival for the Championship is Bruni who was involved in the petit final earlier in the day. The first match was really all over in the pre-start, Robertson picking up two penalties which forced him to take an immediate penalty turn and hand Bruni a sizeable lead that he maintained to cruise to a 1-0 lead.

Robertson made a cleaner start in the next match and managed to stay within touching distance as they approached the first mark. Despite not having raced the IOD class before, Bruni’s boat speed had been strong all week and he managed to open a gap on the first downwind leg which he extended on the final lap through to the finish for a deserved win.

Bruni, who now sits in 2nd place in the Championship, just six points adrift of Williams, said: “It was a really intense regatta for us. We came here knowing it was going to be tough – we didn’t know the boats but I think we adapted really well to them.

“The most important thing is that Ian didn’t go through to the semi-finals and we gained valuable points on him. Everything will now be played out at the Monsoon Cup and that was our aim heading into this regatta. We truly believe we can win in Malaysia.”

Robertson, who remains in tenth place overall, reflected: “It was a good result for us overall, the team have done a great job and if anything I let them down in the pre-starts today. It’s disappointing to lose the semi-final and then the petit final but it is what it is.

“It’s been an interesting year for us, very much up and down but we’ve learnt a lot and we are hoping to just keep learning and take it all away and use it to improve next year.”

Last year’s Tour leader going into the Monsoon Cup Mathieu Richard drops down to ninth in the overall Tour standings and will not get an automatic invite to the Monsoon Cup. The 2011 ISAF Match Racing World Championship will be decided at the Monsoon Cup which takes place from 22-27 November in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia.

Argo Group Gold Cup standings:
1 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat
2 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
3 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing
4 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing
5 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team
6 Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners
7 Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar sponsored by Argo Group
8 Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team
9 Bjorn Hansen (DEN) Mekonomen Sailing Team
10 Eric Monnin (SUI) Oklays Corum Sailing Team

Overall Championship Standings – after 7 stages:
1 Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar – 106pts
2 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing – 100pts
3 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat – 99.8pts
4 Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing – 78.8pts
5 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team – 75pts
6 Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 74pts
7 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team – 73.2pts
8 Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners – 71.2pts
9 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 69.6pts
10 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing – 64.4pts

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Mirsky Faces Berntsson for the Gold Cup

Posted on 08 October 2011 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: World Match Racing Tour] Torvar Mirsky defeated Phil Robertson 3-0 in the Argo Group Gold Cup semi-finals to complete a ten match unbeaten run in Bermuda. In the final, he will go head to head with Johnie Berntsson after his team overcame Francesco Bruni 3-1 in the other semi-final.

As well as trying to capture the 2011 Gold Cup, there were two key plot lines to the racing in Bermuda today. The first involved Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat and Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing who both need to capitalize on Williams’ defeat here yesterday to gain ground on the Brit in the race for the ISAF Match Racing World Championship. If Bruni could win here he would go into the Monsoon Cup tied with Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar sponsored by Argo Group.

The second was all about Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team, currently 9th in the Tour standings, fighting to get into the top eight to qualify for the Monsoon Cup. Given the results so far, if Berntsson could win here, he would move into 5th place in the Tour standings.

Bruni won the final point he needed against Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team in the morning to qualify for the semi-finals. As the top placed skipper, Mirsky picked Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing leaving Berntsson to face Bruni.

Big puffs rolled across Hamilton Harbour all day to make boat handling very difficult around the 3 lap course. In their first match, Berntsson came from behind against Bruni and built up a big enough lead to get rid of a penalty he picked up in the pre-start. They exchanged blows in the next two races to bring the scoreline to 2-1 however a disastrous start from the Italian in the following race handed Berntsson a huge lead which he maintained for a berth in the final.

A jubilant Berntsson said: “A win is a win but it’s especially good when it’s against the top guys! Mirsky and his crew are really good – they’ve sailed the Tour for a few years so have experience and a talented young team so tomorrow is going to be tough. But we’ve taken wins against them before so I’m confident we can come out on top.

“We’re hoping to make it through to the Monsoon Cup and the results here will really help us climb the Tour rankings. Hopefully we’ll go through to Malaysia and get some more points there.”

Bruni was left with mixed emotions: “We’re very happy with the day in general but not about losing the semi-finals. Making it to the top 4 is obviously great but once you get there you want more. We’re a little bit sad but we’re still getting some points and gaining on Williams so really now it will all be played out in Malaysia.

“We could end up taking 3rd and hopefully Mirsky will get 2nd so the top of the leaderboard will be really tight. It means it will be open up the competition in Malaysia but I really think it’s down to Mirsky, Williams and myself. It would be very hard for anyone else to catch us now.”

Against Robertson, Mirsky was battling another skipper who posted a 3-0 scoreline in the quarter-finals, and with both skippers looking for valuable points here, the match had the potential to go to the wire. The Wave Muscat team read the shifts perfectly though and were almost unchallenged in all three races, winning each with time to spare. Mirsky now hasn’t lost since the first Qualifying Session here, reflecting: “The conditions were tough today and there were lots of shifts but the guys did a really good job and we have great composure onboard the boat. We managed to keep the boat going fast around the course which really was key to beating Phil.

“Going through to the finals is a great for our World Championship chances as it should boost us up the table so we’re really happy with that.”

Meanwhile, Phil Robertson will have a chance to race for 3rd place tomorrow: “We’re obviously really disappointed to be knocked out at this point. Torvar and his crew sailed really well, they did a great job getting the lead and then extending it. We just didn’t have an answer to it really. In terms of our World Championship chances I don’t think this makes much of a difference. It’s hard to tell how it will play out until all the results are in.” 

Williams had nothing to gain other than a bit of pride by competing for 5th to 8th place as the points he won here in Bermuda won’t count towards his Championship score. He ended up losing to Richard who went on to defeat Radich, earning the Frenchman 5th place and 14 points which he will include in his Championship score.

It was a strong finish for Richard but little consolation for a team that went into the 2011 season expecting to be in the title hunt: “This was our last chance to come back in the Tour rankings so we’re disappointed. Last year we were fighting for the title, it was really exciting and was a far better position to be in than this year. We will be quite far away from the top three so we’ll have to try and get the best result we can in Malaysia.”

Argo Group Gold Cup semi-final results:
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team beat Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing 3-1
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat beat Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 3-0

5th to 8th final standings:
5 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team
6 Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners
7 Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar sponsored by Argo Group
8 Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team

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Phil Robertson knocks Ian Williams out of Argo Group Gold Cup

Posted on 07 October 2011 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: World Match Racing Tour] A stunning performance by Phil Robertson in the quarter-finals of the 2011 Argo Group Gold Cup saw his WAKA Racing team defeat current Tour leader Ian Williams 3-0 in Hamilton, Bermuda. The defeat keeps the race for the ISAF Match Racing World Championship firmly alive with Williams’ nearest rivals, Torvar Mirsky and Francesco Bruni, both still in the hunt for the Gold Cup.

The unique competition format here in Bermuda has proved hugely popular among spectators, creating final flight deciders in the group qualification stages and a repechage which finished in a tense sail off between Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing, Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team and Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team. The World Championship can’t be won here but teams can lose it. With Hansen joining Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team as a big name victim in the repechage, it’s now unrealistic to expect either to win it at the Monsoon Cup.

When it came to the quarter-final picks, the skippers appeared to choose teams that they’ve held the upperhand over all season. Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar could have picked his nearest rival for the title, Bruni, to try and knock him out of the competition at the earliest opportunity but the Brit opted for Phil Robertson, a team Williams hasn’t lost to all season.

Williams' defeat in the quarter finals means the 2011 World Match Racing Tour will be decided in the Monsoon Cup, Hamilton, 7 October 2011. Photo copyright Chris Davies / WMRT

Robertson, currently tenth in the World Championship standings, defied the odds though. After winning the first match comfortably, Robertson built an immediate lead in the second and extended it throughout, eventually winning by a huge margin. It was the same story in the last match too leaving Williams, seemingly infallible in the qualifiers here as he was in St Moritz, to go home.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” said Williams. “We came in here with high hopes but Phil had the speed edge all day and really deserved to win. When we sail like that we expect to lose. This regatta has been another bad one for us – we let ourselves down in St Moritz and we’ve done it again here so we really need to pick our game up heading into the Monsoon Cup.” 

Meanwhile, an elated Robertson commented: “We are over the moon to have beaten Ian. We just seemed to nail every shift today and it really couldn’t have gone any better. After losing every match against Ian so far this season it’s very cool to beat him 3-0. It makes the championship title a lot more open now, the points will be a lot closer and it will put a lot more pressure on a lot more teams going forward. We were hoping Berntsson wouldn’t get this far as we are trying to close the gap against him but in a way it’s good because it keeps the pressure on us to sail well.”

Bruni stands on the brink of joining Robertson in the semi-finals with an overnight 2-1 scoreline against Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team. Richard would be tied on 2-2 with Bruni however he received a full point penalty for a collision to make his life harder tomorrow.

It was a tense tussle from the off between the two teams, both forcing each other to defend any lead hard. Bruni had to seek medical attention after the Italian was knocked cleanly overboard by his swinging boom. Somehow he managed to scramble back into the boat, keep his spinnaker hoisted and take the win. His determination to win here and put the pressure on Williams is very clear.

Torvar Mirsky joins Robertson in the semi-finals after the Australian defeated Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners, a team he’s only lost one match against all season. Mirsky took the first two matches pretty comfortably and then took the lead in the final match on the final run. Like Bruni, the Gold Cup is a crucial event for Mirsky if he is to realise his dream of winning the World Championship: “The Gold Cup is the penultimate event so it’s really important for us to move up on the scoreboard. That said, you never know what’s going to happen here, it’s a very unpredictable event so it’s going to be tough from here on in.” 

The sole non-Tour Card Holder to make it into the knock out stages, Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team, picked Johnie Bertnsson as his quarter-final opponent. Berntsson had been on the water since 9am today fighting it out in the repechage and it seem to play to his advantage, Berntsson taking a convincing victory in the first match.

In the second, Lindberg held a good lead over the Swede until Lindberg’s spinnaker got caught around his keel after a huge gust of wind rolled over his boat. It slowed him right up and allowed Berntsson to take the lead and win. Despite losing the next, Berntsson held firm to take the spoils 3-1 and keep his chances of qualifying automatically for the Monsoon Cup alive.

Ben Ainslie qualified from the repechage to win the 2010 Argo Group Gold Cup. Both Bruni or Berntsson would be delighted to repeat that this year.

Francesco Bruni’s quarter-final with Mathieu Richard will conclude tomorrow at 1130 local time (-4hrs GMT) on Saturday 8 October.

Argo Group Gold Cup quarter-final results:
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing beat Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar sponsored by Argo Group 3-0
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team beat Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team 3-1
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat beat Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners 3-0
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing and Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team are on 2-1 (racing to continue tomorrow)

Overall Championship Standings – after 6 stages:
1 Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar – 90pts
2 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing – 89pts
3 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat – 84pts
4 Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing – 74pts
5 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team – 73pts
6 Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 67pts
7 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 63pts
8 Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners – 61pts
9 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team – 48pts
10 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing – 43pts

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Williams Turns the Screw at the Gold Cup

Posted on 06 October 2011 by Valencia Sailing

 [Source: World Match Racing Tour] Ian Williams continued his great run of form by qualifying for the knock out stages of the 2011 Argo Group Gold Cup after an epic third Qualifying Session in Hamilton Harbour, Bermuda. Wildcard Staffan Lindberg was the sole non-Tour Card Holder to automatically qualify for the knock out stages after finishing top of his group.

The wind continued to build in Bermuda today where big gusts rolled across Hamilton Harbour, forcing teams to hike hard all day around the course. In Group 3 it all came down to the final flight, with Ian Williams, Mathieu Richard and Damien Iehl all on 5 wins and Eric Monnin close behind on 4.

Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar sponsored by Argo Group was involved in a close tussle with Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team, the lead changing hands several times amid plenty of penalty calls. Williams was the eventual victor and goes through to the quarter-finals with a 6-1 scoreline and first pick as the top seed.

In the other key match, Monnin (SUI) Oklays Corum beat Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team and would’ve qualified automatically in second place, but the Swiss was given a half point penalty for a collision. It cost him dearly –the penalty relegating him to the repechage and propelling Richard into the quarter-finals: “We’re disappointed. Because of that crappy half point penalty we’re in the repechage. We knew the half point could be a decider but it’s frustrating because it wasn’t clearly our fault. We now have to overcome some strong teams in the repechage but we’ve got a good chance.”

Despite winning all three of his matches today to bring his Qualifying score to 4-2, Simone Ferrarese (ITA) Ferrarese Racing Team failed to make it to the repechage, underlining just how difficult it is to qualify here in a group headed by three Tour Card Holders. “We did really well today – to only miss the repechage by 1 point is disappointing. We’ll take that experience away and use it to keep improving.”

Overnight in Group 2, Francesco Bruni, Jesper Radich and Staffan Lindberg were all sitting pretty with undefeated scorelines however one would have to fall with only 2 automatic qualification places on offer. Two immediate defeats for Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing at the hands of Lindberg (SWE) Alandia Sailing Team and then Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners all but ended the Italian’s chances of automatic qualification. By the time Bruni crossed the line to defeat Hansen in the final match both teams had already been forced into the repechage after Lindberg had secured top spot with a victory over the already qualified Radich.

Bruni remains confident though and believes a few tough matches in the repechage could play to his advantage: “The repechage round is hard but if you get through you’re in a stronger position as you have five extra races behind you. We struggled with the strong winds this morning but feel we’ve sorted the problem. Hopefully we sail well and go through even stronger.”

Lindberg is the only non-Tour Card Holder to automatically qualify for the knock out stages at the Gold Cup and feels confident to be around the big names: “It’s great to beat the card holders but we’ve got experience racing them and we’re on good form this year with a 4th at the Congressional Cup. The one loss today won’t play on our minds – it gives you more motivation and stops you becoming complacent.”

As in Group 3, the final Group 2 standings would only be decided in the final flight. Canfield, yesterday’s form skipper in the group was aiming to join Lindberg as the only other non-Tour Card Holder to automatically qualify for the quarter-finals. A loss against Lance Fraser (BER) FreeLance-Digicel and a win against Sam Pearson (GBR) Team Wight Match meant he still required a further victory in his last race against Reuben Corbett (NZL) AON Racing to make sure of it.

He didn’t manage it, which leaves Canfield (ISV) Team ISV to fight it out in the repechage: “They weren’t easy matches today and while we were able to grind our way back against Corbett it wasn’t enough. We’ve sailed all the teams in the repechage so we’ll just go out there tomorrow and see what we can do.”

Meanwhile, the four teams of Mirsky, Gilmour, Berntsson and Robertson were locked with one team sure to go home. Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat dug deep today, winning all three of his matches to pull himself into top spot, his last win coming against Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing who needed that point to make it into the repechage. Reflecting on his day, the 3-time Gold Cup winner said: “It was an important day today and we had to do a lot of winning. In the first race we sailed against Berntsson and were about 10 boat lengths in front but we received a penalty out of the blue. We found out it was because the boundary mark had shifted.  It was cruel justice and it’s thrown us out.

“I don’t think it’s the end of our World Championship hopes, this was really a bonus event for us so we will likely count the Denmark points instead. This wasn’t in our game plan but someone has to go. You’ll see us bigger and better at the next event.”   

The winner between Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing and Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team would decide the final automatic qualifying spot and it went to the young Kiwi. He now has the chance to collect some valuable points in Bermuda to keep alive his chances of qualifying for the Monsoon Cup.

The repechage and quarter-finals get underway at 0900 local time (-4hrs GMT) on Friday 7 October.

Results after Qualifying Session Three:

Group One:
Q – Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team 6-1
Q – Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners 6-1
R – Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing 5-2
R – Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekononmen Sailing Team 4-3
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing 3-4
Blythe Walker (BER) Team RenRe 3-4
Jakub Pawluk (POL) Henri Lloyd Racing 1-6
Jordan Reece (AUS) True Blue Racing 0-7

Group Two:
Q – Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat 5-2
Q – Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing 4-3
R – Taylor Canfield (ISV) Team ISV 4-3
R – Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team 4-3
Reuben Corbett NZL) AON Racing Team 3-4
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 3-4
Lance Fraser (BER) Freelance-Digicel 3-4
Sam Pearson (GBR) Team Wight Match 2-5

Group Three:
Q – Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar sponsored by Argo group 6-1
Q – Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 5-2
R – Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team 5-2
R – Eric Monnin (SUI) Oklays Corum Sailing Team 4.5-2
Simone Ferrarese (ITA) Ferrarese Racing Team 4-3
Laurie Jury (NZL) ZOKE Kiwi Match 2-5
Terry McLaughlin (CAN) Team Commonwealth 1-6
Peter Miller (BER) Miller Match Racing 0-7

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