Saturday, October 13, 2007

Walker goes to max to advance in Bermuda



source by: Sean McNeill

Bermudian Blythe Walker kept alive the hope of a Royal Bermuda Yacht Club member winning the $100,000 King Edward VII Gold Cup when he won a five-set quarterfinal match against Brian Angel of the U.S.

Walker, who finished third last year, trailed Angel 2-0 before running off three straight for a 3-2 victory.
“We wanted to provide max spectator value,” said Walker. And he did, crossing the finish line in the last race to a cacophony of horns, whistles and screams on a rainy day in Hamilton, Bermuda.
Walker advanced to tomorrow’s Semifinal Round where he’ll square-off against Björn Hansen of Sweden. Hansen continued his incredible run from yesterday’s near elimination.

Hansen won the Repechage Round with a 5-0 record and then claimed a 3-1 victory over fellow Swede Johnie Berntsson in the quarterfinals. After starting 2-2, Hansen has won 10 of 11 races and stands a formidable challenge for Walker.
“He’s one of the more aggressive match racers,” said Walker.

In the bottom half of the ladder America’s Cup winner Ed Baird of the U.S. will meet Frenchman Mathieu Richard. In the quarters Baird defeated Italy’s Paolo Cian 3-0, the same score which Richard, last year’s runner-up, defeated Bermudian Glenn Astwood.
Astwood, the Bermuda National Match Race champion, had threatened to have Richard run off the island if he lost his match, but he called off the hunt.
“We got used to looking at him from behind and he’s not a bad guy,” said Astwood. “It’s been a great week for us because we didn’t expect to get this far.”

Walker quickly fell behind 2-0 in his match against Angel. In the first race he was penalized for what he deemed a questionable call. In the second Angel simply outsailed him. After that, Walker and crew regrouped.
“We said we were faster than him,” Walker said. “So we wanted to get an even start and sail clean on the racecourse. Except for the last race, we did that.”

In Race 5 Angel forced Walker to circle around the pin end with about 40 seconds to the start. As Walker sailed back towards the committee boat on port, Angel, on starboard, forced him to sail to leeward. Angel held a three-boatlength lead early in the race, but no lead was safe in this match.

“I’m not sure it was racing or riding a rollercoaster,” said Angel. “Every race had a lead change. The boat that led off the start line lost each race.”

So it would happen to Angel. The turning point in the match came upwind on the fifth of six legs. Walker trailed around the leeward mark, but was less than one boatlength behind. Halfway up the leg Walker put in a fake tack that Angel bit hard on. Although Walker didn’t gain much in the next cross he was able to get to the right side of Angel.

At the top of the leg Angel approached the windward mark on port while Walker came in with the right-of-way starboard tack and speed. The two were basically even, but Walker had an adroit plan to draw a penalty on his opponent, and it worked.

“I was ahead on port but not laying, and he’s coming in fast on starboard,” said Angel. “My thought was to slow down and hope he’d go behind us, but it didn’t work.”

Walker said, “We came in on starboard and he luffed on port thinking we’d go around the mark. We didn’t. We just held on starboard. I wasn’t sure we’d get him, but once he stayed on port I knew we had him.”

The Hansen-Berntsson match was another close one. Berntsson led at the windward mark in each race, but could only convert one for a win. In the fourth and deciding match he was penalized twice, although he disagreed with the second call at the finish.
“I did exactly what I planned,” said Berntsson. “When we were luffing he came down and crashed into us. But Björn and his team did an excellent job. They hunted us all over the racecourse.”

Although the Baird-Cian match was decided 3-0 in favor of Baird, it was much closer than that. Cian, like others today, felt he let some chances get away.
“I think we sailed well every first beat and every start. We had a big lead in the second and third races,” said Cian. “I’m not disappointed by our overall performance, but I’m disappointed by the fact that we didn’t win one of those races. That’s why they’re the defenders of the America’s Cup. They put pressure on us very well.”

Racing today was conducted in a blustery south wind between 2 and 20 knots that shifted through 50 degrees at times.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Baird, Lindberg and Cian looking strong



source by: Sean McNeill

As the rounds robin at the King Edward VII Gold Cup wind down, time’s running out for some crews in Hamilton, Bermuda.
The three group leaders – American Ed Baird, Staffan Lindberg of Finland and Italy’s Paolo Cian – are all undefeated at 4-0.

Second in each group – Bermudian Blythe Walker, Mathieu Richard of France and Glenn Astwood, also of Bermuda – have one loss each and control their destiny.
Behind the top two in each group a mad scramble’s about to ensue.

The top two from each group at the end of round robin racing advance to the Quarterfinal Round. Third and fourth from each group advance to the second chance Repechage Round, from which the top two advance to the quarterfinals. That means that accomplished skippers such as New Zealander-cum-Californian Scott Dickson, Sweden’s Magnus Holmberg and Björn Hansen, and American Sally Barkow, a past Women’s Match Racing World Champion, could be eliminated tomorrow.

Baird is among the skippers who’ll likely advance. The America’s Cup winner from Alinghi won his only match of the day and moved to 4-0; good for first in Group A. Baird’s one win came against the event reigning champion Ian Williams of England.
Baird wasn’t happy with his start, slightly late and tight to leeward of Williams, but he used his position to luff Williams away less than one minute into the race. Later up the first leg Baird easily crossed Williams approaching the windward mark, and was never seriously threatened from there.
“I was a little late for the start,” Baird said. “I turned down to burn some time and when I turned back up I realized I was late. But it wasn’t too bad because I didn’t want to get stuck down in the coffin corner and hit the pin.”

Walker is second in Group A with a 4-1 record. Last year’s third-place finisher scored two wins on the day, one over Denmark’s Peter Wibroe, which he won after luffing the Dane halfway down the run to the finish.
His second win came over Dickson, and the Kiwi who lives in California basically gifted the race to the Bermudian. Dickson had gotten a pre-start penalty on Walker, and then Walker compounded the problem by being on the course side at the start. Walker, however, cleared himself on the start line and then had starboard advantage on the port-tack Dickson. Dickson tacked to avoid, but then hit the pin end of the start line. That penalty canceled out Walker’s, and then Walker sailed away to the win.
“At 30 seconds I thought I was looking good,” said Dickson. “At 20 seconds I thought I was looking great. At 10 seconds I was patting the crew on the back. And then I hit the pin.”

Lindberg (4-0) and Richard (3-1) look solid to advance from Group B. Both have been here several times before and their prior experience is helping them move forward. Behind them Johnie Berntsson of Sweden and Finland’s Jon Eriksson are both 2-2, while Holmberg is one loss behind at 2-3.

Cian, the Italian helmsman of South Africa’s Team Shosholoza at the Louis Vuitton Cup in May, has streaked out to a 4-0 lead. Cian had a huge win against David Tabb of England in his first race when he tacked to port off the start line and found a lifting puff. In his second race rival Brian Angel of the U.S. aided Cian’s win by being on the course side at the start.

Another Bermudian, Glenn Astwood, is second at 4-1. Astwood, who won the Bermuda National Match Race Championship, scored a come-from-behind win against Brazil’s Daniel Glomb in his first race and then took down Robbie Allam of the U.K. in the second race. Allam also was on the course side at the start and had a penalty.

Racing today was postponed for nearly five hours while the race committee waited for the wind to settle on Hamilton Harbour. An 8- to 10-knot southwesterly eventually filled.

For a complete crew list and head-to-head results please visit the official event Web site at www.BermudaGoldCup.com.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Baird undefeated in first day of racing in Bermuda



source by: Sean McNeill

The top two finishers in each group at the end of the round robin advance to the Quarterfinal Round while the third- and fourth-place finishers advance to a Repechage Round.

Baird, who helmed Alinghi to victory in the 32nd America’s Cup in July, is the only skipper at 3-0 because he’s the only leader who hasn’t had a bye. Each team receives one bye in round robin racing.

“It’s the first time I’ve stepped on a boat since the Cup,” said Baird, of St. Petersburg, Fla. “It’s also the first time the four of us have sailed a match race regatta together. We’re just trying to sort it out as we go along.”
Baird is sailing with Alinghi teammates Rodney Ardern, Lorenzo Mazza and Piet Van Nieuwenhuyzen, who all sailed the Cup.

“It was a vintage Bermuda day,” said Williams, the skipper of Team Pindar. “It was lovely wind, lovely sun and good for us because we got two wins.”

Lindberg, sailing in his sixth consecutive Gold Cup, is one of three tied for the lead in Group B.
“We started well and did well on the racecourse,” said the tall Finn who is ranked No. 5 in the world. “We had good communication on the boat and good crew work on the racecourse. We’re looking forward to tomorrow.”

Cian is tied with Glomb for the lead in Group C.
“Our team is working very well,” said the Italian who helmed South Africa’s Team Shosholoza in the Louis Vuitton Cup last May.

Local heroes Glenn Astwood and Blythe Walker also fared well on Day 1. Walker, who placed third overall last year, is third in Group A with a 2-1 record, which is identical to the spot and record Astwood holds in Group C.

Walker might’ve been at 3-0 tonight if not for a penalty he incurred in his Flight 2 match against Ian Williams, the event’s defending champion. Walker was able to pull even with Williams on the final run, but then got penalized for taking his competitor past the layline to the finish.

Astwood, however, moved to 2-1 after overcoming Brian Angel of the U.S. in their Flight 3 match. Trailing on the second upwind leg, Astwood initiated a tacking duel that eventually allowed him to get to the right of Angel where he found more wind.
“When I’m behind I love to start a tacking duel, so that’s what I did,” said Astwood, who won the Bermuda National Match Racing Championship in August.

For a complete crew list and head-to-head results please visit the official event Web site at www.BermudaGoldCup.com.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ola Argentina


Mi name is Domingo Contessi and I'm part of the TAG Heuer Sailing Team and active reader of matchrace.ch

We are an amateur sailing team, with lot of experience in the J24 class and that started sailing in match race regattas at the last Nations Cup. We finish in 5th. place.

This is our web site: http://www.tagheuersailingteam.com/ if you would like to include it in your team section.

There is not much activity here as in Europe, but there is a company that is organizing really good events: http://www.match-race.com.ar/

The next one will be held in our city, Mar del Plata. We will use J/24 boats and 10 teams are invited (3 from Brazil, 1 from Chile, 1 from Uruguay and 5 from Argentina). Jurys will come from USA, Brazil and Argentina.

Maybe the teams are not top ranked in the Match Race rankings, the best one is our team with Juan Grimaldi as helmsman, but most of them are starting to take MR seriously and soon you will have more news from southamerica, for example another southamerican, Daniel Glomb from Brazil is actually competing in a few events Grade 2 in Europe. For this championship are confirmed a two time J/24 world champ and Panamerican Gold Medal (Mauricio Santa Cruz), Panamerican silver Medal and national champ. (Alejo Rigoni); J24 worlds runner up , southamerican champion and 8 times national champion (Juan Grimaldi), among many other top sailors from southamerica.

We will keep you informed of the final results.
Kind Regards.

Domingo Contessi.-

Monday, September 10, 2007

Alinghi's Baird looking to add Gold Cup



source by: Sean McNeill

“Winning the Gold Cup last year is my biggest achievement in sailing and will be until Team Pindar can win the match racing worlds,” said Williams, 30. “I really enjoy sailing in the conditions and the boats in Bermuda, the combination of which makes for really tricky racing. Although it’s easy to blame bad luck for losing, the boats really reward good sailing.”

Williams and Richard are ranked No. 1 and 2 in the ISAF Open Match Race Rankings and the World Match Racing Tour standings.

Baird, who helmed Alinghi’s yacht in winning the 32nd America’s Cup last July, has entered the Gold Cup for the 13th time. Previously he has placed third overall four occasions, most recently in 2004.

Baird’s not the only America’s Cup helmsman entered in the event. Others include Italy’s Paolo Cian of South Africa’s Team Shosholoza and Sweden’s Magnus Holmberg of the Victory Challenge.

Other returning competitors include Bermudian Blythe Walker who finished third last year, which equaled the best finish by a Bermudian since Gordon Lucas won in 1986. Eric Monnin of Switzerland also returns after placing fourth last year. Sweden’s Bjorn Hansen, fifth last year, and Finland’s Staffan Lindberg, seventh a year ago, are also entered.

The Gold Cup is slated as Stage 14 of 16 of the World Match Racing Tour. The tour champion at the end of the year will be named the ISAF Match Racing World Champion. The winner of the Gold Cup will earn $35,000 of the $100,000 prize purse.

The Gold Cup is the oldest match-racing trophy in the world for competition involving one-design yachts. It was first presented at the Tri-Centenary Regatta at Jamestown, Va., in 1907 by King Edward VII in commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the first permanent settlement in America.

Locally based global insurance companies Renaissance Re and Max Capital Group Ltd. are the Presenting Sponsors of the Gold Cup. The Bermuda Department of Tourism is the Host Sponsor. Primary sponsors include Ace Ltd., Bermuda Premium Spirits, Bermuda Telephone Co., Correia Construction and Oleander Cycles. Supporting sponsors are Office Solutions, Izod, Wedgwood, ECL, The Bermuda IOD Class Association, The Fairmont Hamilton Princess and T2P Productions.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

King of the mountain to be crowned at St. Moritz Match Race

ST. MORITZ – A new ‘King of the mountain’ will be crowned at St. Moritz this week, the latest stop on the World Match Racing Tour. The St. Moritz Match Race begins on Tuesday, with 12 of the top match racers in the world, including Jochen Schuemann (GER), who is fresh off his victory at the America’s Cup with the Swiss defender, Alinghi.
At St Moritz, the 12 deep field is competing for a prize purse of 150 000 Sfr (approximately US$ 125 000) in addition to critical ranking points on the World Match Racing Tour. This event features the top four ranked sailors on the tour, including the defending champion at St Moritz, Paolo Cian (ITA), who will be eager to get back on a winning track after a disappointing result (11th) at the Danish Open last week.
Similarly, Mathieu Richard (FRA), who topped the World Match Race Tour table before having a difficult time in Denmark (10th place) and slipping to second on the Tour, will be aggressively pursuing victory here in Switzerland.
Ian Williams (GBR) is now at the top of the table on the World Match Racing Tour after earning a third place finish in Copenhagen by defeating Sébastien Col (FRA) in the petite final. Col arrives in St. Moritz in fourth position on the Tour championship board.
But it’s not just the tour leaders who are competing in St. Moritz. Two-time St. Moritz winner Mark Mendleblatt (USA) is here seeking his third ‘King of the mountain’ title after claiming the title in 2004 and 2005. And Michael Hestbaek (DEN), who is with the United Internet Team Germany America’s Cup team, is also in St. Moritz, seeking World Match Racing Tour glory.
The rest of the field doesn’t make the competition any easier. Eugeny Neugodnikow (RUS) and his ‘Lord of the Sail’ team have only competed in one event on the current edition of the World Match Race Tour, but they made it count, scoring 12 points from a fourth place finish in Germany. That came after a Semi Final loss to Staffan Lindberg (FIN) in Germany, who just missed on scoring points in Copenhagen with a ninth place finish.
The home favourites will surely be Eric Monnin (SUI) who finished in seventh place last year in St. Moritz, and Matthias Renker (SUI). Monnin will be looking to make the final four in front of a home crowd in St. Moritz this week, while Renker is attempting to build on solid results on the Alinghi Swiss Tour over the past couple of years. Renker, along with Matteo Simoncelli (ITA) are attempting to score their first points on the World Match Racing Tour.
The St. Moritz Match Race 2007 will be sailed on Lake St. Moritz, which is located in the Engadin region of the South-eastern Swiss Alps. At an elevation of nearly 2 000 metres above sea level, it is likely the ‘highest-elevated’ match racing event in the world.
The sailors will have to make a quick adjustment to the unique boats used in St. Moritz. In contrast to much of the World Match Racing Tour, where 10 to 14 metre keelboats are in vogue, the St. Moritz event features the Streamline 7.15, a seven-metre, three-person, trapeze keelboat, which physically and mentally challenges skippers and crew alike.
The first day of the St. Moritz Match Race is on Tuesday, 14th August, with the Final scheduled to take place on Sunday 19th.

Kirsten Bollinger,Media St. Moritz Match Race

Monday, August 13, 2007

Radich wins Danish Open 2007



source by: Flemming Vitus

Danish eyes were smiling today at the Danish Open. Both finalists Jesper Radich (DEN) and Peter Wibroe (DEN) are products of the Royal Match Race Center here in Skovshoved and gave the enthusiastic crowd an amazing display of Match Race sailing. In a close fought battle Radich emerged victorious with a 3-1 score line and a cheque for 100,000 Dkr (approx. $18,000).

A champagne drenched Jesper Radich said “I can’t praise my crew enough, everyone fought right to the end and finally we are celebrating a victory at the Danish Open. It means an awful lot to us all that we have managed to defeat an ensemble of some of the worlds best match racers.” Amongst the field were 5 other Americas Cup skippers, the current European Champion and the current Tour leader.

After a poor start in race 1 Radich fought back to take the win, then in race 2 Wibroe came fast out of the blocks to take control of the race and level the score. A bounce back by Radich in match three saw him go to match point but it wasn’t all going Radich’s way. Match four saw Peter Wibroe engineer a penalty on to Radich, a fierce battle then ensued as the two crews fought their way around the course with Radich just putting enough distance between himself and Wibroe to shed the penalty right on the finish line and take the Danish Open.

Peter Wibroe was obviously disappointed to come second even though the goal of this young crew before the event had been to reach the semi finals. During the course of four days they have demonstrated Match Racing of the highest level to an appreciative audience; as Wayne Boberg (NZL), one of the International Umpires put it “Peter Wibroe is going to be the next big name in Match Racing in the coming years. He is a fantastic sailor and he has got the crew working well together. His temperament is perfect for a match racing, Peter really has got the keys for success.

The wind conditions on the final day were a big challenge for the sailors. The wind shifted direction constantly with max left to max right being 70 degrees. Third placed Ian Williams (GBR) of Team Pindar was full of praise for the organizers, the Royal Matchrace Center, “They were very difficult conditions out there today in our match against Sebastien (Col) for third place. We were lucky enough to choose the favoured side. For us the third place here is a good result, we keep our first place on the ISAF Ranking list and take the lead on the World Tour. At the same time I would like to praise the organisers for a really good event where everything worked perfectly and we would like to return next year.”

Last years winner Sebastien Col (FRA) finished in fourth place whilst Swede Bjorn Hansen was fifth after his victory over Jesper Bank (DEN).

Final Results
1 Jesper Radich (DEN)
2 Peter Wibroe (DEN)
3 Ian Williams (GBR)
4 Sébastien Col (FRA)
5 Björn Hansen (SWE)
6 Jesper Bank (DEN)
7 Sten Mohr (DEN)
8 Philippe Presti (FRA)
9 Staffan Lindeberg (FIN)
10 Mathieu Richard (FRA)
11 Paolo Cian (ITA)
12 Rasmus Viltoft (DEN)

Nail biting at Danish Open 2007



source by: Flemming Vitus

The fight to secure a semi final place in the Danish Open went down to the last match of the Round Robin. As predicted from yesterdays results the teams have been going all out to make the semi final cut. The results of the last three matches were critical to decide the semi final places. There were potentially 7 teams that were in the hunt for the 4 places during the last flight.

The tension was mounting all afternoon as racing was suspended at 1400 due to a lack of wind. After a three and a half hour wait the last flight resumed during a thunderstorm.

With the rain pouring down Peter Wibroe and Bjorn Hansen had a sudden death match with a loss by either meaning elimination and a win by either would guarantee them a place in the semi finals. Wibroe took the bull by the horns and led from the start. On the second upwind leg Hansen fought back resulting in a luffing match. In a move used by Wibroe to good effect a number of times in this event he dropped his jib and kept control of the match, staying ahead to the finish, much to the delight of the home crowd.

With only a win being good enough to make the cut Jesper Bank had his back to the wall. Philippe Presti led from start to finish and held off a late charge from Bank which saw the boats overlapped on the finish line continuing an unsuccessful year so far for the triple Olympic medalist.

Going into the last match of the Round Robin the final ranking was still undecided. Ironically win or lose Col was through but the result was critical to Bank and Williams. Williams was ashore having done the calculations and found himself cheering for Col. Col didn’t disappoint Team Pindar as he sailed away from Mathieu Richard to a comfortable win.

At tonight’s gala dinner Jesper Radich will announce his choice of semi final opponent which may see Col up against their recently enthusiastic supporters, Ian Williams’ Team Pindar. Boats and side of entry will be drawn at the briefing tomorrow morning.

Round Robin Result:
1 Jesper Radich (DEN)
2 Sébastian Col (FRA)
3 Peter Wibroe (DEN)
4 Ian Williams (GBR)
5 Jesper Bank (DEN)
6 Björn Hansen (SWE)
7 Philippe Presti (FRA)
8 Sten Mohr (DEN)
9 Staffan Lindberg (FIN)
10 Mathieu Richard (FRA)
11 Paolo Cian (ITA)
12 Rasmus Viltoft (DEN)