Spithill and Richard lead their groups

Round robins continue at King Edward VII Gold Cup

Friday October 13th 2006, Author: Sean McNeill, Location: United States
The preliminary round robins are complete and the quarterfinalists set at the 58th annual King Edward VII Gold Cup, Stage 4 of the 2006-’07 World Match Racing Tour.

Advancing from Group A were reigning event champion James Spithill (6-1) of Australia., Finland’s Staffan Lindberg (5-2), Sweden’s Björn Hansen (5-2) and Chris Law (5-2) of Great Britain.

Frenchman Mathieu Richard (6-1) led the way in Group B, followed by Ian Williams (4-3) of Great Britain, Bermudian Blythe Walker (4-3) and Eric Monnin (3.5-3) of Switzerland.

Tomorrow’s quarterfinal matches pit Spithill versus Monnin, Hansen against Williams, Lindberg against Walker and Law versus Richard. The winner of each match will be the first to 3 points.

After a wild start to the event yesterday, when three boats were hit with lightning and a few competitors were taken to a doctor for check ups, today was relatively sedate. The wind blew mostly from the southwest between 8 and 15 knots. A 20-minute squall with winds up to 30 knots blew through Hamilton Harbour during afternoon racing, but the crews were sent shoreside and no one was injured.

Spithill won Group A at 6-1 by winning all five of his matches today, but professed a lack of knowledge for the secret to his success. “I don’t know our secret,” he said. “I felt we sailed well in the first three races and then I made some mistakes in the next two. But I’m feeling good because I know we can improve a lot.”

Spithill’s biggest problem on the day was when he had to switch boats because the key lock for the tiller and rudder assembly came loose on the boat he had been sailing.

Richard won Group B with an identical 6-1 mark. “I’m happy with the result,” he said. “We have to improve some things, like handling the boat. They’re very particular, like the main traveler. The bowman does it which is different than other boats. I was not happy with the starts. But we’ve improved the speed of the boat upwind and were good on tactics.”

Monnin had finished second in Group B, but was later penalized a half point for damage in a collision with Denmark’s Jes Gram-Hansen, who was eliminated from the competition, in his final round robin race. The penalty dropped him to fourth from second, and put him in a match with Spithill. “We had a very special match against Jes,” said Monnin. “The tiller broke in my hand. The wood was rotted and it just broke off in my hands. I couldn’t tell if we were overlapped with him. I hoped we’d clear but a wave lifted the bow up and we crashed down on his transom. I’m not sure we would’ve cleared anyway.”

Monnin took the penalty and his impending match versus Spithill in stride. “It’s good to sail him,” Monnin said. “We like to sail the hard competition.”

Williams jumped out to a 4-1 record after yesterday’s racing, but today lost both his matches. “We had a couple of wrong decisions at the wrong time,” said Williams. “We missed a layline versus Monnin and had a bad set in another match. But it’s all immaterial. The regatta starts again tomorrow.”

Another quarterfinalist is Law, who has a long and colorful history on Bermuda. He’s been a competitor and commentator in the past, but today he could’ve been mistaken for a flasher. Law and crew came shoreside during the squall and used the laundry room to dry their sailing clothes. “What we failed to realise is that it’s right next to the ladies room,” said Law, “so there we were standing in our undershorts when the women sailors walked by.”

Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore Andrew Cox noted, “You should know were the ladies’ room is by now, Chris.”

The quarterfinals are scheduled to begin tomorrow at 10:00am.

Group A Provisional Standings
(After 7 of 7 scheduled flights)
1. James Spithill (AUS) Luna Rossa Challenge, 6-1
(Crew: Magnus Augustson, Torben Grael, Christian Kamp)
2. Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team, 5-2
(Crew: Nils Bjerkas, Robert Skarp, Carl-Johan Uckelstam)
3. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Team Apport.net, 5-2
(Crew: Martin Angsell, Pontus Meijer, Johan Tempelman)
4. Chris Law (GBR) The Outlaws, 5-2
(Crew: Karl Anderson, Mark Ivey, Scott Norris)
5. Brian Angel (USA) King Harbor Match Race, 3-4
(Crew: Eric Boothe, Payson Infelise, David Levy)
6. Scott Dickson (NZL) Dickson Racing Team, 2-5
(Crew: Whitlock Batchelor, John Hayes, Mark Strube)
7. Sandy Hayes (USA), 1-6
(Crew: Peter Bromby, Kim Hapgood, Cindy Olsen)
8. Jon Singsen (USA), 1-6
(Crew: Ben Bardwell, Kevin Horsfield, Nik Smale)

Group B Provisional Standings
(After 7 of 7 scheduled flights)
1. Mathieu Richard (FRA) Saba Sailing Team, 6-1
(Crew: Greg Evrard, Olivier Herledant, Yannick Simon)
2. Ian Williams (GBR) Williams Sail Racing, 4-3
(Crew: Bill Hardesty, Gerry Mitchell, Mark Nichols)
3. Blythe Walker (BER), 4-3
(Crew: Adam Barboza, Carola Cooper, Somers Kempe)
4. Eric Monnin (SUI) Team Monnin, 4-3, 3.5 points
(Crew: Simon Brugger, Fabien Froesch, Alain Marchand, Marc Monnin)
5. Torvar Mirsky (AUS), 3-4
(Crew: Nick Davis, Per Fyrkholm-Arr, Graeme Spence)
6. Alvaro Marinho (POR), 3-4
(Crew: Diogo Barros, Antonio Fontes, Miguel Nunes)
7. Paula Lewin (BER), 2-5
(Crew: Diana Mitchell, Lisa Neasham, Leatrice Roman, Peta White)
8. Jes Gram-Hansen (DEN) Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia, 2-5
(Crew: Pierluigi de Felice, Rasmus Kostner, Chresten Plinius)

The Bermuda Department of Tourism is an Official Host Sponsor of the Gold Cup. Event sponsors include Renaissance Re, Max Re, Bermuda Telephone, Bermuda Premium Spirits and Oleander Cycle.

The World Tour is sanctioned by ISAF, sailing’s world governing body. The World Tour Partner and Official Car is BMW (Munich, Germany). World Tour sponsors include Sebago (Rockford, Mich.), the Official Footwear Supplier, Travel Places (West Sussex, England), the Official Travel Partner, and Wedgwood (Stoke-on-Trent, England), the Official Trophy Sponsor.

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