Pindar's man still in poll

Ian Williams leads at the Monsoon Cup match racing

Saturday December 2nd 2006, Author: Sean McNeill, Location: Australasia
The monsoon rains held off, the northerly seabreeze returned and the Monsoon Cup enjoyed the best afternoon of racing of its second edition. Stage 6 of the 2005-’06 World Match Racing Tour today saw the completion of the Round Robin and Quarterfinal Round, setting up a final day tomorrow that will see the semifinal Round and final.

The young guns’ match pits 29-year-old Ian Williams (GBR) of Team Pindar, against Mathieu Richard (FRA), 30, Saba Sailing Team. The veterans’ match sees a pair of 46-year-olds squaring off, Peter Gilmour (AUS), PST, versus Peter Holmberg (ISV), Alinghi.

Williams and Gilmour, first and third in the round robin, respectively, advanced after winning their quarterfinal matches 3-0. Williams defeated Sébastien Col (FRA), Areva Challenge, and Gilmour beat Paolo Cian (ITA), Team Shosholoza. Holmberg defeated Jesper Bank (DEN), United Internet Team Germany, 3-1, and Richard beat Björn Hansen (SWE), Team Apport.net, 3-2 in the only match to go the distance.

The day started with the round robin being completed. The final two flights were sailed in a dying southerly that left some teams drifting to the finish in Flight 17. After a midday break the northerly seabreeze kicked in between 5 and 8 knots and the racing was lively in the afternoon.

“There were plenty of snakes and ladders out there today,” said Williams, leader of the Match Racing World Championship standings. “Maybe it wasn’t as extreme as the first couple of days, but we were able to take a minute out of Sébastien on the first leg of the last race, and he wasn’t sailing bad at all.”

Col had dusted Williams in the pre-start of Quarterfinal Flight 3. Williams said he heard the entry signal for the match behind him as he crossed the starting line, meaning he was a one minute behind. But he took the right side of the windward leg and got to the top mark ahead of Col. From there Williams used his boatspeed to ensure a sweep of the Frenchman.

“We felt we had an edge in boatspeed,” said Williams. “It was hard to call the wind because we were the first match and couldn’t watch the others to see where the wind was best. But it seemed like there was pressure on the right side that we didn’t always see.”

Williams will square off against Richard in a re-match of the final at the King Edward VII Gold Cup last month in Bermuda. Williams got the better of Richard in that one, winning 3-1.

“We know Ian and his team very well, we sail against them often,” said Richard. “We don’t have particular tactics against one team. If we sail at the top of our game we can win because they can make mistakes.”

While Williams and Richard are hoping their success on the World Tour will parlay rides for the next America’s Cup, Gilmour and Holmberg are Cup veterans who sometimes raise the volume on the race course, especially in the pre-starts. Gilmour is a veteran of five Cup campaigns and Holmberg is in his third with Alinghi.

Ironically, both were on the verge of being eliminated in the round robin. Holmberg had to win both of his matches this morning to advance as the No. 7 seed. Gilmour, too, faced extinction, especially when he was drifting backwards from the windward mark while Richard was leading on the run to the finish in their Flight 17. That match was abandoned due to lack of wind, and Gilmour had new life.

The event’s reigning champion came back to win the resail versus Richard as well as a makeup against Adam Minoprio (NZL), Black Match Racing, from Flight 1. Suddenly, in the span of about three hours, he went from eighth to third in the standings and on to the semifinals.

“It’s very important to get the teamwork going,” said Gilmour. “I’ve got two new crewmembers this week. We’ve worked hard and have had a lot of discussions to get it right. Through time confidence builds and you do a more solid performance.”

Holmberg also rebounded from the verge of extinction. He’d struggled in the first two days of round robin racing and entered today at 4-5. But he closed out the round robin with back-to-back wins over James Spithill (AUS), Luna Rossa Challenge, and Tiffany Koo (MAL), Team Gapurna Selangor, to move to 6-5.

That was good enough to advance, and now he’s taken another step towards a lucrative payday.

“It wasn’t a conscious effort to go slow in the round robin and turn it on,” said Holmberg. “The conditions are very unique to sailing. Today we found it easy to adjust our eyes and read the wind. And maybe it was good to have my back to the fire.”

The day wasn’t without pain for some competitors, in particular Spithill. The talented Australian helmsman was eliminated from the competition when he lost his two remaining round robin races this morning and fell to 5-6.

Spithill led each match, versus Holmberg and Bank, at the second windward mark, but ran afoul of the morning’s light winds and drifting conditions on the run to the finish.

Semifinal racing is scheduled to commence tomorrow around 10:00 a.m. The Final is slated to begin around 3:00 p.m..

Monsoon Cup Quarterfinal Round Results
(1) Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar, 3
(Crew: Bill Hardesty, Mark Nicholls, Simon Shaw, Mark Williams)
(8) Sébastien Col (FRA) Areva Challenge, 0
(Crew: Christophe Andre, Benoit Briand, Gilles Favennec, Thierry Peponnet)

(4) Mathieu Richard (FRA) Saba Sailing Team, 3
(Crew: Thierry Briend, Greg Evrard, Olivier Herledant, Yannick Simon)
(5) Björn Hansen (SWE) Team Apport.net, 2
(Crew: Martin Berntsson, Kalle Kjerstadius, Staffan Lindberg, Magnus Woxen)

(3) Peter Gilmour (AUS) PST, 3
(Crew: Rick Brent, Christian Scherrer, Graeme Spence, Yasuhiro Yaji)
(6) Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza, 0
(Crew: Ian Ainslie, Fernando Colaninno, Pierluigi Fornelli, David Rae)

(7) Peter Holmberg (ISV) Alinghi, 3
(Crew: Rodney Ardern, Lorenzo Mazza, Dean Phipps, Piet van Nieuwenhuyzen)
(2) Jesper Bank (DEN) United Internet Team Germany, 1
(Crew: Henrik Blaksjaer, Thomas Jacobsen, Mike Mottl, Jan Schoepe)

Monsoon Cup Final Round Robin Standings
(After 17 of 17 scheduled flights)
1. Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar, 9-2
2. Jesper Bank (DEN) United Internet Team Germany, 8-3
3. Peter Gilmour (AUS) PST, 7-4
4. Mathieu Richard (FRA) Saba Sailing Team, 7-4
5. Björn Hansen (SWE) Team Apport.net, 7-4
6. Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza, 6-5
7. Peter Holmberg (ISV) Alinghi, 6-5
8. Sébastien Col (FRA) Areva Challenge, 6-5
9. James Spithill (AUS) Luna Rossa Challenge, 5-6
(Crew: Magnus Augustson, Torben Grael, Michele Ivaldi, Joe Newton)
10. Adam Minoprio (NZL) Black Match Racing, 2-9
(Crew: Nick Blackman, Tom Powrie, Josh Puckey, Dave Swete)
11. Wearn Haw Tan (SIN) China Team, 2-9
(Crew: Thierry Barot, Xavier Husson, Yurii Siegel, Zhang Wenpei)
12. Tiffany Koo (MAL) Team Selangor Gapurna, 1-10
(Crew: Rolf Heemskerk, Jeremy Koo, Ong Khong Sing, Looi Sing Yew)

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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