Local sailor into the semi-finals

Semi-finallists decided at St Moritz Match Race

Thursday August 16th 2007, Author: Peter Rusch, Location: France
Mattias Renker was the Swiss hero at the St Moritz Match Race on Thursday, after winning his last two races in the Repechage Round to sneak into the Quarter Finals. Renker (SUI) completed the eight deep Quarter Final field with his mid-afternoon win. But in early Quarter Final racing, it was defending champion Paolo Cian (ITA) and two-time St Moritz winner Mark Mendelblatt (USA) who controlled their match-ups.

Following the Repechage, the Race Committee elected to start two of the Quarter Final matchs, but with just two and half flights completed, the weather finally turned in St Moritz, with clouds rolling in and the rain that had been threatening most of the afternoon, becoming a damp reality. More importantly, what had already been a shifty breeze, began to die, forcing the conclusion of racing for the day.

In the early Quarter Final matches (which feature the top four ranked sailors on the World Match Racing Tour), defending champion Paolo Cian made an incredible comeback through a fortuitous windshift on the final leg of his first race against Mathieu Richard (FRA), to steal a point. Richard then made no mistake in the second match, simply sailing away from Cian. But the plucky Italian wasn’t finished; he won the very shifty third match to sit on a 2-1 lead.

"It’s a strange lake, and anything can happen," Cian, the former Team Shosholoza helmsman, said, relieved to be one win away from the Semi Finals. But he cautioned, "In races like this, you can only say it’s finished once its finished."

Meanwhile, former Emirates Team NZ strategist Mark Mendelblatt didn’t miss a beat. The American had to rely on his crewmate Cameron Dunn to qualify him for the Quarter Finals yesterday. But after arriving in the mountains late last night, Mendelblatt sailed strongly against Sebastien Col, jumping directly into the boat and out to a 2-0 lead in his Quarter Final.

"Ed (Smyth) and Cameron are pretty switched on and made it easy for me to get around the race course," Mendelblatt said. "It’s not an easy place to sail. Sometimes the breeze is more straightforward than others. Today our first race was straightforward and the second was pretty wacky, but we got a bit of luck and that’s all it took."

Racing in all four of the Quarter Final match ups will resume on Friday.

But the local buzz was about the Swiss sailor Matthias Renker and his last gasp grasp of a Quarter Final berth, Needing to win his last match over Michael Hestbaek (GER) to qualify over the German, he put a penalty on Hestbaek in the pre-start, and went on to beat him around the race course to become the second Swiss sailor to advance to the Quarter Finals.

"We’re very happy. We just missed making the Quarter Finals yesterday, in a very close final race," Renker said, smiling, following the match. "Today was very close again, but we made it."

Mathieu Richard (FRA) sailed a very aggressive Repechage, winning four of his five matches and at times appearing to toy with his opponents. He put three penalties on Renker during their match for example, including two in the pre-start. It was a great turn around for Richard who won but a single match in Wednesday’s group Round Robin. Now he needs to find some of that magic again and win two in a row if he is to turn around his Quarter Final against Cian.

Quarter Final Pairings and Results (First to three points)

A
Ian Williams vs. Matthias Renker

B
Eric Monnin vs. Jochen Schuemann

C
Match 1 - Mark Mendelblatt beat Sébastien Col
Match 2 - Mark Mendelblatt beat Sébastien Col

D
Match 1 - Paolo Cian beat Mathieu Richard
Match 2 - Mathieu Richard beat Paolo Cian
Match 3 - Paolo Cian beat Mathieu Richard

Repechage Results

1. Mathieu Richard 4-1
2. Matthias Renker 3-2
3. Michael Hestbaek 3-2
4. Matteo Simoncelli 2-3
5. Staffan Lindberg 2-3
6. Evgeny Neugodnikov 1-4

Results after Group Round Robin

Group A

Ian Williams 5-0
Sebastien Col 4-1
Jochen Schuemann 3-2
Evgeny Neugodnikow 2-3
Michael Hestbaek 1-4
Matteo Simoncelli 0-5

Group B

Paolo Cian 4-1
Eric Monnin 3-2
Mark Mendelblatt 3-2
Staffan Lindberg 2-3
Matthias Renker 2-3
Mathieu Richard 1-4

More photos on page 2....

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