Col back on song

K-Challenge skipper tied with Johnie Berntsson at Match Cup Sweden

Thursday July 2nd 2009, Author: Dobbs Davis, Location: United Kingdom
Fantastic racing conditions allowed the organisers of Match Cup Sweden, Stage 5 of the World Match Racing Tour, to complete the repechage round which saw Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team and Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge emerge as the final two skippers that will join Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team, Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing, Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team, Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team, Magnus Holmberg (SWE) Victory Challenge and Philippe Presti (FRA) French Match Racing Team in the Quarterfinal Round, scheduled for tomorrow.

The repechage round was full of excitement. Johnie Berntsson was on fire winning all three matches including a nail biter against Adam Minoprio. It started badly for Berntsson as he was awarded a penalty just after the start for tacking too close to Minoprio. It didn’t deter Berntsson and he was hot on the heels of Minoprio after rounding the first mark even managing to roll him down the run. As they approached the leeward mark outside the zone Berntsson managed to hook Minoprio on port tack subsequently luffing him tacking inside him then bearing away to offload the penalty.

Berntsson then luffed on starboard tack to take Minoprio away from the leeward mark before turning back to lead around the buoy. The Swedish crowd went ballistic egged on by on-water commentator Martin Sohtel who sounded like he was about to explode. The action wasn’t over as Berntsson tacked right in front of Minoprio infringing him and earning a red flag immediate penalty due to the controlling position that Berntsson gained. Minoprio held the lead to the top mark and had to take Berntsson way above it in order to stay ahead. As the boats headed downwind Minoprio threw in a gybe too close to Berntsson and was awarded a penalty for his trouble but Minoprio remained ahead and as the teams approached the restricted zone on the left hand side of the course Minoprio hoisted his jib, dropped his kite and started attacking Berntsson. Berntsson followed suit and both boats played cat and mouse as Minoprio tried to offload his penalty. Berntsson stayed calm and parried every attack whilst slowly pushing Minoprio towards the finish. Berntsson’s plan won out and he crossed the line as Minoprio desperately tried to throw in his penalty turn. A pleased Johnie Berntsson said “We didn’t perform well in the first stage clearly needing some time to play catch up. We made many mistakes but now we are getting into our stride. My crew were brilliant and today I just hung out at the back and they got me round the course. It’s when I do my own thing that it all goes wrong.”

The final Flight of the repechage left Peter Wibroe needing a win and for Berntsson and Col to loose in order to get into a three way tie on 5 points and an increasingly complex count back depending on the results of the other matches in the flight. But today nothing could stop either Berntsson or Col who both blitzed their final matches against Bjorn Hansen (SWE) and World Champion Ian Williams (GBR) respectively to dive into the quarter final.

It was a disappointing day for Tour leader Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch and second placed Ian Williams (GBR) and his Bahrain Team Pindar. Both were swept out of the repechage and out the World Championship point scoring zone. Once again Williams has failed to make the quarter final round at Match Cup Sweden. Having competed at the event four times he might start to think there is a curse on him.

With all the intense action going on it was easy to forget that the event is only at the half way stage and all the quarter finalists were invited to the press conference to find out who would choose who. It was Mathieu Richard (FRA) who started the ball rolling pointing out that he hates the choosing rule as the trend at the recent events has shown that the picker has lost. Richard stepped up and chose fellow countryman Philippe Presti and assured a French Team member will make the semi’s. Next up was Peter Gilmour (AUS) who shied away from a home country match against Torvar Mirsky (AUS) saying that Mirsky was too hot to handle. He picked Berntsson which he felt could be popular because if he won then the crowd may forgive the Match Cup Sweden hall of fame inductee but if he lost then he would have been pushed aside by the young Swede taking a local one step further to the title. Due to Presti already being picked next up was Damien Iehl who wasted no time or talk on singling out Magnus Holmberg and giving no reason for the choice. Holmberg was just happy that he didn’t need to be the one to make the choice. That left the on form Torvar Mirsky up against a resurgent Sebastien Col. Col said of Mirsky “Torvar is on fire. He looks very comfortable here this week with all the beautiful girls around him.” Mirsky’s response was to assure everyone that he’d been in bed early every night and was ready for action.

With the women taking to the water this morning it was local hero Anna Kjellberg and Lucy Macgregor who emerged as the leaders from the round robin after both winning five matches to go on to secure their places in the semi final along with Katie Spithill (AUS) and Linda Rahm (SWE). Current World Champion and defending Match Cup Sweden Champion Claire Leroy struggled today surprising many by failing to make the cut. The ladies semi finals and finals are on Saturday and Lucy Macgregor will reveal who she will choose to race tomorrow night.

Tomorrow's forecast promises more exciting racing with a steady breeze predicted all day. The pairs will compete in a first to the three point round to then go on and qualify for the semi finals. With it all to play for there will be some guaranteed action here in Marstrand.

Repechage Results from Day 3
Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team 6-1
Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge 6-1
Peter Wibroe (DEN) Wibroe Racing Team 5-2
Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch 3-3
Ian Williams (GBR) Bahrain Team Pindar 3-3
Mattias Rahm (SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team 3-3
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Team Onico 1-6
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Team Joe Fly Match Racing 1-6

Match Cup Sweden Women
Lucy MacGregor (GBR) 5-2
Anna Kjellberg (SWE) 5-2
Katie Spithill (AUS) 4-3
Linda Rahm (SWE) 4-3
Claire Leroy (FRA) 3-4
Nicky Souter (AUS) 3-4
Lotte Meldgaard Pedersen (DEN) 3-4
Sally Barkow (USA) 1-6

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