40 knots to nothing

Challenging conditions for the final round robin flights at Troia Portugal Match Cup

Sunday September 28th 2008, Author: Dobbs Davis, Location: United Kingdom
On a 12-hour day which featured breeze conditions flip-flopping between land and sea, and varying from nearly nothing to a 40-knot rain squall, race managers here at the Troia Portugal Match Cup managed to conclude four of the remaining five flights of the Round Robin to yield three of the final four teams to advance to tomorrow’s Semi-Final and Final stages.

On the strength of nine wins each, two members of the French Match Racing Team took the top two spots, with Mathieu Richard on Team French Spirit winning the tie-break with Sebastian Col of K-Challenge to get the top spot. And on a late streak of winning four of his last five matches, Magnus Holmberg (SWE) of the Victory Challenge slid into the third place on seven wins, one point clear of a possibly massive tie-break situation in the final flight between five teams vying for the fourth and final spot for the next stage.

And as if on cue to underscore this drama, in the last few minutes of the next-to-last flight the seabreeze died and shifted quickly and briskly to the southeast in response to a menacingly massive cloud approaching the venue packing lightning, thunder, rain and wind. Just as the teams dropped the sails on their SM40’s and were put in tow, the squall blew through hard, packing gale-force winds and rain, sending the spectators and waiting teams on shore scrambling for cover. Luckily, a dozen young Optimist sailors out on their course competing for the Portugal Junior Cup were also hastily gathered and hustled to safety.

With sunset approaching once again and the storm taking its time to abate, PRO Miguel Allen decided to put off the final flight until the morning. Allen feels confident on completing the format tomorrow, as this storm heralded the start of an approaching cold front to provide good breeze from the east to funnel down the Rio Sado.

So, coming into this final flight there are no less than five teams eligible to move through, depending on who beats whom. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and his Mirsky Racing Team are in the strongest position, being on six wins versus five for the others, but if he loses to Paolo Cian (ITA) from Team Shosholoza in this final flight, and Ian Williams (GBR) and his Team Pindar make a late rally to defeat regatta leader Richard, this will initiate a massive tie-break to determine the final spot, with Damien Iehl (FRA) and Adam Minoprio (NZL) also possibly in the hunt. In fact, there are only four positions in the field of 12 teams now determined, with all remaining places from 4th to 11th left to play for in the morning.

Current standings:
1. Mathieu Richard (FRA),French Match Racing Team/Team French Spirit 9 – 1
2. Sebastian Col (FRA), French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge 9 – 2
3. Magnus Holmberg (SWE), Victory Challenge 7 – 4
4. Torvar Mirsky (AUS), Mirsky Racing Team 6 – 4
5. Ian Williams (GBR), Team Pindar 5 – 5
6. Alvaro Marinho (POR), Seth Sailing Team 5 – 6
7. Damien Iehl (FRA), French Match Racing Team 5 – 5
8. Adam Minoprio (NZL), Emirates Team New Zealand/BlackMatch Racing 5 – 6
9. Paolo Cian (ITA), Team Shosholoza 5 – 5
10. Bjorn Hansen (SWE), Alandia Sailing Team Team 3 – 8
11. Manuel Weiller (ESP), 3 – 8
12. Nick Cherry (GBR), 1 – 10

ISAF Match Racing World Championship Leaderboard (Top 8)
(After Stage 6 of 9)
1. Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar, 92
2. Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team/ French Team Spirit, 72
3. Sebastien Col (FRA) French Match Racing Team/K-Challenge, 67
4. Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team , 45
5. Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Alandia Sailing Team, 40
6. Mattias Rahm (SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team, 34
7=. Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza, 33
7=. Adam Minoprio (NZL), ETNZ/BlackMatch, 33

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