Japan takes the lead

A report from day three of the Knickerbocker Cup match racing

Sunday August 24th 2008, Author: Andrea Watson, Location: United Kingdom
Takumi Nakamura, Albatross Match Racing Team (JAP) won all five matches on Day 3 of the Knickerbocker Cup to take the lead by end of day 3.

Sergey Musikhin (RUS) and Keith Swinton, Black Swan Match Racing (AUS), each with 9-2 scores, were a close second, followed by defending champion Chris Van Tol, Van Tol Match Racing (USA) with 8 wins and 3 losses. These four teams will compete in the Semi-finals on Sunday.

Day 3 found the teams returning to western Long Island Sound, but even out on the Sound the wind was light. After the first race was abandoned, racing got started and the teams were raring to go. The Knickerbocker Cup, chosen by the World Match Racing Tour to be an official qualifying event, is a feeder regatta for the prestigious Bermuda Gold Cup and teams went all out to capture a place in the semi finals. And race they did. It was a day of aggressive match racing, with close mark roundings, exciting pre-starts, some boat contact, and enough penalty flags to keep the Umpires busy.

Nakamura beat Swinton (AUS), Juan Ignacio Grimaldi, TAG Heuer (ARG), Phil Robertson, Panama Jack Racing (NZ), Robbie Allam (GBR) and Blythe Walker (BER) to capture the lead by end of day.

But it was Nakamura’s first match of the day against Swinton that got the team pumped up. According to Nakamura and tactician Nathan Hollerbach: “We didn’t need to beat Swinton to move forward in the regatta but it helped our confidence to beat the best. He got control of the race right off the bat. We kept it close and waited for an opportunity which appeared on the downwind leg of the last leg. We were able to get some separation, got a nice puff and wind shift and came back at him. We sailed really well downwind, sailed in pressure the whole time and were able to gain on him. Within two boat lengths of the pin, we crossed in front, jibed on his bow and lead him across the finish line.”

With the top four contenders so closely matched, Sunday should prove to be very exciting. Any one of these teams could prevail. First up on Sunday is Nakamura vs.
Musikhin. Advantage to Nakamura, who beat the Russians in the round robin. If Nakamura prevails, then the best scenario, from Nakamura’s perspective, is for Swinton to take out Van Tol, the only team that best Nakamura. If that is the case, the finals would be Nakamura vs. Swinton. Nakamura beat the Aussies in their match-up, but these two teams are pretty evenly matched, and it could be a real fight right to the finish. Now all that is needed is some wind to propel one of these teams to victory.
With these young teams, who are the next generation of world class racers, one never can predict the outcome. All four are champions. As always, it will come down to who wins, the start and who covers the best. Only one team can rise to the top, and by end of day Sunday we will have a winner of the 2008 Knickerbocker Cup.

Takumi Nakamura (JAP) 10-1
Sergey Musikhin (RUS) 9-2
Keith Swinton (AUS) 9-2
Chris Van Tol (USA) 8-3
Evan Walker (AUS) 7-4
Andrew Arbuzov (RUS) 6-5
Blythe Walker (BER) 5-4
Francesco Bruni (ITA) 4-7
Phil Robertson (NZ) 4-7
Juan Ignacio Grimaldi (ARG) 2-9
Robbie Allam (GBR) 1-10
Liz Baylis (USA) 1-10

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