Gilmour & Son
While Adam Minoprio and his Emirates Team New Zealand crew skipped away with a Monsoon Cup double points victory to take the 2009 ISAF World Match Racing Championship, the group behind were close and the ten event 2010 championship is wide open.
The first event of the season Match Race France will be sailed in Marseille over 6-10 April.
50 year old Perth, West Australian Peter Gilmour is the only multiple season winner on the World Match Racing Tour. He won the 2003-'04, 2004-'05 and in 2009 in the first year campaigning as Team Yanmar Racing, was just three points off second in 2009, finishing fourth overall, just two points behind Ben Ainslie Team Origin and four points from Torvar Mirsky and MRT 97.
Now Yanmar Racing is looking for a better result in 2010. Gilmour explained: "Last year we did seven events, while Adam Minoprio and Torvar Mirsky did all eight and this year we hope to do eight events.
"The first event of the season, Match Race France is going to be challenging. I've never raced in the Marseille event, looking forward to it. The boat is a J80; an asymmetric, four person 24 footer. - For us to make the semis against this really good line up would be a good achievement. Our preparation is a little behind schedule."
Gilmour is right, in preparation for a very competitive season most of the skippers and crews competing in the 2010 World Match Racing Tour have managed to fit some match racing into their last few months sailing. But that has not been the case for everyone. By far the most spectacular preparation for the Marseille Match Racing event is the ocean sailing that Yanmar Racing crew member Thierry Douillard (FRA) has been involved in over the last two months.
Douillard, 37 year old America's Cup sailor (with K Challenge in AC32), first sailed with Gilmour in 2005 and has been a regular in the last two seasons.
His recent sailing has been very much different to Match Racing. Douillard was one of the watch leaders onboard Oman Sail's new A100 Majan trimaran when she left Muscat (Oman) in early February 2010 for Cape Town via the Maldives, then again when Majan left Cape Town on 10 March and sailed 4,600 miles to Fremantle, in less than 12 days.
It was a tight schedule for the Yanmar Racing crew. Douillard had a few days in Perth then a rush to the airport for the trip back to France for a short break with the family before heading to Marseille for some much needed practice. He commented 'Yes, timing was an issue, but the passage from Cape Town was very fast. We had some strong winds in the high 60s, gust above 70 knots! Marseille is going to seem very calm after that.
'It is a fascinating contrast -a 30metre (100 foot) offshore trimaran and the next event on a seven and a half metre (24 foot) J80. . I've been managing to do the offshore and inshore sailing for the last decade and am enjoying both. The intricacy of the match race, the very precise tuning and I've also learnt how to shake out the cobwebs offshore.
'There is very strong competition in this first event, it's a tricky one. The rest of Team Yanmar has not sailed the Marseille event, but I have local knowledge and I know the boats. This is going to be a very big season for Yanmar Racing and we are all looking forward to it."
Gilmour agrees 'It will be a big season but we seem to thrive on challenges. It's the crew experience, which has delivered us good results over the years."
There is some long time experience in Yanmar Racing, with another America's Cup sailor Yasuhiro Yaji having been part of Gilmour's team since 1994. Gilmour explains. 'Yaji and I have been together since '94. Yaji is big like me, we are around 100kg but his power, size and ability is quite legendary. We will have Yaji, he is our rock and we will have Thierry and David, one of my sons, will go with us.
Yasuhiro Yaji - the big 43 year old rolled his eyes and laughed at being called a rock. "A lump maybe - both Peter and I are around 100kg. I was a grinder in the 1992 Japanese America's Cup campaign; I was tall and thin before I started in the gym back then.
"Peter and I met in 1994 when he became coach for Japanese challenge for America's Cup. Then I became part of his match racing team, I've missed only one or two regattas in all the years since.. Last year we were just beginning Yanmar Racing and campaigning more heavily. . . So I think last year we were so-so, but maybe this year is more improvement - I'm sure."
With the veteran pairing of Gilmour and Yasuhiro and the broad experience of Douillard, the latest addition to the Yanmar Racing roster is a 'chip off the old block' another aggressive young match racer David Gilmour.
The 19 year old elder son of Peter Gilmour, started sailing as a seven year old, began racing Optimist age 10, won his first regatta at age 12, dual 420 Australian champion. In his dinghy sailing he is being coached by Australian 470 Gold medallist Belinda Stowell and when its get to Match Racing, Dad.
Young David won the WA Match Racing titles in 2009 and the 2010 Colin Mullins Regatta, the selection series for the Warren Jones International Youth Regatta, was his first international match racing event, so a fourth place was a good start. Warren Jones third behind William Tiller and Phil Roberston,
David crewed twice on the World Match Racing Tour for his father, in 2005 and 2006 in St.Moritz, but as the young sailor is expected to have a serious crack at the big time, once he has finished his studies, this Match Race France experience will be invaluable.
He said: ''I've been working away at my match racing and am really excited to be sailing with Team Yanmar. I am in my second year studying Commerce at University of WA, the timing of this event happens to be good, its in a mid-semester break but I still have assignments to hand in, so I will have a little on."
So Yanmar Racing is keen to get started.
It is a big Year for the World Match Racing Tour, with the change of ownership and an expansion of the Tour already started, with the addition of Nha Trang, Vietnam event. However Peter Gilmour can already see that his duties as Acting President within the WMRT are already easing and he is keen to turn his attention to Match Racing.