Quarter final upsets
Match Race France, Stage 1 of the World Match Racing Tour was gripping today not only for the crews, but also for the spectators lining the Marseille beach front, packed with Tour related activities as well as the more traditional children’s carousel.
The air temperature rose as the action on the water heated up with skippers producing dramatically more aggressive pre-start performances as they fought to survive this sudden death point in the event with the result that the semi finals will now only host: TeamOrigin's Ben Ainslie, Azzurra's Francesco Bruni, Mathieu Richard and Paola Cian.
Bruni, a new Tour card holder for 2010 racing with his brother Gabriele, is clearly enjoying the World Match Racing Tour. He said: “We had better starts than Mirsky winning all four, which gave us the edge, plus we had excellent down wind speed today. Our team has really gained understanding of the J80 boat since our initial training session and Azzurra has a proven record in light air sailing”.
Today’s final results were a surprise to the competitors and WMRT fans. The first round of matches did not divulge any secrets on future scores - for the majority of the day, four matches stood with a score of 2-1 when it was still very much anyone’s series to be won. Then at 5pm the mysterious Marseille weather drew all eyes back to the tournament in hand. 5-7 knots of wind on a race course further out to sea caused four Match Race France fatalities, knocking out the current ISAF Match Racing World Champion, Adam Minoprio, his Australian nemisis and round Robin leader Torvar Mirsky, along with Sébastien Col and Philippe Presti.
On his defeat, Mirsky commented: “Obviously we regret choosing Bruni. He sailed really well in the light winds. Every start he was ahead of us, we were lucky to have four close races and get one win. For the quarter finals you need to have even starts”.
The exclusion of racing in the Semi Finals tomorrow puts a dent in the pride of even the most relaxed skippers. Minoprio and Mirsky see this as a black mark on their 2010 WMRT series scoreboard.
The Tour card holders who have been knocked out at a surprisingly early point in Stage 1 are still content that they have a whole raft of Tour events ahead of them, and that they can get hours of time on the water.
Ben Ainslie (GBR) TeamOrigin
Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Italia
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Azzurra
Quarter final results: