Iehl dispatches the King of the Mountain
France's Damien Iehl was the aggressor on day two of The St. Moritz Match Race in Switzerland, storming through a run of five successive victories including a comprehensive defeat of the reigning ‘King of the Mountain’, Adam Minoprio of ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing.
If the spectators expected the relative newcomer to the ISAF World Match Racing Tour to be apprehensive after a disappointing opening day, he did not show it. As the thermally-induced Maloja wind rushed in, the young Frenchman exhibited deft moves on the water, leading Minoprio around mark one by three lengths and eventually extending his lead all the way to the finish.
The ISAF World Match Racing Tour has a rich history of nurturing the best match racing talent and Iehl looked every bit a champion in the making today. His next fight was against another super-tough opponent, Torvar Mirsky, currently ranked second in the Tour. The two skippers jostled and jabbed like boxers to gain the upper hand at the start with only inches separating them. This was toe-to-toe action. Mirsky gained the initial advantage, but Iehl read the subtleties of the wind to perfection, building what proved to be an insurmountable 10-length lead at the first mark.
With two victories under his belt Iehl was unstoppable, even by the might of triple Olympian and Azzurra America’s Cup skipper Francesco Bruni. At the start the French team gained the favourable lee bow position and led the accomplished Italian round all three laps of the course.
Iehl, commented: “We had a clear game plan today which gave us the great starts we needed, as well as a strategy that delivered the best course through all the wind shifts. Our teamwork and manoeuvres were spot on too – it was a perfect progression for us from yesterday.”
A classic Anglo-French dogfight is developing between the front runners and if anyone is going to put a counter-attack together on Iehl, there’s a strong chance it will come from Ian Williams who leads the standings overnight, having won all three of his races today.
Ben Ainslie also demonstrated total dominance of his opponents with a clean sweep of victories, as did France's Mathieu Richard.
With seven teams advancing to the next stage, three are confirmed as having made the quarter finals, but another six – including some veteran stars – are still in the hunt for the remaining four places.