Ainslie on the plane home
TeamOrigin's three time Olympic Gold medalist Ben Ainslie and four time Match Racing World Champion Peter Gilmour of Yanmar Racing were among the big name casualties who were sent packing from the Danish Open today, effectively ending their dreams of winning the ISAF World Match Racing Tour Championship.
Both skippers were resigned to the fact that the Championship probably lies beyond their grasp having lost out on valuable points as reigning Champion Adam Minoprio of ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing, Tour leader France's Mathieu Richard, Australian Torvar Mirsky and Azzurra's Francesco Bruni marched into the semi-finals, set to be completed tomorrow morning.
With just three flights of qualifying remaining to be completed this morning and seven skippers still in with a chance of making the semis there were always going to be some big names facing an early exit. Ainslie and Gilmour both went into the morning’s matches with a fighting chance of reaching the semis and faced up to each other in their opening match of the day.
It was the experienced Gilmour who came out on top giving the Australian hope of making the semi-finals in Denmark for the second year in a row. However, both Gilmour and Ainslie lost their next matches dashing any chances they had of making it through to the knock out stages.
A disappointed Ainslie said: “In terms of the Tour and doing well we have to face that we’re probably out of it. We had a chance in all three of our races this morning but just couldn’t get into gear and get any speed. It’s been a really frustrating day but we have to take it on the chin.
“We’ll be at the Argo Group Gold Cup in Bermuda [Stage 8 of the WMRT] and have a good history there so will just have to see how we sit going into the final event in Malaysia. We love being on Tour and match racing is excellent for practicing our skills.”
Gilmour, who reached the semi-finals in Denmark last year said: ”We came into this morning thinking we’d need two wins out of three and when we won against Ben we had a real chance, but we let Mirsky off the hook in the next race. He had a penalty in the pre-race start and we gave a weak one back.
“Its very noticeable how the standard has improved on the Tour. It’s not so much at the top but more with the rest of the field. In the past you knew you were going to have a few easy matches before the knock out stages. Now every race is a battle.”
Minoprio topped the standings at the end of qualifying which gave him the right to choose his opponent for the semi-finals, opting to take on Italy’s Francesco Bruni, who had not been in action in the morning having completed his qualifying flights on Friday.
With two flights of the first to three point semi finals taking place this afternoon, with the remaining matches being staged tomorrow ahead of the final, Minoprio’s decision to take on Bruni appeared to pay off as he opened up a 2-0 lead. In the other semi-final Richard looked to increase his strangle hold on the championships as he opened up a 2-0 lead over Mirsky.
Speaking after the day’s racing Richard said: “It has been a very good week for us so far. In the past we’ve led the Championship at this stage and then fallen away. This time we are not thinking about our ranking. We are just taking each race one by one and focusing on racing. We have improved technically this season and have a lot more experience now. We’ve been together a long time and it all seems to be working well.”
Adam Minoprio leads Francesco Bruni 2-0
Mathieu Richard leads Torver Mirsky 2-0
Standings at the end of qualifying for Danish Open
Adam Minoprio (NZL) ETNZ/BlackMatch Racing 9-2
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 9-2
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Azzurra 8-3
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team 8-3
Björn Hansen (SWE) Hansen Global Team 6-5
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 6-5
Ben Ainslie (GBR) TEAMORIGIN 5-6
Bertrand Pacé (FRA) Aleph Sailing Team 5-6
Mads Ebler (DEN) Ebler Matchracing 4-7
William Tiller (NZL) Full Metal Jacket Racing 4-7
Suzanne Ward (DEN) Team Ward 1-10
Michael Buckley (USA) MB Sailing 1-10