Game, set and match to Ben Ainslie
A thrilling five race final at the 2010 Monsoon Cup saw Ben Ainslie and his TeamOrogin crew complete the double, securing both the 2010 ISAF Match Racing World Championship and the event itself, the last on the 2010 ISAF World Match Racing Tour.
Earlier, on this final day, Ainslie and his crew of Iain Percy, Christian Kamp, Matt Cornwell and Mike Mottl, became the new ISAF Match Racing World Champions overtaking France's Mathieu Richard, the leader going into the regatta based out of the Ri-Yaz Heritage Marina Resort and Spa in Kuala Terengganu in Malaysia. But after choosing Richard as his quarter final opponent, Ainslie went about demolishing the French skipper leaving him with a very slim hope of taking the World title. Richard had to finish fifth or higher in the Monsoon Cup to take the win, but defeat in the sail-offs ended that hope.
Today's final got underway in about 12-14 knots of breeze. The rain stopped and the sun finally showed through the clouds.
At the start of race one Ainslie wanted a split tack right side and he got it. Mirsky was on the pin; it was an even start. In the current Mirsky was going faster, squeezing up and spat Ainslie out. Mirsky crossed ahead by a length, and on the second cross lee-bowed Ainslie.
Then Ainslie hit the top mark incurring a penalty for an unforced error. Ainslie made the wrong choice of bottom mark and Mirsky sailed back into the lead. Mirsky was sailing faster than Ainslie. Ainslie attempted to put the squeeze on his rival up the beat but Mirsky's boat just seems a little faster. Mirsky extended down the last run with Ainslie behind and carrying a penalty - an impressive first race win to the Mirsky Racing Team.
On water, Mirsky seemed composed and commented: "We felt Ben had more speed but the current on the left took us through. We made a mistake on the down wind. We were fortunate to get the correct mark."
Ainslie said: "We got the start we wanted but the current was a bigger factor than we expected and Mirsky sailed around us. We had a miscommunication at bottom mark - we gave the race away there."
Race 2 was a three lap race. In the pre-start Ainslie was on the right again, high and fast off the line but soon in soft air. Mirsky found current and more pressure. Ainslie bailed, the pressure seemed to be telling.
Ainslie on starboard forced a penalty on Mirsky, in a close tack. It was all even when Ainslie was penalised at the top mark. Mirsky was right on Ainslie's stern, with the penalties clear. Ainslie reassured his crew and made a gain down the run. Both boats went around the same mark. Close up the beat, Mirsky was forced to tack away. Ainslie led at the top mark for the second time by four lengths, Mirsky was too far back to throw a spinnaker wind shadow on his rival.
Down the run Ainslie and crew decided there was more pressure on the right and headed that way. Mirsky went to the opposite mark. Ainslie crossed ahead by two lengths but Mirsky was now on the right and had better pressure. He closed up at the top mark, but was not close enough to attack and Ainslie won.
One all. Mirsky's comment, simply: "Ben sailed well." Ainslie also was to the point: "A better race for us, but speed is an issue."
Race 3 was a two lap affair. Mirsky escaped a close penalty call and was fast away. Ainslie was slow near the Committee boat and was clearly very unhappy after the green flag was raised.
Mirsky had more speed and was a length ahead of the still unsettled Ainslie. Mirsky forced Ainslie away and got a left hand shift, a big gain for the West Australian who round by two lengths. Ainslie gybed into a puff then Mirsky up ahead took the same option.
The breeze continued to freshen as Mirsky went to the left. Ainslie split to the right, but Mirsky was three lengths ahead, he tacked and covered his rival. Then another tack and another covering tack. With an eighty metre lead Mirsky headed down the run for the last time to take the gun.
A 2-1 lead to Mirsky and match point.
After crossing the line Ainslie apologised to his crew for the start. He commented ‘"When Torvar received the second green flag he was better placed than us. He sailed well after that."
Mirsky was smiling. "If we win the next one we are home. Ben is an aggressive sailor, so we have to be careful and keep clean."
For Race 4, Officials raised the W3 flag – three laps. Mirsky won the start on the pin. Ainslie and crew were almost a length late. Mirsky forced the Brits away.
It was close on the first cross, on the second Mirsky had stepped out to three lengths, but it closed up near the top mark and Ainslie was close enough to attack, giving a little dirty air to the leader. Ainslie on starboard dialled up and took the lead. Mirsky followed Ainslie around the mark. Close tacking, then Mirsky split left and gained.
Ainslie was just ahead at the top mark, the boats just a metre apart. Ainslie whispered a dummy gybe, but Matt Cornwall on the bow did not hear and unclipped the pole, quickly putting it back. He copped an earful from his skipper, but the dummy worked, throwing Mirsky off and close to the bottom mark Ainslie was ahead by about two lengths. The distances remained unchanged up the windward leg. After fine crew work from the British team in the spinnaker hoist, Mirsky responded with an excellent hoist. Ainslie went right, Mirsky left. On the final leg, Ainslie gybed to the line, Mirsky followed but was running out of runway. Another gybe and Ainslie crossed ahead leaving scores tied on 2-2.
In the final race, Ainslie was in control in the pre-start. Mirsky was over the line early, but Ainslie slowed so much pushing Mirsky that the start was very even. Mirsky was out on the right in a big puff, Iain Percy called for two tacks to get more pressure and the British crew picked up five lengths.
At the bottom mark the lead remained unchanged. From behind Mirsky was wriggling looking for better pressure and separation, but Ainslie covered every move.Mirsky and his team realised their dream was gone as they watched Ainslie and the TeamOrigin crew sailing to victory.
Dockside Mirsky was smiling in defeat. "They put the pressure on us and found the better lanes down wind and gradually got our measure. We've come such a long way, thanks to the team, but we will be fighting next year to take the title. We've been really trying hard all season, but we've just not seen the results. So to make the Final has been a huge boost and we take third place in the World Championship. To sail against Ben, Iain and crew and take them to five is something we are proud of. They are great champions and they have all those medals and trophies for a reason. You can see the professionalism in their smoothness and their tactics."
Ainslie summed up: "Two wins today - a world championship and the Monsoon Cup. We are thrilled. Torvar and his guys put up a great fight. TeamOrigin bows out with these two wins today. We are going our separate ways with Olympic campaigns and other programs, but we hope one day in the future we will be back.
"The Monsoon Cup is definitely a showcase - a world class event and we are very pleased to have won the event. What we did better than anyone else was dealing with the changing conditions at this venue. This season we were only able to do six regattas out of the nine so consistency was the key. When Adam Minoprio went out, we felt that we had a chance"
Double Olympic gold medallist and TeamOrigin tactician Iain Percy added: "It's an interesting and difficult place to sail. It's been a tough season for TEAMORIGIN but to finish with this World Championship makes it worthwhile."
In the Petite Final, Danish skipper Jesper Radich of Gaastra Racing Team defeated Sweden's Bjorn Hansen 2-0. Radich, with three second places in his three starts this season (Argo Gold Cup, Stena Match Cup and Match Cup Germany) finished third at the Monsoon Cup, taking home a share of prize money.
Monsoon Cup 2010 Final Results.
Monsoon Cup Champion 2010: Ben Ainslie (TeamOrigin) defeated Torvar Mirsky (Mirsky Racing Team) 3-2.
Petite Final: Jesper Radich (Gaastra Racing Team) defeated Bjorn Hansen (Hansen Global Team).