Mirsky and Iehl lead
A steely performance in the second Qualifying Session from Torvar Mirsky has changed his fortunes at Match Race France, where a victory against the plucky French qualifier, Pierre-Antoine Morvan, will see him top the standings ahead of Damien Iehl after the Qualifying stages.
By his own admission, Mirsky had 'an average result' after the first Qualifying Session and knew his team had 'to be consistent to make it to the Quarter-Finals'. Despite an early defeat at the hands of four-time World Champion Peter Gilmour, The Wave Muscat team went on an undefeated run of five matches including notable wins against Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team and Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners Racing Team, two of the five teams to have secured their places in the Quarter-Finals.
"I'm pleased with the boys, we performed well," said Mirsky as he stepped onto the pontoon. "We were rusty yesterday but I'm really pleased to be in a good position at the end of Qualifying [as it] helps picking your opponent. This is where the real sailing starts."
Bertrand Pace and Damien Iehl are perhaps the better known French sailors here however it was their compatriot Pierre-Antoine Morvan (Extreme Team Morbihan) who also stole the limelight, putting in a series of gutsy performances to finish undefeated in the second Qualifying Session against stellar competition. A final match win against Mirsky awaits and if he wins and Iehl loses his final race, he will have the first pick in the Quarter-Finals.
One team who are far from certain to reach the Quarter-Finals despite being widely tipped as favourites to win here is Ian Williams' Team GAC Pindar. A run of defeats in the second Qualifying Session meant the two-time World Champion had the sizeable challenge to win his three remaining races to enter a tie-break. Robertson and Bruni were duly dispatched however as the Race Committee chose to delay the final flight with the thermal breeze fading, his future in Match Race France will be decided tomorrow:
"Today was the opposite to yesterday in terms of results. It was a big day for being smooth and fast and we weren't. We gave half a length here and half a length there and it cost us dear. Tomorrow we need to go out and try and win it."
Although Qualifying is far from decided, one man who is entering ominous form is Jesper Radich, last season's most consistent performer with three seconds and a third from four wildcard appearances. As the thermal breeze kicked in creating 10-12 knots of wind by early afternoon, Radich put in a huge match performance against 4-time World Champion Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing. Both teams suffered yesterday however it was the Dane who came good, leading the Australian after crossing on the first beat to open a 5 boat length gap which he held to the finish. It was a comprehensive win that set the tone for his day and a warning shot to the competition.
"Yesterday was tough but the wind today suited us," said Radich. "We are a new team... individually we are all good sailors and I like the direction we are going. Yesterday evening we had a good debrief and today on the water we improved exactly what we had talked about. We're on a steep learning curve but that's exciting."
The final flight could yet throw up multiple sets of tie-breaks within the top 10 of the standings - the only surety is if Williams loses he is out of Match Race France and it's scenarios like this that make the World Match Racing Tour so compelling to watch.
Standings After Second Qualifying Session:
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team 7-3
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat 7-3
Bertrand Pace (FRA) Aleph Sailing Team 6-5
Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners 6-5
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Mascalzone Latino 5-5
Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing Team 5-5
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 5-6
Alvaro Marinho (POR) Seth Sailing Team 5-6
Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) Extreme Team Morbihan 5-6
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar 4-6
Alexis Littoz-Baritel (FRA) Savoie Mont Blanc 4-7
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team 2-7