Photo: Subzero Images/WMRT

Victory for Bjorn Hansen

Swedish skipper beats Francesco Bruni in the Korea Match Cup final

Sunday June 12th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: Korea, South

Sweden's Bjorn Hansen was named king of the Korea Match Cup for the first time today beating Italian Francesco Bruni in a thrilling finale to the third stage of the World Match Racing Tour. Hansen of Mekonomen Sailing Team held onto his nerve as the Final went to sudden death, eventually defeating Bruni by three wins to two.

It is Hansen’s first win on the World Match Racing Tour since he claimed Match Cup Sweden in 2007 and only his second ever Tour victory. Despite losing out to Hansen, Bruni also had reason to celebrate as the result moves him to the top of the World Match Racing Tour overall standings.

“We had a tough start to the World Match Racing Tour, coming last at Match Race France and then third to bottom at Match Race Germany so we knew we had to really raise our game,” Hansen said. “We also knew we love this event and had a good chance to get a result here in Korea. Fransceco has been sailing really well this season and we knew we were going to have to sail really well to beat him. To beat him round the course we knew we had to win the starts and thankfully we did that three times in the Final.”

He added: “To win the Korea Match Cup feels fantastic. My team have done a great job this week. I’m so happy, it has been four years since we won an event on the World Match Racing Tour. It feels like we really earned this win.”

Coming into the Final, Bruni was odds-on favourite to win having met Hansen 12 times on the World Match Racing Tour and winning 11 of the matches. Bruni was also riding high from his win at Match Race Germany last month. But Hansen and his team had proven, despite a slow start to the Korea Match Cup, that they were a force to be reckoned with, entering the Final with ten wins from their last 12 races.

As the first of the final races got underway in a fresh 8-12 knot westerly breeze, it was Bruni who opened the scoring, dominating from the pre-start and controlling Hansen right until the finish. Determined not to be outdone, Hansen answered in the second match. Despite picking up a penalty before the start Hansen charged off the line ahead of Bruni and put on enough of a lead to complete a penalty turn on the sprint to the first mark. Although Bruni closed the gap on the downwind leg it wasn’t enough to catch Hansen and the Swede levelled the score to 1-1.

Race three saw Bruni penalised for an uncharacteristic mistake, his boom hitting mark one as he chased Hansen onto the first downwind leg. Try as he might to force a penalty onto Hansen the umpires’ rulings went against him and Hansen claimed his second win.

With Hansen needing just one more win to claim the title Bruni responded, bossing the pre-start and loading a penalty onto Hansen before managing a late gybe around Hansen's bow leaving him floundering on the wrong side of the committee boat. Hansen fought back and almost rolled Bruni into mark two forcing himself onto the inside at the mark, a manoeuvre that earned him a second penalty and handed back the lead to Bruni along with the match win which set the stage for a sudden death final.

A penalty while tacking out of the dial up in the pre-start was a major setback for Bruni and things only got worse for him as he was forced to tack round on the start line giving Hansen the advantage. Bruni could do nothing to stop Hansen crossing the line first to claim the victory.

Gracious in defeat, Bruni said he was happy to be leading the overall Tour standings. “We lost 3-2 in the final but we’re pretty pleased," Bruni said. "Bjorn has been sailing brilliantly. We made some mistakes and we need to learn from those but overall I’m really happy because we have been sailing well on the Tour this season. It’s all good.”

Ian Williams of Team GAC Pindar claimed the third place on the podium with a confident 2-0 victory over Peter Gilmour of YANMAR Racing, going some way to make up for his 0-3 defeat in the Semi-Final at the hands of Hansen.

Hansen and his Mekonomen Sailing Team were awarded 75,000,000 Korean won ($69,000 USD) for their win, presented to them by Kim Moon Soo, Governor of Gyeonggi Province. Bruni won’t have to wait long to avenge his defeat. The Portimao Portugal Match Cup starts on June 22 and sees Bruni, Hansen and fellow Tour Card Holders including Torvar Mirsky and Damien Iehl return to the action.

2011 Korea Match Cup results:

Final
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team beat Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing 3-2

Petit Final
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar beat Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 2-0

Final Positions at the 2011 Korea Match Cup:
1 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team
2 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing
3 Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar
4 Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing
5 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team
6 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat
7 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team
8 Paul Campbell-James (UK) Dream Team
9 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing
10 Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team
11 Sung Wook Kim (KOR) Busan Match Team
12 Reuben Corbett (NZL) AON Racing Team

2011 ISAF World Match Racing Tour Standings (after 3 stages):
1 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing – 59pts
2 Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing – 48pts
3 Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team - 41pts
4 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat – 31pts
5 Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners – 28pts
6 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team – 27pts
7 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing – 27pts
8 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 24pts
9 Bertrand Pace (FRA) Aleph Sailing Team – 22pts
10 Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar - 21pts

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