Early lead for Richard
Mathieu Richard found his form in the opening qualifying session at the Portimão Portugal Match Cup winning four of his five matches to take the overnight lead. Richard put in a dominant display to claim victory over his rivals on day one of the fourth stage of the World Match Racing Tour, only falling foul to fellow countryman and teammate Damien Iehl.
Key wins for Richard also included his Korea Match Cup nemesis Bjorn Hansen of Mekonomen Sailing Team and last year’s Portimão Portugal Match Cup winner Peter Gilmour of Yanmar Racing. After disappointing results in the opening rounds of the World Match Racing Tour, Richard was firing on all cylinders today, a clear indication of his intention to claim his first podium position of the 2011 season.
Also on form was double match racing World Champion Ian Williams of Team GAC Pindar who opened his scorecard with a clean sweep in the first Qualifying Session to occupy the second spot on the leaderboard. A close opening match against Swede Johnie Berntssen saw Williams cross the line just half a boat-length ahead of his rival to claim the win.
A comfortable victory over returning Tour Card Holder Dane Jesper Radich of Adrian Lee & Partners only served to boost the British skipper’s confidence for his final match of the day against Australian Torvar Mirsky of The Wave, Muscat. Williams’ domination of the pre-start set the tone for the match. Controlling Mirsky up to the first mark, Williams then pulled away on the downwind leg amassing an unassailable lead and claiming his third win of the day.
“It was a great start for us,” Williams said. “Obviously there are a few things that we need to improve on but it’s nice to get some wins under our belt and settle into the racing. They were three good wins and we’re pleased with that. After our third place finish at the Korea Match Cup it’s time for us to step it up. We’re comfortable in these boats, we know how to sail them well, we have a really strong team and we’re very capable of winning.”
Wildcard entry Finland's Olli-Pekka Lumijarvi of Siragusawa Sailing Team caused the major upset on the opening day in what is his first ever outing on the World Match Racing Tour. The experienced match racer couldn’t have asked for a better initiation onto the Tour, defeating current Tour leader Francesco Bruni.
Lumijarvi also came close to taking the scalp of another big name – Torvar Mirsky – in the opening match of the Portimão Portugal Match Cup. Lumijarvi was initially handed the win but Mirsky was granted a resail by the International Jury following confusion over a course change that affected the outcome of the match. The match will be rescheduled for tomorrow.
Lumijarvi said: “We were a little bit nervous before racing as this is our first ever event on the World Match Racing Tour but we couldn’t have asked for a better start. Our target for the Portimão Portugal Match Cup is to grade ourselves against the Tour Card Holders, learn as much as we can and have fun along the way.”
Portuguese wildcard Alvaro Marinho went down to Gilmour, Richard and Iehl but came back in the last two flights of the day scoring wins against New Zealand's Reuben Corbett and Bjorn Hansen. The Olympic dinghy sailor will be looking to recreate the success he enjoyed in the opening rounds of Match Race France when Qualifying resumes tomorrow at 1100 local time.
Standings after the first Qualifying Session:
Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 4-1
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar 3-0
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 3-2
Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team 3-2
Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners 2-1
Alvaro Marinho (POR) Seth Sailing Team 2-3
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team 2-3
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat 1-1
Olli-Pekka Lumijarvi (FIN) Siragusawa Sailing Team 1-1
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing 1-2
Reuben Corbett (NZL) Aon Racing 1-4
Johnie Berntssen (SWE) Berntssen Sailing Team 0-3
2011 ISAF World Match Racing Tour Standings (After Stage 3):
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