Photo: Chris Davies / WMRT

Quarter finals done and dusted

Hansen, Williams, Radich and Gilmour through at Stena Match Cup Sweden

Saturday July 9th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: Sweden

Peter Gilmour staged an incredible comeback today to book his place in the semi finals of Stena Match Cup Sweden. Gilmour of Yanmar  Racing, the World Match Racing Tour’s elder statesman, proved experience is everything as he sent fellow countryman Torvar Mirsky of The Wave, Muscat packing in a fine Quarter Final display.

Gilmour turned his fortunes around on the waters of Marstrand Fjord defeating Mirsky, one of the form skippers in qualifying, in three straight wins. Gilmour’s hopes of his first event win of the 2011 season are still alive – but first he must face Portimao Portugal Match Cup winner Ian Williams of Team GAC Pindar in the Semi Finals tomorrow. The pair have met six times so far this season, with Williams winning on every occasion.

It will be a Scandinavian scrap in the other Semi Final pairing as Swede Bjorn Hansen, winner of the 2007 Match Cup Sweden, takes on last year’s runner-up Dane Jesper Radich of Adrian Lee & Partners.

Four-time match racing world champion Gilmour was below par in the Qualifying Sessions, only just scraping into the Quarter Finals after scoring two crucial wins this morning against World Match Racing Tour leader Francesco Bruni and Swede Johnie Berntsson. At the end of Qualifying Gilmour was caught in a five-way tie for the three remaining places in the Quarter Finals, sneaking in on a countback that saw Berntsson and Australian Keith Swinton sent home.

More than 30 years of match racing experience then came into play as Gilmour and his team refocused their efforts and came out firing against Mirsky, swiftly taking his tally to 2-0. With Mirsky on the ropes Gilmour continued to apply the pressure – and it worked to great effect, the young Australian’s temper boiled over at the first mark in response to two successive penalties from the on-the-water umpires.

Mirsky was left with no option but to take his penalty turns allowing Gilmour to stretch to an unassailable lead and sail into the Semi Finals. Despite a relatively low win rate – just 45% going into this event – Gilmour continues to win the matches that count. A win for Gilmour would see him overtake Tour leader Francesco Bruni, who failed to make the Quarter Finals in Sweden, in the overall Tour standings.

Watch a video from onboard Mirsky's with The Wave Muscat team as they collide with Gilmour's Yanmar Racing:


Gilmour said: “We sat down and had a team talk last night. We knew if we sailed well in our last two matches there was a chance we could still make the Quarter Finals. This morning’s wins proved to be crucial and we scraped through into the quarters. Going into the Quarter Finals is a complete restart and if you don’t shift your way of thinking you can really lose your mojo. It’s really important to just start again. I’m quite good at being able to clear my head of everything that has gone before me.

“In race one against Torvar I saw him tighten up a bit – he’s usually much smoother. He went 2-0 down and then he had a John McEnroe moment at the judges so we knew he was riled and we kept grinding away at him and won the third race. We’re delighted to be in the Semi Finals.”

It is the second time in two events Mirsky has been strong in Qualifying but then eliminated in the Quarter Finals.

“I’ve never felt so hard done by by the umpires,” Mirsky said, still reeling from the decision. “They let Gilly get away with murder. From that moment on it was race over. The Tour is getting on a bit now and we haven’t had the results we were looking for so far. We are all pretty down about that. We really feel we are sailing well and that we’re on top of things on the water but maybe when things heat up and the pressure is on we aren’t up to scratch. We have a full-on sailing programme this year so we’re always learning and we’ll be back in St Moritz to vie to be King of the Mountain.”

Thousands of spectators packed the shoreline to watch Swedish sailing star Hansen defeat Phil Robertson in back-to-back wins. Hansen has been open about his desire to hold a Tour Card – and his performance here in Sweden is doing his campaign no harm.

Hansen, the top ranking skipper after Qualifying, said: “We felt uncomfortable in the last race of Qualifying and the first race of the quarter final. The winds were shifting and Phil did a good job at coming back at us time and again. We then seemed to click and really enjoyed the remaining races. Our goal this year was to find a consistent team. We’ve raised our level since the first couple of regattas. We’re now calmer on board and enjoying our sailing.”

Hansen now faces a Semi Final battle with Jesper Radich, who put on a dominant performance to defeat France's Mathieu Richard 3-1. The Semi Finals will kick off tomorrow morning with the Final taking place in the afternoon.

Quarter Final results:
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team defeated Phil Robertson (NZL) Waka Racing 3-0
Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar defeated Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team 3-1
Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners beat Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team 3-1
Peter Gilmour (AUS) Yanmar Racing defeated Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat 3-0

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