Frustrating opening day
ISAF Match Racing World Championship contenders Jesper Radich, Bjorn Hansen and Francesco Bruni all won their first matches of the 2011 Argo Group Gold Cup on what proved to be a frustrating opening day of racing in Bermuda.
Despite the promise of wind in Hamilton Harbour, the breeze failed to arrive and settle. If there was already increased pressure to qualify for the knock-out stages here in Bermuda, the light winds could yet add to it. With a tight schedule involving 24 teams, every postponement brings the increased chance of a shortened schedule when tie-break situations become more probable – suddenly every race has an even greater significance.
Australian Jordan Reece, who lost his opening match against Dane Bjorn Hansen, said: “It gets a bit frustrating not being able to race and it’s especially hard for the teams in group one as we don’t have the chance to watch the others and see how they’re performing. With such little racing happening today, it puts a lot more emphasis on doing well in each of your early races.”
The prospect of a shortened schedule is a long way off and with winds expected to build over the course of the week to over 30 knots by Friday, the fleet of IODs will soon be in action.
Current Tour leader Ian Williams and his Team GAC Pindar team sponsored by Argo Group, knows only too well that there is the very real prospect of a Championship challenger being eliminated altogether before the knock-out stages. In 2010, Williams himself was eliminated after a three way tie-break with Adam Minoprio and eventual winner Ben Ainslie. This year though, he feels the pressure if off his shoulders as his consistently strong performances this season means he will have five high points scores to calculate his overall Championship total going into the Monsoon Cup regardless of his performance in Bermuda.
"We are looking forward to seeing the results from here as it's an easy event to get sent home from after the first stage,” said Williams. “We are in the enviable position that if we bomb out we are still in good shape on the Tour but our closest rivals need good results so the pressure is really on them."
Whoever does qualify, there will be no easy pick, the first of which will be awarded to the winner of Group 3 which includes top seed Williams, as well as the French Match Racing Team duo of Mathieu Richard and Damien Iehl. The top seed in Group 2 which includes the four Tour Card Holders of Peter Gilmour of Yanmar Racing, Torvar Mirsky of The Wave, Muscat, Swede Johnie Berntsson and young Kiwi Phil Robertson will have second pick.
The second qualifying session gets underway at 0900 local time (-4hrs GMT) on Wednesday 5 October with the second flight of the first group.
Results after Qualifying Session One:
Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners 1-0
Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team 1-0
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekononmen Sailing Team 1-0
Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing 1-0
Blythe Walker (BER) Team RenRe 0-1
Keith Swinton (AUS) Black Swan Racing 0-1
Jordan Reece (AUS) True Blue Racing 0-1
Jakub Pawluk (POL) Henri Lloyd Racing 0-1
Overall Championship Standings – after six stages:
1 Ian Williams (GBR) Team GAC Pindar – 90pts
2 Francesco Bruni (ITA) Bruni Racing – 89pts
3 Torvar Mirsky (AUS) The Wave Muscat – 84pts
4 Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing – 74pts
5 Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team – 73pts
6 Damien Iehl (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 67pts
7 Mathieu Richard (FRA) French Match Racing Team – 63pts
8 Jesper Radich (DEN) Adrian Lee & Partners – 61pts
9 Johnie Berntsson (SWE) Berntsson Sailing Team – 48pts
10 Phil Robertson (NZL) WAKA Racing – 43pts